Imágenes de páginas

accurately described when it is called the imitative absorption of the thoughts of others, while there is a very different experience which is properly called the appropriation of the thoughts of others, because they are seen to be true; because (2) both of these activities contribute to the child's development, although in very different ways; because (3) educational science needs to discriminate between them with the utmost possible exactness, and to determine with the utmost possible precision the extent to which and the circumstances under which each is to be made to contribute its part toward the development of the child.


1. What, in Professor Baldwin's opinion, is the relation between imitation, and the development of the child and of the race ?

2. State and illustrate his definition of biological, psychological, and plastic imitation.

3. Show that he ascribes to plastic imitation much that is not due to any kind of imitation.

4. State and illustrate what is meant by the imitation of thoughts and feelings.

5. What does the story of the East Indian tailor illustrate ?

6. What does the fact that men are not influenced by seeing a panic in a flock of sheep illustrate ?

7. Why was there so little experimental study of nature during the Middle Ages?

8. State and illustrate what is meant by interaction of impulses.

9. Illustrate the difference between doing what another does because of imitation, and doing it because of intelligence.

10. Show that what seems to be mere imitation may really be due to intelligence.

11. State clearly the two interpretations which the text suggests of Professor Baldwin's theory and show that according to either of them it is incorrect.

12. What, in your opinion, does Professor Baldwin really mean to say?

13. Why is it important to discriminate between actions due to imitation, and those due to intelligence ?


1. Are any of your own beliefs due to plastic imitation?

2. Have you seen examples of plastic imitation in the pupils of your school?

3. Which exerts the greater influence, plastic or psychological imitation ?

4. Do you know of any scientific opinions that seem to you to be due to plastic imitation ?

5. What period in history is called the Middle Ages?



IF it be true that we have a tendency to imitate anything that comes before us, and that this tendency is modified by all the impulses of our nature, it ought to be easy to determine in a general way (1) the period when this tendency begins to assert itself, and (2) that during which it is most influential.

When the Child Begins to Imitate. Manifestly imitation cannot become operative in the life of the child until he is some months old. In the first months of his life he leads chiefly a vegetative existence. His consciousness is in too vague and chaotic a state to render it possible for outside influences to affect it except in the way of stimulations. We are, therefore, prepared to learn from the students of genetic psychology that it begins to be a factor in the child's development during the last two thirds of his first year.

1 “ The early intellectual life of the child is lost to us in obscurity. But we are clear that the infant in the first months of life has nothing that we should call self-consciousness. The first clear evidence that we get of the presence of a form of self-consciousness intelligible to us comes when the infant begins to be observantly imitative of the acts and, later, of the words of the people about it.” (Royce, Studies of Good and Evil, p. 182.)

“Imitation begins to appear about the fourth month." (Sully, The Human Mind, ii. 218.) “ According to Tracy there are few points so genWhen Imitation Exerts the Most Powerful Influence. Now the considerations urged in the preceding chapter make it evident that the period in the child's life during which imitation exercises the most powerful influence on the course of his development is that in which his character is being formed, using the term character in the broad psychological rather than in the narrow ethical sense. The tendency to imitate everything that comes before us is for the most part held in check by the mature man. We deliberately strive against the tendency to imitate the bad manners, the incorrect speech, the slouching gait of those with whom we come in contact. We have formed our style, so to speak, in those particulars. But the very young child has no style; psychologically speaking, he has no character.

Boorish manners, careless speech, slovenly habits offer just as stimulating a copy to his imitative impulse as do the opposite characteristics.

Influence of Heredity on Imitation. It is in fact not true that even children are equally ready to imitate everything that comes before them. Boys do not long amuse themselves with nursery games, nor girls, as a rule, with plays in imitation of war. Heredity begins at a very early age to exercise an influence in favor of one model for imitation rather than another. But how slight is the obstacle to indiscriminate imitation which is presented by heredity in comparison with that which is offered by character as developed in the mature man, will begin to be evident if

erally accepted without question by child psychologists in general as that of the beginning of imitation in the second half-year.” But “ Baldwin, like Egger, could not be sure of it before the ninth month.” (Groos, The Play of Man, p. 291.)

we remember that in very many directions heredity is entirely neutral. We have a hereditary impulse to talk. But this impulse is perfectly satisfied by the use of any kind of language, good, bad, or indifferent.

Probably what we have agreed to call plastic imitation encounters no hereditary obstacle whatever. How much this means will begin to appear if we try to realize the tremendous importance of its part in the development of the child and of the race.

. . Some


Plastic Imitation. — Bagehot has shown that the characteristics which distinguish the literature of one period from that of the one before are due to it. « The true explanation" of how a literature in one period comes to differ from that of the preceding, he says, is “something like this. One considerable writer gets a sort of start because what he writes is somewhat more . . congenial to the minds around him than any other sort. strong writer, or group of writers, thus seize on the public mind, and a curious process soon assimilates other writers in appearance to them. To some extent, no doubt, this assimilation is effected by a process most intelligible, and not at all curious — the process of conscious imitation.” But Bagehot thinks, and truly, that it does not generally happen this way.

“ Most men catch the words that are in the air, and the rhythm which comes to them they do not know from whence; an unconscious imitation determines their words and makes them say what of themselves they would never have thought of saying. And as with the writers, so in a less degree with readers. Many men

most men get to like, or think they like, that which is ever before them, and which those around them like

« AnteriorContinuar »