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C.'s use of Analogies.
51. "Analogies are good for illustration; not for proof." If Comenius had accepted this caution, he would have escaped much useless labour, and might have had a better foundation for his rules than fanciful applications of
nascence scholars valued the study of the classics, though for a very different reason. He cared for the Bible not as literature, but as the highest authority on the problems of existence. Those who, like Matthew Arnold, may attribute to it far less authority may still treasure it as literature, while those who despise literature and recognise no authority above things would limit us to the curriculum of the " École Modèle" and care for natural science only.
In this country we are fortunately able to advocate some reforms which were suggested by the realism of Comenius without incurring any suspicion of rejecting his Christianity. It is singular to see how the highest authorities of to-day-men conversant with the subject on the side of practice as well as theory-hold precisely the language which practical men have been wont to laugh at as "theoretical nonsense ever since the days of Comenius. A striking instance will be found in a lecture by the Principal of the Battersea Training College (Rev. Canon Daniel) as reported in Educational Times, July, 1889. Compare what Comenius said (supra p. 151) with the following: "Children are not sufficiently required to use their senses. They are allowed to observe by deputy. They look at Nature through the spectacles of Books, and through the eyes of the teacher, but do not observe for themselves. It might be expected that in object lessons and science lessons, which are specially intended to cultivate the observing faculty, this fault would be avoided, but I do not find that such is the case. I often hear lessons on objects that are not object lessons at all. The object is not allowed to speak for itself, eloquent though it is, and capable though it is of adapting its teaching to the youngest child who interrogates it.. The teacher buries it under a heap of words and second-hand statements, thereby converting the object lesson into a verbal lesson and throwing away golden opportunities of forming the scientific habit of mind. Now mental science teaches us that our knowledge of the sensible qualities of the material world can come to us only through our senses, and through the right senses If we had no senses we should know nothing about
Thought-studies and Label-studies.
what he observed in the external world. "Comenius" as August Vogel has said, "is unquestionably tight in wishing to draw his principles of education from Nature; but instead of examining the proper constitution and nature of man, and
the material world at all; if we had a sense less we should be cut off from a whole class of facts; if we had as many senses as are ascribed to the inhabitants of Sirius in Voltaire's novel, our knowledge would be proportionately greater than it is now. Words cannot compensate for sensations. The eloquence of a Cicero would not explain to a deaf man what music is, or to a blind man what scarlet is. Yet I have frequently seen teachers wholly disregard these obvious truths. They have taught as though their pupils had eyes that saw not, and ears that heard not, and noses that smelled not, and palates that tasted not, and skins that felt not, and muscles that would not work. They have insisted on taking the words out of Nature's mouth and speaking for her. They have thought it derogatory to play a subordinate part to the object itself.”
This subject has been well treated by Mr. Thos. M. Balliet in a paper on shortening the curriculum (New York School Journal, 10th Nov., 1888). "Studies," says he, "are of two kinds (1) studies which supply the mind with thoughts of images, and (2) those which give us 'labels,' i.e. the means of indicating and so communicating thought. Under the last head come the study of language, writing (including spelling), notation, &c." Mr. Balliet proposes, as Comenius did, that the symbol subjects shall not be taken separately, but in connexion with the thought subjects. Especially in the mother-tongue, we should study language for thought, not thought for the sake of language.
But after all though we may and should bring the young in connexion with the objects of thought and not with words merely, we must not forget that the scholastic aspect of things will differ from the practical. When brought into the schoolroom the thing must be divested of details and surroundings, and used to give a conception of one of a class. The fir tree of the schoolboy cannot be the fir tree of the wood-cutter. The "boiler" becomes a cylinder subject to internal or external pressure. It is not the thing that the engine-driver knows will burn and corrode, get foul in its tubes and loose in its joints, and be liable to burst. (See Mr. C. H. Benton on "Practical and Theoretical Training" in Spectator,
Unity of Knowledges.
taking that as the basis of his theory, he watches the life of birds, the growth of trees, or the quiet influence of the sun, and thus substitutes for the nature of man nature without man (die objective Natur). And yet by Nature he under stands that first and primordial state to which as to our original [idea] we should be restored, and by the voice of Nature he understands the universal Providence of God or the ceaseless influence of the Divine Goodness working all in all, that is, leading every creature to the state ordained for it. The vegetative and animal life in Nature is according to Comenius himself not life at all in its highest sense, but me only true life is the intellectual or spiritual life of Man. No doubt in the two lower kinds of life certain analogies may be found for the higher; but nothing can be less worthy of reliance and less scientific than a method which draws its principles for the higher life from what has been observed in the lower." (A. Vogel's Gesch. d. Pädagogik als Wissenschaft, p. 94.)
