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changes that take place in the mind at any moment are due not only to the particular influences brought to bear upon it, but to the nature of the mind, and that not simply as active or passive, but as endowed with certain impulses and native tendencies. In order to furnish an adequate explanation of a given state of anger, for example, we have to determine both what it was that occasioned the anger and what it is in human beings that makes such a state possible. In considering the means of education, therefore, we are obliged to study the impulses of human nature which make education possible, as well as the material which must be presented to the mind in order to occasion the changes that lead towards the desired end.
But the question of means must be further subdivided. For the effect of the material presented to the mind depends very much on the way in which it is presented, or, rather, the mode of the presentation forms an important part of the material. Compare George Eliot's sentence, “It seems to me there must always be pale sad faces among the flowers, and eyes that look in vain," with a prosaic expression of the same idea : It seems to me I shall never be able to see anything beautiful again without thinking of something sad, — and the effect of the form in which an idea is expressed becomes very evident. A rational theory of education, therefore, requires us not only to know what our pupils should study, but the manner in which the subjects should be taught : and this necessitates a discussion of method.
A yet further subdivision is necessary. The changes in the mind in which education consists are exceedingly complex and numerous, the matter to be presented to it indefinitely extensive and various. The rational practice of education, therefore, requires us not only to know in a general way the changes which we wish to bring about in the minds of our pupils, and the subjects which they must study, but the method according to which they must be taught. Or, rather, in order to have a thorough grasp of method, we need to know the precise effect which a given phase of a subject ought to produce. The teacher's subjects are his tools; in order to use them effectively, he needs to know the sort of influence which each of them ought to have in the shaping of the mind — he ought to know their educational values.
When we have considered the influences exerted upon the pupil by the subjects which he studies, and the teacher's presentation of them, there remains for examination an important part of the business of the school. Those influences to which the pupil is subjected which are designated by the term discipline have a direct bearing not only on the immediate work of the pupil, but upon those habits of conduct which a wise theory of education seeks to form. The subject of school management will, accordingly, form still another subdivision of the question of the means to be employed in the education of the pupil.
We may, then, roughly indicate the subdivisions of our subject as follows:
I. The nature of the mind — active or passive, person or thing. II. The end of education, III. The means to be employed in reaching it. 1. Subjective: the impulses and native tendencies which make
education possible — the child's capital.”
a. The course of study.
The first two general subdivisions grow out of the very nature of the subject. No matter what phase of education is considered, whether Kindergarten, elementary, secondary, or advanced, a rational treatment of it must be based on a conception of the nature of the individual whom we wish to educate, and of the ideal towards which we wish to develop him. But the means which education should employ depend largely upon the stage which the mind has reached in its development. A course of study proper in a high school would not be proper in the primary grades; a successful method of governing college students would not be recommended to a grammar-school teacher. It must be borne in mind, then, that in this book we are concerned only with elementary education.
A BROADER ELEMENTARY EDUCATION.
A PRESUPPOSITION OF EDUCATION: PERSON OR
THERE is a preliminary question which must be answered before there can be any intelligent discussion of the purpose or methods of education: What is the nature of the mind ? Is consciousness an active process determined by the mind's own laws, or is it only a mechanical reflection of objects ?
Theory of Automatism Stated. — Automatism gives a precise answer to this question. It says that the mind is a mere thing among the other things of the world. It holds that at a certain stage in the evolution of the cosmos organic life began to appear; that later a nervous system began to exist ; that at some point in the development of the nervous system a rudimentary form of consciousness began to evolve; and that from this simple beginning up to and including man there has been no essential change in the nature of mental life. Throughout the entire series, from the lowest and most incoherent form of organic matter to the most highly developed human being, you find, according to automatism, one kind of cause and one only — matter. The matter that functions in the inorganic world does indeed differ from that of which a highly developed nervous system is composed. But it differs only in the degree of its complexity. And as the motions that take place in the simplest forms of matter are due to material causes only, so are those that take place in the human body — what we call consciousness, having no more to do with them than the whiz of a wheel with its revolution.
Nothing is Due to Purpose, if Automatism be True. If this theory be true, we must change our attitude towards human beings. It can no longer be said that men buy, sell, steal, kill for gold or for anything; purpose has no existence among the realities of the world. Its place is taken by the brain, blindly and mechanically obeying the laws of matter. Man indeed has no independent existence, unless we give that name to the purely material aggregate known as the human body. The body, constituting the innermost nature of man and forming a part of the material universe, is strictly and absolutely governed by material laws. We get up in the morning, dress, eat our breakfast, go to our place of business, write letters, engage in conversation, not because we are intelligent beings, but because our brains are what they are — every movement of every part of our bodies being the purely passive product of mechanical forces.
From the Standpoint of this Theory Education has to do with the Brain Only, not with the Mind. — From the standpoint of this theory education begins and ends with