ePub 版

phase of the mind has a previous phase in which it was unconscious, and merely symbolic. Feeling, emotion, sensibility-these are names of activities of the soul which become thoughts and ideas by the simple addition of consciousness to them-i. e., the addition of reflection. What smoke is to the clear flame, in some sort is instinct to clear rational purpose. Thoughts and ideas preexist, therefore, as feelings and impulses; when, later, they are seen as ideas, they are seen as having general form, or as possessing universality. As feelings, they are particular or special, having application only then and there; as thoughts, they are seen as general principles regulative of all similar exigencies.

The nursery tale gives the elements of a thought, but in such special grotesque form that the child seizes only the incident. Subsequent reflection brings together the features thus detached and isolated, and the child begins to have a general idea. The previous symbol makes easy and natural the pathway to ideas and clear thought.

OTHER ADVANTAGES. Besides the industrial training (through the “ gifts and occupations”) and the symbolic culture (derived chiefly from the “games"), there is much else, in the kindergarten, which is common to the instruction in the school subsequently, and occupies the same ground. Some disciplines also are much more efficient in the kindergarten, by reason of its peculiar apparatus, than the same are or can be in the common school.

The instruction in manners and polite habits which goes on in all wellconducted kindergartens is of very great value. The child is taught to behave properly at the table, to be clean in his personal habits, to be neat in the arrangement of his apparatus, to practice the etiquette and amenities of polite life. These things are much better provided for in Froebel's system than elsewhere. Moreover, there is a cultivation of imagination and of the inventive power which possesses great significance for the future intellectual growth. The habits of regularity, punctuality, silence, obedience to established rules, self-control, are taught to as great a degree as is desirable for pupils of that age, but not by any means so perfectly as in the ordinary well-conducted primary school. The two kinds of attention that are developed so well in a good school: (1) the attention of each pupil to his own task-so absorbed in it that he is oblivious to the work of the class that is reciting, and (2) the attention of each pupil in the class that is reciting, to the work of pupil reciting—the former being the attention of industry, and the latter the attention of critical observation-are not developed so well as in the primary school, nor is it to be expected. The freedom from constraint which is essential in the kindergarten, or in any school for pupils of five years of age, allows much interference of cach pupil with the work of others, and hence much distraction of attention. It is quite difficult to preserve an exact balance. The teacher of the kindergarten is liable to allow the brisk, strong-willed children to interfere with the others, and occupy their attention too much.

As regards imagination and inventive power, it is easily stimulated to an abnormal degree. For, if it is accompanied by conceit, there is a corresponding injury done to the child's faith and reverence which must

accompany his growth if he would come to the stores of wisdom which his race has preserved for him. The wisest men are those who have availed themselves most of the wisdom of the race. Self-activity, it is true, is essential to the assimilation of the intellectual patrimony, but it is a reverent spirit only that can sustain one in the long labor of mastering and acquiring that patrimony.

The cultivation of language-of the power of expression-is much emphasized by the advocates of the kindergarten, and, I believe, with fair results.

There is a species of philosophy sometimes connected with the system which undoubtedly exercises a great influence over the minds of the followers of Froebel. It is, apparently, a system founded on a thought of Schelling--the famous “identity system "—which made the absolute to be the indifference or identity of spirit and nature. Its defect is, that it deals with antitheses as resolvable only into “indifference" points; hence the highest principle must be an unconscious one, which makes its philosophy a pantheistic system when logically carried out. But Froebel does not seem to have carried it out strictly. He uses it chiefly to build on it as a foundation his propædeutics of reflection, or thinking activity. Antithesis, or the doctrine of opposites (mind and nature, light and darkness, sweet and sour, good and bad, etc.), belongs to the elementary stage of reflection. It is, however, a necessary stage of thought (although no ultimate one), and far above the activity of sense-perception. But, compared with the thinking activity of the comprehending reason, it is still very crude. Moreover, from the fact that it is not guided by a principle above reflection, it is very uncertain. It is liable to fall from the stage of reflection which cognizes antithesis (essential relation) to that which cognizes mere difference (non-essential relation). Such imperfection I conceive to belong rather to some of the interpreters of Froebel's philosophic views than to Froebel's system as le understood it. It is certainly not a fault of his pedagogics. His philosophy is far deeper than that of Pestalozzi, while his pedagogical system is far more consistent, both in theory and in practice.

