Ontario Normal School Manuals: Science of Education
by Ontario Ministry of Education
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

(e) Nor'Westers acquitted of murder of Semple. Selkirk convicted and heavily fined for acts of violence. Selkirk withdrew from Canada in disappointment and disgust.

3. Later Progress.

(a) Hardships of pioneer life like those of Ontario.

(b) A series of disasters—grasshoppers, floods.

(c) Prosperity finally came.

(d) Government at first administered by governor of H.B. Co., later assisted by Council of fourteen members.


1. Union.

After withdrawal of Selkirk, the H.B. Co. and the N.W. Co. united in 1821, under name of former.

2. Subsequent Progress.

(a) Governor Sir George Simpson extended posts westward to Pacific.

(b) Through his energy Britain was able to retain possession of Western Canada in spite of aggression of United States and Russia.


1. Canadian Government claimed that the rule of the Company hindered development of Western Canada because it was interested only in trade.

2. Agreement with Canadian Government.

(a) Company sold Prince Rupert's Land and gave up its trade monopoly.

(b) In return.—

(i) Received L300,000.

(ii) Retained one twentieth of land south of the Saskatchewan.

(iii) Retained its posts and trading privileges.

3. Company still exists as a trading organization with many posts in the West and large stores in many cities.


1. Opened up a valuable trade in Western Canada.

2. Explored and opened up the West for settlement.

3. Retained for Britain the territory west of Rockies when it was in danger of falling into other hands.

The subjects of the Public and Separate School Course where topical reviews are most necessary are history and geography.


A thing always stands out most vividly in the mind when the relations of similarity and difference are perceived between it and other things. When we compare and contrast two things, certain features of each that would otherwise escape our attention are brought to light. We get a clearer idea of both the rabbit and the squirrel when we compare their various characteristics. Great Britain and Germany are each better understood geographically, when we set up comparisons between them; Pitt and Walpole stand out more clearly as statesmen when we compare and contrast them. One of the most effective forms of review is that in which the relations of likeness and difference are set up between subjects that have already been studied. For instance, the geographical features of Manitoba and British Columbia may be effectively reviewed by instituting comparisons between them in regard to (1) position and size, (2) physical features, (3) climate, (4) industries, (5) products, (6) commercial centres. The careers of Walpole and Pitt might be reviewed by comparing and contrasting them with regard to (1) circumstances under which each became Prime Minister, (2) domestic policy, (3) foreign policy, (4) circumstances surrounding the resignation of each, (5) personal character.

Whatever form the review lesson may take, the teacher should always keep in mind its two main purposes, namely, (1) the organization of knowledge which comes through the apprehension of new relationships, and (2) the deeper impression of facts on the mind which comes through attentive repetition.



Importance.—As a teaching device, questioning must always occupy a place of the highest importance. While it may not be always true that good questioning is synonymous with good teaching, there can be no doubt that the good teacher must have, as one of his qualifications, the ability to question well. A good question is a problem to solve. A stimulating problem arouses and directs mental activity. Well-directed mental activity is the prime requisite of all learning and one of the ends which all effective teaching endeavours to realize. Questioning is one of the best means of securing that desirable activity of mind without which intellectual progress is impossible. The teacher who would master the technique of his art must study to attain skill in questioning.


A. Knowledge of Subject and of Mind.—The most obvious essentials are familiarity with the subject-matter and a knowledge of the mental processes of the child. Without the first, the questions will be pointless, haphazard, and unsystematic; without the second, they will be ill-adjusted to the interests and attainments of the pupils. A thorough knowledge of the facts of the lesson and a keen insight into the workings of the child mind are indispensable.

B. Analytic Ability.—As an accompaniment of the first of these qualifications, the good questioner must have analytic ability. The material of the lesson must be analysed into its elements and the relations of these must be clearly perceived if it is to be effectively presented to the pupils. The teacher must further have the power to discriminate between the important and the unimportant. The ability to seize upon the essential features and to give due prominence to these is one of the most valuable accomplishments a teacher can have.

C. Knowledge of Pupils' Experiences.—As an accompaniment of the second qualification, the good questioner must have a knowledge of the previous experience and of the capacities of the pupils. Good teaching consists largely in the skilful adjustment of the new to the old. The teacher must ascertain what the pupils already know, what their interests are, and what matter they may reasonably be expected to apprehend, if he is to have them assimilate properly the facts of the lesson. He must further show sympathy and tact in order to inspire the pupils to their best effort. He must be able to detect unerringly the symptoms of inattention, listlessness, and misbehaviour, and by a well-directed question to bring back the wandering attention to the subject in hand.

Faults in Questioning.—There are two serious weaknesses that many young teachers exhibit, namely, questioning when they ought to tell and telling when they ought to question. To tell pupils what they might easily discover for themselves is to deprive them of the joy of conquest and to miss an opportunity of exercising and strengthening their mental powers. On the other hand, to question upon matter which the pupils cannot reasonably be expected to know or discover is to discourage effort and encourage guessing. To know just when to question and when to tell requires considerable discrimination and insight on the part of the teacher.


Questioning has three main purposes, namely:

1. To determine the limits of the pupil's present knowledge in order that the teacher may have a definite basis upon which to build the new material;

2. To direct the pupil's thought along a prescribed channel to a definite end, to lead him to make discoveries and form conclusions on his own account;

3. To ascertain how far he has grasped the meaning of the new material that has been presented.

A. Preparatory.—The first of these purposes may be designated as preparatory. Here the teacher clears the ground for the presentation of the new matter by recalling the old related facts necessary to the interpretation of the new. In thus sounding the depths of the pupil's previous knowledge, the teacher should usually ask questions that demand fairly long answers instead of those which may be answered briefly. The onus of the recall should be placed largely upon the pupil. The teacher will do comparatively little talking; the pupil will do much.

B. Developing.—The second purpose may be described as developing. The pupil is led step by step to a conclusion. Each question grows naturally out of the preceding question, the responsibility for this logical connection falling upon the teacher. The pupil has before him a certain set of conditions, and he is asked to infer the logical result of such conditions. He forms inferences, makes new discoveries, sets up new relationships, and formulates definitions and laws. It should be noted that this form of questioning gives no entirely new information to the pupil. It merely classifies and organizes what is already in his mind in a more or less indistinct and nebulous form. New information cannot be questioned out of a pupil; it must be given to him directly.

C. Recapitulation.—The third purpose of questioning may be described as recapitulatory. The pupil is asked to reproduce what he has learned during the progress of the lesson. At convenient intervals during the presentation and at the close, he should be asked to summarize in a connected manner the main points already covered. Thus the teacher tests the pupil's comprehension of the facts of the lesson. The pupil, on his side, as a result of such reproduction, has the facts more clearly fixed in his mind. As in the first stage of the lesson, the answers should be of considerable length, logically connected, and expressed in good language. The responsibility for this is again thrown largely upon the pupil. He does most of the talking; the teacher does little.

How Employed in Lesson.—It will thus be recognized that questioning is employed for different purposes at the three different stages of the lesson. At the opening of the lesson it prepares the mind of the pupil for what is to follow. During the presentation it leads the pupil to form his own inferences. At the close of the lesson it tests his grasp of the facts and gives these greater clearness and fixity in his mind. The first and third might both be designated as testing purposes, and the second training.


