« ForrigeFortsæt »
inexact word he seemed to have abandoned, and speaks of imitating the mechanism of Nature as if he had forgotten the spiritual essence of the heart and mind of man.
But his real thought is clearly seen in the following extract:
"The mechanism of Nature is everywhere sublime, but simple. Imitate it, oh man! Imitate Nature, that from the seed of the greatest tree produces nothing at first but a scarcely perceptible growth, which, slowly and insensibly increasing from day to day, and hour to hour, gradually develops into trunk, branches, twigs, and leaves.
"Observe carefully how Nature protects and strengthens each new part as it is developed, that it may serve in its turn as the source of still further development.
"Observe how the flower only develops after having been formed in the heart of the bud, how the beauty of its first days soon passes away, giving place to the fruit, as yet a feeble growth, but already perfect in its essential features, and how for months this fruit, hanging to the branch which nourishes it, grows and develops till at last ripe and perfected it falls from the tree.
"Observe how Nature no sooner lifts the first shoot above the ground than it sends forth the first germ of the root, and gradually carries deep into the bosom of the earth the noblest part of the tree; how by a subtle process it develops the motionless trunk from the heart of the root, the branches from the heart of the trunk, and the twigs from the heart of the branches; how, to each part, no matter how weak or how insignificant, it supplies the necessary nourishment, yet nothing useless, inappropriate, or superfluous."
Under the name of the mechanism of Nature, it is evidently the vegetable organism that Pestalozzi is here describing and proposing as a model for the educator. We may conclude, therefore, that whenever, in talking of education, he speaks of mechanism, it is organism that he means us to understand. That the mind and the heart of man, no less than his body, develop according to organic laws, is indeed the fundamental principle of Pestalozzi's doctrine, as we shall see still more clearly presently. The important document we have been quoting, concludes as follows:
"Do not, oh man, neglect the great psychological law by which the nearness or distance of objects determines their positive effect on your impressions and development. The child who goes miles in search of a tree that grows before his door will never learn to know trees. The child who finds nothing worthy of attention in his home will not easily find anything to interest him in the whole world, nor will he who is not moved to love by his mother's eyes be moved to kindliness by the tears of men, though he should roam the world over. Man becomes good when he listens to the calls to virtue and wisdom made on him by his immediate surroundings; he becomes the opposite when, neglecting these, he seeks others in distant lands.
"Nature has two principal and general means of directing human activity towards the cultivation of the arts, and these should be employed, if not before, at least side by side with. any particular means. They are singing and the sense of the beautiful, The mother lulls her child with her song, though here, as in everything else, we do not follow the law of Nature. Before the child is a year old, the mother's song ceases; by that time she is, as a rule, no longer entirely a mother for the child, who is already forgetting his first impressions; indeed for him, as for everybody else, she is often little more than a busy, overburdened woman. Ah! why should it be thus? Why has not the progress of the arts during so many centuries been able to find something to carry on the work of these lullabies in after life? Why has it not yet given us a series of national songs capable of elevating the very humblest souls and leading from the simple cradle melody to the sublime hymn of praise to God? I am incapable of supplying the want, alas! I can only call
attention to it.
"And it is the same with the sense of the beautiful. Nature is full of lovely sights, yet Europe has done nothing either to awaken in the poor a sense for these beauties, or to arrange them in such a way as to produce a series of impressions capable of developing this sense. In vain does the sun rise and set; in vain do forest, meadow, mountain, and valley spread their innumerable wonders before our eyes; all this is nothing to us.
"And here again I can do nothing. But if ever popular education should cease to be the barbarous absurdity it now
is, and put itself into harmony with the real needs of our nature, this want will be supplied.
"Nature does much for humanity, but we have forsaken its path. The poor especially are far removed from its lifegiving springs. I have seen that this is so, and in all my experience I have not seen that it was ever otherwise. Hence the need which impels me not merely to remedy obvious defects, but to get to the very root of the educational evil which in Europe is destroying the most numerous class of the population.
"I know what I am doing. But neither the difficulties of the undertaking nor the inadequacy of my means can prevent my bringing my grain of sand for the construction of the building of which Europe stands so much in need. And, gentlemen, in offering you the results of the labours which have absorbed my life, I ask you but one thing, and it is this: that in examining my ideas you will rigidly separate anything that seems doubtful from what you feel to be incontestably true."
