Billeder på siden

new subject is presented. This idea is revealed by the author in almost every paragraph of the treatise. We shall quote but one such passage; however, the author can not be fairly judged in regard to this point unless the entire work be examined. "In which methodical course," he says, "it is supposed they must proceed by the steady pace of learning onward, as at convenient times, for memory's sake, to retire back into the middle ward, and sometimes into the rear of what they have been taught, until they have confirmed and solidly united the whole body of their perfected knowledge, like the last embattling of a Roman legion."'32

Next on our list of educators we encounter one in whose writings we expect to meet the idea of apperception many times implied. It is because his whole method of education seems to be based upon the analogy existing between the development of things in nature and the development of the mind; which analogy is the foundation stone of apperception. This educator is Comenius, who has set forth his system of education in a rather detailed exposition entitled "Didactica Magna," or the Great Didactic. Our confident perusal is not without its desired reward, for we find passages too numerous to cite in which the idea of apperception can be detected. In some it is quite evident, in others more vague though no great stretch of the imagination is necessary to recognize it in spite of its disguise. In the second section of this work, on Method of Education, Comenius considers a three-fold problem, to which he devotes considerable space: first, how we may seize the right occasions for learning so as to learn surely; secondly, how we may unlock the mind so as to learn easily; thirdly, how we may sharpen the understanding so as to learn solidly. He then treats each problem separately under the respective headings: Certo, Facile, Solide.

In the first principle under "Certo," we find the concluding words, "as to arrangement of studies, it may be said, generally, that nothing should be taught except when it can be comprehended." "When it can be comprehended" can mean nothing else here than when the mind of the child has acquired the proper apperception mass. His third principle is stated thus: "Nature takes a fit subject for its operation, or at least takes

32 Milton, Prose Works, Tractate on Education, Vol. III, p. 474. 33 Laurie, Comenius, First Principle, p. 84. London, 1881.

[ocr errors]

care that it be made fit Whatever study is taken up for treatment, let the minds of the pupils be predisposed towards it (and prepared for it). "'34 By "predisposed towards it" Comenius probably means, let their interest in it be aroused. Under the seventh principle-"nature does not proceed per saltum, but step by step" we find the following, "the whole sphere of studies should be distributed carefully among the successive classes of the school in such a manner that the earlier study always prepares the way for what is to follow, and, as it were, lights the path to it.''35

Under "Facile," the following statements occur: "Let it be done with due preparation of the mind"; "Let it proceed from the more general to the special"; and "from the easy to the more difficult. ''36 In explanation of the fourth principle under this head-Nature proceeds from the more easy to the more difficult-he says: "Many faults will be amended if the material of study be so arranged that the scholar learns first that which is nearest, then that which is near, then that which is more remote, and finally that which is most remote (e. g. do not seek illustrations from theology or politics, but from things at hand and familiar).''37

Under "Solide" we find equally significant statements: "A solid basis should be laid for each thing treated"; "That basis should be laid deep"; "Let everything subsequently aimed at rest on these same foundations"; "Let all studies which follow be founded on those that go before"; "Let all things which as a matter of fact cohere be always connected in teaching." The seventh principle is likewise emphatic in urging the teacher to follow nature as a guide in the development of the child's mind. It reads: "Nature in each of its works is in perpetual progress, never halts, and never attempts new things, the former things being cast aside, but only continues what has been previously begun, increases it, and perfects it." Then follows the practical application: "Wherefore, let all studies be so arranged that the subsequent things shall be founded in what has preceded, and be strengthened by them."'39

Comenius in his method of teaching the arts, warns the teacher

34 Ibid., Third Principle (2), p. 85.

35 Ibid., Seventh Principle (1), p. 87.

36 Ibid., Facile, II, III, IV, p. 89.

37 Ibid., Fourth Principle, p. 91.

38 Ibid., Solide III, IV, V, VII, VIII, p. 95.

39 Ibid., Seventh Principle, p. 96.

to adapt the material to the capacities of the pupils, i. e. to their apperception masses. He says: "Pupils should not be burdened with things remote from their age, powers of comprehension, and present condition; this is to cause them to struggle with shadows. That the boy may understand things, take examples, not from Cicero or Virgil, or theologians, etc., but from things familiar-his book, clothes, trees, house, school, etc. We in this way connect what has to be learned with what is already known, and make remembrance and the further extension of knowledge in the same direction easy. In rules, the application of a rule being shown from a first, second, or third known example, the boy will find it easy to imitate it in all others."'40 This method he applies also to the teaching of the sciences and languages as well as to morality and piety. In his application of method to morality he says: "First of all, the primary or cardinal virtues have to be implanted, viz. Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, and Justice. Firm foundations must be laid for a building, that all the various parts may cohere well with the basis. ''41