Its Characteristics.—Developing, or training, questions, are sometimes referred to as Socratic questions. The terms are, however, not altogether synonymous. The method of Socrates had two divisions, known as irony and maieutics. The former consisted in leading the pupil to express an opinion on some subject of current interest, an opinion that was apparently accepted by Socrates. Then, by a series of questions adroitly put, he drove his pupil into a contradiction or an absurd position, thus revealing the inadequacy of the answer. This phase of the Socratic method is rarely applicable with young children. Occasionally, in grammar or arithmetic, for instance, an incorrect answer may properly be followed up so as to lead the pupil into a contradiction, but it is usually not desirable to embarrass him unnecessarily. It is never agreeable to be covered with the confusion which such a situation usually brings about. The other phase of the Socratic method, the maieutics, consisted in leading the pupil, by a further series of questions, to formulate the correct opinion of which the first hastily-given answer was only a fragment. This coincides with the developing method and may sometimes be profitably employed with young children.

EXAMPLE OF SOCRATIC QUESTIONING.—As an example of Socratic questioning may be noted the following taken from Plato's Minos. Socrates has questioned his companion concerning the nature of Law and has received the answer, "Law is the decree of the city." To show his companion the inadequacy of this definition, Socrates engages with him in the following dialogue:

Socrates: Justice and law, are highly honourable; injustice and lawlessness, highly dishonourable; the former preserves cities, the latter ruins them?

Pupil: Yes, it does.

Socrates: Well, then! we must consider law as something honourable; and seek after it, under the assumption that it is a good thing. You defined law to be the decree of the city: Are not some decrees good, others evil?

Pupil: Unquestionably.

Socrates: But we have already said that law is not evil?

Pupil: I admit it.

Socrates: It is incorrect therefore to answer, as you did broadly, that law is the decree of the city. An evil decree cannot be law.

Pupil: I see that it is incorrect.

Having shown his pupil the fallacy of his first definition, Socrates proceeds to teach him that only what is right is lawful. This part of the dialogue proceeds as follows:

Socrates: Those who know, must of necessity hold the same opinion with each other, on matters which they know: always and everywhere?

Pupil: Yes—always and everywhere.

Socrates: Physicians write respecting matters of health what they account to be true, and these writings of theirs are the medical laws?

Pupil: Certainly they are.

Socrates: The like is true respecting the laws of farming, the laws of gardening, the laws of cookery. All these are the writings of persons, knowing in each of the respective pursuits?

Pupil: Yes.

Socrates: In like manner, what are the laws respecting the government of a city? Are they not the writings of those who know how to govern—kings, statesmen, and men of superior excellence?

Pupil: Truly so.

Socrates: Knowing men like these will not write differently from each other about the same things, nor change what they have once written. If, then, we see some doing this, are we to declare them knowing or ignorant?

Pupil: Ignorant, undoubtedly.

Socrates: Whatever is right, therefore, we may pronounce to be lawful in medicine, gardening, or cookery; whatever is not right, not to be lawful but lawless. And the like in treatises respecting just and unjust, prescribing how the city is to be administered. That which is right, is the regal law; that which is not right, is not so, but only seems to be law in the eyes of the ignorant, being in truth lawless.

Pupil: Yes.

It will be seen from the above examples, that much of the Socratic questioning is really explanatory; the questions, though interrogative in form, being often rhetorical, and therefore assertive in value.


Characteristics of a Good Question.—Good questions should seize upon the important features and emphasize these. Unimportant details, though useful in giving vividness to a narrative and enabling the pupil to build up a clear picture of the scene or incident, may well be ignored in questioning. The teacher must see that the pupil grasps the essentials and must direct his questions towards the attainment of that end. The questions should be arranged in logical sequence, so that the answers, if written out in the order given, would form a connected account of the topic under discussion. Further, the questions should require the expression of a judgment on the part of the pupil. In the main they should not be answerable by a single word or a brief phrase. One of the greatest weaknesses in the answers of pupils is the tendency to extreme brevity. As a result, it is difficult to get pupils to give a connected and continuous narration, description, or exposition in any subject. The remedy for this defect is to ask questions which demand answers of considerable length, and to avoid those which require only a scrappy answer.

Form of the Question.—It should ever be borne in mind that the teacher's language influences the language habits of his pupils. Carelessly worded, poorly constructed questions are likely to result in answers having similar characteristics. On the other hand, correctness in the form of the questions asked, accuracy in the use of words, simple, straightforward statements of the thing wanted, will be reflected, dimly perhaps, in the form of the pupils' answers. Care must, therefore, be exercised as to the form in which questions are asked. They should be stripped of all superfluous introductory words, such as, "Who can tell?" "How many of you know?" etc. Such prefaces are not only useless and a waste of time, but they also put before pupils a bad model if we are to expect concise and direct statements from them. The questions should be so clear and definite in meaning as to admit of only one interpretation. Questions such as, "What happened after this?" "What did Cromwell become?" "What about the rivers of Germany?" "What might we say of this word?" are objectionable on the score of indefiniteness. Many correct answers might be given for each and the pupils can only guess at what is required. If the question cannot be so stated as to make what is desired unmistakable, the information had better be given outright. Questions should be brief and usually deal with only one point, except, perhaps in asking for summaries of what has been covered in the lesson. In the latter case it is frequently desirable to put a question involving several points in order to ensure definiteness, conciseness, and connectedness in the answer; for example, "For what is Alexander Mackenzie noted? State his great aim and describe his two most important undertakings connected therewith." But in dealing with matter taken up for the first time or involving original thought, this type of question, demanding as it does attention to several points, would put too great a demand upon the powers of young children. Under such conditions it is best to ask questions requiring only one point in answer.


Form of Answers.—The possibility of improving the pupil's language power through his answers has already been referred to. To secure the best results in this regard, the teacher should insist on answers that are grammatically correct and, usually, in complete sentences. It would be pedantic, however, to insist always upon the latter condition. For such questions as, "What British officer was killed at Queenston Heights?" or "What province lies west of Manitoba?" the natural answers are "General Brock," or "Saskatchewan." To require pupils to say, "The British officer killed at Queenston Heights was General Brock," or "The province west of Manitoba is Saskatchewan," would be to make the recitation unnatural and formal. When answers are a mere echo of the question, with some slight inversion or addition, they become exceedingly mechanical, and useless from the point of view of language training. While it is desirable to avoid, as far as possible, questions that admit of answers of a single word or short phrase, such questions are sometimes necessary and are not objectionable. Questions should not be thrown into the form of an elliptical statement in which the pupil merely fills a blank, for example, "The capital of Ontario is...?" "The first English parliament was called by...?" Nor should they be given in inverted form, as, "Montreal is situated where?" "The Great Charter was signed by what king?" Alternative questions such as, "Is this a noun or an adjective?" "Was Charles I willing or unwilling to sign the Petition of Right?" as well as those questions that are answerable by "Yes" or "No," require little thought to answer and should be avoided if possible. When they are used, the pupil should at once be required to give reasons for his answer. Neither the form of the question nor the teacher's tone of voice or manner should afford any inkling as to the answer expected.

Calling for Answers.—In order that the attention of the whole class may be maintained, the question should be proposed before the pupil who is to answer is indicated. No fixed order in calling upon the pupils should be adopted. If the pupils are never certain beforehand who is to be named to answer the question, they are more likely to be kept constantly on the alert. The questions should be carefully distributed among the class, the duller pupils being given rather more and easier questions than the brighter ones. One of the temptations that the teacher has to overcome is that of giving the clever and willing pupils the majority of the questions. The question should seldom be repeated unless the first wording is so unfortunate that the meaning is not clear and it is found necessary to recast it. To repeat questions habitually is to put a premium on inattention on the part of the pupils. A bad habit often noted among teachers is that of wording the question in several ways before any one is asked to answer it.

