Imatges de pàgina

exactitude as though they were to be published in the ‘Philosophical Transactions.' He should, in fact, teach his pupil to face the great problems of nature as though they had never been solved before."

"To face the great problems of nature as though they had never been solved before"-"to bring the child face to face with the great problems of nature, as though he were the first discoverer"-these weighty, pregnant, and luminous expressions contain the essence of the whole question I have endeavored to set before you. They define, as you easily perceive, the attitude of the pupil in regard to his subjective process of learning, and the function of the teacher in regard to his objective process of teaching--the one being the counterpart of the other."

Dr. Acland, in his evidence before the Public Schools Commission, remarks :

"I may say, generally, that I should value all knowledge of these physical sciences very little indeed unless it was otherwise than book-work. 'If it is merely a question of getting up certain books, and being able to answer certain book questions, that is merely an exercise of the memory of a very useless kind. The great object, though not the sole object, of this training should be to get the boys to observe and understand the action of matter in some department or another.

I want them to see and know the things, and in that way they will evoke many qualities of the mind, which the study of these subjects is intended to develop.”

Professor Huxley, before the Commission on Scientific Instruction, says :

"The great blunder that our people make, I think, is attempting to teach from books; our schoolmasters have largely been taught from books and nothing but books, and a great many of them understand nothing but book-teaching, as far as I can see. The consequence is, that when they attempt to deal with Scientific teaching, they make nothing of it. If you are setting to work to teach a child Science, you must teach it through its eyes, and its hands, and its senses.'

I do not for a moment deny that much is to be gained from the study of scientific text-books. It would be absurd to do so. What I do deny is, that the reading up of books on Science—which is, strictly speaking, a literary study-either is, or can possibly be, a training in scientific method. To receive facts in Science on any other authority than that of the facts themselves; to get up the obsery. ations, experiments, and comments of others, instead of observing, experimenting, and commenting ourselves; to learn definitions, rules, abstract propositions, technicalities, before we personally deal with the facts which lead up to them; all this, whether in literary or scientific education-and especially in the latter -is of the essence of cramming, and is therefore entirely opposed to, and destructive of, true mental training and discipline. As I have elsewhere said :

“The entire process of the earliest instruction of children should consist in training the faculties for their subsequent work; and for this instruction God's book of the Universe is better suited than any books of men. The facts and phenomena of Nature are the sentences, words, and letters which, before all others, the child should be taught to read; and if taught to read them by a teacher who knows his business, they furnish the soundest and most interesting instruction that the child is capable of receiving. The materials for the lesson are constantly at hand; the faculties for using them are constantly ready for use; and it is the very raison d' ètre of the teacher, the purpose for which he exists, to bring the materials and the faculties into contact; and thus to make the child find tongues in trees, sermons in stones, and books in the running brooks. For want of such teaching, the child grows to a man, and as a man lives all his life, carrying with him eyes which do not see, ears which do not hear, a mind which does not think. By means of such lessons the art of observing may be definitely taught, the art of inventing prompted, and the method of scientific investigation initiated.”



Is there a science of education ? and is that science of use to practical edu. cators? In attempting to answer these questions, we must commence with a definition of education. This term is used in two senses, a general and a more restricted. In the wider sense, the term is applied to the drawing out of the powers of man, whatever be the agents which produce this effect. In this sense, external nature, the experiences of life, friends and enemies, in short, all that affects a man, are educating him. And a science of this kind of education would be an exhibition of the laws which regulate the development of his physical and mental powers.

In the more restricted sense of the term, education is the conscious efforts of human beings to draw out the natures of other human beings to the utmost perfection. This is the more usual meaning of the term, and it is in this sense alone that we shall use it. Education, being a conscious effort to effect a purposc, and implying the application of means to an end, is an art. When, therefore, we speak of a science of education, we do not mean to assert that education is itself a science, but that it is based on a science; that a set of laws which it is the business of a science to discover can be used in the work of education. Now, this science can be no other than the science of the natures which are to be drawn out; for if they are drawn out according to fixed laws, then the educator has simply to take advantage of his knowledge of these laws. In other words, physical education is an applied psychology, and mental education is an applied psychology.

We seem to have answered the first question in thus stating the case. Almost every one will allow that physiology is a science, and therefore there must be a science of physical education. And perhaps there are few who would refuse to psychology the same title, and therefore mental education has also a science to regulate its procedure.

We dismiss from our notice at present physiology, and confine ourselves to psychology. We remark in regard to it, that we only appear to have answered the question ; for psychology may be a science, and yet not form a basis for the art of education. We must look more minutely into the functions of a science.

