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can all testify to the occasional stupefying effect of what are called Object lessons. And yet the idea that, innate power once developed, the child would teach himself from his surroundings was a very valuable idea for the schoolmaster to apply in the schoolroom, and this became possible, if not inevitable, to those who studied Pestalozzi. The main revolution thus created was the destruction of the partition wall between real life and schoolroom life. The child, in the Pestalozzian School, learnt that the selfsame powers and activities which made "mischief" so entrancing out of school-the desire to observe, to investigate, to experiment for himself-were the very same powers and activities which would avail him most in the schoolroom.
Froebel, who visited Pestalozzi in 1805 for a fortnight, and again in 1808-10 for two years, saw the value of this for a stage below that of the schoolroom proper. No less imbued than Pestalozzi with the importance of working at the individual for Society and at Society for the individual, Froebel, though his scope and aims differ from those of Pestalozzi, elaborated his kindergarten system and invented an apparatus which is complete, flexible, adaptable, for giving the child, whatever his race or tongue, elementary notions of number, form, colour and language, the four elements, as Froebel held, of all knowledge. But to say that Froebel's contribution to the problems of Infant Education consists in bricks, in mat-plaiting, in chequer-drawing, and in clay-modelling, is to give proof of signal incapacity for appreciating his true work. In truth, some of us have, in moments of despair, almost regretted that he ever elaborated his concrete instruments. They have no doubt often been stupidly used and allowed to obscure the principles which they should, in part at least, elucidate.
His conception of childhood has much in common with that of Wordsworth, as will be apparent to those who read the Mother's Games and Songs, the Education of Man, and the
poems of Wordsworth, which I have already mentioned'. In part this conception must, as I believe, be discarded by the really observant and devoted teacher: and it must be discarded because it is not borne out by experience. Our modern infants do not always,-so far, at least, as I may speak from experience,-trail clouds of glory about them in our infant schoolrooms of to-day. But Froebel and Wordsworth are still wise in bidding us take heed to train and develop that nobler and purer self which no less an authority than Herbart insists does exist in all. It is in training and developing the ideal self that we may make it the real self: and this is specially the right line on which to work in the early and essentially plastic years of life.
The idea that hand-work and head-work should be simultaneous and mutually complementary, stimulating and suggestive, is the root idea of that perpetual realisation of thought in act on which Froebel places such emphasis. His own reminiscences of childhood led him to desire ardently that the wearying sense of contradiction, of fragmentariness, of antagonism, which so often disturbs or even arrests mental development should be provided against. Thus harmony is his great watchword it is in an atmosphere of harmony that the religious and consoling idea of the unity of all life must become the central truth to the individual.
Students of Froebel find it at times difficult to follow his philosophy, and no doubt he lacks lucidity in exposition; but if we remember that many of his favourite words and phrases are those of contemporary philosophy his meaning will become easier to grasp.
Kindergartens were first opened in England in the early fifties, but England is hard to move in matters educational. Still, two results began, by slow, insidious degrees, to make
1 See also Froebel and Education by Self-activity, by H. C. Bowen, especially Chapter IV.
2 See Education of Man. Trans. by W. N. Hailmann, pp. 30-39.
themselves felt: first, that teaching of all elements should be in the concrete; second, that teachers, especially of little children, should, in addition to receiving a sound, general education, be specially prepared for their work. I am not defending the way in which these ideas were carried out in the past or are carried out in the present: I simply note them as being, in my opinion, mainly due to Froebelian influences. I regard them as blessed ideas both for teachers and children, and I therefore bow reverently before the genius who forced us to give them even that imperfect and halting trial which is all we can claim to-day as having been won for them. The blessedness of getting hold of a vital idea in education is after all this: that no amount of stupidity in application can really kill it. One day, after ages of bungling, of stripes and tears and theories and pedantry, we hit upon the true application, and lo! the idea is there unspoilt, and goes forth blessing and to bless.
In other directions Pestalozzi and Froebel are influencing us; perhaps it would be truer to say that they are beginning at last to influence us. Their influence may be recognised in the happier tone of our schoolrooms, in the greater freedom of our tiny pupils, and in our more effectual knowledge of childnature, in spite perhaps of what is fashionable to-day under the title of Child-Study.
In 1802, Charles Lamb, writing to Coleridge, regretted the substitution of Mrs Barbauld's "stuff" and Mrs Trimmer's "stuff" for all the old classics of the nursery. He deplores the loss of Goody Two Shoes, of which, as we know, Goldsmith was believed to be the author'. Mrs Trimmer, if we judge her from her once widely-read History of the Robins, does really deserve the epithet which Charles Lamb uses: but I demur to it being applied to Mrs Barbauld's Prose Hymns.
"Hang them!" writes Charles Lamb, "I mean the cursed Barbauld crew, those blights and blasts of all that is human in
1 See in Journal of Education, Nov. 1900, a letter from Mr Charles Welsh on this point.
man and child." The delicate, fanciful genius which created that exquisite "Dream Children,-a reverie," redresses the balance for us the balance upset by the correctors of youth à la Trimmer or their instructors à la Barbauld. The moral and edifying tale is rare to-day; we have books for children which, without being written down to what we poor grown-ups suppose to be their level, do aim at delighting, refreshing, and interesting their readers.
Miss Martineau's Settlers at Home and the delightful Crofton Boys came before the century was fairly middle-aged: in its old age it was cheered by Alice in Wonderland, and in its dotage comes the Jungle Book.
In conclusion, the story of Infant Education in England during our century is, on the whole, one that moves us to hope, especially if we consider the starting-point. We need no longer stifle our courage by defining the work of education as une tempête de l'esprit; nor need we confuse ourselves by a vague phrase such as the "return to Nature." Mere altering conditions, even for the better, is not, and never will be, enough; that point certainly needs insistence to-day. Mr Fairchild was right so far about the human heart. But he, and all like enemies of the human race, were wrong, miserably, stupidly wrong, when they thought that to insult, to browbeat, to sermonise, to degrade human nature in its own eyes, was the curative plan. The opposite is, I believe, true: to ennoble, to encourage, to study, to elevate child-nature is the more excellent way—and in this more excellent way I believe that, after all deductions made, Pestalozzi and Froebel are still our best leaders. Limited here, impossible there, pedantic at times, confused at others, they are still the best, because they were not afraid they did not bluster, they did not coerce, they did not succeed as the world counts success: they took a little child and set him in their midst, and watching, helping, encouraging, they worked to free him and to give him the joy and delight of exercising in friendly surroundings his higher
powers and instincts. Self-mutilation as a means of saving one's soul had made of education in the past une tempête de l'esprit. Self-realisation for the nobler end of perfect service may effect a revolution even in the nursery and infant schoolroom of to-day. Meantime we who have won our scant measure of freedom with so great a sum may still, as we work for our children, find it possible (as we assuredly shall find it divinely refreshing), to "dream the dream of the soul's slow disentanglement."
S. M. L.