Methods of Dealing with Answers.—As has been already indicated in another connection, the answers of the pupils should be generally in complete sentences and frequently should be in the form of a continuous paragraph or series of paragraphs, especially in summaries and reviews. The continuous answer should be cultivated much more than it is, as a means of training pupils to organize their information and to express themselves in clear and connected discourse. On the other hand, however, children should be discouraged from giving more information than is demanded by the question. While it is desirable that the correctness of an answer should be indicated in some way, the teacher should guard against forming the habit of indicating every correct answer by a stereotyped word or phrase, such as, "Yes" or "That's right." Answers should seldom be repeated by the teacher, unless it is desirable to re-word them for purposes of emphasis. Repetition of answers encourages careless articulation on the part of the pupil answering and inattention on the part of the others. One of the worst habits a teacher can contract is the "gramophonic" repetition of pupils' answers. The answers given by the pupils should almost invariably be individual, not collective. Simultaneous answering makes a noisy class-room, cultivates a monotonous and measured method of speaking, and encourages the habit of relying on others. There are always a few leaders in the class that are willing to take the initiative in answering, and the others merely chime in with them. The method is not suitable for the expression of individual opinion, for all pupils must answer alike. There is, further, the possibility that absurd blunders may pass uncorrected, because in the general repetition the teacher cannot detect them.


Though questioning is the most valuable of teaching devices, it is quite susceptible of being overworked. There is quite as much danger of using it too extensively as there is of using it too little. Frequently, teachers try to question from pupils what they could not be expected to know. Further, it is possible by too much questioning to cover up the point of the lesson rather than reveal it, and to mystify the pupils rather than clarify their ideas. These are the two main abuses of the device. After all, it should be remembered that, important as good questioning undoubtedly is, it is not the only thing in lesson technique. In teaching, as elsewhere, variety is the spice of life. Sympathy, sincerity, enthusiasm in the teacher will do more to secure mental activity in the pupils than mere excellence in questioning. The energetic, enthusiastic, sympathetic teacher may secure better results than the teacher whose ability in questioning is well-nigh perfect, but who lacks these other qualities. If, however, to these qualities he adds a high degree of efficiency in questioning, his success in teaching is so much the more assured.




Data of Psychology.—Throughout the earlier parts of the text, occasional reference has been made to various classes of mental states, and to psychology, as the science which treats of these mental states, under the assumption that such references would be understood in a general way by the student-teacher. At the outset of a study of psychology as the science of mind, however, it becomes necessary to inquire somewhat more fully into the nature of the data with which the science is to deal. Mind is usually defined either by contrasting it with the concrete world of matter, or by describing its activities. It is said, for instance, that mind is that which feels and knows, which hopes, fears, determines, etc. By some, indeed, mind is described as merely the sum of these states of knowing and feeling and willing. The practical man says, however, I know and feel so-and-so, and my wish is so-and-so. Here an evident distinction is drawn between the knower, or conscious self, and his conscious activities. While, however, we may agree with the practical man that there is a mind, or self, that knows and wills and feels; yet it is evident that the self, or knower, can know himself only through his conscious states. It must be understood, therefore, that mind in its ultimate sense cannot be studied directly, but only the conscious states, or conditions of mind. Thus psychology becomes a study of mental states, or states of consciousness; and it is, in fact, frequently described as the science of consciousness.

Nature of Consciousness.—Our previous study of the nature of experience has shown that various kinds of conscious states may arise in the mind, now the smell of burning cloth, now the sound of a ringing bell, now the feeling of bodily pain, now a remembered joy, now a future expectation or a resolution. Such a conscious state was seen, moreover, to represent on the part of the mind, not a mere passive impression coming from some external source, but an active attitude resulting in definite experience. It signifies, in other words, a power to react in a fixed way toward impressions, and direct our conduct in accordance with the resulting states of consciousness. Consciousness in the individual implies, therefore, that he is aware of phenomena as they are experienced, and is able to modify his behaviour accordingly.

Types of Consciousness.—Although allowable, from the standpoint of the learning process, to describe a conscious state as an attitude of awareness in which the individual grasps the significance of an experience in relation to his own needs; it must be recognized that not all consciousness manifests this meaningful quality, or this relation to a felt aim, or end. While lying, for instance, in a vague, half-awake state, although one is conscious, the mental condition is quite devoid of the meaningful quality referred to, and entirely lacks the feeling of reaction, or of mental effort. In this case there is no distinct reference to the needs of the self, and a lack of that focusing of attention necessary to give the consciousness a meaning and purpose in the life of the individual. All such passive, or effortless, states of consciousness, which make up those portions of mental existence in which no definite presentation seems to hold the attention, although falling within the sphere of the scientific psychologist, may nevertheless be left out of consideration in a study of educational psychology. Learning involves apperception, and apperception is always giving a meaning to new presentations by actively bringing old knowledge to bear upon them. For the educator, therefore, psychology may be limited to a study of the definite states of consciousness which arise through an apperceiving act of attention, that is, to our states of experience and the processes connected therewith. For this reason, psychology is by some appropriately enough defined as the science of experience.

Consciousness a Stream.—Although we describe the data of psychology as facts, or states, of consciousness, a moment's reflection will show that our conscious life is not made up of a number of mental states, or experiences, completely separated one from the other. Our consciousness is rather a unified whole, in which seemingly disconnected states blend into one continuous flow of conscious life. For this reason, consciousness is frequently compared to a stream, or river, moving onward in an unbroken course. This stream of consciousness appears as disjointed mental states, simply because the attention discriminates within this stream, and thus in a sense detaches different portions one from the other, or, as sometimes figuratively put, it creates successive waves on the stream of consciousness. A mental state, or experience, so-called, is such a discriminated portion of this stream of consciousness, and is, therefore, itself a process, the different processes blending in a continuous succession or relation to make up the unbroken flow of conscious life. For this reason psychology is frequently described as a study of conscious processes.


Within the school the child secures a control of experience only by passing through a process of mental reconstruction, or of changes in consciousness. Moreover, to bring about these mental changes, it is found necessary for the teacher's effort to conform as far as possible to the interests and tendencies of the child. So far, therefore, as the teacher's office is to direct and control the children's effort during the learning process, he must approach them primarily as mental, or conscious, beings. For this reason the educator should at least not violate the general principles governing all mental activity. By giving him an insight into the general principles underlying conscious processes, psychology should aid the teacher to control the learning process in the child.


Psychology Cannot Give: A. Knowledge of Subject-matter.—It must not be assumed, however, that knowledge of psychology will necessarily imply a corresponding ability to teach. Psychology, for instance, cannot decide what should be taught to the child. This, as we have seen, is a problem of social experience, and must be decided by considering the types of experience which will add to the social efficiency of the individual, or which will enable him best to do his duty to himself and to others. All, therefore, that psychology can do here is to explain the process by which experience is acquired, leaving to social ethics the problem of deciding what knowledge is of most worth.

B. Love for Children.—Again, psychology will not necessarily furnish that largeness of heart and sympathy for childhood, without which no teacher can be successful. Indeed, it is felt by many that making children objects of psychological analysis will rather tend to destroy that more spiritual conception of their personality which should constitute the teacher's attitude toward his pupils. While this is no doubt true of the teacher who looks upon children merely as subjects for psychological analysis and experimentation, it is equally true that a knowledge of psychology will enable even the sympathetic teacher to realize more fully and deal more successfully with the difficulties of the pupil.

C. Acquaintance with the Individual Child.—Again, the teacher's problem in dealing with the mental attitude of the particular child cannot always be interpreted through general principles. The general principle would be supposed to have an application to every child in a large class. It is often found, however, that the character and disposition of the particular child demands, not general, but special treatment. Here, what is termed the knack of the sympathetic teacher is often more effective than the general principle of the psychologist. Admitting so much, however, it yet may be argued that a knowledge of psychology will not hinder, but rather assist the sympathetic teacher in dealing even with special cases.


