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At Stanz: P.'s own account.
my children feel this, always leaving them to decide what could or could not be allowed. It is true that in my intercourse with them 1 never spoke of liberty or equality; but, at the same time, I encouraged them as far as possible to be free and unconstrained in my presence, with the result that every day I marked more and more that clear open look in their eyes which, in my experience, is the sign of a really liberal education. I could not bear the thought of betraying the trust in me which I saw shining in their eyes; I strove constantly to strengthen it and at the same time their free individuality, that nothing might happen to trouble those angel-eyes, the sight of which caused me the most intense delight. But I could not endure frowns and anxious looks; I myself smoothed away the frowns; then the children smiled, and even among themselves they took care not to shew frowning faces.
'By reason of their great number, I had occasion nearly every day to point out the difference between good and evil, justice and injustice. Good and evil are equally contagious amongst so many children, so that, according as the good or bad sentiments spread, the establishment was likely to become either much better or much worse than if it had only contained a smaller number. About this, too, I talked to them frankly. Ishall never forget the impression that my words produced when, in speaking of a certain disturbance that had taken place among them, I said, 'My children, it is the same with us as with every other household; when the children are numerous, and each gives way to his bad habits, the disorder becomes such that the weakest mother is driven to take sensible measures in bringing up her children, and make them submit to what is just and right. And that is what I must do now. If you do not willingly assist in the maintenance of order, our establishment cannot go on, you will fall back into your former condition, and your misery- -now that you have been accustomed to a good home, clean clothes, and regular food-will be greater than ever. In this world, my children, necessity and conviction alone can teach a man to behave; when both fail him, he is hateful. Think for a moment what you would become if you were safe from want and cared nothing for right, justice, or goodness. At home there was always some one who looked after you, and poverty itself forced you to many a right action; but with convictions and reason to guide you, you will rise far higher than by following necessity alone.'
"I often spoke to them in this way without troubling in the least
At Stanz: P.'s own account.
whether they each understood every word, feeling quite sure that they all caught the general sense of what I said.
"Here are a few more thoughts which produced a great impression on my children: 'Do you know anything greater or nobler than to give counsel to the poor, and comfort to the unfortunate? But if you remain ignorant and incapable, you will be obliged, in spite of your good heart, to let things take their course; whereas, if you acquire knowledge and power, you will be able to give good advice, and save many a man from misery.'
"I have generally found that great, noble, and high thoughts are indispensable for developing wisdom and firmness of character.
"Such an instruction must be complete in the sense that it must take account of all our aptitudes and all our circumstances; it must be conducted, too, in a truly psychological spirit, that is to say, simply, lovingly, energetically, and calmly. Then, by its very nature, it produces an enlightened and delicate feeling for everything true and good, and brings to light a number of accessory and dependent truths, which are forthwith accepted and assimilated by the human soul, even in the case of those who could not express these truths in words.
"I believe that the first development of thought in the child is very much disturbed by a wordy system of teaching, which is not adapted either to his faculties or the circumstances of his life. 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.
"I knew no other order, method, or art, but that which resulted naturally from my children's conviction of my love for them, nor did I care to know any other.
"Thus I subordinated the instruction of my children to a higher alm, which was to arouse and strengthen their best sentiments by the relations o: every-day life as they existed between themselves and me.
"As a general rule I attached little importance to the study of words, even when explanations of the ideas they represented were given.
"I tried to connect study with manual labour, the school with the workshop, and make one thing of them. But I was the less able to do this as staff, material, and tools were all wanting. A short time only before the close of the establishment, a few children had begun to spin;
At Stanz: P.'s own account.
and I saw clearly that, before any fusion could be effected, the two parts must be firmly established separately-study, that is, on the one hand, and labour on the other.
"But in the work of the children I was already inclined to care less for the immediate gain than for the physical training which, by developing their strength and skill, was bound to supply them later with a means of livelihood. In the same way I considered that what is generally called the instruction of children should be merely an exercise of the faculties, and I felt it important to exercise the attention, observation, and memory first, so as to strengthen these faculties before calling into play the art of judging and reasoning; this, in my opinion, was the best way to avoid turning out that sort of superficial and presumptuous talker, whose false judgments are often more fatal to the happiness and progress of humanity than the ignorance of simple people of good sense.
