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seems to have sought in vain for a method of teaching gram-
mar in accordance with his principles ;* however, with a zeal
and perseverance that nothing could daunt, he continued his
attempt to find some simple and rational method of teaching
foreign and dead languages to the end of his life.

We have only been able to give here a general idea of
Pestalozzi's application of his method to the different
branches of elementary education. The complete series of
these exercises will be found in our Philosophy and Practice
of Education.

But we cannot repeat too often that Pestalozzi's method is
spirit and life, and that before it can bear fruit this spirit
must have sunk deep into the master's mind and heart. A
man will understand that he is faithful to this method when
his children, freed from all artificial stimulus, and eager
merely for truth, knowledge, and increased powers, bring a
joyful diligence to all his lessons.

1 We think Pestalozzi would in a great measure have found what he
wanted in Becker's Organism of Language, a book which was not pub-
lished till long after his death.


It is true that this happy result is sometimes obtained
by men who are far from thinking themselves followers of
Pestalozzi, whose name, perhaps, they have never even
heard. But this is because the master's philosophy, spreading
slowly and silently, has influenced their thought without
their knowledge.

Would that its influence had reached everywhere, for then
we should not so often see the natural law of human develop-
ment violated in the home and the school, where it sometimes
seems as though the object were rather to hinder its action
than to help it on.

Publications intended for children are, however, improv-
ing ; indeed, for some years now, marvellous, insipid stories
and other artificial puerilities have been more or less given
up, and a serious attempt made to interest children while
giving them solid instruction. This is a great step forward,
but it is not all. A large number of children's books, espe-
cially in France, may still be reproached with making an
abuse of fiction by multiplying dramatic and romantic situa-
tions, and by interesting the reader less by the instruction
they give than by the adventures and incidents which are
its framework. And thus children grow weary of these
things, their taste is spoiled, and it becomes difficult for them
to take pleasure in true history or real travels, and often
indeed in any serious and sustained intellectual work.

We have now given a general sketch of Pestalozzi's ele-
mentary method in its application to teaching, properly so
called. But the instruction of children was not the only, nor
even the chief aim to which this extraordinary man devoted
the ardent activity of his life ; he was anxious above all else
to reform their moral and religious education, and develop
their hearts, and so form pious, moral men, devoted to their
duty, their neighbour, and their country.

We must first remark that this moral development already
resulted to a certain extent from the means employed for
teaching ; indeed, voluntary, varied, and steady activity and
the quest of truth for its own sake, and not for reasons of
pride or interest, were eminently calculated to awaken the
noblest sentiments of the soul, and establish the supremacy of
the spirit over the flesh. But Pestalozzi's method can also
be applied in a more direct manner to the development of the
child's heart, for since it always makes the child's best feel-


ings the spring of action, these feelings are constantly gain-
ing in strength. It is thus that for the moral training of
children, Pestalozzi relies much less upon discourses and
exhortations than upon the practice of the Christian virtues
faith, love, patience, pardon, etc., a practice to which he
wishes the child to be accustomed from the very cradle, such
small things being utilized at first as may perhaps seem
trifles to us, but which are nevertheless the foundations of all
piety, morality, and wisdom.

The influence of Pestalozzi's method upoii the child's moral
and religious development has been somewhat underrated,
especially by certain pious men who feel the need of the
Gospel for the sanctification of souls, but who, a prey to a
fatal illusion, think that the explanation of dogma alone
can sow the seeds of Christian sentiments in a young heart,
and that this will always be enough. Pestalozzi said : " Ele-
mentary education alone can regenerate and save society."
" No," say they, " the Gospel alone can perform this miracle."
But there is no real contradiction between these two state-

Society can only be raised by the raising of the individual.
Now, if the Gospel is to raise men, it must not only sink deep
into their minds, but become as it were a part of their being,
forming their conscience, and supplying the principle upon
which their feelings, aspirations, and will must depend.
- The preaching of the Gospel, however, does not always
suffice for this ; even when souls have been really touched,
the effects are too often transitory, disappearing with the.
generation that experiences them. A period of faith is often
succeeded by a period, of incredulity, and it is by no means
an unusual thing to see the children of fervent Christians
Christian in nothing but the name. And so it comes to pass
that, even in countries where it has been preached for cen-
turies, the Gospel is still a stranger to the hearts of the
majority of men.

Christian truth does sometimes take possession of a man
in a moment, and such absolute possession that it never
again forsakes him ; but such cases are rare. As a general
rule, a thorough education is needed, not the outward and
superficial memory-education of the time before Pestalozzi,
but elementary education, as he calls it, an education, that
is, which sets the feelings and faculties in motion, gives them


a direction, and, by thus making him really assimilate
morality and knowledge, renders the child the chief agent
in his own development.

