Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

far-reaching influence upon the world of thought, particularly upon education. Its importance in the field of education is so vast that it will form the subject of a separate chapter.

Two questions naturally present themselves at this juncture to which it will be necessary to give a brief consideration in order that the reader may receive a fair idea of the history of apperception. They are: 1) Was Herbart the first to use the term apperception in connection with education? 2) Was all education before his time so lifeless and mechanical as to ignore completely the idea of mental development, and to be satisfied with storing the child's mind with a memory load of facts, regardless of their understanding?

The first question has been partly answered above. We have shown that several workers in the field of philosophy and psychology, notably Leibnitz and Kant, employed the term apperception before the time of Herbart. Neither of them, however, attributed to it the significance which it gained from Herbart, nor did either apply his idea of apperception to education. They studied the question in connection with the faculties of the mind and looked upon apperception merely as a species of mental activity, without endeavoring to make any practical application of the theories thus conceived.

The second question cannot be so summarily despatched. While it is true that the term apperception was not used in connection with education before Herbart's time, it can not be said that the idea implied by the term was utterly unknown to previous educators. In order to arrive at a satisfactory answer to the question, however, we shall look into the writings and opinions of some of the more noted of these men, and see if any traces of the idea of apperception as conceived by Herbart, can be found in them. Our review of these educators will be accomplished with more facility if we begin with Herbart's time and trace the idea backward.

The first to demand our attention is Pestalozzi, who was contemporaneous with Herbart, being his senior by about twenty years. Pestalozzi has left us detailed accounts of his practical work in education, so the desired information can in many cases be had first-hand. In a letter written to a friend on his work at Stanz he says: "According to my experience, success depends upon whether what is taught to children commends itself to them as true, through being closely connected with their own personal

observation and experience."'20 Does not Pestalozzi here imply the idea of apperception? Is not the meaning of the passage much the same as though it read: "If the children are provided with the proper apperception masses, i. e. if the new matter be closely connected with what they have already learned by observation and experience, success will crown the teacher's work?" For what is apperception but the careful connection or linking of the new knowledge with the old, which the child has previously acquired by observation and experience.

In the same letter we find another passage similar to the foregoing. "In natural history they were very quick in corroborating what I taught them by their own personal observation on plants and animals. I am quite sure that, by continuing in this way, I should soon have been able not only to give them such a general acquaintance with the subject as would have been useful in any vocation, but also to put them in a position to carry on their education themselves by means of their daily observations and experiences. ''21 Here we see the work of apperception being furthered by the children themselves, and Pestalozzi expressing the assurance that he could attain the secondary aim of education as set forth by Herbart-to render the children desirous and capable of carrying on their education themselves.

Morf, in summing up Pestalozzi's principles, expresses one as follows: "Each branch of instruction must start from a point which is within reach of the child's earliest powers. From this point he must be led forward by a chain of ideas so carefully graduated, that he is able to reach each successive link by his own strength."22 In this principle the words "led forth by a chain of ideas carefully graduated," and "able to reach each successive link" certainly imply the idea of apperception; the notion is more emphatically implied if by "his own strength" we understand "by the strength of what the child has previously learned," which inference seems justifiable.

From Roger de Guimps' personal recollections of Pestalozzi, we quote the following passage which forms a part of Niederer's exposition of Pestalozzi's method. We are told that Niederer had made "the profoundest study of Pestalozzi's doctrine." The passage reads, "the connection of the exercises," which is

20 Roger de Guimps, Pestalozzi, His Life and Work, p. 165. New York, 1901. 21 Ibid., p. 168.

considered by Niederer as one of the three points to which Pestalozzi's method can be reduced, "is the order in which they follow each other, which order must be so carefully graduated that each exercise shall give the child the desire and the power to do the next."23 The idea of apperception seems implied here as also more explicitly Herbart's doctrine of interest as an aim of education.

9924

In a chapter on Pestalozzi's Elementary Method, are to be found two other references to the order in which topics should be presented to the child. The first extends to all topics in general. "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. This last clause can mean nothing else than that the proper apperception mass must be established before the new idea is presented. The second passage implies precisely the same thought, though it is stated in reference to a particular subject. "Pestalozzi," says the author, "was long ago struck by the painful waste of time and labour involved in trying to teach children Latin before they are acquainted with the principles of their own language, that is to say, before they have any knowledge of grammar, without which it is impossible for them to arrive at any understanding of a dead language.

