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KRUESI'S EARLY CAREER.

185

subject, or, if his circumstances compel him to yield up his dignity so far as to get his bread by the inculcation of those elements, because he intends condescendingly to take a scrap here and there with him, to be “grafted in” upon

his

own system. But the scraps are nothing; and the principles, which are every thing, no scholar ever reached unless he first threw his artificial wisdom overboard. Unless the scholar be converted and become as a little child, he cannot enter into Pestalozzi's school, because education and instruction on a truly divine basis is foolishness with them which have " the wisdom of the world.” In this, as in many other points, Pestalozzian education resembles the Gospel, upon the power and life of which it is essentially founded; and accordingly, like the Gospel, it found its first disciples not among them that are “wise in their own conceits,” but among the ignorant and lowly. However valuable, therefore, may have been the services rendered subsequently to the cause of Pestalozzi, by a few scholars who consented in his school to become ignorant, that they might be made wise; and however great the advantages which these men themselves derived from the knowledge previously acquired, by turning it to account, as a raw material, for the practical purposes of the method ; still it must be recognised as a most providential arrangement, that Pestalozzi was not at the onset of his experiment embarrassed by the assistance of men who “knew something,” but that he was surrounded by those, who, conscious of their ignorance, were ready to be taught with him by “the mouth of the babes,” whom they had undertaken to teach.

The following is Pestalozzi's narrative of the previous career of Kruesi:

Kruesi, the first of the three, whose acquaintance I made, had past his youth in a different kind of employment, whence he had acquired that variety of practical abilities, which in the lower stations of life so frequently gives the first impulse to a higher degree of development, and by which men, who have been in this school from their earliest childhood, are enabled to become more generally and extensively useful.

186

AN OFFICE WITHOUT QUALIFICATIONS.

“In his twelfth and thirteenth years, his father, who carried on a petty traffic, used to send him, with a small capital amounting to about six or eight pounds sterling, for the purchase of different kinds of merchandise, to a distance of ten to twelve miles; to this employment he joined the trade of a sort of public messenger, carrying letters, and executing various orders for the people of his village. When he grew older, he filled up his leisure-days by weaving, or other daily labour. At the age of eighteen he undertook the office of village-schoolmaster at Gais,* his native place, without any kind of preparation. He says himself, that he did not know the signs of punctuation, even by name; ulterior knowledge was out of the question, because he never had had any other instruction than that of a common Swiss villageschool, which was entirely confined to reading, writing copies, and learning by rote the Cathechism, &c.: but he was fond of children, and he entertained the hope, that by means of this post he should be enabled to gain for himself that knowledge and education, the want of which he had felt very oppressively, even in his expeditions as village messenger: for, being commissioned to buy a variety of articles of artificial preparation, and of strange names which he had never heard in his life before, such as ammoniac, borax, and so on; and being at the same time placed in a responsible situation, in which he had to remember every, even the most trifling order, and to account for every farthing; he could not but be struck with the idea, what an advantage it would be, if every child could, by school instruction, be brought to that degree of ability in reading, writing, ciphering, in all sorts of mental exercises, and in the very art of speaking itself, which he felt he ought to be possessed of, even for the discharge of his miserable post as village messenger.

“ Even so soon as the first week, the number of his scholars exceeded one hundred. But he was by no means competent to the task he had undertaken, for he knew not how to give proper employment to all these children, what to teach them, or by what means to keep them in order. All the notions he had hitherto acquired about keeping school, were confined to the setting of spelling and reading lessons, to be got by heart;' to the saying' of the same lessons by turns, followed by the chastisement of the rod, if the task was not properly got. From the experience of his own boyhood, however, he knew likewise, that with this mode of “keeping school,” the greater part of the children are idling away most of the schoolhours, and by idleness are led to a variety of follies and immoralities; that in this manner the time which is most available for education, is allowed to

• A village, or, rather, a cluster of hamlets on the highest and most airy part of the canton Appenzell, celebrated as a place of resort for persons of consumptive habits, on account of its excellent milk, of which, however, the patients take only the whey.

THE CATECHETIC METHOD.

187

pass by without any benefit to them, and that the few advantages which they may derive from their instruction are not even sufficient to counterbalance the ill effects which must necessarily result from such schoolkeeping.'

“ Pastor Schiess, the minister of the place, who was very actively combating the old routine, assisted him in his school, during the first eight weeks. From the very beginning they divided the scholars into three classes. With this division, and the use of some spelling and reading books on an improved plan, which had recently been introduced in the school, they succeeded in making a number of children spell and read together, and thus keeping them generally occupied to a far greater extent than had been possible before.

“ Mr. Schiess also supplied him with such books as he required for his own information, and with a good copy, which he wrote off hundreds of times, in order to form his hand. By these means he was soon enabled to satisfy the principal claims on the part of the parents; but he himself was not satisfied : he was not contented to teach his pupils reading and writing; he wanted to cultivate their minds.