These are, generally speaking, two. The first is to bring the phenomena with which the science is concerned into groups, until the highest possible unity be reached. Thus, in natural history, the natural historian is principally

Dr. Donaldson is Rector of the High School of Edinburgh, and the Author of a volume of lectures on Educational Topics, delivered before the Philosophical Institution and the Iligh School Literary Association of Edinburgh in 1874. The contents of the volume (pp 185) are 1. History of Education in Prussia. II. IIistory of Education in England. II. Aim of Primary Education. IV. Relation of Universities to the Working Classes. V. The Science of Education.

employed in tracing resemblances, and thus grouping the various oojects of his observation into classes. Now the psychology of this country has been, for the most part, occupied with generalisations of this nature. The various kinds of acts of the mind have been observed, and they have been grouped together under such names as memory, judgment, reasoning. They have been supposed to issue from separate and distinct powers of the mind. And even when the separate existence of these powers has been denied, we find them still used as generalisations under such terms as the presentative, conservative, reproductive, representative, elaborative, and regulative faculties. Again, the great effort of psychologists has been to ascertain what have been called the laws of thought; but by the laws of thought they do not mean the regular and fixed activities in which the mind produces thought, but the highest generalisations of all the individual products of thinking. Now these laws never can be of any use in education. They are absolutely barren and profitless ; and this is allowed by professed metaphysicians. “Supposing,” says Mansel, “ that the act of thinking is governed by general laws at all (and that it is so is manifest from the inability to conceive absurdities), such laws can clearly impart nothing in the way of instruction or the discovery of new truths.” Accordingly, the practical educator may read through many treatises on psychology, and he will find curious discussions of insoluble problems, but he will not find much that will help him in his work. It is, we imagine, this experience which has led some to deny that there is a science of education at all.

But there is another function of science, and if we find psychological science discharge it, then we shall certainly have a science of education. This function of science is, from known and ascertained phenomena, to form generalisations which will explain and account for other phenomena. Such are, for the most past, the laws which constitute the physical sciences. We sce one object affect another in a particular manner once; we notice it again and again, and still it affects it in the same way; and then we infer that the one object will always affect it in this way. We become acquainted thus with a considerable number of particular causes and effects; we then group the causes and effects, and express the result in a general law; and we expect that this general law will explain to us phenomena of which we have no direct means of discovering the cause. Now, if we could get a science of mind which should observe phenomena, causes and effects, and should group these causes into gene ral laws, we should certainly have the kind of laws which we need. The previous generalisations of psychology which we have noticed are not properly laws at all; they regulate nothing. They are generalisations not of the activities of the mind, but of the products. Now, however, we are speaking of the generalisations of the activities. And we ask, Is a science of the activities of mind possible, and does such a science exist? The answer, it seems to us, must be, that such a science of the mind's activities must be possible. If we are to perceive law anywhere, it must be in the phenomena of mind. We allow at once that such phenomena will be infinitely more complicated than those of matter ; but this complication will not alter the fact of law. If a man has a strong desire for gold in his mind, I am sure that that desire for gold can be accounted for ; that the strength of it can also be accounted for by the previous activities of the man's mind. Again, if a man is entirely deficient in the feeling of reverence, his deficiency must be explicable through the previous activities of his mind. In fact, the man's mind, in its present state, can be nothing else than the original powers of mind granted him plus the activities through which it has gone, what ever may have been the agents in producing these activities.

This point, then, we think, must be set down as settled, that law reigns in the phenomena of mind. There is the further question, Have these laws been ascer. tained ? Now, we allow at once that all the laws have not been ascertained ; bnt this is merely saying that the science has not reached perfection. It would be rash to say that any science has arrived at this stage. But if we can assert that one single law has been discovered, we have done enough to show that a foundation for the science has been laid ; and we can scarcely believe that any one will go so far as to contradict such an assertion. Our common psychological text books are barrun enough in the exhibition of laws of activities, but still they do contain some. The generalisation, for instance, with regard to perception proper and sensation proper, that they are always found in an inverse ratio to each other in the degree or intensity of their existence, is a law that regulates the activities of the mind. And when psychology enables us to determine what it is which produces the intensity of the sensation and of the perception, we obtain the means of acting in a powerful manner on the minds of others. This the new psychology of Beneke does. Again, the laws of associstion, though in the common psychology they are mixed up with inoperative generalisations, are, in the main, laws of the mind's activity. We have such laws scattered over most treatises on psychology. We have them brought out more prominently in the writings of Locke, and in those of the Scotch school, especially Dugald Stewart; in the French school, who have worked out the Scotch ; and still more fully and satisfactorily in the more recent works of Bain and Spencer, of Morell, and of Fortlage, Fichte, and other of the Ger. mans, who are endeavoring to establish an anthropological psychology. But all these schools occupy themselves with subjects of discussion which are purely metaphysical ; and it is only in the works of Beneke and his followers that metaphysical questions and inoperative generalisations are entirely discarded, except in so far as psychology has to account for the rise of such generalisations in the mind. And we wish to draw attention to the fact, that the effort to render psychology an exposition of the laws which regulate the activities of the mind, and not of the mere generalisations of its products, was occasioned by a desire to make these laws operative in education. It was principally the interest which Herbart felt in education that led him to his psychological investigations ; and Beneke’s labors had their direction given both by the successes and the failures of Herbart's system. It is also principally in educational works that one will find the facts, and many of the laws, which ought to have their place in a scientific exposition of the phenomena of mind.

