Imágenes de páginas

prehend what has happened to him. He stands at the goal but does not see the relation that the result bears to the labor performed. He does not rise to that satisfactory mental activity and favorable disposition of mind which are stimulated by the pursuit of a clearly set purpose.'

IV. The law of self-activity has been insisted upon by all great educators in modern times, particularly, however, by Froebel. It may be briefly stated thus : proper development is possible only through a high degree of self-activity. The law was discussed especially in reference to the development method of teaching in the latter part of Chapter VI. Herbert Spencer's opinion is shown in the following quotation

In education the process of self-development should be encouraged to the fullest extent. Children should be led to make their own investigations and to draw their own inferences. They should be told as little as possible, and induced to discover as much as possible. Humanity has progressed solely by selfinstruction, and that to achieve the best results each mind must progress somewhat after the same fashion, is continually proved by the marked success of selfmade men.”

As indicated in connection with the discussion of the text-book method, there is abundant room for improvement in the application of this law.

1 Herbert Spencer, Chapter II, in “ Education.”

V. The law of absorption and reflection was briefly discussed in the latter part of Chapter VI. According to it, absorption in details and reflection in regard to them, regularly alternate in effective thinking. Herbart's own words are as follows:1

“ Absorption and reflection, like a mental breathing, should continually alternate with each other. Absorption takes place when ideas are brought to consciousness one after another with proper clearness and accuracy; reflection takes place when they are collected and combined. The more fully and carefully these operations are provided for, the more effective proves the instruction.”

Any good instructor unconsciously applies this law when he stops to summarize and take a bird's-eye view of ground covered, ranking the facts according to their relative worth.

VI. In Chapter VI the importance of physical action, or motor activity, was urged, and it was practically declared to be a law that ideas must find expression, must be realized in action, before they can be conceived with the greatest clearness and accuracy. The kindergarten, especially, has always stood for this thought; in its plan of study more time each day is devoted to carrying out ideas into action than to the presentation of the ideas themselves — a practice that has been by no means characteristic of instruction above the kindergarten. But in recent years several

Herbart, “ Paedagogische Schriften,” I, p. 417.


distinguished psychologists and educators have declared themselves in favor of accepting this statement as a law, and its marked influence on education in the near future seems certain.

VII-VIII. Other possible laws have been occasionally referred to in the preceding pages, but they are not here enumerated, either because of some doubt as to their universality, or because they are commonly thought of as affecting rather the selection and arrangement of subject matter in studies than its method of presentation in the class room. Two of these are known as the laws of interest and of correlation. According to the former a deep interest must be aroused in thoughts before they can exert the strongest influence upon mental life and character; according to the latter, the ultimate value of facts depends as well upon the number and closeness of relations into which they enter as upon the clearness and accuracy with which they are conceived.

The law of interest expresses one great condition of effective instruction; it makes a demand that the teaching accomplish a certain end, but does not itself give any hint as to how this end can be attained. It affects first of all the selection of subject-matter, but furnishes a daily test of method as well, by requiring that there be a healthy stimulation of the emotions as well as of the intellect in all instruction. The law of correlation was involved in the insistence (in Chapter VI) upon a close sequence in the facts of a lesson, in the demand that they be arranged in a series or network, and that even the teacher's questions reveal a close connection.

Both of these laws, therefore, have a direct influence upon method, although not limited to that field.

Undoubtedly there are other laws of teaching besides the eight that are here mentioned, but these are at least some of the broadest and most important. The law of apperception alone includes and interprets most of the so-called principles of teaching that have often been mentioned in times past; for example, from the near to the remote; from the simple to the complex; from the easy to the difficult; from the whole to the parts. These sayings are sometimes true, sometimes not. The law of apperception is deeper than they and shows where they are applicable.

These eight laws should be guides to the teacher in the fullest sense. It would scarcely be possible to conduct a single thirty-minute recitation without applying all of them several times, with the possible exception of the law of induction.

Thus we see a most intimate connection between theory and practice when skilful instruction is imparted. The fact that these are general laws and not specific devices prevents them from cramping the teacher's freedom and individuality, for a general law is always capable of infinite variety in application.

To the extent that laws of instruction are developed

and brought into a system, there is a science of method; consequently these eight laws being as deep and broad as they are, and being intimately related to one another, furnish a fair basis for the assertion that there is a scientific method of teaching.

« AnteriorContinuar »