Among his "Practical Hints to the Teacher of a Class,” several are worthy of special note: "Let the first foundations of all things be thoroughly laid, unless you wish the whole superstructure to totter"; "Accordingly, whatever the teacher begins to teach, let him give pains to see that it is accurate, and so firmly learnt that those things which follow can be safely built on the top of it"; "If anything has been wrongly apprehended, take care that it do not drive roots into the mind, but that it be immediately torn up"; "At the beginning of every task the minds of the pupils should be prepared for the instruction, either by commending to their attention the subject to be taught; or by putting questions on what has been already taught, which lead up to the new by showing its coherence with the old.''42 All that Comenius has set forth with regard to method may be summarized in the following comprehensive statement: "In teaching we have to advance from few things to many, from the brief to the more lengthened, from the simple to the complex, from the general to the special, from the near to the remote, from the regular to the irregular. "43

Citations from Comenius might be multiplied indefinitely to show that he looked upon education essentially as a process of

40 Ibid., 5, p. 118

41 Ibid., 2, p. 125.

42 Ibid., Hints, 11, 12, 18, 19, pp. 185, 136.

mental development; that he realized the necessity of the presence in the mind of the proper apperception masses before presenting new truths, and that he appreciated the importance of carefully connecting the new with the old ideas. It follows, therefore, that Comenius formulated his system of education in strict accord with Herbart's doctrine of apperception, adhering to all that the doctrine implies, though the name for this process and the psychological basis of it were not to be revealed and expounded until many years later.

[ocr errors]

The same conclusion can, we think, be appropriately extended to the other educators considered in this chapter, and we feel confident that this conclusion would meet with the approval of the members of the Herbartian school. Our confidence is increased by a statement found in Lange's work, in spite of the modification therein contained: "Those universal imperatives,' he says, "in which one branch of the newer pedagogy is accustomed to formulate its theory-such sayings as 'from the known to the unknown,' 'from the near to the remote,' 'from the easy to the difficult,'-may be referred back, as far as they contain truth, to the requirement, 'provide for easy and thorough apperception.'"'44 We have seen that these universal imperatives are to be found, not only in the newer pedagogy, but also in the writings of educators previous to Herbart's time. To complete our argument we conclude that if they are equivalent to "provide for easy and thorough apperception," the idea of apperception, vague though it may have been, was nevertheless not a totally unknown quantity to these earlier educators.

We do not mean hereby, however, to detract from the merit due to Herbart. He it was who first formulated the idea, worked it out in all its details, and attached to it the importance which no subsequent worker in the field of education has desired to minimize. It is precisely upon this doctrine of apperception that all our modern methods of teaching have been based. As it is to the neglect of this principle that we may justly attribute the failure of many teachers to produce good and thorough students, so it is also to the faithful and conscientious attention to it that we may with equal justice ascribe the wonderful results accomplished by many others, who send forth from the classroom boys and girls, eager to seize every opportunity for increasing their knowledge and ready at each step to apply every item gleaned during their years of study.

44 Lange, Apperception, p. 241,



Education is a subject which has interested more minds, and has perhaps employed in its field more workers than any other line of activity. There have been in its history as many definitions of education as there have been educators, for each educator in turn has endeavored to set forth as concisely as possible his idea of the end and aim of education. Among ancient nations the chief aim of education was the accumulation of knowledge, or the training of the youth to do the manual work necessary for his physical welfare and comfort. Their definition of education was consequently based on memory and imitation. In later times educators have distinguished between education and instruction, considering instruction as the mere process of imparting knowledge, while reserving the term education for the development of the latent powers of the child in such a way as to stimulate him to self-activity, and to enable him to acquire knowledge for himself. Hence education now connotes development, and all modern definitions of education are based upon this essential idea.

The differences in the definitions of education that have been current in modern times are due to the divergent views of educators as to the extent of this development. Some have limited education to physical and mental development, others have included in their definitions a three-fold development, physical, intellectual, and moral. Perhaps the most popular definition of education in recent times is that of Nicholas Murray Butler. "Education," he says, "means a gradual adjustment to the spiritual possessions of the race. Those possessions are five

fold. The child is entitled to his scientific inheritance, to his literary inheritance, to his aesthetic inheritance, to his institutional inheritance, and to his religious inheritance. Without these he cannot become a truly educated or cultured man.''45 This includes the religious element, the absence of which in our present public school system is now being deplored by the more serious-minded Christians, but which is the origin and basic principle of the school system maintained by the Catholic

46 Butler, Meaning of Education, p. 17. New York, 1904.

« ForrigeFortsæt »