Billeder på siden

ment of the thinking activity. For it is the thinking activity that assimilates the results of observation and brings them to fruitage. It is the same thinking activity. that assimilates also the stored-up knowledge of the experience and reflection of the race which the school offers to the pupil. Without his painstaking thought, neither personal observation nor book-learning will avail him much. W. T. HARRIS.

WASHINGTON, D. C., May, 1890.


"I READ your essay on Pestalozzi," said to me one of the three Commissioners who were some twenty years ago empowered to remodel our endowed schools; "I read your essay on Pestalozzi, whom they are always talking about on the Continent, and I found there was nothing whatever in him." This might have been a very effective sarcasm, but I have reason to think that it was not so intended. It was only an expression of our insular ignorance, and of our inability to measure the effect of ideas. Since then we have seen France prostrate before Germany; and not a few, both of the Germans and the French, have attributed the German triumph to the influence of Pestalozzi. So perhaps there was something in him after all.

But what was there in these ideas of Pestalozzi which can be supposed to have so profoundly affected the education of the Germans? Let us go back a little pour mieux sauter.

Europe was indebted to the Renascence for the conception of "a learned education." The key to all wisdom seemed to have been found in the classical languages, and the highest display of the human intellect was seen in imitating the ancient writings. So education was for the few; the many might do as best they could without it.

This sixteenth-century devotion to the classical literatures met with many adversaries in the centuries following; but the notion had got so firmly fixed that education consisted in learning, that the only question it seemed possible to raise was, In learning what?

A great advance was made by our philosopher Locke, when he treated of education under the four heads (1) Virtue; (2) Wisdom; (3) Manners; (4) Learning; and declared that learning was least and last. But according to him, the education of the gentleman was the only thing to be cared for. 'If," says he, "those of that rank are by their education once set right, they will quickly bring all the rest into order." (Epistle Ded. to "Thoughts c. Educ.")

Then came Rousseau. From the circumstances of his life he had no class prejudices, and he had a genius for thinking himself free from all conventions. He it was who first severed entirely education and learning, and brought up his ideal Emile without any regard to the requirements of "Society."

Pestalozzi was, like Rousseau, a citizen of the Swiss Republic, and little fettered by class distinctions. He read Rousseau with enthusiasm, and saw what a force education might become. His great object in life was the elevation of the people, and the consequence was, he became "a schoolmaster."

But his notions of the schoolmaster's function were based on conceptions which then for the first time came clearly into consciousness.

First, as to the aim of education, he announces that

every human being is entitled to the development of the faculties he was born with.

Then as to the nature of the educator's task, he says that it consists in a continual benevolent superintendence, with the object of drawing out those faculties.

There is a strange contrast between the men Rousseau and Pestalozzi. Rousseau was a voice, and nothing else. Everything that he did tended to lessen the influence of everything that he wrote. But Pestalozzi taught mainly by action. In him the most

interesting thing is his life.

One of the best authorities we have had on education, my friend Professor Joseph Payne, drew my attention to the excellent biography of Pestalozzi by the Baron de Guimps. Professor Payne has now been taken from us more than thirteen years, and I have been hoping all those years to find as good a translator as my friend would have wished for this valuable book. At last such a translator has been found in a Cambridge friend, Mr. Russell, who was a pupil of mine more than twenty years ago, and who has since become familiar with French educational life and speech as a master in a Lycée. The completion of his task has been delayed by his waiting for the new edition; but now the work has a suitable English dress, I trust we shall find a large increase in the number of Englishmen and Englishwomen who can discern that there is something in Pestalozzi.



« ForrigeFortsæt »