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to the often-repeated question: "What is the Pestalozzian method?"
The Song of the Swan was the last of these attempts, but, notwithstanding the luminous touches in which it abounds, it was no better understood than the others. The fact is, that in order perfectly to understand Pestalozzi's philo sophical thought, it is necessary to follow him throughout his life, and above all throughout his long series of writings. There can then no longer be any doubt that what he aimed at, what he preached, and what he partially realized in his practical work was, if we may use the word in an immaterial sense, an organic education.
But the benefits of a true philosophy are not confined to those alone who are able to formulate it. Whole nations are almost unconsciously penetrated by philosophical ideas, which, gradually influencing feelings, opinions and conduct, lend to each civilization its distinctive features.
Pestalozzi's philosophy has already begun to produce an effect of this sort. It is very little known and yet its influence is spreading. Among the men who occupy themselves with education, there are few whose minds do not bear some trace of it, even though they may know nothing of Pestalozzi's labours.
The fact is, that the large numbers of men who in some way or another came into contact with his work, all carried away something valuable with them, many perhaps without knowing it. And then afterwards, these same men, scattered over many countries as teachers, writers, or even as private individuals, diffused around them, as it were, some portion of the master's spirit, even when criticizing and condemning his method as they had seen it practised.
And so we are struck to-day by the fact that in hardly any country is anything written upon education, or any educational institution founded or reformed, without principles being invoked which we owe in a great measure to Pestalozzi. They are, indeed, rarely attributed to the Swiss philosopher, but generally to Rabelais, Montaigne, Charron, the Port Royalists, or Rousseau, to mention French writers only.
It is indeed true that Pestalozzi's philosophy contains many truths which had been discovered and proclaimed to the world long before him, but before him these truths had not been seen to depend upon a common central principle,
they had not been applied to a rational system of teaching, they had not been built up into a system of elementary education suited to the wants of the people. Further, these truths had not been proclaimed without a great admixture of error, so that they had been of little practical value for education.
But when the influence of Pestalozzi's work, an influence indeed often unsuspected, began to make itself felt by opening men's minds to a conception of rational education, the true principles to be found in the older writers excited more attention and were better understood, and society was seized with a desire to apply them to the reform of a system of education, the defects and vices of which it was no longer possible to ignore.
The time has come, then, when it is of the highest importance to obtain an exact and complete knowledge of Pestalozzi's work, that we may confer upon nations the benefits of a rational education, and thus ensure the future of civilization..
PESTALOZZI'S ELEMENTARY METHOD.
General statement. Distinction between this method and the different ways in which attempts have been made to apply it. Regarded by its author as an indispensable means for raising the people, and establishing order and harmony in society. Still the chief remedy for many social evils.
FROM his childhood Pestalozzi had been profoundly touched by the poverty and sufferings of a great number of his fellow-countrymen, and especially by their state of moral and intellectual destitution; he had longed to rescue them, and make "men" of them, and had worked for this noble end with all the power of his ardent, loving soul. It was in concentrating his desires and actions on this single object that he arrived at the philosophical conclusions which inspired his whole after life.
It was to elementary education that he first applied his principles; and his marvellous success proved the truth of his views. We will not here enter into all the details of his methods, but merely call attention in a few words to the many improvements which are owing to him, and which, adopted by most of our schools, are to-day rendering important and incontestable services.
Pestalozzi's philosophical doctrine has certain immediate and obvious consequences which regulate the elementary method of teaching.
To learn, the child must be always active. He learns only by his own impressions, and not from words, which must accompany his ideas to fix them, but are impotent to produce them.
Words apart from the ideas they represent have no value, and, inasmuch as it is possible for the child to connect them with ideas to which they do not belong, are even sometimes
dangerous. The child must, as it were, be provided with fruitful and salutary impressions, following each other in a natural and carefully graduated order. He must then be required to express clearly in speech all the ideas these impressions suggest; and, lastly, he must be made to obtain a thorough mastery of each idea before being introduced to
a new one.
These principles had been recognized by Pestalozzi as early as 1774, at the time that he was endeavouring to bring up his child, then between three and four years of age, in accordance with the ideas of Rousseau. He had seen in them a means for regenerating society by the reform of elementary education; and without considering his strength, he conceived an irresistible desire to put his hand to the work. This is the explanation of those successive enterprises in which, so firm was his faith in these principles that, despite failure and ruin, he steadily persevered in his endeavour to give a practical proof of their truth.
In reviewing the different means for elementary teaching that we owe to Pestalozzi, we shall follow the order of their use in the course of the child's development.
The exercises of sense-impression and language, afterwards called object-lessons, are intended to teach the child to observe and to talk-to recount, that is, all the impressions he receives from the objects which surround him, and to which the master calls his attention. In this way the child's words and sentences, which may be corrected, if necessary, are really his own work, and express his own thoughts.
Sense-impression was also applied to arithmetic, the child learning numbers and their relations by the sight of objects that he could count. Pestalozzi employed for this purpose his table of units and table of fractions. The series of these exercises being rather long, people tried to shorten it, and Pestalozzi's tables have been replaced by other similar inventions. These changes, however, have brought more loss than gain, for the best pupils of the schools of to-day are very far behind Pestalozzi's in mental arithmetic.
The graphic exercises without rule or compass served equally well as a preparation for linear drawing, elementary geometry, or writing. For these exercises Pestalozzi used slates, which, from the ease with which they can be cleaned, have been of immense service in primary schools.
In drawing the children were taught to judge of the length of lines and size of angles by the eye, and to work out a certain number of combinations on a given plan. They were not limited to copying models, but had to design symmetrical and graceful figures; and thus they were exercising at the same time, not only their eye and hand, but their taste and inventive faculties.
Pestalozzi called relation of forms or sense-impression of forms those graphic exercises which served as an introduction to geometry. The child had first to distinguish between vertical, horizontal, oblique, and parallel lines; right, acute, and obtuse angles; different kinds of triangles, quadrilaterals, etc. Then he had to find out at how many points a given number of straight lines could be made to cut one another; or how many angles, triangles, or quadrilaterals could be formed from them. These exercises gradually led the child to the first problems of theoretical geometry, which he attempted with all the more pleasure that he was able to find most of the demonstrations for himself.
Writing gives little difficulty to children whose hand and eye have been already well trained. Pestalozzi taught it side by side with reading, but he did not begin these exercises till after those we have already mentioned. Before he taught at Burgdorf, he had already drawn up a manual for teaching to read, in which he had first suggested the use of movable letters. His method, which has to-day been generally adopted, was to teach from a series of groups of letters, arranged in order of difficulty.
Pestalozzi's method of teaching geography has completely revolutionized the teaching of that science. The child is first taught to observe the country about his home, not on the map but on the land itself; it is the child himself who draws the map, correcting the mistakes in his first attempt after another visit to the spot. Having thus learned to understand and read maps, he continues his study by the help of large blank maps hung on the wall.
From the very first day geography is connected with other sciences, such as natural history, agriculture, local geology, etc., which make it very attractive even for children.
Pestalozzi taught the elements of natural history by his exercises of sense-impression and language; that is to say, the master brought different objects under the children's