Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

It is a very

that it seems to the instructor much easier to teach
in this way. It requires great energy to collect a
large number of facts, and then so to arrange and
compare them as to lead to an important law or
truth. And especially does it require great energy
to keep this course up. No wonder, then, that it
has not been usually done. If we want children to
comprehend and learn important principles, why not
give them these latter outright? Or, still better, why
not give them these together with a few examples –
then the result is assured. So teachers reason, and
so they act, thus obeying the universal desire to
avoid work. Another reason for this short-sighted-
ness is found in the desire to save time.
slow process to approach broad truths inductively.
It seems a much shorter, simpler route to learning to
offer rules outright and have them committed to
memory with a few illustrations.

However, this inverted order means a loss rather than a saving of time and labor. For instance, when children begin mode in grammar by learning that it is “the manner in which the action, being, or state expressed by the verb is stated or conceived," time is lost, because these are mere empty words until the pupils have been made conscious, through numerous examples, that there are several ways of conceiving action, being, and state. Usually, although children have been comprehending and speaking their mothertongue for many years before this definition is

But labor and time are lost.

reached in school, they have reflected so little upon their own speech that they are ignorant of the existence of several modes. It would require considerable time to reach back into their experiences and collect enough instances in which action, being, and state have been differently conceived, to convince them that this definition pertained to their own lives or had any worth for them. Consequently, when they learn it first, they get empty words and not a thought. — The same thing is true in geography when definitions of mountain, plateau, etc., are given before particular mountains, plateaus, etc., have been studied. The emphasis now laid upon home geography is partly caused by belief in inductive work. One cannot always visit a mountain, plateau, etc., but he can study one or several of these objects in detail before receiving a definition of the same.-No time is saved by presenting the rule for division of fractions, or the definition of specific gravity, before numerous concrete examples have been carefully examined. In all cases, whatever labor and time are spent in pretending to understand what one does not and, from the nature of the case, cannot understand, are entirely lost.

But there is more than a loss of labor and time in Also danger giving the generalization first, for children are there for subject. by forced to approach a subject from the least attractive side. They are called upon to master the words for a thought that is not expected to be understood

of distaste

An apparent exception explained.

till later. Just as it is injudicious for men and women to present their least agreeable side to strangers, so it is unpedagogical to introduce children to topics in a way that least appeals to their past experiences and interests. When the rule is placed in front they are necessarily reminded of their weakness rather than of their strength, and an unfriendly feeling is engendered toward the subject in hand. Consequently not only are labor and time lost, but children are repelled by such instruction.

But many eminent men have been educated in just this way, and it often happens that general truths are immediately comprehended on presentation. Is it entirely in vain, therefore, that rules are offered directly, with the hope of abridging the process of acquiring knowledge ?

If it be true, as was asserted, that generalizations arise in only a single way, that they have their origin solely in individual notions, then there is only one possible way of approaching them. The fact that they are at times fully understood as soon as heard, is no exception to this rule. In such cases past life has happened to furnish enough individual experiences, and these are sufficiently present in consciousness to give a meaning to the words that are heard. The reason that the words are comprehended is that the truth has already been reached inductively, and it is now simply being worded. Now and then, too, where past experience bears apparently little relation to some general statement, a person shows strange power to reproduce and mass data that can explain it. But that is the privilege of only an unusually quick mind, and is no exception to the psychological law. Even in such cases, unless the supposed generalizations are merely reviews or applications of truths developed in the past, they are still in reality approached inductively: the words are empty, or carry only a doubtful meaning, until facts are called to mind which form a basis for drawing the desired conclusion; light is then shed upon them, or they are given a content. The statement of the general truth first is, therefore, merely a challenge to hunt up the data that prove the truth. With trained adults acquainted with the subject, and with very bright minds, the challenge is received joyfully, and activity follows that results in clear insight.

But that does not happen in ordinary instruction. Usually the generalizations that the school should teach are too far in advance of the child's or youth's knowledge to be understood at a glance; or even if his past experience actually contains all of the concrete facts required, they are so scattered and so far removed from consciousness when needed that they are practically wanting. Then this pleasant challenge is converted into a disagreeable command; it is a circumlocution in method that causes loss of time and destruction of interest.

The conclusion is therefore reached, that the only

CHAPTER VI

HOW INDIVIDUAL NOTIONS SHOULD BE APPROACHED

We have already discussed the nature of individual notions in distinguishing them from general no

tions, and have seen that they are identical with Abundance percepts or concrete notions. A large number of such of early sense notions are acquired during the first years of life by experience.

direct contact with individual things. Children see, handle, taste, smell, etc., and thus receive their first impressions. They also perceive individual events and relationships. The birds in their neighborhood build their nests and rear their young; their favorite trees blossom and bear fruit; the seeds of certain flowers are found to be transported in all directions by the wind and often by animals; the cold weather causes the village pond to freeze over, and certain vessels containing water to burst. The intercourse of men with one another is likewise noted; one speaks angrily with another; two are observed to be united by the bond of friendship; some perform many kind acts, while others seem to be guided by certain ignoble motives, etc. All such things and many more are perceived, and leave impressions called individual notions.

« AnteriorContinuar »