The philosophy of the eighteenth century declared man to
be originally good, but spoiled by society. This was equiva-
lent to saying that society, in spite of being the work of man
who is good, is in itself bad.

In fighting against this deplorable error, men unfortunately
fell into the opposite mistake, not only declaring man to be
originally bad, but denying that he bore within him a single
germ of good. And thus, by a very natural consequence,
Pestalozzi was condemned because he looked upon education
as a development. And yet it is absolutely certain that if
there were no trace of good feelings in the child's soul, good
feelings could exercise no influence over him, and that if
there were no seeds of good in his heart, all men's efforts for
his moral education would be worse than useless.

As we have seen, Pestalozzi undoubtedly recognized the
original existence of evil in the heart of man, though in
stating his views he too often left this important truth in the
background, partly perhaps because he was chiefly struck
by the innumerable germs of goodness, dormant it is true,
but yet alive, in even the most degraded souls, partly because,
his aim being to interest his contemporaries in the work by
which he hoped to regenerate and save the suffering people,
he felt bound before everything else to prove that such a
regeneration was possible.

Whatever may be the aim of education, success is not
possible without method / some procedure, that is, in con-
formity with the natural law of man's development. And
thus, in whatever religious or philosophical doctrine we may
wish to train children, we must always take for a starting-
point their thoughts and feelings as they are, according to the
axiom which says that before you can take a man anywhere,
you must first go where he is ; their powers, too, must be
developed by exercise, and they must be taught to apply their
strength to raising themselves slowly to the knowledge of
truth and the practice of duty.

Now, this is just what Pestalozzi proposed to do. Con-
eidered in itself, his method is independent of all dogmatic
opinions, and it is for this reason that it will never grow
old, but at all times and in all countries be capable of appli-


cation, not only to the powers of the body and mind, but also to
the divine element within the soul.

In consecrating his life to a reform of elementary educa-
tion, Pestalozzi not only sought to stop the sources of indi-
vidual poverty and suffering, but also to root out vices which
were undermining the whole of European society, and pre-
paring a fatal catastrophe for civilization. This idea cornea
out in most of his works. We need only remind our readers
of the almost prophetic words he addressed to Mrs. Niederer
when entrusting her with his manuscript on the causes of the
French Revolution.

What Pestalozzi considered the real cause of the evil was
not so much the absence of instruction for the people as a
vicious method of teaching, which paralyzed the faculties it
should have developed, and blunted the sympathies it should
have quickened. And yet. as a general rule, it is this old
method which has continued to prevail in the remarkable
extension that has nearly everywhere been given to popular
instruction in the course of this century. And thus it happens
that this grand diffusion of enlightenment, as it is called, has
often but aggravated the very evil it was intended to cure.

As Pestalozzi considered his elementary education to be
the chief means for preserving our civilization from the
terrible dangers he foresaw, we must endeavour to show how
such an education, if generally applied, might contribute to
bring about a change in existing conditions, and correct
many of the vices which are to-day troubling society and
threatening its future.

In the first place, it would give true liberty of heart and
mind, without which no other liberty can be enjoyed ; it
would tend to re-establish in every citizen that independence
of development and character which teaches a man to observe
and judge for himself, without allowing himself to be absorbed
by party or sect, and made a mere puppet in the hands 6f
others. We should then no longer see the great majority of
men with no other beliefs, judgments, or feelings than the
beliefs, judgments, and feelings of the mass, blindly following
the lead of the most skilful and violent mob orator.

Moreover, this really educational instruction, by making
the child the agent of his own knowledge, gives him both
taste and facility for learning by himself. Formed thus, the
young man takes pleasure in devoting his leisure to self-


instruction, and thus avoids temptations and the formation
of habits which are often no less deadly in their effect on
society than on his family and himself.

This instruction, too, that every one continues to acquire by
his own observations and his own judgment, shields men from
the tyranny of fashionable opinions, opinions of the majority,
that is, which at certain times are almost forced upon us,
however full of error they may be. And it is not alone in
economical science that men blindly accept false systems.

To-day the craze for natural science has replaced the
unintelligent contempt with which it was formerly regarded;
it has even come to be spoken of as science, as though there
were no other ; and its authority, often invoked even outside
its domain, is almost the only authority still recognized.
And thus we hear people declaring that the progress of
natural science has put moral science to shame. May we
not believe that men would be less exposed to such a con-
fusion of ideas if their knowledge were the fruit of faculties
trained from infancy, and the conquest of their attention,
spirit of observation, and independent judgment ?