A. Introspection.—A unique characteristic of mind is its ability to turn attention inward and make an object of study of its own states, or processes. For instance, the mind is able to make its present sensation, its remembered state of anger, its idea of a triangle, etc., stand out in consciousness as a subject of study for conscious attention. On account of this ability to give attention to his own states of consciousness, man is said both to know and to know that he knows. This reflective method of studying our own mental states is known as the method of Introspection.

B. Objective Method.—Facts of mind may, however, be examined objectively. As previously noted, man, by his words, acts, and works, gives expression to his conscious states. These different forms of expression are accepted, therefore, as external indications of corresponding states of mind, and afford the psychologist certain data for developing his science. One of the most important of these objective methods is known as Child Study. Here, by the method of observing the acts and language of very young children, data are obtained concerning the native instincts of the child, concerning the genesis and development of the different mental processes, and the relation of these to physical development. A brief statement of the leading principles of Child Study will be found in Chapter XXXI.

C. Experimental Method.—A third method of studying mind is known as the Experimental method. Here, as in the case of the ordinary physical experimenter, the psychologist seeks to control certain mental processes by isolating them and regulating their action. This may be effectively done in the study of certain processes. For instance, by passing the two points of a pair of compasses over different parts of the body, the tactile sensibility of the skin may be compared at these different parts. By this means it may be shown that the tip of the finger can detect the two points when only one twelfth of an inch apart, while on the middle of the back they may require to be two and a half inches apart to give a double impression. The experimental method is often used in connection with the objective method in Child Study.


A. Knowledge.—Although, as previously stated, the stream of consciousness must at all times be looked upon as a unity, it will be found upon analysis to present three more or less distinct phases. A state of consciousness implies, in the first place, being aware of something as an object of attention. In other words, something is seized upon by consciousness as a presentation, and to the extent to which one is aware of this object of consciousness, he is said to recognize, or to know it. A state of consciousness is always, therefore, a state of knowledge, or of intelligence. Thus, whether we perceive this chair, imagine a mermaid, recall the looks of an absent friend, experience the toothache, judge the weight of this book, or become angry, our conscious state is a state of knowledge.

B. Feeling.—A conscious state is also a state of feeling. Every conscious state has its feeling side, since it is a personal state, or since the mind itself is affected toward its own state. Two men, for instance, may know equally well the taste of a particular food, but the taste may affect each one quite differently. To one the experience is pleasant, to the other it may be even painful. Two boys may know equally that a point has been scored by the visiting team, but the personal attitude of each toward the experience may be quite different. The one finds in it a quality of joy; the other a quality of sorrow. In the same way the mind always feels more or less pleased or displeased in its present state of consciousness. To speak of any particular experience as painful, joyous, sorrowful, etc., is, therefore, to refer to it as a state of feeling.

C. Will.—Consciousness is a state of effort, or will. It was especially pointed out above, that the purposeful consciousness always implies a straining or focusing of consciousness in order to attain a fuller control of the experience. This element of exertion manifest in consciousness may appear as a directing of attention, as the making of a choice, as determining upon a certain action, etc. This aspect of any conscious state is spoken of as a state of will, or volition.

In the unity of the conscious life, therefore, there are three attitudes from which consciousness may be viewed:

1. It is a state of Knowledge, or of Intelligence.

2. It is a state of Feeling.

3. It is a state of Will.

On account of this threefold aspect of mental states, consciousness has been represented in the following form:

The significance of comparing the threefold aspect of consciousness to the three sides of a triangle consists in the fact that if any side of a triangle is removed no triangle remains. In like manner, none of the three attributes of consciousness could be wanting without the conscious state ceasing to exist as such. No one, for instance, could feel the pressure of a tight shoe without at the same time knowing it, and fixing his attention upon it. Neither could a person at any particular time know that the shoe was pinching him unless he was also attending to and feeling the experience.



Relation of Mind to Bodily Organism.—Notwithstanding the antithesis which has been affirmed to exist between mind and matter, yet a very close relation exists between mind and the material organism known as the body. There are many ways in which this intimate connection manifests itself. Mental excitement is always accompanied with agitation of the body and a disturbance of such bodily processes as breathing, the beating of the heart, digestion, etc. Such mental processes as seeing, hearing, tasting, etc., are found also to depend upon the use of a bodily organ, as the eye, the ear, the tongue, without which it is quite impossible for the mind to come into relation with outside things. Moreover, disease or injury, especially to the organs of sense or to the brain, weakens or destroys mental power. The size of the brain, also, is found to bear a certain relation to mental capacity; the weight of the average brain being about 48 ounces, while the brain of an idiot often weighs only from 20 to 30 ounces.


Divisions of Nervous System.—This intimate connection between mind and body is provided for through the existence of that part of the bodily organism known as the nervous system, and it is this part, together with its associated organs of sense, that chiefly interests the student of psychology. A study of the character and functions of the various parts of the nervous system, and of the nervous substance of which these parts are composed, belongs to physiology rather than to psychology. As the student-teacher is given a general knowledge of the structure of the nervous system in his study of physiology, a brief description will suffice for the present purpose. The nervous system consists of two parts, (1) the central part, or cerebro-spinal centre, and (2) an outer part—the spinal nerves. The central part, or cerebro-spinal centre, includes the spinal cord, passing upward through the vertebrae of the spinal column and the brain. The brain consists of three parts: The cerebrum, or great brain, consisting of two hemispheres, which, though connected, are divided in great part by a longitudinal fissure; the cerebellum, or little brain; and the medulla oblongata, or bulb. The spinal nerves consist of thirty-one pairs, which branch out from the spinal cord. Each pair of nerves contains a right and left member, distributed to the right and the left side of the body respectively. These nerves are of two kinds, sensory, or afferent, (in-carrying) nerves, which carry inward impressions from the outside world, and motor, or efferent, (out-carrying) nerves, which convey impulses outward to the muscles and cause them to contract. There are also twelve pairs of nerves connected with the eye, ear, nose, tongue, and face, which, instead of projecting from the spinal cord, proceed at once from the brain through openings in the cranium. These are, therefore, known as cerebral nerves. In their general character, however, they do not differ from the projection fibres.

Nervous Substance.—Nervous substance is divided into two kinds—grey, or cellular, substance and white, or fibrous, substance. The greater part of the grey matter is situated as a layer on the outside of the cerebrum, or great brain, where it forms a rind from one twelfth to one eighth of an inch in thickness, known as the cortex. It is also found on the surface of the cerebellum. Diffuse masses of grey matter are likewise met in the other parts of the brain, and extending downward through the centre of the spinal cord. The function of the grey matter is to form centres to which the nerve fibres tend and carry in stimulations, or from which they commence and carry out impulses.

The Neuron.—The centres of grey matter are composed of aggregations, or masses, of very small nerve cells called neurons. A neuron may range from 1/300 to 1/3000 of an inch in diameter, and there are several thousand millions of these cells in the nervous system. A developed neuron consists of a cell body with numerous prolongations in the form of white, thread-like fibres. The neuron with its outgoing fibres is the unit of the nervous system. Neurons are supposed to be of three classes, sensory to receive stimulations, motor to send out impulses to the muscles, and association to connect sensory and motor centres.

These neurons, as already noted, are collected into centres, and the outgoing fibres give connection to the cells, the number of connections for each neuron depending upon its outgoing fibres. Some of these connections are already established within the system at birth, while others, as we shall see more fully later, are formed whenever the organism is brought into action in our thinking and doing. To speak of such connections being formed between nerve centres by means of their outgoing fibres does not necessarily mean a direct connection, but may imply only that the fibres of one cell approach nearly enough to those of another to admit of a nervous impulse passing from the one cell to the other. This is often spoken of as the establishment of a path between the centres.

