« ForrigeFortsæt »
class, that Pestalozzi was now appointed to the second class, which contained about sixty children of both sexes, of ages varying from six to fifteen, who were taught Bible history, geography, Swiss history, arithmetic, and writing. Several of the pupils also received elementary lessons in Latin from the master of the first class.
It was in this second class that in May, 1800, Pestalozzı resumed his experiments. The activity he now displayed has been curiously described by one of his pupils, who was then a child of ten years old, but who thirty-eight years afterwards published his autobiography, with the title of A Short Sketch of my Pedagogical Life. This was John Ramsauer, a poor orphan, who, driven from his native place by the misfortunes of the war, had found a home with a charitable lady at Schleumen, near Burgdorf. Trained by Pestalozzi, he became a most successful teacher, and was finally appointed tutor to the princes and princesses of Oldenburg.
The following is Ramsauer's account of Pestalozzi and his school at Burgdorf during the summer of 1800:
"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. And thus, when my benefactress went away to Berne for the winter, and gave the two children she had rescued the choice of going with her or staying at Burgdorf, I decided at once for the latter course, whereas my companion preferred the beautiful and wealthy capital.
"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, arith
metic, and exercises in language. We neither read nor wrote; we had neither books nor copy-books; we learnt nothing by heart. For drawing we were given neither models nor directions; only slates and red chalk, and while Pestalozzi 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 Krusi and Buss (Pestalozzi's assistants), 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 practice 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.)
"A hole in the paper.' "Pestalozzi:
"Very well, say after me:
"I see a hole in the paper.
"I see a long hole in the paper.
"Through the hole I see the wall.
"Through the long narrow hole I see the wall.
"I see figures on the paper.
"I see black figures on the paper.
"I see round black figures on the paper.
"I see a square yellow figure on the paper.
"By the side of the square yellow figure I see a round black one.
"The square figure is joined to the round figure by a large black stripe, etc.'
"The exercises on natural history were not so good.
"As Pestalozzi in his zeal took no notice of time, he often continued till eleven o'clock what he had begun at eight, though by ten he was already hot and tired. We generally knew it was eleven by the noise the children from the other schools made in the street, and we then very often ran out with a rush without asking permission. Although afterwards Pestalozzi always strictly forbade his masters to use corporal punishment, he did not always spare the children himself. It is true that most of them led him a hard life. I felt a great pity for him, and tried to behave better on that account. He very soon noticed it, and often at eleven o'clock, when it was fine, he took me with him in his walks on the banks of the Emme, where he went to search for minerals. I had to help him, but I was very much puzzled to know which to choose among the thousands of stones on the banks. He himself knew very little about it; but he always filled his handkerchief and pockets with stones, which he carried home and never looked at again."
After reading this grotesque description, we can hardly wonder that at this time Pestalozzi's work was occasionally looked upon as mere folly. We must not forget, however, that Ramsauer was then only ten years old, and that in all probability the points of Pestalozzi's method which made the strongest impressions upon him were its weaknesses and eccentricities.
It is besides perfectly true that in his school at Burgdorf Pestalozzi's work was still tentative and experimental, and that he concerned himself comparatively little with the immediate instruction of his pupils. He was not yet clear himself as to what his method really was, and could hardly have given an explanation of it. He was, in fact, still seeking a principle.
It was in this same summer of 1800 that the clue was given him by a word let fall by a member of the Executive Commission, Mr. Gleyre, of the Canton of Vaud. Pestalozzi himself relates the incident in the first letter to Gessner
(How Gertrude Teaches Her Children), dated the 1st of January, 1801:
"Whilst, in the dust of the school, I thus sought to fulfil the duties it imposed on me, not superficially, but with my whole strength, I was confronted at each moment by facts which threw increasing light on the physico-mechanical laws by which our mind is rendered capable of receiving and retaining impressions. Each day I endeavoured more and more to follow these. laws in my teaching, although I did not thoroughly grasp the principle upon which they reposed until last summer, when Councillor Gleyre, to whom I was trying to explain my method, suddenly exclaimed: 'I see, you want to make education mechanical.' He had hit the nail on the head, and supplied me with the very word I wanted to express my aim and the means I employed. I might perhaps have remained a long time without finding it, for I had no clear conception of what I was doing, but merely followed a strong though vague feeling which told me what to do without telling me why. It could not, indeed, be otherwise. For thirty years I had read no books; I was, in fact, no longer able to read. I had little power left of expressing abstract ideas, and lived, as it were, amidst a crowd of intuitive convictions, the outcome of weighty experiences for the most part forgotten."
It must be added that in the second edition (1821) of the work we have just quoted, Pestalozzi judges differently. He points out that the word mechanical expresses an idea which is contrary to his views, and that if he adopted it at first, it was only because his ignorance of French prevented his understanding its real meaning.
He had, however, begun by accepting it and using it, and we can imagine the sort of impression strangers must have carried away, when he told them that his aim was to make education mechanical.
His error was not of long duration. An account of his doctrine, written shortly after his conversation with Gleyre, begins thus: I want to psychologize education." Thus he is already making a new word to replace the one he now feels to be unfit.
No one had been more pleased with Pestalozzi's success in
the little elementary school than Stapfer. But as, in spite of this success, the old man's views were still comparatively ignored, Stapfer founded, in June, 1800, a Society of Friends of Education, for the purpose of making them more generally known. The Society appointed a Commission, chosen from its own members, to examine Pestalozzi's method and report on it. The Commissioners, amongst whom were such distinguished men as Paul Ústeri, of Zurich, and Luthi, of Soleure, asked Pestalozzi to furnish them with a short account of his doctrine and method of working. Pestalozzi at once consented, and drew up the statement of which we have already quoted the opening sentence.
This document, which is Pestalozzi's first systematic statement of his "method," is of very considerable importance, not only because at this time he was still working alone, but because it sets forth his doctrine with a clearness and precision that are hardly to be found in any other of his writings. Unfortunately it was never published, and has remained almost unknown. It is wanting even in the collection published by Seyffarth, at Brandenburg, which is the most complete edition of Pestalozzi's works. Niederer, we believe, incorporated it in his Notes on Pestalozzi, Aix-la-Chapelle, 1828, but this book is no longer to be found.
The author begins by developing the idea contained in his first sentence: "I want to psychologize human education." He explains that his aim is to base all methods of teaching on the eternal laws which regulate the development of the human mind, and that he has endeavoured, by conforming to these laws, to simplify the elements of knowledge, and reduce them to such psychologically connected series of notions as shall ensure even for the lowest classes of society a real physical, intellectual, and moral development.
He then shows that sense-impression, joined to exercises in language for expressing the different impressions received, must be the foundation of education, and he points to language, drawing, writing, arithmetic, and the art of measuring as being the most general elements of culture, as well as those that the experience of centuries has consecrated. He then gives a few series of elementary notions which he has already drawn up, and indicates the branches of study for which such work has still to be done.
In the course of his exposition he often comes back to the