The new reading-book, that had been introduced by the minister, contained religious truths in short paragraphs, and in biblical sentences : various facts of physical science, natural history, and geography, were concisely stated, and information was given on interesting points of the political constitution of the country. Kruesi observed his pastor, when he read it with the children, putting some questions at the end of each paragraph, in order to see whether they actually understood what they had read. Kruesi tried to do the same thing, and succeeded in making most of the scholars perfectly familiar with the contents of the reading-book. But this was only because, like good old Huebner,* he adapted his questions to the answers which were to be found, ready made, in the book, and because he neither demanded nor expected any other answer, except literally those which the book had put into the children's mouths, long before any question was devised to elicit them. The true reason of his success was, that there was a complete absence of all mental exercise in this his system of catechization. It is, however, to be observed, that that mode of instruction which originally was termed catechization, is, no more than Kruesi's system of questioning, an exercise of the mind; it is a mere analysis of words, relieving the child, as far as words are concerned, from the confusion of a whole sentence, the different parts of which are presented to the mind separately and distinctly; it can, therefore, only have merit when used as a preparatory step to the

• “Good old Huebner” is the author of a Scripture History in German, to which are attached sets of “ useful questions and answers, such as our readers may find in many a “good new manual of our “ enlightened and improved systems.”

188

THE SOCRATIC METHOD.

further exercise of clearing up the ideas represented by those words. This latter exercise, commonly termed Socratic instruction, has only of late been mixed

up

with the business of catechising, which was originally confined to religious subjects exclusively.

“The children thus catechised by Kruesi were held up by the minister as examples to his elder catechumens. Afterwards it was required of Kruesi, that he should, after the fashion of those times, combine this narrow analysis of words, called catechising, with the Socratic manner, which takes up the subject in a higher sense. But an uncultivated and superficial mind does not dive into those depths from which Socrates derived spirit and truth; and it was, therefore, quite natural that, in his new system of questioning, Kruesi should not succeed. He had no internal basis for his questions, nor had the children

any for their answers. They had no language for things which they knew not, and no books which furnished them with a well-framed answer to every question, whether they understood it or not.

“ Kruesi, however, had not then that clear insight into the nature of those two methods which might have enabled him to apprehend their difference. He had not yet learned, that mere catechising, especially if it runs upon abstract terms, leads to no more than the art of separating words and handling analytical forms; but that, in itself, it is nothing but a parrotlike repetition of sounds without understanding: nor was he aware, that Socratic questions are not to be addressed to children, such as his pupils at Gais, who were equally destitute of the internal fund, that is, of real knowledge,—and of the external means, that is, of language wherein to convey that knowledge. The failure of his attempt rendered him unjust to himself; he thought the fault lay entirely with himself, imagining that every good schoolmaster must be able, by his questions, to elicit from the children correct and precise answers on all manner of moral and religious subjects.”

We have already noticed, in the fourth Chapter, the circumstances which brought Kruesi to Burgdorf, where he remained for some time in the employment of Fisher, and through him became acquainted with Pestalozzi, whose views he readily embraced.

“The more he laboured with Fisher, the higher seemed to him the mountain which lay in his way, and the less did he feel in himself of that power, which he saw would be necessary to reach its summit. However, during the very first days after his arrival, Kruesi was present at some of the conversations I had with Fisher on the subject of popular education, when I expressed my decided disapprobation of the Socratic manner of our young candidates, adding, that it was not my wish to bring children to a premature judgment, on any subject, but that my endeavour was rather to check their judgment, until the children should have had an opportunity of viewing the

KRUESI'S VIEW OF THE METHOD.

189

subject from all sides, and under a variety of circumstances, and until they should be perfectly familiar with the words expressive of its nature and its qualities. Kruesi was struck with these remarks; he felt it was there that his own deficiency lay; he found that he himself stood in need of that same elementary instruction which I designed for my children.

“Fisher exerted himself with all his power to introduce Kruesi to different departments of science, that he might be able afterwards to teach them. But Kruesi felt every day more, that the way of books was not the one for him to make progress in, because on every subject he was destitute of that preliminary knowledge of things and their names, which, to a greater or lesser extent, books presuppose. On the other hand, he witnessed the effect which I produced upon my children, by leading them back to the first elements of human knowledge, and by dwelling on these elements with unwearied patience; and the result of his observation tended to confirm him in the notions he had formed concerning the causes of his own inability. Thus by degrees his whole view of instruction underwent a great change, and he began in his own mind to place it on a different foundation. He now perceived clearly the tendency of my experiments, which was to develop the internal power of the child rather than to produce those results which, nevertheless, were produced as the necessary consequences of my proceedings: and seeing the application of this principle to the development of different faculties by different branches of instruction, he came to the conviction, that the effect of my method was to lay in the child a foundation of knowledge and further progress, such as it would be impossible to obtain by

any other.”

Fisher's death accelerated the union between Pestalozzi and Kruesi, which had been contemplated by the latter almost from the first moment of his acquaintance with his paternal friend. The following account of the view which he took of Pestalozzi's plan, after he had for some time enjoyed the advantage of practical co-operation with him, is, notwithstanding its great deficiencies, an interesting testimony in favor of the experiment, in the course of which these ideas urged themselves upon an evidently unprejudiced mind.

“1. A well-arranged nomenclature, indelibly impressed upon the mind,* is to serve as a general foundation, on the ground of which both teacher and children may, subsequently, develop clear and distinct ideas on every branch

• Let it not be forgotten that no nomenclature, of any extent, can ever be “indelibly impressed” upon the mind, unless upon the ground of a real knowledge of the things, properties, and states, of which it furnishes the names.

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