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ALPHABET OF FORMS.
mere repetition of the same exercise which they had before performed in the abstract.
“I was afraid lest, by giving the child real objects, his perception of the outline should be disturbed, but Pestalozzi did not wish to cultivate any power against nature, and he said concerning this subject: “Nature gives no lines, but only objects to the child; the lines must be given to the child, that he may view the objects correctly; but to take the objects from him, in order to make him see lines only, would be exceedingly wrong.' And upon another occasion, when speaking of the danger of throwing away nature for the sake of the lines, he grew so warm, as to exclaim: “God forbid, that for the sake of these lines, or for the sake even of the whole art of drawing, I should separate my children from the intuition of nature, and harden their minds against it, as the priests of idolatry do by their superstitious doctrines.'
“I saw at last what he meant, and then I found that the plan of the two books before mentioned was in exact conformity with nature, and called in the assistance of art only with a view to render the impressions of nature
the child's mind subservient to the development of his faculties.
“ But there was another difficulty in which I had entangled myself. Pestalozzi told me, that children must learn to read those outlines like so many words, by denominating their different parts, the lines, angles, and curves, with different letters, so that their combinations may be as easily expressed in language, and put down in writing, as any other word by the composition of its letters. In this manner an alphabet of forms was to be established, and a technical language created, by means of which the nicest distinctions of the different forms might be clearly brought before the mind, and appropriately cxpressed in words calculated to illustrate them by the difference of their formation."
For the better understanding of what is said about this alphabet of forms, we subjoin a woodcut of that division of the square and circle, by which its different lines and figures were obtained.
This alphabet of forms, however, was never published, for it was soon superseded by more matured labours, the fruits
KNOWLEDGE WITHOI'T LANGUAGE.
of prolonged experience. Of the different courses of drawing issued from the Pestalozzian school, we think that of Ramsauer decidedly the best, though even that is by no means satisfactory. The idea of forming a new technical language, however interesting as a proof of the originality of Pestalozzi's experiments, is, we fear, not of great practical value; to us it seems far more to the purpose to cultivate, correct, and fix the technical language already in existence, than to create a new one, and thus burden the child, who may not be able to dispense with the former, with a double set of signs.
But we return to the narrative of Buss:
“ Pestalozzi persevered until I understood him. I saw that I gave him a great deal of trouble, and I was sorry for it. It was, however, unavoidable, and but for his patience we should never have made an alphabet of forms.
“At last I succeeded. I began by the letter A. I showed him what I had done; he approved of it, and now one thing followed from the other without any difficulty. In fact, the figures being once completed, the whole was done; but I was unable to see all that I had done; I had neither the power of expressing myself clearly on the subject, nor the capability of understanding the expressions of others.
“ To remedy the defect under which I laboured, is, however, one of the most essential objects of Pestalozzi's method, which connects language throughout with the knowledge gained from nature by the assistance of art, and supplies the pupil at every stage of instruction with appropriate expressions for what he has learned.
“ It was an observation which we all of us made upon ourselves, that we were unable to give a distinct and accurate account, even of those things of which we had a clear and comprehensive idea. Pestalozzi himself, when explaining his views on education, had great difficulties in finding always the precise term which would convey his meaning,
“ It was this want of precise language, in fact, which caused me to remain so long in the dark concerning the nature of my task, and prevented me from perceiving what Pestalozzi's views were on that subject.
“ After I had overcome all these difficulties, my progress was rapid, and I felt every day more the advantages of his method. I saw how much may be done by precision and clearness of language on the subject of instruction, whether it be one of nature or of art, to assist the mind in forming a correct notion of forms and their proportions, and in distinguishing them clearly from each other; and I could not, therefore, but be aware of the paramount importance of enlightened and careful instruction in the signs which language supplies for the designation of things, their properties, relations, and distinctions. Experience confirmed the conjecture which I had formed, that
KNOWLEDGE AND LANGUAGE COMBINED.
children taught upon this method would make more accurate distinctions, than even men accustomed, from early life, to measuring and drawing; and the progress
of our children made, was, beyond comparison, greater than that which is commonly obtained in schools.