During this summer of 1800, Pestalozzi did not obtain in his higher class so much success as had crowned his efforts in the lower class the winter before. It will be remembered that Ramsauer admits that "most of his pupils gave him a very great deal of trouble." Stapfer, too, states that the old man's appearance and manners often compromised his authority in his class, and to such a degree that the prefect Schnell was obliged to intervene.
It could hardly be otherwise. Pestalozzi's method was at that time exclusively and excessively elementary; it dealt with human knowledge in its first and simplest principles; it was only fit, in fact, for quite young beginners. It was therefore almost impossible to apply it to scholars who for many years had been taught on a totally different method. Indeed, as these young people thought themselves already tolerably well educated, these simple, childish exercises, far from interesting them, only served to wound their vanity. The same thing happened again afterwards, and the work which had been so successful at the Burgdorf institute had much less success at Yverdun.
Whilst Pestalozzi was thus teaching in the second class in Burgdorf, he was also endeavouring, with Stapfer's help, to
find some new sphere of activity, for he felt that the excessive labour his work necessitated was wearing him out.
The Helvetian Directory, that had looked so favourably upon Pestalozzi's educational schemes, had been replaced, on the 7th of January, 1800, by an Executive Commission of seven members. On the 18th of the following February, Stapfer had addressed to this Commission a report drawn up in French, in which, after again calling attention to Pestalozzi's views and the success of his teaching at Burgdorf, he continued:
"It would be unpardonable of the Helvetian Government not to use the talents of this remarkable man for the benefit of the country, and not to turn to advantage the virtues of an old man whose ardour to alleviate the sufferings of his fellow-creatures has not been quenched by years, and whose heart, even in the winter of his life, is still eager to be useful, and still burns with the sacred love of humanity."
He finishes by asking, in Pestalozzi's name, for permission to publish his writings, and for a loan of some seventy pounds, to be devoted partly to the expenses of printing the elementary books at which he was working, partly to the foundation of a special educational establishment; lastly, with a view to the building which would be necessary, he asks for a free gift of two hundred trees from the national forests in the neighbourhood of Neuhof. For security Pestalozzi offered to deposit his manuscripts, valued by certain impartial publishers at about seventy pounds, and undertook to devote to the new establishment all profits from the sale of his works, and, according to his means, to receive poor children free of charge.
The Executive Commission had on the 25th of February decided to advance the money on condition that Pestalozzi should pay them back as soon as his institution enabled him to do so, and it had asked the legislative councils to confirm this decision. It had, however, refused the trees for build, ing, on the ground that the forests in Aargau were in a very bad condition, but it had offered to supply him with weed from another part of Switzerland instead. Pestalozzi expressed his thanks in the following letter:
"Citizen Councillors of State,
"Till now I had feared that I should die without having received any help from my country towards the one great end of my life. You can judge then how your decision, by removing this fear, has restored my courage and filled my heart with gratitude.
"With respect and patriotic fidelity,
"Burgdorf, the 6th of March, 1800."
The extremely unsatisfactory state of the finances of the Republic, however, interfered with the carrying out of the decision. Even afterwards, when Pestalozzi had really founded and put into working order the Burgdorf institute, he only received twenty-three pounds from the State purse for the first year, fifteen of which were to go towards the expenses of printing his first elementary book, How to Teach Spelling and Reading. Moreover, the refusal of wood at Neuhof had interfered with Pestalozzi's plans, and compelled him to postpone their execution. He was therefore obliged to go on with his fatiguing work in his class; but his chest was not strong enough to bear the violent strain he put upon it from morning till night, and he was soon as ill as he had been at Stanz. It was about this time that he wrote as follows to his friend Zschokke:
"For thirty years my life has been a well-nigh hopeless struggle against the most frightful poverty. For thirty years I have had to forego many of the barest necessaries of life, and have had to shun the society of my fellowmen from sheer lack of decent clothes. Many and many a ime have I gone without a dinner, and eaten in bitterness a dry crust of bread on the road, at a time when even the poorest were seated round a table. All this I have suffered, and am still suffering to-day, and with no other object than the realization of my plans for helping the poor."
Once more disappointed in his hopes, Pestalozzi saw his life and strength apparently wasted, and his most cherished schemes on the point of being ruined for ever, when, happily for humanity, Providence came to his rescue by sending him a helper in every way worthy of him, such a man, indeed, as he never expected to find-Hermann Krusi.