MORAL DISCIPLINE. As regards the claimed transcendence of the system over all others in the way of moral development, I am inclined to grant some degree of superiority to it, but not for intrinsic reasons. It is because the child is then at an age when he is liable to great demoralization at home, and is submitted to a gentle but firm discipline in the kindergarten, that the new education proves of more than ordinary value as a moral discipline. The children of the poor, at the susceptible age of five years, get many lessons on the street that tend to corrupt them. The children of the rich, meeting no wholesome restraint, become self-willed and self-indulgent. The kindergarten may save both classes, and make rational self-control take the place of unrestrained, depraved impulse.

But the kindergarten itself has dangers. The cultivation of self-activity may be excessive, and lead to pertness and conceit. The pupil may get to be irreverent and overbearing-hardened against receiving instruction from others. In fact, with a teacher whose discernment is dimmed by too much sentimental theory, there is great danger that the weeds of selfishness will thrive faster among the children than the wholesome plants of self-knowledge and self-control. The apotheosis of childhood and infancy is a very dangerous idea to put in practice. It does well enough in Wordsworth's great odc, as a sequence of the doctrine of preëxistence; and it is quite necessary that we should, as educators, never forget that the humblest child—nay, the most depraved child-has within him the possibility of the highest angelic being. But this angelic nature is only implicit, and not explicit, in the child or in the savage, or in the uneducated. To use the language of Aristotle, the undeveloped human being is a first entelechy," while the developed, cultured man is a “second entelechy.” Both are, by nature," rational beings; but only the educated, moral, and religious man is rational actually. “By nature" signifies "potentially,” or “ containing the possibility of.”

NATURE AND NATURAL METHODS. There is no technical expression in the history of pedagogy with which more juggling has been done than with the word “nature.” As used by most writers, it signifies the ideal or normal type of the growth of any thing. The nature of the oak realizes itself in the acorn-bearing monarch of the forest. The nature of man is realized in the angelic, god-like being whose intellect, and will, and emotions are rational, moral, and pervaded by love. We hear the end of education spoken of as the har- · monious development of human nature, physical, intellectual, moral, and affectional. This "nature,” in the sense of ideal or normal type, is, however, liable to be confounded with “nature" in the opposite sense, viz., nature as the external world (of unconscious growth). This confusion is the worst that could happen, when we are dealing with the problem of human life; for man, by nature (as unconscious growth), is only the infant or savage-the mere animal-and his possible angelic “nature" is only possible. Moreover, this possibility never will become actuality except through his own self-activity: he must make himself rational, for nature as the external world will never do this for him. Indeed, where nature as the external (unconscious) world is most active in its processes-say, in the torrid zone—there the development of man will be most retarded. Nature as external world is a world of dependence, each thing being conditioned by everything else, and hence under fate. The humblest clod on the earth pulsates with vibrations that have traveled hither from the farthest star. Each piece of matter is necessitated to be what it is by the totality of conditions. But the nature of man-human nature-must be freedom, and not fate. It must be selfdetermined, and not a mere "thingwhich is made to be what it is by the constraining activity of the totality of conditions. Hence, those who confuse these two meanings of “nature" juggle with the term, and in one place mean the rational ideal of man—the self-determining mind—and in another place they mean a thing, as the product of nature as external world. The result of this juggling is the old pedagogical contradiction found in Rousseau throughout, and now and then in the systems of all

other pedagogical reformers-Pestalozzi in particular, and even in Locke before Rousseau.

To become rational, man must learn to practise self-control, and to substitute moral purpose for mere impulse. Man inherits from nature, in time and space, impulses and desires ; and, as subject to them, he is only a Prometheus Vinctus, a slave of appetite and passion, like all other ani. mals. The infant begins his existence with a maximum of unconscious impulse, and a minimum of conscious, rational, moral purpose. The disciple of Froebel who apotheosizes infancy, and says, with Wordsworth,

“Heaven lies about us in our infancy," and who thinks that the child is a

“Mighty prophet! Seer blest,
On whom those truths do rest

Which we are toiling all our lives to find," is prone to regard the kindergarten as a "child's paradise," whercin he should be allowed to develop unrestrainedly, and the principle, laissez faire — “let him alone" — is to fill the world with angels.