The Nerve Fibres.—The nerve fibres which transmit impressions to and from the centres of grey matter average about 1/6000 of an inch in thickness, but are often of great length, some extending perhaps half the length of the body. Large numbers of these fibres unite into a sheath or single nerve. It is estimated that the number of fibres in a single nerve number in most cases several thousand, those in the nerve of sight being estimated at about one hundred thousand. The fibres in the white substance of the brain are estimated at several hundred million.

Classes of Fibres.—These fibres are supposed to be of four classes, as follows:

1. Sensory Cerebral and Spinal Fibres

These have already been referred to as spreading outward from the brain and spinal cord to different parts of the body. Their office is, therefore, to carry inward to the centres of grey matter impressions received from the outside world, thus setting up a connection between the various senses and the cortex of the brain.

2. Motor Cerebral and Spinal Fibres

These fibres connect the centres of grey matter directly with the muscles, and thus provide a means of communication between these muscles and the cortex of the brain.

3. Association Fibres

These connect one part of the cortex with another within the same hemisphere.

4. Commissural Fibres

These connect corresponding centres of the two hemispheres of the cerebrum.

Function of Parts.—Because the various cells are thus brought into relation, the whole nervous system combines into a single organism, which is able to receive impressions and provides conditions for the mind to interpret these impressions and, if necessary, react thereon. When, for instance, a stimulus is received by an end organ (the eye), it will be transmitted by a sensory nerve directly inward to a sensory centre, or cell, in the cortex of the brain. In such a case it may be interpreted by the mind and a line of action decided upon. Then by means of associating cells and fibres a motor centre may be stimulated and an impulse transmitted along an outgoing motor nerve to a muscle, whereupon the necessary motor reaction will take place. A pupil may, for instance, receive the impression of a word through the ear or through the eye and thereupon make a motor response by writing the word. The arrows in the accompanying figure indicate the course of the stimulus and the response in such cases.


Cortex the Seat of Consciousness.—Experiments in connection with the different nerve cords and centres have demonstrated that intelligent consciousness depends upon the nerve centres situated in the cortex of the cerebrum. For instance, a sensory impulse may be carried inward to the cells of the spinal cord and upward to the cerebellum without any resulting consciousness. When, however, the stimulus reaches a higher centre in the cortex of the brain, the mind becomes conscious, or interprets the impression, and any resulting action will be controlled by consciousness, through impulses given to the motor nerves. It is for this reason that the cortex is called the seat of consciousness, and that mind is said to reside in the brain.

Localization of Function.—In addition, however, to placing the seat of consciousness in the cortex of the brain, psychologists also claim that different parts of the cortex are involved in different types of conscious activity. Sensations of sight, for instance, involve certain centres in the cortex, sensations of sound other centres, the movements of the organs of speech still other centres. Some go so far as to claim that each one of the higher intellectual processes, as memory, imagination, judgment, reasoning, love, anger, etc., involves neural activity in its own special section of the cortex. There seems no good evidence, however, to support this view. The fact seems rather that in all these higher processes, quite numerous centres of the cortex may be involved. The following figure indicates the main conclusions of the psychologists in reference to the localization of certain important functions in distinct areas of the cortex.

Nature of Reflex Action.—While a lower nerve centre is not a seat for purposeful consciousness, these centres may, in addition to serving as transmission points for cortical messages, perform a special function by immediately receiving sensory impressions and transmitting motor impulses. A person, for instance, whose mind is occupied with a problem, may move a limb to relieve a cramp, wink the eye, etc., without any conscious control of the action. In such a case the sensory impression was reported to a lower sensory centre, directly carried to a lower motor centre, and the motor impulse given to perform the movement. In the same way, after one has acquired the habit of walking, although it usually requires conscious effort to initiate the movements, yet the person may continue walking in an almost unconscious manner, his mind being fully occupied with other matters. Here, also, the complex actions involved in walking are controlled and regulated by lower centres situated in the cerebellum. In like manner a person will unconsciously close the eyelid under the stimulus of strong light. Here the impression caused by the light stimulus, upon reaching the medulla along an afferent nerve, is deflected to a motor nerve and, without any conscious control of the movements, the muscles of the eyelid receive the necessary impulse to close. Actions which are thus directed from a lower centre without conscious control, are usually spoken of as reflex acts. Acts directed by consciousness are, on the other hand, known as voluntary acts. The difference in the working of the nervous mechanism in consciously controlled and in reflex action may be illustrated by means of the accompanying figures.

The heavy lines in Figure 1 on the opposite page show that the sensory-motor arc is made through the cortex, and that the mind is, therefore, conscious both of the sense stimulus and also of the resulting action. Figure 2 shows the same arc through a lower centre, in which case the mind is not directly attending to the impression or the resulting action.

Function of Consciousness.—The facts set forth above serve further to illustrate the purposeful character of consciousness as man interprets and adjusts himself to his surroundings. So long, for instance, as the individual walks onward without disturbance, his mind is free to dwell upon other matters, cortical activity not being necessary to control the process of walking. If, however, he steps upon anything which perhaps threatens him with a fall, the rhythmic interplay between sensory and motor activity going on in the lower centres is at once disturbed, and a message is flashed along the sensory nerve to the higher, or cortical, centres. This at once arouses consciousness, and the disturbing factor becomes an object of attention. Consciousness thus appears as a means of adaptation to the new and varying conditions with which the organism is confronted.


A. Plasticity.—One striking characteristic of nervous matter is its plasticity. The nature of the connections within the nervous system have already been referred to. Mention has also been made of the fact that numerous connections are established within the nervous system as a result of movements taking place within the organism during life. In other words, the movements within the nervous system which accompany stimulations and responses bring about changes in the structure of the organism. The cause for these changes seems to be that the neurons which chance to work together during any experience form connections with one another by means of their outgrowing fibres. By this means, traces of past experiences are in a sense stored up within the organism, and it is for this reason that our experiences are said to be recorded within the nervous system.

B. Retentiveness.—A second characteristic of nervous matter is its retentive power. In other words, the modifications which accompany any experience, besides taking on the permanent character referred to above, pre-dispose the system to transmit impulses again through the same centres. Moreover, with each repetition of the nervous activity, there develops a still greater tendency for the movements to re-establish themselves. This power possessed by nervous tissue to establish certain modes of action carries with it also an increase in the ease and accuracy with which the movements are performed. For example, the impressions and impulses involved in the first attempts of the child to control the clasping of an object, are performed with effort and in an ineffective manner. The cause for this seems to be largely the absence of proper connections between the centres involved, as referred to above. This absence causes a certain resistance within the system to the nervous movements. When, however, the various centres involved in the movements establish the proper connections with one another, the act will be performed in a much more effective and easy manner. From this it is evident that the nervous system, as the result of former experiences, always retains a certain potential, or power, to repeat the act with greater ease, and thus improve conduct, or behaviour. This property of nervous matter will hereafter be referred to as its power of retention.

C. Energy.—Another quality of nervous matter is its energy. By this is meant that the cells are endowed with a certain potential, or power, which enables them to transmit impressions and impulses and overcome any resistance offered. Different explanations are given as to the nature of this energy, or force, with which nervous matter is endowed, but any study of these theories is unnecessary here.

D. Resistance.—A fourth characteristic to be noted regarding nervous matter is that a nervous impulse, or current, as it is transmitted through the system, encounters resistance, or consumes an amount of nervous energy. Moreover, when the nervous current, whether sensory or motor, involves the establishment of new connections between cells, as when one first learns combinations of numbers or the movements involved in forming a new letter, a relatively greater amount of resistance is met or, in other words, a greater amount of nervous energy is expended. On the other hand, when an impulse has been transmitted a number of times through a given arc, the resistance is greatly lessened, or less energy is expended; as indicated by the ease with which an habitual act is performed.

