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The following STUDY has grown out of one branch of the investigations which have occupied my time more or less during an extended period of years of public labors in teaching. This volume has gradually assumed form for my own classes in professional researches. I have been impressed long with the thought that, as teachers and educators of the United States, we are too impatient and superficial in our professional inquiries. The consequences are, that our theories of teaching rest too heavily upon notions of present expediency and brief experience. As a body we are in full sympathy with the general spirit of the nation-we are satisfied with only immediate results. Parents urge us to hasten their children into the mysteries of learning, for soon they must be placed at work, or must enter the advanced schools. The legitimate consequences are at our doors : the cry of the upper schools is, that candidates for admission are too poorly prepared for the work in store for them; the experienced men of business complain that the youth are not properly grounded in the principles underlying their daily routine of labors, the educated unite in proclaiming the masses uneducated. Thus have we been between these upper and nether millstones, crushed and thrown out if immediate scholarship was not forthcoming, while we are censured in after-years for not having secured more valuable products for the study expended by the children in their early school-days.
In this dilemma we have recollected the wisdom of the Dutch proverb, Economy is a great revenue, and the German, Necessity teaches even the lame to dance,” and the Italian, “ Even the dog gets bread by wagging his tail,” and have endeavored to insure to the pupils a scholarship that is frequently too insufficient to be valuable, but which has secured for us an ephemeral reputation and a jeopardized support. Under all the circumstances, perhaps we have done as well as we could in our schools.
Because we have yielded so far to the popular demands, we are to-day without a sharply defined and outlined philosophy in our theories of education and of teaching In our experimentation for sudden fruitage we have apparently forgotten that the most practical thing in existence is a thoroughly matured philosophical theory. Experiments without this theory are at random ; they may be successfulprobably they will not be. Under a correct theory, experiments can be tested philosophically, and failures reduced to a minimum in number and in degree of disaster. In this respect we can learn much from those nations that have passed their eager and experimental age, and are now in their enlightened maturity. In our ambition to make scholars,” irrespective of the elements of necessary time and application, we have overlooked the fact that scholars can never be “made ;” they must grow: the faculties become powers only as time and application enucleate them. The active energies of the Profession have been too much absorbed in inventing artificial aids, helps, short-cuts, and "royal roads” to learning, to enter into patient and continued study to discover the philosophical nature of the Profession as an Art and as a Science. It is time for us to turn our attention to find a firmer basis for our practice. This is found only in Philosophy.
“ The beginning of philosophy to him at least who only enters on it in the right way and by the door, is
a consciousness of his own weakness and inability about necessary things.”—EPICTETUS.
The work now submitted is an attempt to outline one subject which is included within the conception of a complete Philosophy of Education—that of the Province of Methods of Teaching: Although the subject is not first in the order of classification in the general investigation of Education, yet because of its practical nature it has been directly approached.
The treatment is somewhat out of the ordinary mode of authorship. While I have steadily kept to the line of the investigation, yet I have permitted a wide range of related matter to incorporate itself into the body of the text, even at the risk of seeming to be pedantic. The disadvantages of this apparent heterogeneity are more than compensated by the greater suggestiveness of the materials admitted. Besides, he who would erect a “liberty-pole” that shall remain permanently standing as a beacon must imbed it deeply into the firmest of soil which the past and present have deposited from the attrition of the Ages.
The reader will please to take it patiently if he find what has been already printed again printed here, What has been printed is necessary as the bond and bast-matting of what has not been printed ; but the bast-matting must not cover the whole garden, instead of merely tying up the trees. But there are two still better excuses. Known rules in education gain new force if new experience verifies them. The author has three times been in the position of trying them upon different children of all ages and talents; and he now enjoys with his own the pedagogic jus trium liberorum (law of three children); and every other person's experience related in this book has been made his own. Secondly, printing-ink now is like sympathetic ink, it becomes as quickly invisible as visible; wherefore it is good to repeat old thoughts in the newest books, because the old works in which they stand are not read. New translations of many truths, as of foreign standard works, must be given
forth every half century. And, indeed, I wish that even old Ğerman standard books were turned into new German from time to time, and so could find their way into the circulating libraries.
Why are there flower and weed gleanings of every thing, but no wine or corn gleanings of the innumerable works on education? Why should one single good observation or rule be lost because it is imprisoned in some monstrous folio, or blown away in some single sheet ? For dwarfs and giants, even in books, do not live long. Our age, this balloon, or air-ship, which, by simultaneous lighting of new lamps, and throwing out of old ballast, has constantly mounted higher and higher, might now, I should think, cease to throw out, and rather lovingly endeavor to collect than to disperse the old.
“However little so disjointed a collection of thoughts could teach rules, it would yet arouse and sharpen the educational sense, from which they orig. inally sprung
Something very different from such a progressive cabinet of noble thoughts, or even from my weak Levana, with her fragments in her arms, is the usual kind of complete system of education which one person after another has written, and will write. It is difficult, -I mean the end, not the means. For it is very easy to proceed with book-binder's and bookmaker's paste, and fasten together a thousand selected thoughts with five of your own, especially if you conscientiously remark in the Preface that you have availed yourself of the labors of your predecessors, yet make no mention of one in the work itself, but sell such a miniature library in one volume to the reader as a mental fac-simile of yourself. How much better in this case were a hole-maker than a hole-hider! How much better were it if associated authors (I mean those friendly hundreds who move along one path, uttering precisely the same sound) entirely died out—as Humboldt tells us that in the tropical regions there are none of those sociable
plants which make our forests monotonous, but next each tree a perfectly different one grows. A diary about an ordinary child would be much better than a book upon children by an ordinary writer. Yes, every man's opinion about education would be valuable if he only wrote what he did not copy. The author, unlike a partner, should always only say 'I,' and no other word.”-JEAN PAUL RICHTER, Levana, Author's Preface, pp. xii-xv, ed. 1863.
Although Methods of Teaching occupied the attention of some of the Greek philosophers, and have continued before the minds of educators in portions of Europe down to the present date, and have of late engaged thought in the United States, yet they have been confounded generally with Methods of Education, Modes and Manners of Teaching, rather than apprehended as constituting a province by themselves. The subject of the inquiry being intricate in its character, it has been no easy task to elaborate it. I have diligently sought nothing but Truth. Should subsequent researches, observations, or experience, from whatever source, reveal aught of error in the positions advanced, no one shall outdo the author in haste to accept the facts as they shall appear. If this investigation, with all of its imperfections of style, matter, and treatment, shall prove as interesting to the Fraternity as it has to the writer, it will serve its purpose.
Indeed, its largeness, its infinity, embarrass me. It is like an attempt to lift the earth : the arms are too short to get hold of it. However, I hope to get hold of a few handfuls." HORACE MANN, Life, p. 87, Boston, 1865.
“I have long known that no man can apply himself to any worthy subject, either of thought or action, but he will forthwith find it develop into dimensions and qualities of which before he had no conception. If this be true of all subjects worthy of rational attention, how extensively true is it of the all-comprehending subject of education! This expansion of any object to which our attention is systematically