This belief in the perfection of nature is the arch-heresy of education. It is more dangerous because it has a side of decpest truth-the truth which makes education possible, viz., the truth that man possesses the capacity for self-regeneration—the capacity of putting off his natural in. pulses and desires, his animal selfislıness, and of putting on righteousness and holiness. His ideal nature must be made real by himself in order to be. His real nature, as a product of time and space, must be annulled and subordinated, and his ideal nature be made real in its place.

The child as individual, and without availing himself of the help of his fellows, is a merc slave, a thing, a being controlled by fate. Through participation with his fellow-men united into institutions—those iufinite, rational organisms, the product of thic intellect and will of the race conspiring through the ages of human history and inspired by the Diviuc purpose which rules all as Providence-through participation in institutions, man is enabled to attain freedom, to complement his defects as individual by the deeds of the race; he subdues nature in time and space, and makes it his servant; he collects the shreds of experience from the individuals of the race, and combines them into wisdom, and preserves and transmits the same from generation to generation ; he invents the instrumentalities of intercommunication—the alphabet, the art of printing, the telegraph and railroad, the scientific society, the publishing-house, the book store, the library, the school, and, greater than all, the newspaper. The poor squalid individual, an insignificant atom in space and time, can, by the aid of these great institutions, lift himself up to culture, and to the infini. tude of endless development. From being mere individual, he can become generic-i. e., realize in himself the rationality of the entire species of the human race. By education we mean to do exactly this thing ; to give to the individual the means of this participation in the aggregate labors of all humanity.

Hence we are bound to consider cducation practically, as a process of initiating the particular individual into the life of his race as intellect and will-power. We must give to a child the means to help himself, and the habit and custom of helping himself, to participate in the labors of his fellowmen, and to become a contributor to the store created by mankind. Institutions.-the family: civil society, with its arts, and trades, and professions, and establishments, schools, etc. ; the state, with its more comprehensive organizations; and, finally, the church :-these are greater than the individual, and they are products of his ideal nature, and exist solely as means whereby the individual may develop his ideal.

The kindergarten, then, has the same general object that the school has had all along-to eliminate the merely animal from the child, and to develop in its place the rational and spiritual life.

EDUCATIVE FUNCTION OF PLAY. Now, as regards the science of the kindergarten, there is one more consideration which is too important to pass by-the theory of play as an educational element.

The school had been too much impressed with the main fact of its mission-viz., to eliminate the animal nature and to superinduce the spiritual nature-to notice the educative function of play. Froebel was the first to fully appreciate this, and to devise a proper series of disciplines for the youngest children. The old régime of the school did not pay respect enough to the principle of self-activity. It sacrificed spontaneity in an utterly unnecessary manner, instead of developing it into rational self-determination. Hence it produced human machines, gov. erned by prescription and conventionality, and but few enlightened spon. taneous personalities who possessed insight as well as law-abiding habit. Such human machines, governed by prescription, would develop into law-breakers or sinners the moment that the pressure of social laws was removed from them. They did not possess enough individuality of their own. They had not assimilated what they had been compelled to practice. They were not competent to readjust themselves to a change of surroundings.

Now, in play, the child realizes for himself his spontaneity, but in its irrational form of arbitrariness and caprice. In its positive phase he produces whatever his fancy dictates; in its negative phase he destroys again what he has made, or whatever is his own. He realizes by these operations the depth of originality which his will-power involves—the power to create and the power to destroy. This will-power is the root of his personality-the source of his freedom. Deprive a child of his play, and you produce arrested development in his character. Nor can his play be rationalized by the kindergarten so as to dispense altogether with the utterly spontaneous, untamed play of the child-wherein he gives full scope to his fancy and caprice-without depriving. bis play of its essential character, and changing it from play into work. Even in the kindergarten, just as in the school, there must be prescription. But the good kindergarten wisely and gently controls, in such manner as to leave room for much of the pure spontaneity of play. It prescribes tasks, but preserves the form of play as much as is possible. If the child were held to a rigid accountability in the kindergarten for the performance of his task, it would then cease to be play, and become labor. Labor performs the pre

« 上一頁繼續 »