Education and Nervous Energy.—It is evident from the foregoing, that the forming of new ideas or of new modes of action tends to use up a large share of nervous energy. For this reason, the learning of new and difficult things should not be undertaken when the body is in a tired or exhausted condition; for the resistance which must be overcome, and the changes which must take place in the nervous tissue during the learning process, are not likely to be effectively accomplished under such conditions. Moreover, the energy thus lost must be restored through the blood, and therefore demands proper food, rest, and sleep on the part of the individual. It should be noted further that nervous tissue is more plastic during the early years of life. This renders it imperative, therefore, that knowledge and skill should be gained, as far as possible, during the plastic years. The person who wishes to become a great violinist must acquire skill to finger and handle the bow early in life. The person who desires to become a great linguist, if he allows his early years to pass without acquiring the necessary skill, cannot expect in middle life to train his vocal organs to articulate a number of different languages.

Cortical Habit.—In the light of what has been seen regarding the character and function of the nervous system, it will now be possible to understand more fully two important forms of adjustment already referred to. When nervous movements are transmitted to the cortex of the brain, they not only awaken consciousness, or make the individual aware of something, but the present impression also leaves certain permanent effects in the nervous tissue of the cortex itself. Since, however, cortical activity implies consciousness, the retention of such a tendency within the cortical centres will imply, not an habitual act in the ordinary sense, but a tendency on the part of a conscious experience to repeat itself. This at once implies an ability to retain and recall past experiences, or endows the individual with power of memory. Cortical habit, therefore, or the establishment of permanent connections within the cortical centres, with their accompanying dynamic tendency to repeat themselves, will furnish the physiological conditions for a revival of former experience in memory, or will enable the individual to turn the past to the service of the present.

Physical Habits.—The basis for the formation of physical habits appears also in this retentive power of nervous tissue. When the young boy, for instance, first mounts his new bicycle, he is unable, except with the most attentive effort and in a most laboured and awkward manner, either to keep his feet on the pedals, or make the handle-bars respond to the balancing of the wheel. In a short time, however, all these movements take place in an effective and graceful manner without any apparent attention being given to them. This efficiency is conditioned by the fact that all these movements have become habitual, or take place largely as reflex acts.

In school also, when the child learns to perform such an act as making the figure 2, the same changes take place. Here an impression must first proceed from the given copy to a sensory centre in the cortex. As yet, however, there is no vital connection established between the sensory centres and the motor centres which must direct the muscles in making the movement. As the movement is attempted, however, faint connections are set up between different centres. With each repetition the connection is made stronger, and the formation of the figure rendered less difficult. So long, however, as the connection is established within the cortex, the movement will not take place except under conscious direction. Ultimately, however, similar connections between sensory and motor neurons may be established in lower centres, whereupon the action will be performed as a reflex act, or without the intervention of a directing act of consciousness. This evidently takes place when a student, in working a problem, can form the figures, while his consciousness is fully occupied with the thought phases of the problem. Thus the neural condition of physical habit is the establishment of easy passages between sensory and motor nerves in centres lower than the cortex.



Definition of Instinct.—In a foregoing section, it was seen that our bodily movements divide into different classes according to their source, or origin. Among them were noted certain inherited spontaneous, but useful, complex movements which follow, in a more or less uniform way, definite types of stimuli presented to the organism. Such an inherited tendency on the part of an organism to react in an effective manner, but without any definite purpose in view, whenever a particular stimulus presents itself, is known as instinct, and the resulting action is described as an instinctive act. As an example of purely instinctive action may be taken the maternal instinct of insects whose larvae require live prey when they are born. To provide this the mother administers sufficient poison to a spider or a caterpillar to stupefy it, and then bears it to her nest. Placing the victim close to her eggs, she incloses the two together, thus providing food for her future offspring. This complex series of acts, so essential to the continuance of the species, and seemingly so full of purpose, is nevertheless conducted throughout without reference to past experience, and without any future end in view. Instinct may, therefore, be defined as the ability of an organism to react upon a particular situation so as to gain a desirable end, yet without any purpose in view or any previous training.

Characteristics of Instinct.—An instinctive act, it may be noted, is distinguished by certain well marked characteristics:

1. The action is not brought about by experience or guided by intelligence, but is a direct reaction on the part of the organism to definite stimulation.

2. Although not the result of reason, instinctive action is purposeful to the extent that it shows a predisposition on the part of the organism to react in an effective manner to a particular situation.

3. An instinctive movement is a response in which the whole organism is concerned. It is the discomfort of the whole organism, for instance, that causes the bird to migrate or the child to seek food. In this respect it differs from a mere reflex action such as the winking of the eye, breathing, coughing, etc., which involves only some particular part of the organism.

4. Although not a consciously purposed action, instinct nevertheless involves consciousness. In sucking, for instance, sensation accompanies both the discomfort of the organism giving rise to the movements and also the instinctive act itself. In this respect it differs from such automatic actions as breathing, the circulation of the blood, and the beating of the heart.

Origin of Instinct.—The various instinctive movements with which an organism is endowed, not being a result of experience or education, a question at once arises as to their source, or origin. Instinct has its origin in the fact that certain movements which have proved beneficial in the ancestral experience of the race have become established as permanent modes of reaction, and are transmitted to each succeeding generation. The explanation of this transmission of tendencies is, that beneficial movements are retained as permanent modifications of the nervous system of the animal, and are transmitted to the offspring as a reactive tendency toward definite stimuli. The partridge family, for instance, has preserved its offspring from the attacks of foxes, dogs, and other enemies only by the male taking flight and dragging itself along the ground, thus attracting the enemy away from the direction of the nest. The complex movements involved in such an act, becoming established as permanent motor connections within the system, are transmitted to the offspring as predispositions. Instinct would thus seem a physiological habit, or hereditary tendency, within the nervous system to react in a fixed manner under certain conditions. In many respects, however, instincts seem to depend more largely upon bodily development than upon nervous structure. While the babe will at first instinctively suck; yet as soon as teeth appear, the sucking at once gives way to the biting instinct. The sucking instinct then disappears so completely that only a process of education will re-establish it later. Birds also show no instinctive tendency to fly until their wings are developed, while the young of even the fiercest animals will flee from danger, until such time as their bodily organism is properly developed for attack. From this it would seem that instinctive action depends even more upon general bodily structure and development than upon fixed co-ordinations within the nervous system.


On account of the apparently intelligent character of human actions, it is often stated that man is a creature largely devoid of instincts. The fact is, however, that he is endowed with a large number of impulsive or instinctive tendencies to act in definite ways, when in particular situations. Man has a tendency, under the proper conditions, to be fearful, bashful, angry, curious, sympathetic, grasping, etc. It is only, moreover, because experience finally gives man ideas of these instinctive movements, that they may in time be controlled by reason, and developed into orderly habits.

Classification of Human Instincts.—Various attempts have been made to classify human instincts. For educational purposes, perhaps the most satisfactory method is that which classifies them according to their relation to the direct welfare of the individual organism. Being inherited tendencies on the part of the organism to react in definite ways to definite stimuli, all instinctive acts should naturally tend to promote the good of the particular individual. Different instincts will be found to differ, however, in the degree in which they involve the immediate good of the individual organism. On this basis the various human instincts may be divided into the following classes:

1. Individualistic Instincts.—Some instincts gain their significance because they tend solely to meet the needs of the individual. Examples of these would be the instincts involved in securing food, as biting, chewing, carrying objects to the mouth; such instinctive expressions as crying, smiling, and uttering articulate sounds; rhythmical bodily movements; bodily expression of fear, etc.