§ 52. This seems to me judicious criticism; but whatever mistakes he may have made Comenius, like Froebel long after him, strove after a higher unity which should embrace knowledge of every kind. The connexion of knowledges (so constantly overlooked in the schoolroom) was always in his thoughts. We see that the branches of a tree cannot live unless they all alike suck their juices from a common trunk with common roots. And can we hope that the branches of Wisdom can be torn asunder with safety to their life, that is to truth? Can one be a Natural Philosopher
10th Nov., 1888). The school knowledge of things no less than of words may easily be over-valued. It should be given not for itself but Lo excite interest and draw out the powers of the mind.
Theory and the Practical Man.
who is not also a Metaphysician? or an Ethical Thinker who does not know something of Physical Science? or a Logician who has no knowledge of real matters? or a Theologian, a jurisconsult, or a Physician, who is not first a Philosopher? or an Orator or Poet, who is not all these at once? He deprives himself of light, of hand, and of regulation, who pushes away from him any shred of the knowable." (Quoted in Masson's L. of Milton vol. iij., p. 213 from the Delineatio, [i.e., Pansophiæ Prodromus]. Conf. J. H. Newman, Idea of a University, Disc. iij.)
§ 53. We see then that on the side of theory, Comenius was truly great. But the practical man who has always been the tyrant of the schoolroom cared nothing for theory and held, with a modern English minister responsible for education, who proved his ignorance of theory by his "New Code," that there was, and could be no such thing. So the reputation of Comenius became pretty much what our great authority Hallam has recorded, that he was a person of some ingenuity and little judgment who invented a new way of learning Latin. This estimate of him enables us to follow some windings in the stream of thought about education. Comenius faced the whole problem in its double bearing, theory and practice: he asked, What is the educator's task? How can he best accomplish it? But his contemporaries had not yet recovered from the idolatry of Latin which had been bequeathed to them by their fathers from the Renascence, and they too saw in Comenius chiefly an inventor of a new way of learning Latin. He sought to train up chidren for this world and the next; they supposed, as Oxenstiern himself said, that the main thing to be remedied was the clumsy way of teaching Latin. So Comenius was little understood. His books were seized upon as affording
Mother-tongue. Words and Things Together.
at once an introduction to the knowledge of things and a short way of learning Latin. But in the long run they were found more tiresome than the old classics: so they went out of fashion, and their author was forgotten with them. Now that schoolmasters are forming a more worthy conception of their office, they are beginning to do justice to Comenius.
54. As the Jesuits kept to Latin as the common language of the Church, so Comenius thought to use it as a means of inter-communication for the instructed of every nationality. But he was singularly free from over-estimating the value of Latin, and he demanded that all nations should be taught in their own language wherein they were born. On this subject he expresses himself with great emphasis. "We desire and protest that studies of wisdom be no longer committed to Latin alone, and kept shut up in the schools, as has hitherto been done, to the greatest contempt and injury of the people at large, and the popular tongues. Let all things be delivered to each nation in its own speech." (Delineatio [Prodromus] in Masson ut supra.)
$ 55. Comenius was then neither a verbalist nor a classicist, and yet his contemporaries were not entirely. wrong in thinking of him as "a man who had invented a new way of learning Latin." His great principle was that instruction in words and things should go together. The young were to learn about things, and at the same time were to acquire both in the vernacular and also in Latin, the international tongue, the words which were connected with the things. Having settled on this plan of concurrent instruction
* Ruskin seems to be echoing Comenius (of whom perhaps he never heard) when he says "To be taught to see is to gain word and thought at once, and both true." (Address at Camb. Sch. of Art, Oct. 1858.)