Either education, as an art, attempts its work at haphazard, or it attempts it with a knowledge of the adaptability of the means to the end. Now it is plain that education ought not to be a mere groping in the dark, a mere matter of chance. And if it is not, it cannot accomplish its end, unless that end be definitely known. And that end cannot be known but by an investigation into the activities and capabilities of the mind. Nor can it find suitable means to its end unless it know what effect the agents which act on the mind will produce. Both the nature of the person to be educated, and the power of the means used to affect that nature in a particular way, must be clearly ascertained.

All this will be allowed by some, and yet a negative answer given to our question. “It is true," they will say, “ that the teacher should know human nature in the concrete, but it is questionable whether he should study the science of the phenomena of mind. For a great number of the best teachers never troubled themselves about the phenomena of human nature, and never read a treatise on psychology; but, guided by their instinct and their tact, did the right thing at the right time, and made men of their pupils. Nay, we are not sure but a scientific knowledge of the phenomena of the human mind may render a teacher less effective in his work than he would have been without the knowledge."

There is some show of truth in these objections. There is no doubt that the man who devotes himself to the investigation of mental law assumes for the time a state of mind adverse to successful teaching. The man who tries to discover new laws, fixes his eye on the similarities which present themselves in certain activities of the mind, and refuses to observe for the time the differences. And then after he has attained to the knowledge of the law for which he is seeking, his interest in the individual phenomena is apt to cease, and he contents himself with the general formula. It is the business of the teacher, on the other hand, to keep all the individual phenomena distinctly before his eye. In his action on his pupil, he must leave none of the peculiarities out of sight. He has to deal with a complicated series of individual phenomena, widely differing from each other. And therefore his state of mind is quite different from that of the man who is in search of mental laws. We allow this.' But we assert, at the same time, that there is nothing irreconcilable in the two states. The psychological law in the matter is, that if the teacher consciously produce in his mind both states with equal intensity, he will be equally expert in both. If he practises himself in turning from the one state to the other, he will become expert in the operation. And he may thus be able to conjoin both modes of thought, without the one interfering with the other. At the same time, he is not called in a special manner to join both. He is supposed at particular times to have studied the phenomena and laws of mind. These laws are in his mind, ready to be summoned to the explanation of peculiar appearances in his pupils, so as to direct him in dealing with them. It is his business in his classroom to take all the features of a case into view; and psychology will give its aid, after he has made this particular examination, in explaining each individual peculiarity, and showing how it is to be treated. He will leave the discovery of laws to another place and time, unless these laws actually force themselves on him, as they sometimes do. His main object will be to apply the laws that have been discovered.

Again, we allow that there have been many good teachers who have known nothing of the science of education, as it is given by philosophical writers. But when we analyze the tact which directs them, we find it to be a kind of undevel. oped knowledge of the laws of mind a knowledge which the educator possesses, but to which, from its appearing in a state of weakened consciousness, he cannot give expression. An instance will explain what we mean. A teacher resolves to do his utmost to interest every member of his class. This desire grows in intensity, as the desire is repeated day after day, and we may therefore reckon it as a powerful motive. To fulfil this desire, he watches each individual popil, and when the interest of any pupil flags, he does the very thing that will attract that pupil. His course of conduct in the various cases will be different, according to circumstances ; but the one object he has in all is to interest them, and what he cares about especially is that he succeed in interesting them. After he has succeeded, and his work is over, we go to him and ask how he has contrived to attract the attention of pupils so different from each other. He cannot tell. Nay,

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