Joseph Kinmont Hart.

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"Pedagogics of the Kindergarten," in which he develops
his theory of symbolism, a theory which has been such a
stumbling-block to the literalists among his followers. To
a man of great mystical nature, a poet, such words as the
following are helpful and harmless: "The cube is to the
child the representative of each continually developing
manifold body. The child has an intimation in it of the
unity which lies at the foundation of all manifoldness and
from which the latter proceeds. ' ' But to a later literalistic
follower such words can bring nothing but confusion, the
straining to get something out of a cube which is not there,
to impress children with meanings that do not exist. As
Professor Dewey says, "We often teach insincerity, and
instill sentimentalism, and foster sensationalism when we


think we are teaching truths by means of symbols." Or,
as Professor Thorndike suggests in his "Notes on Child
Study," "If we (adults) live in houses because they sym-
bolize protection, if we like to see Sherlock Holmes on the
stage because he symbolizes craft to us ... if we eat
apples because they symbolize to us the fall of man, . . .
then perhaps the children play with the ball because it
symbolizes to them 'infinite development and absolute limi-
tation.' "

Of course it is not fair to blame all perversions of mean-
ing upon an author. And it is not so certain as some of the
modern psychologists seem to think that children get no
symbolic meanings out of objects; undoubtedly the vague,
far roots of later ideal meanings are hidden in the soil of
the child's experiences. Pestalozzi hoped to "mechanize
instruction"; but that fails because it is too completely
materialistic. Froebel hopes to "spiritualize instruction";
but that fails because it does not give us any clue whatever
to the methods of control. But just as we still work for
a more complete understanding of the mechanics of in-
struction, so we still work for a more essential grasp upon
the meanings of education. Hence we can be grateful for
the contributions that Froebel has made, while at the same
time denying the validity of many of his proposals and still
more the fantastic misinterpretations which his literal fol-
lowers have made of his legitimate doctrines. The general
spirit of his work was wholly constructive, and he prob-
ably approaches nearest to a full expression of the signifi-
cance of education and the modes of its development of any
of the nineteenth century workers. But his work is con-
fined to the period of infancy, within which the task of
organization is comparatively simple. The extension of the
same principles to the later years, that is, the working out
of the methods by which this same principle of self -activity


can be conserved and depended upon all through the years
of youth and on into the adult years, is one of the larger
aspects of the whole educational problem of the present.
Not in his mysticism, nor even in his nobler idealism, are
we to look for the real significance of Froebel's work. It
is in his emphasis upon the self -activity of the child the
child not merely as an object to be educated, but as the
subject of his own education.

After Proebel. With Froebel we come to the end of the
line of constructive educational thinkers in the psychologi-
cal succession until near the close of the nineteenth century,
when the new movement in educational psychology begins.
Pestalozzi of course had his followers in Europe and Amer-
ica ; Herbart started a great wave of investigation and prop-
aganda that became the dominant influence in America for
twenty years, during the latter part of the nineteenth and
the beginning of the twentieth century; Froebel and his
kindergartens are with us more and more. But no one of
these interpretations of educational processes is complete
or final, and work that is done in the traditional succession
of any one of these is not final. Each of these represents
a very necessary element in the larger synthesis of the edu-
cational movement, but each by itself is out of equilibrium.
That fact, however, is one of the conditions of movement,
of progress ; and the pioneer work of these three great lead-
ers will stimulate further thinking for centuries.

Perhaps these contributions were as complete as the age
in which they were made could endure or understand.
Even to-day the psychological point of view is still unac-
ceptable to many types of teachers. Perhaps, too, the gen-
eral background of life and thought made more conclusive
work impossible. We must remember that the old concep-
tions of the origin and nature of life still prevailed, that
evolutionism had not yet arisen. Perhaps the world must


catch up in its thinking along many other lines before this
psychological statement of education can either be complete
in itself or be convincing to the world. When Kant at-
tempted to stand on the heights of philosophy and psy-
chology, in order that he might see all parts of human ex-
perience from the standpoint of the whole, he still stood
in the midst of preevolutionary conceptions of human na-
ture and experience. But in the middle of the nineteenth
century all this began to change. Darwin gave to the
world his revolutionary theory of the origin and nature of
life, including human life, and in the succeeding years,
even until the present, the conviction has slowly grown
that this general conception of evolution must be applied to
every phase of our understanding of the world. Man
takes his place as in and of the universe. His physical
life is continuous with the common story of life upon the
earth; his institutions are a part of the whole story of
restless history. Psychology therefore must become the
study of the whole of life and mind, not merely of the ex-
clusive mind of man. Here at last man sinks into his
proper setting in the general movement of universal evolu-
tion. He can be no longer studied apart, separate, and
alone, for his being is one with the nature of the world.
And if he rises above the world in intellectual or moral
dignity, that will be an achievement, not a gift.