2. Racial Instincts.—These include such instinctive acts as make for the preservation of the species, as the sexual and parental instincts, jealousy, etc. The constructive instinct in man, also, may be considered parallel to the nesting instinct in birds and animals.

3. Social Instincts.—Among these are placed such instinctive tendencies as bashfulness, sympathy, the gregarious instinct, or love of companionship, anger, self-assertion, combativeness, etc.

4. Instincts of Adjustment.—Included among man's native tendencies are a number of complex responses which manifest themselves in his efforts to adjust himself to his surroundings. These may be called instinctive so far as concerns their mere impulsive tendency, which is no doubt inherited. In the operation of these so-called instincts, however, there is not seen that definite mode of response to a particular stimulus which is found in a pure instinct. Since, however, these are important human tendencies, and since they deal specifically with the child's attitude in adapting himself to his environment, they rank from an educational standpoint among the most important of human instincts. These include such tendencies as curiosity, imitation, play, constructiveness and acquisitiveness.

Human Instincts Modified by Experience.—Although instinctive acts are performed without forethought or conscious purpose, yet in man they may be modified by experience. This is true to a degree even in the case of the instincts of the lower animals. Young spiders, for instance, construct their webs in a manner inferior to that of their elders. In the case of birds, also, the first nest is usually inferior in structure to those of later date. In certain cases, indeed, if accounts are to be accepted, animals are able to vary considerably their instinctive movements according to the particular conditions. It is reported that a swallow had selected a place for her nest between two walls, the surfaces of which were so smooth that she could find no foundation for her nest. Thereupon she fixed a bit of clay to each wall, laid a piece of light wood upon the clay supports, and with the stick as a foundation proceeded to construct her nest. On the whole, however, there seems little variation in animal instincts. The fish will come a second time to take food off the hook, the moth will fly again into the flame, and the spider will again and again build his web over the opening, only to have it again and again torn away. But whatever may be the amount of variation within the instincts of the lower animals, in the case of man instinctive action is so modified by experience that his instincts soon develop into personal habits. The reason for this is quite evident. As previously pointed out, an instinctive act, though not originally purposeful, is in man accompanied with a consciousness of both the bodily discomfort and the resulting movements. Although, therefore, the child instinctively sucks, grasps at objects, or is convulsed with fear, these acts cannot take place without his gradually understanding their significance as states of experience. In this way he soon learns that the indiscriminate performance of an instinctive act may give quite different results, some being much more valuable to the individual than others. The young child, for instance, may instinctively bite whatever enters his mouth, but the older child has learned that this is not always desirable, and therefore exercises a voluntary control over the movement.

Instincts Differ in Value.—The fact that man's instinctive tendencies thus come within the range of experience, not only renders them amenable to reason, but also leaves the question of their ultimate outcome extremely indefinite. For this reason many instincts may appear in man in forms that seem undesirable. The instinct to seek food is a natural one, yet will be condemned when it causes the child to take fruit from the neighbour's garden. In like manner, the instinct to know his surroundings is natural to man, but will be condemned when it causes him to place his ear to the keyhole. The tendency to imitate is not in itself evil, yet the child must learn to weigh the value of what he imitates. One important reason, therefore, why the teacher should understand the native tendencies of the child is that he may direct their development into moral habits and suppress any tendencies which are socially undesirable.

Education of Instincts.—In dealing with the moral aspects of the child's instinctive tendencies, the educator must bear in mind that one tendency may come in conflict with another. The individualistic instinct of feeding or ownership may conflict with the social instinct of companionship; the instinct of egoism, with that of imitation; and the instinct of fear, with that of curiosity. To establish satisfactory moral habits on the basis of instinct, therefore, it is often possible to proceed by a method of substitution. The child who shows a tendency to destroy school furniture can best be cured by having constructive exercises. The boy who shows a natural tendency to destroy animal life may have the same arrested by being given the care of animals and thus having his sympathy developed. In other cases, the removal of stimuli, or conditions, for awaking the instinctive tendency will be found effective in checking the development of an undesirable instinct into a habit. The boy who shows a spirit of combativeness may be cured by having a generous and congenial boy as his chum. The pupil whose social tendencies are so strong that he cannot refrain from talking may be cured by isolation.

Instincts May Disappear.—In dealing with the instinctive tendencies of the child, it is important for the educator to remember that many of these are transitory in character and, if not utilized at the proper time, will perish for want of exercise. Even in the case of animals, natural instincts will not develop unless the opportunity for exercise is provided at the time. Birds shut up in a cage lose the instinct to fly; while ducks, after being kept a certain time from water, will not readily acquire the habit of swimming. In the same way, the child who is not given opportunity to associate with others will likely grow up a recluse. All work for a few years, and it will be impossible for Jack to learn later how to play. The girl who during her childhood has no opportunity to display any pride through neatness in dress will grow up untidy and careless as to her personal appearance. In like manner, it is only the child whose constructive tendency is early given an opportunity to express itself who is likely to develop into an expert workman; while one who has no opportunity to give expression to his aesthetic instinct in early life will not later develop into an artist.


Curiosity as Motive.—An important bearing of instinct upon the work of education is found in the fact that an instinctive tendency may add much to the force of the motive, or end, in any educative process. This is especially true in the case of such adaptive instincts as curiosity, imitation, and play. Curiosity is the inquisitive attitude, or appetite, of the mind which causes it to seek out what is strange in its surroundings and make it an object of attention. As an instinctive tendency, its significance consists in the fact that it leads the individual to interpret his surroundings. A creature devoid of curiosity, therefore, would not discover either the benefits to be derived from his surroundings or the dangers to be avoided. In addition to its direct practical value in leading the individual to study his environment in order to meet actual needs, curiosity often seeks a more theoretic end, appearing merely as a feeling of wonder or a thirst for knowledge.

Use and Abuse of Curiosity.—While curiosity is needful for the welfare of the individual, an inordinate development of this instinct is both intellectually and morally undesirable. Since curiosity directs attention to the novel in our surroundings, over-curiosity is likely to keep the mind wandering from one novelty to another, and thus interfere with the fixing of attention for a sufficient time to give definiteness to particular impressions. The virtue of curiosity is, therefore, to direct attention to the novel until it is made familiar. There is a type of curiosity, however, which craves for mere astonishment and not for understanding. It is such curiosity that causes children to pry into other people's belongings, and men into other people's affairs.

Sensuous and Apperceptive Curiosity.—Curiosity may be considered of two kinds also from the standpoint of its origin. In early life, curiosity must rest largely upon sense perception, being essentially an appetite of the senses to meet and interpret the objective surroundings. A bright light, a loud noise, a moving object, at once awakens curiosity. At this stage, curiosity serves as a counteracting influence to the instinct of fear, the one leading the child to use his senses upon his surroundings, and the other causing him to use them in a careful and judicious manner. As the child grows in experience, however, his curiosity limits itself more and more in accordance with the law of apperception. Here the object attracts attention not merely because of its sensuous properties, but because it suggests novel relations within the elements of past experience. The young child's curiosity, for instance, is aroused toward a strange plant simply because of its form and colour, that of the student of botany, because the plant presents features that do not relate themselves at once to his botanical experience. The first curiosity may be called objective, or sensuous, the second subjective, or apperceptive.