"Guided by these principles, I sought less at first to teach my children to spell, read, and write than to make use of these exercises for the purpose of giving their minds as full and as varied a development as possible.
"In natural history they were very quick in corroborating what I taught them by their own personal observations 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; and I should have been able to do all this without going outside the very restricted sphere to which they were confined by the actual circumstances of their lives. I hold it to be extremely important that men should be encouraged to learn by themselves and allowed to develop freely. It is in this way alone that the diversity of individual talent is produced and made evident.
I always made the children learn perfectly even the least important things, and I never allowed them to lose ground; a word once learnt, for instance, was never to be forgotten, and a letter once well written never to be written badly again. I was very patient with all who were weak or slow, but very severe with those who did anything less well than they had done it before.
"The number and inequality of my children rendered my task easier.
Value of the five months' experience.
Just as in a family the eldest and cleverest child readily shows what he knows to his younger brothers and sisters, and feels proud and happy to be able to take his mother's place for a moment, so my children were delighted when they knew something that they could teach others. A sentiment of honour awoke in them, and they learned twice as well by making the younger ones repeat their words. In this way I soon had helpers and collaborators amongst the children themselves. When I was teaching them to spell difficult words by heart, I used to allow any child who succeeded in saying one properly to teach it to the others. These child-helpers, whom I had formed from the very outset, and who had followed my method step by step, were certainly much more useful to me than any regular schoolmasters could have been.
"I myself learned with the children. Our whole system was so simple and so natural that I should have had difficulty in finding a master who would not have thought it undignified to learn and teach as I was doing.
"You will hardly believe that it was the Capuchin friars and the nuns of the convent that showed the greatest sympathy with my work. Few V people, except Truttman, took any active interest in it. Those from whom I had hoped most were too deeply engrossed with their high political affairs to think of our little institution as having the least degree of importance.
"Such were my dreams; but at the very moment that I seemed to be on the point of realizing them, I had to leave Stanz."
§ 50. Heroic efforts rise above the measurement of time. As Byron has said, "A thought is capable of years," and it seldom happens that the nobleness of any human action depends on the time it lasts. Pestalozzi's five months' experiment at Stanz proved one of the most memorable events in the history of education. He was now completely satisfied that he saw his way to giving children a right education and "thus raising the beggar out of the dung-hill"; and seeing the right course he was urged by his love of the people into taking it. But how was he to set to work? His notions of school instruction differed entirely from
P. a strange Schoolmaster.
those of the teaching profession; and even in the revolu tionary age they had some reason for looking askance at this revolutionist. "He had everything against him," we read, "thick, indistinct speech, bad writing, ignorance of drawing, scorn of grammatical learning. He had studied various branches of natural history, but without any particular attention either to classification or terminology. He was conversant with the ordinary operations in arithmetic, but he would have had difficulty in getting through a really long sum in multiplication or division; and he probably had never tried to work out a problem in geometry. For years this dreamer had read no books. But instead of the usual knowledge that any young man of ordinary talent can acquire in a year or two, he understood thoroughly what most masters were entirely ignorant of—the mind of man and the laws of its development, human affections and the art of arousing and ennobling them. He seemed to have almost an intuitive insight into the development of human nature, and was never tired of contemplating it." (C. Monnard in R.'s Guimps, p. 174.)*
§ 51. This man wished to be a schoolmaster, but who would venture to entrust him with a school? No one seemed willing to do this; and he would have been at a loss where to turn had he not had influential friends at Burgdorf, a town not far from Bern. These got for him permission to teach, not indeed the children of burgesses but
* As Pestalozzi wrote to Gessner (How Gertrude, &c.): “You see street-gossip is not always entirely wrong; I really could not write properly, nor read, nor reckon. But people always jump to wrong conclusions from such notoriou facts.' At Stanz you saw that could teach writing without myself being able to write properly." He here anticipates a paradox of Jacotot's.