The meaning of evolution for our study of education
will accordingly concern us next, and to that we now turn.



OUR whole study up to the present has shown us the long
spectacle of a more or less continuous conflict between two
definite tendencies in human nature. We have been calling
these tendencies after the fashion of their continuous mani-
festations. On the one hand we have had the folkways,
with their social customs and traditions, and their indi-
vidual expressions in habit and conformity; on the other
hand we have seen the recurrent expressions of revolt, of
innovation and invention, and the demand that room shall
be provided for growth and change. Both these aspects
of life are natural; both are persistent; and each has its
characteristic implications for the full statement of human
experience. We have seen how the former, the folkway
type, attempted to state all aspects of human life and hope
and destiny in terms of one, great, all-inclusive system of
practice and theory in medievalism. We have seen how
the other phase of experience had its representatives and
its expressions all through the ages, even when such ex-
pressions were distinctly not socially accepted. But until
far down in the modern period no satisfactory theory of
the attitude of revolt or of change had come to clear state-
ment, despite the fact that many revolutions had transpired
and many changes had taken place. Men were doing things
under the pressure of events which no acceptable theory or
philosophy had been able to justify. The attitude of in-
novation, represented in the work of Socrates, Jesus, Mar-
tin Luther, and Rousseau, while it expressed the hopes of



mankind, as over against the tragic stagnation of the folk-
way ideal, had no conclusive argument to offer in its own
justification until the middle of the nineteenth century.
Then, not suddenly, but none the less with a considerable
emotional shock to the world, all these constructive and
progressive movements and hopes of the past seemed to
find their complete statement and justification in the theory
of evolution.

Antecedents of the Evolutionary Doctrine. The ortho-
dox doctrine underlying all old folkway social orders de-
scribes the world in final terms. The world was created
at a rather definite time by the work of a special Creator ;
life was created, also, and put into the world ; and man was
created in the same way and put into the world, being given
command to master the world and learn it. At the same
time and in the same manner all our social, industrial, po-
litical, religious, and educational institutions were created
and given to men. Human life was planned out from the
first ; its habitat was established, its limitations determined
upon, its destiny decided, and its institutions properly set
forth. This attitude of mind is rather vague in the primi-
tive folkways, but it develops detail in the course of his-
tory and becomes fully elaborated and explicit in the high-
est stage of medieval organization.

But in the early decades of the nineteenth century this
old theory began to fall to pieces, and by the middle of
the century another doctrine had been quite fully elabo-
rated. The older theory had been undermined by century-
long explorations in many lines, following the lead of age-
old human hopes and activities. Geology was beginning to
show that the earth had had a long history and that it was
still in the processes of creation. Paleontology was show-
ing that living forms had had a gradual development from
the more simple to the more complicated. Comparative


anatomy was showing similarities and parallelisms of devel-
opment among all forms of animal life. Anthropology was
demonstrating the long struggle of human life upward from
the near-brutish.

Again, philosophy had been trying for centuries to find
some inclusive statement of the nature of the world which
would still leave room for change. Kantian psychology
had opened the way to a theory of growth by setting up its
theory of the creativeness of the inner life. Following
Kant, Hegel in particular urges this doctrine of develop-
ment, with the gradual emergence of new forms, new func-
tions, and new meanings. For Hegel (at least until he
comes to his Absolute), the significance of life is found
not in what is, or in what has been done, but in what has
been promised, and the permanence and security of life
are found in the fact of change. That which becomes final,
degenerates. The security of life can be assured only in
so far as continuous change can be assured. The striking
feature of this doctrine is this: that all the struggle of
history is but the effort of the absolute to free itself from
the bounds of the unconscious and to become fully con-
scious. Despite the fact that Hegel rather assumed that in
his own philosophy the absolute had finally achieved this
aim, this doctrine of the evolution of the absolute helps to
prepare the world for the more real doctrine of evolution.
Herbert Spencer's work in various fields of scientific and
philosophical speculation helped to prepare the way for the
coming of the culminating work, the ''Theory of Evolu-
tion," in the presentations of Charles Darwin and Alfred
Russell Wallace.

The Significance of the Doctrine. The theory of evolu-
tion stands for many things, not all of which are either true
or equally important. Its simplest statement might be set
forth in such words as these, "Everything has a history."


