« ForrigeFortsæt »
an old man, of not having read anything for forty years. Nor did our masters, his first pupils, read much more than Pestalozzi himself. Their teaching was addressed to the understanding rather than the memory, and had for its aim the harmonious cultivation of the germs implanted in us by Providence. 'Make it your aim to develop the child,' Pestalozzi was never tired of repeating, ' and do not merely train him as you would train a dog, and as so many children in our schools often are trained.'
"Our studies were almost entirely based on number, form, and language. Language was taught us by the help of sense-impression; we were taught to see correctly, and in that way to form for ourselves a just idea of the relations of things. What we had thoroughly understood we had no trouble to express clearly.
"The first elements of geography were taught us from the land itself. We were first taken to a narrow valley not far from Yverdun, where the river Buron runs. After taking a general view of the valley, we were made to examine the details, until we had obtained an exact and complete idea of it. We were then told to take some of the clay which lay in beds on one side of the valley, and fill the baskets which we had brought for the purpose. On our return to the Castle, we took our places at the long tables, and reproduced in relief the valley we had just studied, each one doing the part which had been allotted to him. In the course of the next few days more walks and more explorations, each day on higher ground and each time with a further extension of our work. Only when our relief was finished were we shown the map, which by this means we did not see till we were in a position to understand it.
"We had to discover the truths of geometry for ourselves. After being once put in the way of it, the end to be reached was pointed out to us, and we were left to work alone. It was the same with arithmetic, which we did aloud, without paper. Some of us became wonderfully quick at this, and as charlatanism penetrates everywhere, these only were brought before the numerous strangers that the name of Pestalozzi daily attracted to Yverdun. We were told over and over again that a great work was going on in our midst, that the eyes of the world were upon us, and we readily believed it.
"The Pestalozzian Method, as it was somewhat ostentatiously called, was, it is true, an enigma, not only to us but to our teachers, who, like the disciples of Socrates, each interpreted the master's doctrine in his own way. But we were still far from the time when these divergencies resulted in discord, and when the chief masters, after each claiming to be the only one who had understood Pestalozzi, ended by declaring that Pestalozzi had not understood himself.
"At the time of my first appearance among the healthy, happy children gathered within these walls, scenes like those in Molière's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, which were destined ultimately to result in the ruin of the institute, had not yet taken place. At this time, indeed, belief in Pestalozzi still united the members of his large family. Not that he had not already given signs of that lack of administrative ability which afterwards became so evident. He had no sense of order, no gift for managing. In his childish simplicity he could not be suspicious. Having no belief in evil, he was easily deceived, and bound, sooner or later, to have serious disappointments; but at the time of which I speak, he commanded devotion and obedience from all.
"One instance will show you the kind of spirit that prevailed in the early days of the institute.
"These educators, who afterwards filled the world with their quarrels, received no payment in money. Their daily wants were provided for, and they asked nothing more. The money received from the pupils was kept in Pestalozzi's and all the masters had access to it, so that if one of them wanted a coat, or a pair of boots, he just took what he needed. This state of things lasted nearly a year without any serious inconvenience. It was almost a return to the communism of the early Christians."
Soon after Vulliemin left the institute, its outward splendour and reputation were still further increased, the propagation of its method received a new and powerful impetus, and some of its principles began to take definite root in the educational system of a whole nation. This was a consequence of the battle of Jena, after which, Prussia, smarting under her defeat and humiliation, resolved to adopt the remedial measures that Pestalozzi had so long been preaching.
When Frederick William the Third saw his monarchy crushed by the loss of a single battle, he boldly made up his mind for the slow and laborious, but only sure method of restoring it, exclaiming:
แ "We have lost in territory, in power, and in splendour; but what we have lost abroad we must endeavour to make up for at home, and hence my chief desire is that the very greatest attention be paid to the instruction of the people."
The king was not alone in Prussia in desiring a reform of public education. Many of the best minds had been considering the question and making plans and suggestions for a long time, but nothing had as yet been done.
Queen Louisa also used her influence in the matter. An entry in her private diary runs thus: "I am reading Leonard and Gertrude, and enjoy transporting myself to this Swiss village. If I were my own mistress, I should at once go to Switzerland and see Pestalozzi. Would that I could take his hand, and that he might read my gratitude in my eyes! With what kindness and ardour he works for the good of his fellow-men! Yes, in the name of humanity, I thank him with my whole heart." Later on, when Zeller was sent to Koenigsberg to teach according to Pestalozzi's method, the queen took a keen interest in the experiment, and often visited the new school.