Must it not be admitted, after an examination of the above passages, that we have in Pestalozzi traces of the idea of apperception as conceived by Herbart, though there is no use of the term? It is evident that Pestalozzi realized the necessity of mental development and laid great stress upon the order in which new ideas should be presented. These are essential elements in the concept of apperception.

Passing over several less important names on our list of educators, we are next detained by a consideration of Locke. In his essay on the "Conduct of the Understanding" we find the following passage: "To convince people of what moment it is to their understandings to be furnished with such abstract ideas, steady and settled in them, give me leave to ask, how any one

23 Ibid., p. 896. 24 Ibid., p. 418.

shall be able to know whether he be obliged to be just, if he has not established ideas in his mind of obligation and of justice; since knowledge consists in nothing but the perceived agreement or disagreement of those ideas?''28 The notion of apperception may seem here a little far-fetched, but cannot the meaning of the passage be thus rendered: How can any one know his duty of justice, if he has not a correct and thorough understanding of the terms obligation and justice, and if he be not able to connect them with each other and with the third idea of his ego? In other words, in order to attain to this knowledge of his duty, he must have in his mind an apperception mass with which to link the idea of obligation, another apperception mass with which to connect the idea of justice, and then be able to join the two into a larger apperception mass which might be labeled "my obligation of justice."

66

Another extract reveals a clearer trace of the idea for which we are seeking. "The surest way for a learner," he says, "is not to advance by jumps and large strides; let that which he sets himself to learn next be indeed the next; i. e. as nearly conjoined with what he knows already as is possible, let it be distinct but not remote from it."27 The meaning here is evidentlet nothing be studied for which the mind of the learner has not the proper apperceiving ideas. We quote another passage found in Locke's essay "Some Thoughts Concerning Education," which can be resolved into the same brief statement: 'Great care must be taken with children, to begin with that which is plain and simple, and to teach them as little as can be at once, and settle that well in their heads, before you proceed to the next, or anything new in that science. Give them first one simple idea, and see that they take it right, and perfectly comprehend it, before you go any farther; and then add some other simple idea, which lies next in your way to what you aim at; and so proceeding by gentle and insensible steps, children without confusion and amazement, will have their understandings opened, and their thoughts extended, farther than could have been expected. ''28

The following is a summary of his idea of a good method: "In history the order of time should govern; in philosophical

26 Locke, Conduct of the Understanding, p. 208. Works of John Locke, Vol. IX, London, 1801.

27 Op. cit., p. 251.

28 Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education, p. 173. Works of John Locke,

inquiries, that of nature, which in all progression is to go from the place one is then in, to that which joins and lies next to it; and so it is in the mind, from the knowledge it stands possessed of already, to that which lies next, and is coherent to it.""29 The meaning again implied here is that knowledge can be acquired only when there are in the mind ideas that are capable of grasping the new and combining it with themselves.

The last passage which we shall cite from Locke gives his classification of knowledge. There is, however, also implied in his words the manner in which the knowledge is acquired. "There are," he says, "several ways wherein the mind is possessed of truth, each of which is called knowledge. First, there is actual knowledge, which is the present view the mind has of the agreement or disagreement of any of its ideas, or of the relation they have one to another. Secondly, a man is said to know any proposition which having been once laid before his thoughts, he evidently perceived the agreement or disagreement of the ideas whereof it consists; and so lodged it in his memory, that, whenever that proposition comes again to be reflected on, he, without doubt or hesitation, embraces the right side, assents to and is certain of the truth of it. This, I think, one may call habitual knowledge.' '30 He then continues his exposition of knowledge by subdividing habitual knowledge into two degrees, the first of which we shall quote as containing the idea of apperception. "First, the one is of such truths laid up in the memory as, whenever they occur to the mind, it actually perceives the relation is between those ideas. And this is in all those truths whereof we have an intuitive knowledge, where the ideas themselves, by an immediate view, discover their agreement or disagreement one with another. ''31

The next author to whom our attention must be directed, though briefly, is Milton. In his "Tractate on Education" we have all that Milton has left us concerning his ideas on that subject. While it is difficult to find in this work any direct expressions illustrative of the notion of apperception, the idea seems to permeate the entire essay. The care with which he plans and emphasizes the proper succession of the matter to be studied by the pupil, indicates the importance attached by him to the possession of the necessary apperception mass before a

29 Ibid., p. 190.

30 Locke, Concerning Human Understanding, Bk. IV, Ch. I, 8. Chicago, 1905.

« ForrigeFortsæt »