« ForrigeFortsæt »
direct observation, and by judicious suggestions encouraged them to talk about them. Preference was given to those objects that the children brought home from their walks, but these were supplemented by collections of minerals, plants, stuffed animals, etc.
In the exercises that we have described, Pestalozzi's chief means for maintaining the attention and activity of the whole class, and for fixing names in the memory of the children, was to make them repeat each correct statement several times in chorus.
When this is done in strict time, the result is a sort of chant which is not particularly agreeable to listen to, but which has no serious disadvantages. The children must
be taught not to shout, and care must be taken that each one takes part in the exercise, any who seem inattentive being questioned separately. But Pestalozzi's mind was so often full of other thoughts, and he so often allowed his zeal to carry him away, that these precautions were often entirely neglected, the result being a noise and confusion which not only spoilt everything, but led many who had no other data to guide them to utterly condemn the method. And yet the plan in itself was excellent; nor has anything yet been found to replace it. It had too a hygienic advantage, inasmuch as it strengthened the children's chests by constantly exercising the organs of speech. But it has had bad imitators, who have copied the form without catching the spirit, making children repeat statements which they had not themselves formulated, which were not the expression of their own observation, and which sometimes even had not been explained to them. This practice, diametrically opposed as it was to the method of the man whose name it bore, must have been the cause of many an unsound judgment upon the master's doctrine.
Singing played an important part in all Pestalozzi's establishments. The youngest children first learned to sing as they had learned to talk-by imitation. In this way they formed their voice, ear, and taste, before knowing their notes. When they came to theory and notation, time was taken first, sound being left till afterwards. The reason of this was, that time being, as it were, a mathematical part of music, the children easily grasped it, having been well prepared for it by their previous training in counting
Every lesson in theory ended with a few songs by way of
The admission of gymnastics into the programme of a
school was another innovation due to Pestalozzi. He attached quite as much importance to this exercise as to any of the other lessons. It was in gymnastics too that the value of gradation, that favourite principle of his, was brought out most clearly.
We cannot here speak of the other branches of instruction, because the works in which he sought to apply his method to them were never finished. We will merely add a few words on the subject of the study of language, on account of its great importance.
Pestalozzi's pupils learned to use their mother-tongue by constant and varied practice. In his first undertakings the language learned in this way was German, but at Yverdun French was added, and after that time the children were exercised in both languages. But it was also necessary to teach them grammar, and as Pestalozzi had not applied his method to that particular branch of study, the masters had to be satisfied with the books already in use. Pestalozzi
seems to have sought in vain for a method of teaching grammar in accordance with his principles; however, with a zeal and perseverance that nothing could daunt, he continued his attempt to find some simple and rational method of teaching foreign and dead languages to the end of his life.
We have only been able to give here a general idea of Pestalozzi's application of his method to the different branches of elementary education. The complete series of these exercises will be found in our Philosophy and Practice of Education.
But we cannot repeat too often that Pestalozzi's method is spirit and life, and that before it can bear fruit this spirit must have sunk deep into the master's mind and heart. A man will understand that he is faithful to this method when his children, freed from all artificial stimulus, and eage merely for truth, knowledge, and increased powers, bring a joyful diligence to all his lessons.
1 We think Pestalozzi would in a great measure have found what he wanted in Becker's Organism of Language, a book which was not pub lished till long after his death.
It is true that this happy result is sometimes obtained by men who are far from thinking themselves followers of Pestalozzi, whose name, perhaps, they have never even heard. But this is because the master's philosophy, spreading slowly and silently, has influenced their thought without their knowledge.
Would that its influence had reached everywhere, for then we should not so often see the natural law of human development violated in the home and the school, where it sometimes seems as though the object were rather to hinder its action than to help it on.
Publications intended for children are, however, improv ing; indeed, for some years now, marvellous, insipid stories and other artificial puerilities have been more or less given up, and a serious attempt made to interest children while giving them solid instruction. This is a great step forward, but it is not all. A large number of children's books, especially in France, may still be reproached with making an abuse of fiction by multiplying dramatic and romantic situations, and by interesting the reader less by the instruction they give than by the adventures and incidents which are its framework. And thus children grow weary of these things, their taste is spoiled, and it becomes difficult for them to take pleasure in true history or real travels, and often indeed in any serious and sustained intellectual work.