During the winter of 1807-8, Fichte delivered in Berlin his Discourses to the German Nation. It will be remembered that he had visited Pestalozzi in 1793, and that, struck by the truth of his views, he had promised to make them known in Germany. In these discourses he kept his word, and without any hesitancy, for he was fully convinced of the truth of what he urged, and knew that by speaking thus he was doing a philanthropic and patriotic act. After showing that education is the only means of raising a nation, he gave an account of Pestalozzi and his work, and declared that no reform of public instruction could be efficacious and salutary unless based on Pestalozzi's teaching.1
On the 11th of September, 1808, Altenstein, of Koenigs berg, one of the king's ministers, wrote to Pestalozzi :
1 Discourses IX. and X.
"His Majesty the King, being anxious that some active efforts should be made to improve the state of popular education, which I am aware is the object of your constant solicitude, has entrusted me, as minister, with the management of educational matters in the Prussian provinces of his states. Being fully convinced of the great value of the method you have invented and so successfully practised, I hope that, by introducing it into our elementary schools, I may be enabled to bring about a complete reform of public instruction in our royal provinces, a reform from which I shall look for the most valuable results on the development of the people.
"Amongst the various steps towards this end that I am thinking of taking, one of the most important will certainly be the sending of two young men to you to study your system of education and methods of teaching at the very fountainhead. They will not confine themselves merely to the consideration of a few particular points, but they will endeavour to understand your system as a whole and in all its different bearings. Under the direction of its venerable inventor and his worthy colleagues, they will be prepared, not only in mind and judgment, but also in heart, for the noble vocation which they are to follow, and they will be filled with a sense of the holiness of their task, and with new zeal for the work to which you have devoted your life. To ensure the success of the step we are taking, I am anxious to know from you yourself under what conditions these young men will be best able to absorb your method; of what age and character they should be, for instance, and how much instruction they should already possess. This information will enable us to send you only such persons as you would desire to receive."
This letter shows us with what serious decision and with what scrupulous care Prussia now set out on the path which was, in time, to restore it to its former position. And it was not merely two pupils that were sent to Pestalozzi, but seventeen, all of whom spent three years at Yverdun, at the expense of their government. Most of them afterwards became distinguished men; amongst others, we may mention the well-known names of Henning, Dreist and Kaverau.1 Prussia was not the only country that sent
1 An idea of the results of the experiment may be gathered from V. Cousin's report on public instruction in Prussia
student-teachers to Pestalozzi; the kings of Denmark and Holland also sent two each, and many came from other parts of Germany. Sometimes Pestalozzi had as many as forty about him at a time.
But, in our opinion, it was Saxony that most successfully carried out its educational reforms. For a long time the man in whom the control of the Saxon schools was vested was Justus Blochmann, a former pupil and distinguished collaborator of Pestalozzi, and it was probably owing to his influence that the tone of popular instruction in Saxony became more distinctly moral and religious and more thoroughly Christian than it did in Prussia. In the great international competition of a few years ago, it was the primary schools of Saxony that took the first place.
The ardour with which Germany, and especially Prussia, adopted Pestalozzi's method, attracted the attention of many other countries to the institute of Yverdun; pupils poured in from all parts of the globe, visitors became more numerous than ever, and included not only those who took a serious interest in education, but mere sight-seers, princes, generals, bankers, and a host of others, who made a point of seeing Pestalozzi, as they made a point of seeing a lake or a glacier. Such people as these generally went away disappointed.
This great and unintelligent popularity, unparalleled in the history of any educational establishment before that time, had the most unfortunate consequences. Not only were the lessons daily troubled by the numerous visitors, but parents came from different countries and begged for an instruction for their children adapted to the customs and circumstances of their homes, a demand which Pestalozzi, anxious to lose no opportunity of spreading his doctrine, was often unwise enough to attempt to satisfy. This was undoubtedly one of the causes of the confusion which afterwards invaded the system of studies at Yverdun.
But the reputation of the institute also brought visitors of another sort to Pestalozzi-men of ability, that is, who were capable of turning what they learnt from him to good advantage. Amongst these we must mention Charles Ritter, who exercised so great an influence on the development of geographical science. The account given by this eminent man of the state of the institute of Yverdun in 1807 and 1809 is particularly valuable. It has lately been made.