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castle, the abode of the Bailiffs, crowns the summit of a small hill, round the sides of which the narrow streets of the upper town are built one above the other. This upper town was principally inhabited by rich people and burgesses, those, that is, who had certain rights connected with the town property; whereas the lower town at the foot of the hill was occupied by the poorer people and non-burgesses. As the latter, who were looked upon as little better than strangers, were not allowed to send their children to the schools of the burgesses, a special school had been established for them in the lower town. At this time, this school contained seventy-three children. The master, Samuel Dysli, was a shoemaker, who taught the children in his own house, and worked at his trade in the intervals of teaching. Siegfried's elements of instruction, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Psalms were the only things taught, and the only means of teaching. And yet at that time Burgdorf was one of the smaller places, not only in Switzerland but in Europe, where most attention was given to popular education. We may judge from this of the necessity and extent of the reforms brought about by Pestalozzi.
Such was the school, then, into which the old man was admitted to teach towards the end of July, 1799, about half the children being entrusted to his care. His lessons had nothing in common with the ordinary lessons of the day; he used neither books nor copy-books, the Catechism and Psalms were abandoned, the children had nothing to learn by heart, nothing to prepare or to write, and no questions to answer. Their principal exercise consisted in repeating Pestalozzi's words all together, whilst they drew on their slates, not letters as at Stanz, but anything they liked.
Samuel Dysli, however, could not bear to see this stranger teaching in his class, and dreaded being supplanted by him. The new method, which he did not in the least understand, he regarded as an utter abomination, and he was especially scandalized by Pestalozzi's neglect of the Heidelberg Catechism. He mentioned his dissatisfaction to the parents of the children, and easily succeeded in alarming them, and inducing them to unite and declare that they would not have this intruder in their school. "If the burgesses approve of this new method," they said, "let them adopt it for their own children."
The authorities had to give way, and once more Pestalozzi found himself condemned to inaction.
Schnell and Grimm, however, had so thoroughly entered into his views that they did not give up, but spoke in his favour with renewed zeal, and procured his admission into ene of the burgess-schools.
There were at that time at Burgdorf three classes of boys and three of girls; the girls were under the care of a lady, Miss Stähli, though they took a certain number of lessons in the classes intended for the boys. Children were admitted into these classes at the age of eight, the younger ones having a sort of preparatory class that was called the spelling and reading school, and was under the direction of Miss Stähli's younger sister.
It was in this preparatory class that Pestalozzi was now allowed to teach. It contained from twenty to twenty-five children of both sexes, aged from five to eight.
In his first letter to Gessner (How Gertrude Teaches her Children), Pestalozzi describes his new position in these words:
"I thought I was fortunate, though at first I was continually afraid of dismissal, and that made me more than usually awkward. When I remember with what spirit and ardour I made an enchanted temple of my school at Stanz, and the agony I suffered under my yoke at Burgdorf, I can hardly understand how the same man can have played two such different parts. "Here in Burgdorf, the school was subject to rules, reasonable enough as it seemed, yet not entirely free from pretension and pedantry. All that was new to me. Never in my life had I submitted to anything of the kind; but I was anxious to reach my goal, so I put up with it. I once more began crying my A B C 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 und 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."
At the same time Pestalozzi placed before the eyes of his children large drawings of different objects which he taught them to observe and describe. One day he was thus making them study a drawing of a window in which the children were to count the number of panes, bars, etc., when one of them, after looking fixedly at the window of the room, exclaimed: "Could we not learn as well from the window itself as from this drawing?"
This was new light to Pestalozzi. "The child is right," he cried; "he will not have anything come between Nature and himself," and he forthwith put his drawings away, and made his pupils observe the objects in the room.
Pestalozzi had been teaching thus in this school for eight months, when in March, 1800, the annual examination took place, the results of which are stated in the following letter addressed to Pestalozzi by the Burgdorf school commission. This is the first public sign of approval given to the method which was soon to acquire so great a reputation.
"The School Commission of Burgdorf to citizen Pestalozzi.
"You have given us great pleasure in submitting to our examination the children you have been teaching for the past eight months, and we feel it to be our duty, not so much for your sake as for the sake of your work, to put before you in writing the opinions we have formed concerning them.