Relation of Two Types.—The distinction between sensuous and apperceptive curiosity is, of course, one of degree rather than one of kind. A novel object could not be an object of attention unless it bore some relation to the present mental content. The young child, however, seeks mainly to give meaning to novel sense impressions, and is not attracted to the more hidden relations in which objects may stand one to another. He is attracted, for instance, to the colour, scent, and general form of the flower, rather than to its structure. On the other hand, it is found that at a later stage curiosity is usually aroused toward a novel problem, to the extent to which the problem finds a setting in previous experience. This is seen in the fact that the young child takes no interest in having lessons grow out of each other in a connected manner, but must have his curiosity aroused to the present situation through its own intrinsic appeal. For this reason, young children are mainly interested in a lesson which deals with particular elements in a concrete manner, such as coloured blocks, bright pictures, and stories of action; while the older pupil seeks out the new problem because it stands in definite relation to what is already known.

Importance of Apperceptive Curiosity.—Since curiosity depends upon novelty, it is evident that sensuous should ultimately give place to apperceptive curiosity. Although objects first impress the senses with a degree of freshness and vigour, this freshness must disappear as the novelty of the impression wears off. When sensuous curiosity thus disappears, it is only by seeing in the world of sensuous objects other relations with their larger meaning, that healthy curiosity is likely to be maintained. Thus it is that the curiosity of the student is attracted to the more hidden qualities of objects, to the tracing of cause and effect, and to the discovery of scientific truth in general.

Novelty versus Variety.—While the familiar must lose something of its freshness through its very familiarity, it is to be noted that to remit any experience for a time will add something to the freshness of its revival. Persons and places, for instance, when revisited after a period of absence, gain something of the charm of novelty. Variety is, therefore, a means by which the effect of curiosity may be sustained, even after the original novelty has disappeared. This fact should be especially remembered in dealing with the studies of young children. Without being constantly fed upon the novel, the child may yet avoid monotony by having a measure of variety within a reasonable number of interests. It is in this way, in fact, that permanent centres of interest can best be established. To keep a child's attention continually upon one line of experiences would destroy both curiosity and interest. To keep him ever attending to the novel would prevent the building up of any centres of interest. By variety within a reasonable number of subjects, both depth of interest and reasonable variety in interests will be obtained. This is, therefore, another reason why the school curriculum should show a reasonable number of subjects and reasonable variety in the presentation of these subjects.


Nature of Imitation.—In our study of the nervous system, attention was called to the close connection existing between sensory impulse and action. It may be noted further that, whenever the young child gains an idea of an action, he tends at once to express that idea in action. On account of this immediate connection between thought and expression, due to an inability to inhibit the motor discharge, a child, as soon as he is able to form ideas of the acts of others, must necessarily show a tendency to repeat, or reproduce, such acts. Granting that this immediate connection between sensory impulse and motor response is an inherited capacity, the tendency of the young child to imitate the acts of others may be classified as an instinct.

Imitation a Complex.—On closer examination, however, it will be found that imitation is really a complex of several tendencies. The nervous organism of the healthy young child is usually supercharged with nervous energy. This energy, like a swollen stream, seems ever striving to sweep away any resistance to the motor discharge of sensory impulses, and must necessarily reinforce the natural tendency to give immediate expression to ideas of action. Moreover, the social instincts of the child, his sympathy, etc., give him a special interest in human beings and in their acts. These tendencies, therefore, focus his attention upon human action, and cause his ideas of such acts to become more vivid and interesting. For this reason, observation of human acts is more likely to lead to motor expression. That the social instincts of the child reinforce the tendency to imitate is indicated by the fact that his early imitations are of human acts especially, as yawning, smiling, crying, etc. The same is further evidenced in that, at a later stage, when ordinary objects enter into his imitative acts, the imitation is largely symbolic, and objects are endowed with living attributes. Here blocks become men; sticks, horses, etc.

Kinds of. A. Spontaneous Imitation.—In its simplest form, imitation seems to follow directly upon the perception of a given act. As the child attends, now to the nod of the head, now to the shaking of the rattle, now to an uttered sound, he spontaneously reproduces these perceived acts. Because in such cases the imitative act follows directly upon the perception of the copy, without the intervention of any determination to imitate, it is termed spontaneous, or unconscious, imitation. It is by spontaneous imitation that the child gains so much knowledge of the world about him, and so much power over the movements of his own body. The occupations and language of the home, the operations of the workman, the movements and gestures of the older children in their games, all these are spontaneously reproduced through imitation. This enables the child to participate largely in the social life about him. It is for this reason that he should observe only good models of language and conduct during his early years.

B. Symbolic Imitation.—If we note the imitative acts of a child of from four to six years of age, we may find that a new factor is often entering into the process. At this stage the child, instead of merely copying the acts of others, further clothes objects and persons with fancied attributes through a process of imagination. By this means, the little child becomes a mother and the doll a baby; one boy becomes a teacher or captain, the others become pupils or soldiers. This form has already been referred to as symbolic imitation. Frequent use is made of this type of imitation in education, especially in the kindergarten. Through the gifts, plays, etc., of the kindergarten, the child in imagination exemplifies numberless relations and processes of the home and community life. The educative value of this type consists in the fact that the child, by acting out in a symbolic, or make-believe, way valuable social processes, though doing them only in an imaginative way, comes to know them better by the doing.

C. Voluntary Imitation.—As the child's increasing power of attention gives him larger control of his experiences, he becomes able, not only to distinguish between the idea of an action and its reproduction by imitation, but also to associate some further end, or purpose, with the imitative process. The little child imitates the language of his fellows spontaneously; the mimic, for the purpose of bringing out certain peculiarities in their speech. When first imitating his elder painting with a brush, the child imitates merely in a spontaneous or unconscious way the act of brushing. When later, however, he tries to secure the delicate touch of his art teacher, he will imitate the teacher's movements for the definite purpose of adding to his own skill. Because in this type the imitator first conceives in idea the particular act to be imitated, and then consciously strives to reproduce the act in like manner, it is classified as conscious, or voluntary, imitation.

Use of Voluntary Imitation.—Teachers differ widely concerning the educational value of voluntary imitation. It is evident, however, that in certain cases, as learning correct forms of speech, in physical and manual exercises, in conduct and manners, etc., good models for imitation count for more than rules and precepts. On the other hand, to endeavour to teach a child by imitation to read intelligently could only result in failure. In such a case, the pupil, by attempting to analyse out and set up as models the different features of the teachers reading, would have his attention directed from the thought of the sentence. But without grasping the meaning, the pupil cannot make his reading intelligent. In like manner, to have a child learn a rule in arithmetic by merely imitating the process from type examples worked by the teacher, would be worse than useless, since it would prevent independent thinking on the child's part. The purpose here is not to gain skill in a mechanical process, but to gain knowledge of an intelligent principle.


Nature of Play Impulse.—Another tendency of early childhood utilized by the modern educator is the so-called instinct of play. According to some, the impulse to play represents merely the tendency of the surplus energy stored up within the nervous organism to express itself in physical action. According to this view, play would represent, not any inherited tendency, but a condition of the nervous organism. It is to be noted, however, that this activity spends itself largely in what seems instinctive tendencies. The boy, in playing hide-and-seek, in chasing, and the like, seems to express the hunting and fleeing instincts of his ancestors. Playing with the doll is evidently suggested and influenced by the parental instinct, while in all games, the activity is evidently determined largely by social instincts. Like imitation, therefore, play seems a complex, involving a number of instinctive tendencies.

Play versus Work.—An essential characteristic of the play impulse is its freedom. By this is meant that the acts are performed, not to gain some further end, but merely for the sake of the activity itself. The impulse to play, therefore, must find its initiative within the child, and must give expression merely to some inner tendency. So long, for example, as the boy shovels the sand or piles the stones merely to exercise his physical powers, or to satisfy an inner tendency to imitate the actions of others, the operation is one of play. When, on the other hand, these acts are performed in order to clean up the yard, or because they have been ordered to be done by a parent, the process is one of work, for the impulse to act now lies in something outside the act itself. To compel a child to play, therefore, would be to compel him to work.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse