« AnteriorContinuar »
Plan of Instruction—How far Realized – Manuals Published-. Literary Feuds- Writings on Education
The first leading idea which had come home with clearness to Pestalozzi's mind, was the necessity of founding the knowledge of the child upon the evidence of his senses. This axiom, which he laid down as the basis of his method, was in fact nothing else but a partial apprehension of the general principle, that true knowledge is knowledge, not of the name, but of the substance. This great truth had as it were identified itself with Pestalozzi's nature, and accordingly we find him in moral and religious education directing all his attention and energies to one point, which was to surround the child with such influences of virtue and piety as should give him a substantial acquaintance with the elements of moral excellence and of religion. But although, as a matter of feeling and of personal practice, Pestalozzi made the most universal application of the principle which is the characteristic feature of the reform he effected, yet as a doctrine he never saw it in so comprehensive a light. His mind was essentially unphilosophical, equally incapable of abstracting from the world of sense, and of bringing the results of his internal experience under the cognizance of his intellect. The consequence of this deficiency on his part was, that while his treatment of the children rested on the most vital ground, his instruction was consonant with his own principles only so far as the knowledge of the outward world is concerned. The plan laid down for the establishment at Yverdon embraced languages, ancient and modern, geography, natural history, physical science, mathematics, drawing, singing,
THE MATIIEMATICAL BRANCHES.
history, and religion. Of these there were only geography, the mathematical branches, spelling, perspective drawing, and singing, that could be said to be re-modelled on his plan.
The work, “How Gertrude teaches her Little Ones,"contains the first experimental outline of his mode of teaching arithmetic and the elements of form. The numbers, lines, figures, &c., whose formation and proportions were to be the object of instruction, were brought before the child's view in visible and tangible realities, not in arbitrary signs or in mere words, and, for this reason, he designated his method by the appellation “intuitive.” As he was not, however, himself aware of the existence of a mental intuition as clear and as certain as the intuition of the senses, he fell into the mistake not uncommon among reformers of all kinds, that in avoiding the one extreme of mere nominal knowledge conveyed by the usual systems, he ran into an opposite one by keeping the child to the visible representations of number and form in outward objects, long beyond that period when they are conceived in the intellect as mental realities or ideas in the true sense of the word, and thus methodically preventing the mind's emancipation from the external world. The merit of having detected and pointed out this mistake is chiefly due to Niederer, who from the first moment struggled against the tendency of Pestalozzi to incrustate, as it were, the mind in the perception of sense. The impulse which he gave, produced very soon a reform in the mathematical instruction of the establishment, and the pupils, after they had been allowed sufficient time by the aid of visible representations to acquire real ideas, were conducted to purely mental operations on the same subjects. The elementary books before mentioned were consequently laid aside, and some of their exercises only preserved for first beginners, while the different teachers endeavoured, each in his own department, to render their instruction more and more intellectual, or, as they would have termed ii, “mentally intuitive.” Some of the courses drawn up in this manner were subsequently published; and we have manuals of arithmetic, geometry, and perspective
drawing, from Kruesi, Ladomus, Ramsauer, and others; in English from Dupuget. The most useful of them, however, and those which having received the sanction of Pestalozzi and his establishment, may be considered as the authorised improved edition of the elementary books, are the mathematical publications of Joseph Schmid, who, whatever may be his demerits on other grounds, has, in this respect, rendered eminent services to the cause. He published successively the following aids for teachers: “The Elements of Drawing.” “The Elements of Form and Size, commonly called Geometry;" in Three Parts. « The Elements of Number, forming the basis of Algebra.” “The Elements of Algebra.” “ Application of Number to Space, Time, Value, and Ciphers."