For our purposes in this study we may say that it sug-
gests some such principles as the following : the inadequacy
of certain old doctrines of the origin of the world; the in-
terrelationship of all forms of life upon the earth; the
more or less gradual development and complication of the
organic structures of animal and human life, especially the
coordinate development of neural and muscular systems
as means of control in the struggles of living forms with
their organic and inorganic environmental conditions; the
continuity of life from the lowest to the highest forms ; and
the final denial of the adequacy of the Aristotelian type of
logic as a complete description of the forms of human

The evolutionary doctrine throws a reflected light back
over all the past and clears up many things that have ap-
peared strange all along our way. History has been an
evolution, we can see and say that now, though it has
always been interpreted as a fixed system and a final order,
The first interpretations of the world were, as we have seen,
folkway interpretations, developed in the midst of rela-
tively fixed conditions of the primitive group. These ear-
liest interpretations always assume the special creation of
the world. Everything that is in the world was likewise
created. Man was created, put into the world, and told to
learn it, conquer it, and control it. That was seemingly a
process to be gone through with once ; after that the world
of things should have become a world of knowledge, of
fixed ways of living, of fixed social organization, of fixed
interpretations of all things, and of finished processes of

Of course these fixed systems would never remain fixed ;
and there have always been embarrassing difficulties in
getting from one of these final stages to the next one. But
such logical jumps have been made by all peoples in all


stages of their development, so that it would almost seem
as if there had developed during the course of the ages a
sort of gentleman's agreement not to notice this fatal de-
fect in the folkway logic. At any rate, the persistent
tendency of the folkway attitude is to reduce the whole of
life to habit, custom, and tradition. And this tendency
includes within its scope all aspects of the social world, so
that the social institutions are as much a part of the final
nature of things as are the physical features of the earth.
"Jehovah ended his work on the seventh day; and he rested
on the seventh day from all his work. ' '

This creation theory assumes that the world was put to-
gether from the outside; there seems to be nothing of life
and growth within the process itself. Plants and animals
were all made ; man, himself, was ' ' formed ' ' and the breath
of life was ' ' breathed into him " ; a fixed nature was set up
for him, with "everything created after its kind." And it
is the obvious implication of this theory that all man's life
is laid out for him as fixedly as any other aspect of the
creation was determined. Some such story as this appears
practically everywhere in the primitive group life.

Criticism of this Conception of the Nature of the World.
"We have already seen how throughout history there have
been those who have not been satisfied with this folkway
interpretation of the meaning of human life and experience.
Their dissatisfactions have been of the nature of impulse,
a primitive breath of original life, an energy of the will,
rather than a clear idea. But evidence has slowly accumu-
lated through the centuries. Revolutions have been fought
out in all the major interests of life. The inner life of the
race has revolted against the mechanisms of folkway exist-
ence of the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance is the result ;
the religious aspirations of the race have fought for free-
dom from the institutionalisms of the Middle Ages, and


the Reformation and Protestantism and religious liberalism
are the result; the intellect demands its freedom from the
"received opinions" of the scholastics, and science grad-
ually rises out of the mass of common doctrine ; the civic
hope of the race breaks through all barriers of "divine
right" and the like, and democracy becomes a progressive
realization. All these are impulses, and they are fighting
against dogmatisms, intellectualisms, and institutionalisms
of all sorts. This is not fancy ; it is the history of the race.
And after many centuries the impulses of growth, revolt,
and intelligence culminate. History comes to a new climax ;
a new theory of the nature of the world, of human life and
human experience, is set forth, a theory that in dignity and
significance is worthy to take its place alongside the older
theory of the Middle Ages and to contend with that theory
for the allegiance of the world. History thus becomes con-
scious of its own movements and its own inner workings in
a new and deeper sense; it justifies the restlessness of its
past and becomes avowedly and intentionally evolutionary
in its ideals and its modes. And from this time forward
history may be studied in the hope that the race will learn,
at least in some measure, the processes of making history,
so that the future will be somewhat under the control of
human intention.

The Reinterpretation of the World According to Evo-
lution. Practically the whole structure of civilization had
been built up under the dominance of the belief in the story
of creation, including the creation of all the institutions of
human life, and even human nature itself. This mechani-
cal origin of the world justified the terrible inequalities
and injustices of life and gave the sanction of religion to
the continuance of these conditions. All the established
privileges of the established orders of earth were bolstered
up in the sacredness of the creation story. All the hopes


of the nobler social order of the future are involved in
establishing that the creation story is no more sacred than
the evolution story, and in the working out of the social
method by which this evolutionary attitude can be made
effective in all social relationships. The whole issue of
civilization may be said to be joined at this point. Eco-
nomic, social, political, ethical, religious, and educational
values are concerned. It is the struggle between a me-
chanical order, implied in the theory of creation, and a
living and personal order, implied in the theory of evolu-
tion. The creation theory presupposes a machine-world
that, once set up, runs itself. All the institutionalisms of
the past, from the folkways of the primitive world to the
reactionisms of our present politico-industrial order, rely
for their security upon this machine-world with its ma-
chine-logic. "Whatever is, is right." All the possi-
bilities of realizing the hopes of a nobler living, socially
and educationally, such hopes as were implicit in the
teachings of Socrates and Jesus, must rely upon the de-
velopment of this other theory, with its insistence that in-
stitutions shall be fluid enough to change as the conditions
of Jiving change ; that man is superior to institutions ; that
institutions must serve human need ; that institutions must
submit to the judgment of the present; and that nothing
has a right to exist save that which really serves human need
in some genuine way.