One of the greatest dangers in these democratic times is
the separation in the education of the different classes of
society. The rich have one education, the poor another;
the two classes, each going its own way, get farther and
farther apart ; with different habits, tastes, ideas, and feel-
ings, nay, with a different language even, they end by no
longer understanding each other ; and so misunderstanding
breeds mistrust, and mistrust not infrequently hatred. It
is easy to see how much this evil would be lessened if all
children could remain together in the same schools up to the
age of thirteen or fourteen; for, by that time, they would
have a common stock of ideas, knowledge, and language, and
durable relations would be possible between them. Schools
in the spirit of Pestalozzi would render such an education
as this possible, without even the richest and most particular
parents having anything to fear for their children. We
should not only want teachers, however, animated by Pesta-
lozzi's spirit, but a considerable increase in the number of
primary classes. But this latter reform we shall certainly
have to wait for, although the need is very generally felt.

There is, however, a reform which might easily be realized
at once, and which, though less complete, would still do


much to lessen the lamentable antagonism that so often
divides men engaged in different occupations.

It is now the custom for children intended for classical
studies to begin Latin at eight or nine years of age, from
which time they are, if not entirely separated, at any rate
distinguished from their comrades who are preparing for
industrial pursuits. Their work is quite different from the
work of the others, and they are more or less encouraged to
hold themselves aloof,

This state of things is not only bad for the harmony and
sympathy that it is so desirable to see existing between al 1
classes of society, but has besides the serious disadvantage
of compelling parents to decide upon a calling for their
children before they are in a position to judge of their
tastes and aptitudes, with the result that many boys are
launched into classical studies who will never succeed in
them, and many, who at fourteen are clever and eager to
learn, find themselves shut out from the liberal professions
because they did not make their choice before. This state of
things is also exceedingly bad for the studies themselves.

Pestalozzi was long ago struck by the painful waste of
time and labour involved in trying to teach children Latin
before they are acquainted with the principles of their own
language, that is to say, before they have any knowledge of
grammar, without which it is impossible for them to arrive
at any understanding of a dead language. He even insisted
that the study of a foreign modern language should precede
the study of Latin, that the child might be provided with a
first simple means of grammatical comparison.

This system has since been attempted a hundred times iu
different countries, even in important public establishments
as at Berne, and has always met with complete success.
Pupils who have only commenced the study of dead languages
at the age of thirteen or fourteen, have invariably made such
rapid progress, that in a few years they have more than made
np for the time which they seemed to have lost, but which
in reality they had employed far more usefully.

And yet this reform has not yet been generally adopted,
for nothing is more difficult than to change a system of
studies which has slowly grown, as it were, into a national
custom, and which is intended to preserve a certain unity
between the schools of a- country. Books and methods


adapted to children -who as yet know nothing, would not of
course do for those whose minds were already well formed.
Besides, the reform would have to be carried out in all
schools simultaneously, so that pupils might pass from one to
another without detriment to their work. This reform, how-
ever, would be so advantageous in every respect, that it will
certainly some day be adopted.

Ono of the chief vices of modern society is pride, in all its
forms : vanity, ambition, the spirit of rivalry and domina-
tion, the desire to shine, to rise above others, to surpass them
in power and in wealth ; and this vicious tendency, into
which our nature so easily slips, is aggravated nearly every
day in class-rooms where the activity of the pupils is stimu-
lated by prizes and other unwise means. Instead of being
satisfied with the natural emulation which, in a properly
conducted school, results from the very nature of things, and
from the satisfaction of doing well and meeting with success,
teachers employ all sorts of artificial means to excite and
keep alive an unhealthy and un-Christian emulation, a desire
for distinctions and honours, and a spirit of rivalry, which is
not always unmixed with spite, envy, and hatred.

In his very earliest works, Pestalozzi condemned and pro-
scribed these artificial means of exciting emulation ; and in
his after labours he did better still and rendered them super-
fluous. His elementary exercises, in fact, by reason of their
starting-point, gradation, and connection, are so thoroughly
adapted to the faculties, tastes, and needs of the child, that he
takes part in them with pleasure, the mere satisfaction of
feeling that he is learning and discovering, and that his
powers are increasing, being a sound and sufficient stimulus.
And so when we teach children by the rational elementary
method, we are no longer tempted to make their vanity the
stimulus to activity.

These are a few only of the points of view from which the
discovery of the great educational reformer appears to us to
be the chief factor in the solution of the social problem by
which' we are confronted to-day.

To sum up, that part of Pestalozzi's work which will endure,
and that which constitutes him the benefactor of humanity, is
his application of his philosophy to an elementary method of
education. If we have succeeded in our attempt to explain
this method, it will be clear to everybody that it does not


consist in a certain set procedure, and that no perfect type
of it is to be looked for in what was done either at Burgdorf
or Yverdun. It will be clear, too, why Pestalozzi himself
was never entirely satisfied with what he had done, and why
he went on working and searching till his life's end.