Next to the mathematical branches, Pestalozzi and his disciples were most successful in the adaptation of their method to the knowledge of geography. The spot on which they lived was in this respect peculiarly favorable, as the surrounding country afforded a standing illustration of the principal outlines in which land and water present themselves on our globe. The town is situated in a valley of from six to eight miles breadth, between the extreme western terrace of the Alps, and the first or eastern ridge of the Jura. In its immediate vicinity there are vast morasses, which have been laid dry by canals cut in every direction, so as to render the soil fertile and the air salubrious. The well cultivated plain is intersected by the river Orbe, which issuing from the caverns of the Jura, at the distance of no more than a day's journey from Yverdon, and descending through the romantic scenery of Valorbe, forms a superb cascade, about the middle of its rapid course, where the whole river, swelled in the early part of summer by the thaw of the mountain snows into a majestic torrent, precipitates itself with a sudden fall of about twenty feet over a mass of steep rocks, and fills the neighbouring forest with the echo of its never-ceasing thunders. From thence its turbulent waves roll on over their rough bed, now expanding over a verdant plain, closely sur
SCENERY OF YVERDON.
rounded by an amphitheatre of hills and woods, and now again narrowly hemmed in between crags, which descend perpendicularly upon the margin of the floods, and whose corresponding angles testify that, united in one mountain in ages unrecorded, they were rent asunder on one of those days, when“ the foundations of the hills moved and were shaken.” A gradual ascent of successive terraces leads from the plain of Yverdon to the eminence from which, at a terrific depth beneath, the Orbe is seen bathing with the foam of his mouth the foot of the immoveable rocks, and at last working out his passage into the plain, through which, as if conscious of his triumph, he proceeds in a slow and circuitous course to blend his pale waters with the deep azure of the lake. This fine landscape in the background is beautifully contrasted by the prospect of a longitudinal sheet of water, of from six to ten miles breadth, extending in the direction of N.N.E. to a distance at which the opposite shore can only be distinguished in a perfectly clear state of the atmosphere. The eastern border is formed by several chains of hills, covered with wood, which run parallel to each other, and whose promontories, projecting into the lake, break the uniformity of their gloomy aspect. Violent hurricanes, descending from time to time with a sudden gust from the opposite heights of the Jura, where they are generated by conflicting currents of air in the narrow mountain-passes, and stirring up the waters to the very depth, have heaped up the sands on this side, and created extensive shoals, which render navigation even in still weather impracticable. The opposite shore, on the contrary, presents a fine coast rising in an easy slope from the water's edge, whose laughing vineyards, interrupted only by gay villages, are overshaded by the dark firs with which the Jura is girded round its breast, while its broad front presents, in the region of the clouds, long tracts of rich pasture, with now and then a small hamlet boldly hanging on the brow. To complete the magnificence of this scene, one half of the horizon from north-east to south-west, is crowned with the snowy pinnacles of the Alps, raised above one another, and,
LESSONS FROM THE BOOK OF NATURE.
towering above them all, the giant Montblanc, with his everlasting pillars of ice.
Such was the school in which the pupils of Pestalozzi learned how the earth is fashioned, and what is the appointed course of the waters. He taught them to watch the gathering up of the morning mists, and the shadows of the early clouds, which passing over the glittering lake, hid for a moment, as with a veil of dark gauze, its streams of undulating gold; he directed their eyes to the flaming characters with which the sun writes the farewell of day on the traceless surface of eternal snow; he stood listening with them to the majestic voice of nature, when the autumnal gale howling on the floods, rolled billow after billow to the bleak shore; he guided their steps to the mountain caves from whose deep recesses the stately rivers draw their inexhaustible supplies. Wherever he found a leaf in the mysterious book of creation laid open, he gave it them to read, and thus, within the narrow sphere of their horizon, taught them more of earth and earthborn beings, than they could have learned by travelling in the pages of a heavy volume all round the globe.
This was, indeed, “intuitive” teaching; and experience proved, that independently of the moral effect which such an intercourse with nature can never fail to produce, the reality and vivacity of the ideas awakened in the children, concerning the relations of the great elements to each other, and to the beings whose existence they support, ensured a permanent and lively attention to whatever ulterior instruction in the science of geography it was deemed expedient to impart. In this a sharp line of demarcation was drawn between the earth as a creation of God, and as the dwellingplace of man. The simple features, by which the hand of nature has, distinguished the different countries, were presented to the mind long before the artificial mould into which man has cast them. Physical and mathematical geography, founded upon the ideas acquired by self-observation, formed the groundwork of this branch of the method,