Significance of this Theory for Education. The full
meanings of this revolution are not yet clear. Perhaps it
is one of the implications of the doctrine that they will not
ever all become clear. But we know enough about it to
know that it means some very profound things for educa-
tional theory and practice. In the first place, education
will be by evolution, rather than by external creation, if


the most obvious aspect of the theory is acknowledged. But
such a statement may mean very little. Let us see.

There is now an evolutionary psychology which has its
full significance for education. According to this psychol-
ogy the mind of man is an instrument in the general process
of living, not a basket to be filled with intellectual contents
or wits to be sharpened for formal intellectual conflicts.
Education comes, therefore, in the general processes of
living, rather than in some abstract and usually unreal
process of learning. All the institutions are elements in
the process by which man has gained, and will continue
to regain, control over the conditions in which he lives.
All institutions are, therefore, subject to the recon-
structive modes of experience. This will include the
school. There was a time when schools, in the academic
sense, did not exist. Education went on without their aid.
They finally came in response to a definite need and for the
accomplishment of definite purposes. Those needs and pur-
poses are themselves the functions of changing conditions.
The schools and education must be subject to the same
changes. That education which was developed to meet a
certain social function in a certain past age may well fail
to serve the purposes of education in this age under
changed conditions. But schools, like all institutions, are
very conservative and loath to give up. They tend to main-
tain their existence long after that existence is construct-
ively useful, because dealing with old informations, as they
do so largely, they do not always recognize when their
existence has ceased to be vital As a result, they not infre-
quently remain as a sort of second environment (to speak
in evolutionary terms) over against the real environment of
the child's active life. They may thus greatly complicate
the educational problem, without greatly aiding in its solu-


tion. The schools may even accept the general theory of
evolution and teach it as a sort of timeless doctrine, while
at the same time retaining obstructive survivals of old
methods of social functioning which, under the changed
.conditions of to-day, offer no convincing reason for their
existence in their present form. Intelligence is not a fixed
and final thing, created, uncovered, or invented once for
all. It is as fluid as the conditions of existence. There
is no end to the possibilities of its developments. But there
is an ever-present blind alley into which intelligence is for-
ever running and forever losing itself. This blind alley is
habit. Blind alleys are extremely useful institutions for
some purposes, but not for thoroughfares. The only escape
from a blind alley is by way of the original entrance, or
else by laying waste the fences of the neighborhood.

The theory of education has been wonderfully broadened
in its scope by the development of the theory of evolution.
All history now pays tribute to the education of the race,
and all our social institutions and activities are now seen to
be intimately related to the outcome of any educational
effort. The theory of evolution has dramatized the mental
life of man and made psychology the most intensely human
of all studies when it is studied humanly. The structure
of civilization has been put upon broader and more secure
bases universal bases, we may say. The life of man has
been integrated with the very nature of the world. He
was not created and put into the world; he has grown up
with the world, and the marks of its storms and stresses
are in his features. He has whatever of permanence or
reality the world itself possesses. All the rich and varied
wealth of the world's physical and moral resources are
available for his use as fast as he can uncover them and
learn how to use them. They are his to use ; they are not
alien to his nature. They are of the essence of his nature,


and he is of theirs, since all are products of the same funda-
mental creative processes.

This intimacy between man and the world, out of which
he is to make his real life, is of the utmost significance for
education. No longer must the old doctrine of the antag-
onism between man's highest interests and the world stand
in the way of the realization of human good ; no longer shall
the doctrine that the world belongs to the evil one paralyze
human effort toward the good. The doctrine of evolution
implies that, little by little, humanity will learn how to con-
trol the conditions of existence so that the really desirable
elements of human good shall be realized. Evolutionary
science has this aim: "The task of science is found in
working out the conditions which will make a good life pos-
sible. ' ' Central in this task will be that of psychology, and
especially educational psychology. We cannot see as yet all
that this will mean for education. But we know that it

Online LibraryJoseph Kinmont HartDemocracy in education; → online text (page 25 of 31)