“ It is very true, I saw the whole of Pestalozzi's method only through the medium, as it were, of my peculiar branch of instruction, and judged of its value by the effects which it produced in particular application to my art. But my anxiety to enter fully into the spirit of it, led me, in spite of that limitation, by degrees to investigate the bearing which it had upon other branches; and, at last, assisted by the practical illustrations which drawing afforded me, I succeeded in comprehending Pestalozzi's views on language and arithmetic. I saw that, as it was possible to proceed from lines to angles, from angles to figures, and from figures to real objects, in the art of drawing, so it must likewise be possible, in language, to proceed by degrees from sounds to words, and from words to sentences, and thereby to lead the child to equal clearness on that subject. As regards arithmetic, I was labouring under the same error as before, with reference to the intuition of objects. As I looked at these without reference to their outline, so did I view numbers without a clear notion of the real value or contents of each. Now, on the contrary, I acquired a distinct and intuitive idea of the extent of each number, and I perceived, at the same time, the progress which the children made in this branch of instruction. At length, it seemed to me a point of essential importance, that the knowledge and practice of the elements of every art should be founded upon number, form, and language. This led me to understand the difficulties with which I had so long been struggling in my own department. I saw how I had stuck fast from want of clearness in language, and how I was impeded by a confused idea of number. It seemed very obvious that the child cannot imagine, with any degree of precision, the division of any figure into its component parts, unless he have a clear idea of the number of those parts; that, for instance, if he is in the dark as to the extent of the number four, he must be equally in the dark on the division of any figure into four parts.
“I felt my own mind daily clearing up; I saw that what I had attained, had in itself a power, as it were, to carry me farther and farther; and applying this experience to the child, I came to the conviction, that the effect of Pestalozzi's method is, to render every individual intellectually independent, by awakening and strengthening in him the power of advancing by himself in every branch of knowledge. It seemed like a great wheel, which, if once set going, would continue to turn round of itself. Nor did it appear so to me only. Hundreds came, and saw, and said: “It cannot fail. Poor ignorant men and women said : “Why, that's what I can do myself at home with my child !' And they were right. The whole of the method is mere play for any one who has laid hold of the first elements, and has followed its progress sufficiently to be secured against the danger of
EFFECT OF THE METHOD UPON BUSS.
straying into those circuitous paths which lead man away from the foundation of nature, on which alone all his knowledge and art can securely rest, and from which he cannot depart without entangling himself in endless and inextricable difficulties. Nature herself demands nothing of us, but what is easy, provided we seek it in the right way, and under her guidance.
“One word more, and I have done. My acquaintance with Pestalozzi's method has in a great measure restored to me the cheerfulness and energy of my younger days, and has re-kindled in my bosom those hopes of improvement for myself and my species, which I had for a long time esteemed as vain dreams, and cast away, in opposition to the voice of my own heart.”
The Theory of the Plan-Analysis of the Mental Operations
Three Elementary Points; Number, Form, Language.
We have now arrived at that part of the work before us, in which Pestalozzi attempts to lay down what he calls the “theory of his method,” or his system of metaphysics at the time when these letters were written. But even if the object of the present volume were of a less practical tendency, even if we had proposed to ourselves the elucidation of dogmas and theories, still we should be exceedingly reluctant to scare away our readers by disquisitions and propositions, which while they evidently bespeak a painful, because unnatural exertion on the part of the author, convey to the reader no other idea than that of an unintelligible jumble of scholastic terms, all of which are, and remain, undefined in the book, probably because they were so in the writer's own mind. In Germany, where it is impossible to advance any thing with success, unless it be properly established upon a “metaphysical basis,” Pestalozzi may have thought it indispensable to strain the point, and, though he were ever so conscious of his inability, to exclaim, “ Anch' io son pittore :" we, however, may feel ourselves relieved from the dire necessity, by which he was swayed; for assuredly the public, for whom we write, cannot be taxed with an extravagant predilection for the transcendental. Even if Pestalozzi's “theory of his plan” were a pattern of metaphysical clearness and precision, still we presume that we might safely take shelter under the perpetual act of indemnity, unanimously passed each publishing season in favor of those who have saved their readers the trouble of thinking; much more, then, are we disposed to