"So far as we are able to judge, all that you yourself hoped from your method of teaching has been realized. You have shown what powers already exist in even the youngest child, in what way these powers are to be developed, and how each talent must be sought out and exercised in such a way as to bring it to maturity. The astonishing progress made by all your young pupils, in spite of their many differences in character and disposition, clearly shows that every child is good for something, when the master knows how to find out his talents, and cultivate them in a truly psychological manner. Your teaching has brought to light the foundations on which all instruction must be based, if it is ever to be of any real use; it also shows that from the tenderest age, and in a very short time, a child's mind can attain a wonderful breadth of development which must make its influence felt, not only
during his few years of study, but throughout his whole life.
"Whereas by the difficult method hitherto in vogue, children from five to eight years old learnt nothing but letters, spelling, and reading, your pupils have not only succeeded in these things to a degree which is altogether unprecedented, but the cleverest among them are also distinguished for their good writing, and their talent for drawing and arithmetic. In all of them you have aroused and cultivated such a taste for history, natural history, geography, measuring, etc., that their future masters will find their task incredibly lightened if they do but know how to turn this preparation to advantage.
"In future the higher classes will receive from your hands, or from those of a master who follows your method, not children who still require to spend years over the first elements, but children who know them thoroughly, and possess besides a solid foundation of useful knowledge.
"Your method of teaching has also many other advantages over those that have been employed hitherto. Not only does it increase the rate of the child's progress, and give variety to his knowledge, but it is especially suitable for the home, where the mother, or an elder child, or a sensible servant, could easily carry it out. What an advantage this is both for parents and children!
"We do not think it is exceeding our province to say that you have rendered lasting services to our children and schools, and that we are proud to have been chosen by you to help to carry out the noble plans which do you so much honour, and which will make the task of future schoolmasters so much lighter. In your zealous efforts to realize an idea so carefully thought out, and so thoroughly adapted to the needs of humanity, may you not be hampered by the critical position of our country, by any lack of public support, by jealousy or any other passion. May nothing, in short, turn you aside from your favourite work of education and the ennobling of childhood.
"Would that we might be able to afford you some slight assistance towards this great end.
"With republican greeting and true regard,
"In the name of the School Commission,
"The President: EM. KUPFERSCHMID."
"Burgdorf, March 31st, 1800. "Convinced of the truth of this testimony, and in token of my regard, I have affixed the seal of my office to this document.
"The Prefect of the district of Burgdorf: J. SCHNELL."
This testimony does the greatest honour to the Burgdorf Commission. In spite of all the blunders, irregularities, and oddities of the new method, in spite of its evident defects of form, and the many prejudices they excited, the commissioners succeeded in discovering the real merit of the work as neither Businger nor Zschokke had been able to do; and yet Pestalozzi was not less awkward at Burgdorf than at Stanz.
The document, moreover, contains abundant proof that the old man was not so incapable of teaching as was generally supposed, for it points to real, rapid, and astonishing progress on the part of his scholars. Nor was Pestalozzi so unpractical as he himself believed; we need no better proof of this than the very practical inventions by which he sought to make teaching easier; the use of slates for writing and drawing for instance, and of large movable letters for reading. The latter accompanied his book for teaching reading already referred to. It was by their means that he so quickly taught the little Burgdorf children to read. Movable letters have since been very generally used, but not always with Pestalozzi's success; often indeed they have been little more than useless playthings. We must also mention his tables for teaching arithmetic by sense-impression; they were not completed till afterwards, but already in his small class at Burgdorf he made use of boards on which units were represented by dots.
Such was the first success of the "method," the first at least that was publicly proclaimed. But Pestalozzi's joy in it was soon disturbed, for he was called away to Neuhof by the painful news of the dangerous illness of his beloved son, Jacobli.
In a few days all immediate danger had disappeared, but the patient remained paralyzed. The poor father passed his Easter vacation at the bedside of his dear and only child, and then sadly returned to Burgdorf.
It was probably in consequence of the favourable report that had just been published on his work in the preparatory