Billeder på siden



To know something about the manner in which Pestalozzi himself taught is, to say the least of it, a very interesting matter to those who understand and believe in his great educational principles. But we must not expect to find in him the perfect pedagogue any more than the perfect pedagogist. M. Fischer, who knew him well, and loved him, said: "Pestalozzi understands that he is lacking in much positive knowledge and in practical skill in using his machinery".

First let us note Pestalozzi's own accounts of his actual work as a practical teacher. Writing of his work in the orphan-school at Stanz, he says: "I had Gedicke's reading-book, but it was of no more use to me than any other school-book; for I felt that, with all these children of such different ages, I had an admirable opportunity for carrying out my own views on early education. I was well aware, too, how impossible it would be to organise my teaching according to the ordinary system in use in the best schools. As a general rule I attached little importance to the study of words, even when explanations of the ideas they represented were given. I tried to connect study with manual labour, the school with the workshop, and make one thing of them. But I was the less able to do this as staff, material and

tools were all wanting. A short time only before the close of the establishment, a few children had begun to spin; and I saw clearly that, before any fusion could be effected, the two parts must be firmly established separately-study, that is, on the one hand, and labour on the other. . . .


"I made them spell by heart before teaching them their A B C, and the whole class could thus spell the hardest words without knowing their letters. It will be evident to everybody how great a call this made on their attention. I followed at first the order of words in Gedicke's book, but I soon found it more useful to join the five vowels successively to the different consonants, and so form a well-graduated series of syllables leading from the simple to the compound. I had gone rapidly through the scraps of geography and natural history in Gedicke's book. Before knowing their letters even, they could say properly the names of the different countries. In natural history they were very quick in corroborating what I taught them by their own personal observations on plants and animals."

In describing his experiences at Burgdorf, he gives us a still farther insight into his practical methods. He writes: "I once more began crying my ABC from morning till night, following without any plan the empirical method interrupted at Stanz. I was indefatigable in putting syllables together and arranging them in a graduated series; I did the same for numbers; I filled whole note-books with them; I sought by every means to simplify the elements of reading and arithmetic, and by grouping them psychologically, enable the child to pass easily and surely from the first step to the second, from the second to the third, and so on. The pupils no

longer drew letters on their slates, but lines, curves, angles and squares."

In How Gertrude Teaches Pestalozzi again refers to his experiences, and says: "Being obliged to instruct the children by myself, without any assistance, I learned the art of teaching a great number together; and as I had no other means of bringing the instruction before them, than that of pronouncing everything to them loudly and distinctly, I was naturally led to the idea of making them draw, write, or work, at the same time. The confusion of so many voices repeating my words suggested the necessity of keeping time in our exercises, and I soon found that this contributed materially to make their impressions stronger and more distinct."

So far we have had Pestalozzi speaking about himself, now we will see what others say about him, on the same points. Baron de Guimps, in his biography of Pestalozzi, when giving an account of the work at Stanz-an account which, he asserts, is wholly based on official documents-says: "Visitors to the establishment often saw nothing but disorder and confusion, with an entire absence, as it seemed, of all serious instruction". M. Zschokke, the Government Agent at Stanz during Pestalozzi's time there, in his History of the Memorable Facts of the Swiss Revolution-published in 1804-says of the school, after Pestalozzi left it: "The orphans, however, were still carefully taught, and such matters as order and cleanliness, which had previously been neglected, received particular attention". M. Buss, one of Pestalozzi's first assistants, speaking of his first meeting with Pestalozzi, says: "The following morning I entered his school: and, at first, I confess I saw in it

nothing but apparent disorder, and an uncomfortable bustle ".

The fullest sketch of Pestalozzi's proceedings in class is given by his pupil Ramsauer. In reading this it should be remembered that the events happened when Ramsauer was about ten years of age and were described thirty-eight years later. At the same time it should not be forgotten that he was so long and so intimately connected with Pestalozzi and his work that he is not very likely to have exaggerated or misrepresented matters much. This is his account: "So far as ordinary school knowledge was concerned, neither I nor the other boys learned anything. But his zeal, love and unselfishness, combined with his painful and serious position, evident even to the children, made a most profound impression upon me, and won my child's heart, naturally disposed to be grateful, for ever.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"It is impossible to draw a clear and complete picture of this school, but here are a few details. According to the ideas of Pestalozzi, all teaching was to start from three elements: language, number and form. He had no plan of studies and no order of lessons, and as he did not limit himself to any fixed time, he often followed the same subject for two or three hours together. We were about sixty boys and girls, from eight to fifteen years old. Our lessons lasted from eight till eleven in the morning, and from two till four in the afternoon. All the teaching was limited to drawing, arithmetic, and exercises in language. We neither read nor wrote; we had neither books nor copy-books; we learned nothing by heart.

"For drawing we were given neither models nor directions; only slates and red chalk, and while Pesta

lozzi was making us repeat sentences on natural history as an exercise in language, we had to draw just what we liked. But we did not know what to draw. Some of us drew little men and women, others houses, others lines or arabesques, according to their fancy. Pestalozzi never looked at what we had drawn, or rather scribbled, but from the state of our clothes it was pretty evident that we had been using red chalk. For arithmetic we had little boards divided into squares, in which were dots that we had to count, add, subtract, multiply and divide. It was from this that Krüsi and Buss first took the idea of their table of units,' and afterwards of their 'table of fractions'. But as Pestalozzi did nothing but make us repeat these exercises one after another, without asking us any questions,, this process, excellent as it was, never did us very much good.

"Our master never had the patience to go back, and, carried away by his excessive zeal, he paid little attention to each individual scholar. The language exercises were the best thing we had, especially those on the wall-paper of the schoolroom, which were real practices in sense-impression. We spent hours before this old and torn paper, occupied in examining the number, form, position and colour of the different designs, holes and rents, and expressing our ideas in more and more enlarged sentences. Thus he would ask: 'Boys, what do you see?' He never addressed the girls.


the paper.

A hole in the paper.'

[ocr errors]

Very well, say after me: I see a hole in I see a long hole in the paper. Through Through the long narrow hole figures on the paper.

the hole I see the wall. I see the wall. I see

I see

« ForrigeFortsæt »