« AnteriorContinuar »
observe what he is doing can tell what is passing through his mind. But it is not for your sake that he is acting. He does what he does because he likes to do it. The activities due to the social impulse, on the other hand, are directly stimulated by the presence of other people. Observe
child in a home where the maxim that children should be seen, not heard, is, as it ought to be, disregarded. When he reads a story, he wants to tell it to his mother ; when he comes in from a walk, he is eager to tell her all that he has seen that interests him. When a story is told in his presence, he insists on correcting every inaccurate statement.
Imitation. - Half-way between the constructive impulse and the social is the disposition to imitate. Indeed the constructive impulse and the imitative, as far as the latter acts unconsciously, are bottomed on the same law — that every idea tends to act itself out. The child who wished to make a wigwam after reading about Indians did so because the ideas were in her mind, and the child who imitates the gestures of her mother does so for the same reason.
But when the imitative impulse becomes conscious, when the child tries to reproduce the action of another because he wishes to be like the other, then the imitative tendency becomes allied to the social. It is the social impulse turned other end foremost. As the child's social nature leads him to influence the minds of others by telling them what he knows, so his imitative impulse leads to a modification of his own mind through the influence of others. It is this that gives it tremendous significance. It tends, as Dr. Harris says, to emancipate the child from the mere influence of heredity and self-regarding impulses and bring him under the influence of those around him. It lies at the foundation of manners, language, the whole of the traditional side of life. Imitation, the conservation of achievements, and invention, making new discoveries, are, as Professor James says, “the two legs on which the human race historically has walked.”
Invention. — Invention is due to the combination of two impulses, one of which is always the intellectual impulse, while the other may vary with the subject-matter to which the desire to know is related.
The latter impulse may lead a university student to study municipal government ; but unless he is moved by ambition, philanthropy, patriotism, regard for his family, or some extraneous motive, he will not use his knowledge for the betterment of government. It is said that a well-known professor in this country is breaking himself down by his excessive study of the laws of health. His regard for health is not as intense as his desire to know its laws. But even in his case those who know him well are doubtless able to see that his knowledge of hygiene leads to some modification of his actions.
Emulation.— Closely akin to the imitative impulse is the emulative. In one of its forms the only difference between them is that of emphasis. “I wish to be like him" expresses the conscious imitative impulse. “I wish to be not inferior to him ” expresses one form of the emulative impulse. In the one case attention is concentrated on the person one desires to imitate; in the other, it is self-regarding. The emotional coloring of the one impulse is admiration; of the other, the dislike of inferiority. This dislike easily develops into a desire for superiority.
The self-regarding character of emulation very clearly allies it with the combative, aggressive tendency of the child, the disposition to compel the people and things that surround him to submit to his will.
The Ethical Impulse. — The child also exhibits at a quite early age what we may call the ethical impulse, the desire to do right. Precisely what this impulse is, and how it originates, are questions that educational science does not have to solve. All we need to note here is that in the course of his experience the child becomes conscious of a desire to do right; that this desire is unique, incapable of being analyzed into anything else, and that, as we have elsewhere tried to show, it ought to be developed so that it shall become the ruling principle of his life.
The instinct of ownership, the craving for approbation, the feeling of shyness, the dislike of pain, are so manifestly universal traits that it is hardly necessary to mention them.
So, as has been said, these various impulses upon which we have dwelt in the foregoing pages constitute the “child's capital.” In what way can it be most profitably invested for him ?
QUESTIONS ON THE TEXT. 1. What is meant by the title of this chapter ?
2. In what did the mistake of the professor who was lecturing on physics, consist?
3. “The interests that make for education must compete with those that tend to array the individual against society.” Explain.
4. Why is the primary teacher under peculiar obligations to take account of the child's interests ?
5. Contrast the pupil at the beginning of his education with what he should be at the end.
6. What is meant by “habits of rational conduct”? 7. In what sense should we make the child the centre of gravity ?
8. Illustrate from your own observation the various impulses of the child which are mentioned in the text.
SUGGESTIVE QUESTIONS. 1. If the child had the capacity to understand, and were destitute of the various impulses mentioned in the text, would education be possible?
2. What does the text mean by some form of immediate interest”?
3. Show that the teacher cannot, in the nature of the case, exert any influence upon the child save as he appeals to some form of immediate interest.
4. What period in history is known as the Renaissance and why?
5. What is the difference between the Renaissance and the Revival of Learning?
6. What idea of education prevailed during the Renaissance ?
7. What writer on education first laid stress on the importance of basing all our work on the child ?
THE CHILD'S CAPITAL: IMITATION.
Professor Baldwin on Imitation. — In the preceding chapter we laid great emphasis on the importance of imitation in the development of the child and of the race. But prominent as is the rôle there assigned it, its part is inconspicuous in comparison with that which seems to be claimed for it by some writers. Says Professor Baldwin : “ The prime and essential method of the child's learning is by imitative absorption of the actions, thoughts, experiences of other people.” “Imitation is the method of his personal progress, the essential method of his growth." Society, also," he says, "grows by imitative generalizations of the thoughts of others. Imitation is the method of social organization." Gabriel Tarde asserts the same doctrine in an even less qualified form : “All the actions of men in society, from the satisfying of simple organic needs to the inventions of science and art, are the outcome of imitation.”
Imitation Defined. — Before discussing this theory, let us determine as clearly as we may what Professor Baldwin understands by imitation. He says there are three kinds : organic or biological, psychological, and plastic. Organic imitation he defines as “the tendency of an organism to maintain, repeat, reproduce its own stimulation, be it simple contractility, muscular contraction, or selected reactions which have become habitual. ... These biological imita