We have now given a general sketch of Pestalozzi's elementary method in its application to teaching, properly so called. But the instruction of children was not the only, nor even the chief aim to which this extraordinary man devoted the ardent activity of his life; he was anxious above all else to reform their moral and religious education, and develop their hearts, and so form pious, moral men, devoted to their duty, their neighbour, and their country.
We must first remark that this moral development already resulted to a certain extent from the means employed for teaching; indeed, voluntary, varied, and steady activity and the quest of truth for its own sake, and not for reasons of pride or interest, were eminently calculated to awaken the noblest sentiments of the soul, and establish the supremacy of the spirit over the flesh. But Pestalozzi's method can also be applied in a more direct manner to the development of the child's heart, for since it always makes the child's best feel
ings the spring of action, these feelings are constantly gaining in strength. It is thus that for the moral training of children, Pestalozzi relies much less upon discourses and exhortations than upon the practice of the Christian virtues -faith, love, patience, pardon, etc., a practice to which he wishes the child to be accustomed from the very cradle, such small things being utilized at first as may perhaps seem trifles to us, but which are nevertheless the foundations of all piety, morality, and wisdom.
The influence of Pestalozzi's method upon the child's moral and religious development has been somewhat underrated, especially by certain pious men who feel the need of the Gospel for the sanctification of souls, but who, a prey to a fatal illusion, think that the explanation of dogma alone can sow the seeds of Christian sentiments in a young heart, and that this will always be enough. Pestalozzi said: "Elementary education alone can regenerate and save society." "No," say they, "the Gospel alone can perform this miracle." But there is no real contradiction between these two statements.
Society can only be raised by the raising of the individual Now, if the Gospel is to raise men, it must not only sink deep into their minds, but become as it were a part of their being, forming their conscience, and supplying the principle upon which their feelings, aspirations, and will must depend.
The preaching of the Gospel, however, does not always suffice for this; even when souls have been really touched, the effects are too often transitory, disappearing with the generation that experiences them. A period of faith is often succeeded by a period of incredulity, and it is by no means an unusual thing to see the children of fervent Christians Christian in nothing but the name. And so it comes to pass that, even in countries where it has been preached for centuries, the Gospel is still a stranger to the hearts of the majority of men.
Christian truth does sometimes take possession of a man in a moment, and such absolute possession that it never again forsakes him; but such cases are rare. As a general rule, a thorough education is needed, not the outward and superficial memory-education of the time before Pestalozzi, but elementary education, as he calls it, an education, that is, which sets the feelings and faculties in motion, gives them
a direction, and, by thus making him really assimilate morality and knowledge, renders the child the chief agent in his own development.
The philosophy of the eighteenth century declared man to be originally good, but spoiled by society. This was equivalent to saying that society, in spite of being the work of man who is good, is in itself bad.
In fighting against this deplorable error, men unfortunately fell into the opposite mistake, not only declaring man to be originally bad, but denying that he bore within him a single germ of good. And thus, by a very natural consequence, Pestalozzi was condemned because he looked upon education as a development. And yet it is absolutely certain that if there were no trace of good feelings in the child's soul, good feelings could exercise no influence over him, and that if there were no seeds of good in his heart, all men's efforts for his moral education would be worse than useless.
As we have seen, Pestalozzi undoubtedly recognized the original existence of evil in the heart of man, though in stating his views he too often left this important truth in the background, partly perhaps because he was chiefly struck by the innumerable germs of goodness, dormant it is true, but yet alive, in even the most degraded souls, partly because, his aim being to interest his contemporaries in the work by which he hoped to regenerate and save the suffering people, he felt bound before everything else to prove that such a regeneration was possible.
Whatever may be the aim of education, success is not possible without method; some procedure, that is, in conformity with the natural law of man's development. And thus, in whatever religious or philosophical doctrine we may wish to train children, we must always take for a startingpoint their thoughts and feelings as they are, according to the axiom which says that before you can take a man anywhere, you must first go where he is; their powers, too, must be developed by exercise, and they must be taught to apply their strength to raising themselves slowly to the knowledge of truth and the practice of duty.
Now, this is just what Pestalozzi proposed to do. Considered in itself, his method is independent of all dogmatic opinions, and it is for this reason that it will never grow old, but at all times and in all countries be capable of appli