He died at his work, this noble friend of the poor ; and,
dying, he addressed a supreme appeal to those who might
do more and better than he had done, and continue after him
the work that he had the sorrow of leaving unfinished. In
his humble modesty he seems to have forgotten that it was
he who had accomplished the hardest and most important
task, by laying bare the vices of his time, discovering the
principles of a salutary reform, and throwing a way open in
which we have now but to walk.

It is for the true and warm friends of humanity, those
who, understanding Pestalozzi, feel themselves at one with
him in spirit and heart, to answer his appeal, and follow him
in the difficult path made easier by his devotion. To-day, the
gate stands wide open, and the need is pressing.



WISHING, in OUT work on Pestalozzi, to study the evolution
of his thought throughout his long career of activity and
self-sacrifice, we endeavoured to consider it apart from the
foreign influences which occasionally modified its manifesta-
tions, and, for this reason, we abstained from mentioning
the works published by Pestalozzi between 1807 and 1811,
in the writing of which Niederer had a considerable share.

And yet these works deserve to be known ; for though
they are not always the pure and true expression of the
master's ideas, they still give an interesting insight into his
opinions and the working of his mind at the time when the
institute of Yverdun was at the height of its fame.

Nor is that part of these works which is to be attributed
to Niederer without importance. Pestalozzi's biographers
have not forgiven this philosopher for having put something
of his own spirit and style into the spirit and style of his
master ; and this grievance has made them unfair to the
most enlightened of Pestalozzi's collaborators, and pre-
vented their recognizing his merit and the very real part he
took in the elaboration of the " method." It seems to us that.
to rescue from oblivion a literary collaboration at which he
worked with the most complete self-forgetfulness, is the
least we owe to his memory.

This was also the opinion of Seyffarth, who, in 1873,
published, as an Appendix to his edition of Pestalozzi's
works, two volumes containing the writings of Niederer and
the master's other collaborators.

As we have seen, Pestalozzi first entrusted to Krusi and
Buss, and then to Schmidt, the writing of what he called his


Elementary Books ; that is, the Book for Mothers and the
Exercises on Number and Form. In these works the
authors did but follow to the letter the instructions of their
master, so that we can hardly hold them responsible for the
monotony and extreme prolixity which rendered these books
useless for schools, in spite of the excellence of the principle
of which they were such a clumsy application. This being
so, we need say no more about them.

With Niederer's collaboration, however, it is another
matter. When quite a young man, he had enthusiastically
adopted Pestalozzi's ideas about education ; but his love of
generalization and philosophical formulas had led him to
elaborate them still further, and give them the form and
scientific expression they seemed to him to lack.

Pestalozzi, with his childlike trust and modest diffidence,
generally submitted his manuscripts to Niederer before
printing, though he was not always entirely satisfied with
his alterations. But it was not till afterwards, when en-
gaged, at Schmidt's suggestion, in preparing a new edition
of his works for Gotta, that he was tempted to repudiate a
part of what Niederer had made him say. His repudiation
is to be found in the notes he added to the new edition of
the writings we are now about to consider.

The first in the order of publication is entitled, On the
Principles and Plan of a Journal announced in 1807. It
tells us that already at Burgdorf Pestalozzi had undertaken a
Journal of Education, of which the first number only had
appeared ; explains the circumstances that interrupted the
publication, announces the re-issue of the journal, and de-
scribes its character. This journal is no doubt that which
was published at Yverdun from 1807 to 1811 with the title
of Weekly Journal for the Education of Humanity.

In this short work of twenty-two pages Pestalozzi is only
spoken of in the third person ; in other respects, the ideas
and style show clearly enough that it is Niederer's work.
To show the need for the forthcoming publication, he first
points out that Pestalozzi's doctrine is generally very im-
perfectly understood, and then gives the two chief reasons.

The first is the artificial system of teaching that has long
been in use, which makes it exceedingly difficult for men to
understand and approve of a course which is almost 4 ,he
exact opposite of the course they have always pursued.


Accustomed for a long time to aim at superficial rather than
solid knowledge, they still ask the same of the new method ;
but this the new method cannot give them. Sometimes even
they go so far as to praise the method for results which it
would be ashamed to own, and in general they admire
nothing but its defects.

The second reason which prevents the new doctrine from
being understood, is the way in which it has been formulated
and put into practice by the founder and his helpers. It
was not in accordance with Pestalozzi's tastes and habits,
nor even in his power, to draw up a general and logical
statement of his idea ; and he has only done so in a way
which was fragmentary and incomplete. As for the method
of applying it to teaching, it is still in a very backward
state, and demands much time and labour. Even the ele-
mentary books already published lack one of the essential
conditions of success ; for while they give certain series of
exercises, they do not explain the principles that are to
guide the teacher, or the position he is to occupy with re-

Online LibraryRoger de GuimpsPestalozzi: his life and work → online text (page 40 of 43)