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CLASSIFICATION OF KNOWLEDGE.
BY SOLOMON ADAMS.
Sound science and true art form a fraternity. Both are the products of educated mind. The materials for the production of both are the handy works of God. The human mind creates science by a careful study of the facts which these works furnish, and of the relations subsisting among them. It consists of a few general laws, in accordance with which a great variety of phenomena have been observed to occur, and its boundaries are enlarged by tracing out the consequences and applications of these laws. That mind is best educated, in an intellectual point of view, which has best learned, both in the various departments of science and in the common affairs of life, how to observe facts, compare them, and trace their relations, especially those of resemblance and difference, of cause and effect. " The field is the world.” The results of previous explorers are to be learned and tested ; the explored regions are to be searched anew, and the unexplored, attempted, on voyages of discovery
Nature gives us elements in endless variety of combinations, and thus invites us to analyze her works, and imitate her skill in productions of art—to combine eleInents with truth to nature. Science and art then make a brotherhood.
The business of observing, comparing and reasoning in regard to the common affairs and duties of life, in our domestic, social and civil concerns, differs less from the profounder researches of science than is often supposed. The process of training, which qualifies the mind for one, is not ill-suited to qualify it for the other.
Can we venture to affirm that the course of common education in our schools, and the manner of conducting it, have been well suited to prepare the mind for these various labors ? Have they been so well adapted as they can be, and ought to be, 10 habituate the mind to reflect, to reason, and to judge correctly? These are the intellectual processes we have occasion to perform every day. These, in connexion with good physical and moral culture, are what education ought to preparę us for. This is the preparation demanded of every man, and every woman, by our forms of government, and our social condition,-demanded imperatively by the higher relations and immortal destiny of every human being. Nothing less than this should be the aim of the teacher who enters upon even the humblest department of instruction-his aim for every pupil, male--and let me say, with emphasis --female. Great and good men are instruments, which great and good women, and only they, have had in all times the honor of forming, and often, the power of wielding. Cicero complains that Terentia claimed more influence in the cabinet than she allowed him in the kitchen. “Did you ever hear," said the elder President Adams, “of a great and good man, who had not an excellent mother ? for I never did."!
Time was, when common school instruction consisted mainly in teaching a few formularies authoritatively, and working by thein. The “ book,"—the rule,” had Aristotelian authority. Its “ipse dixit?' was final. As often happens, an opposite extreme has followed. The more recent demand is facts-give us facts, and with this to be content.
Facts we must have, well ascertained facts. Formularies, and general principles we must have. But the true process is to go up from the facts to the formularies and principles. I doubt whether it is best to announce even the most general and well ascertained laws authoritatively to the learner ; but rather to put his mind in an attitude, with some aid perhaps, to infer them from just such facts as guided the first discoverer. At any rate, they should be verified by facts ; otherwise knowledge is not wisdom.
It is no part of my intention to attempt a classification of the whole Cyclopedia. Mine is a humbler labor, but not for that reason less important. I write for the school teacher, and aim, through him, to benefit the many, whose opportunities for acquiring knowledge may be comparatively limited. To such it is important to make their knowledge worth as much to them as we can.
I shall, therefore, aim only to call attention to a defect to some extent prevalent in the modes of teaching in regard to the arrangement and classification of knowledge in the mind of the learner, and 10 hint at some remedies ; ---to show how I would lay up knowledge in the mind of the pupil for keeping and use. In doing this, I must run the risk of being tedious to all except those for whom I especially write, and, perhaps, even to many of them, who may have gone far before me in perfecting their modes of teaching in this respect.
I ought to be, and am fully aware, that intellectual education has occupied an undue share of attention in comparison of physical and moral culture. While I fall behind none in the grave importance I attach to moral and religious training, and readily admit that the field for greatest improvement in the science and art of teaching, is in the department of moral education, the subject now proposed is equally important in its bearings both upon intellectual and moral training. Moral duties are intellectually perceived. Before any moral duty can be performed meritoriously as a moral duty, there must be a clear intellectual perception of the reciprocal relations, which call forth the feeling of a moral obligation to perform it.
The subject, if I mistake not, has peculiar claims on
our attention at the present time, when the demand for facts,-facts—things—things, is so reiterated and imperious as to awaken some apprehension, that the heads of the young will be filled with things, while the mind, as a principle of tlought and action, is left untaught and untrained by habits of patient reflection, by a careful tracing of natural relations, and a skilful arrangement of knowledge, in accordance with perceived relations,—such an arrangement, that knowledge, just as we want it, will come at our bidding, such, that one fact before the mind will recall a host of others allied to it by kindred-links of a golden chain, from which you may choose and mentally abstract, without severing the chain, whatever link or links may suit the purpose in hand.
That there is a place called London, is a fact which most pupils will state verbally. That it is on the banks of the Thames, they are equally ready tò affirm. The geography has questions and answers for both these facts. Ask a third question—where is the Thames ? They may not be so ready. That question is not in the book. Such, at least, was once my experience with a new pupil, who wished to be excused from studying geography, because, forsoothi, she had “ studied all the geographies through and through." She ventured, however, to affirm, that the Thannes, on which London is situated, is in the United States. She was a good scholar, had studied the book with great industry ; but the subject of the book had received little attention. Each answer, if it was any thing more than words, was in her mind a mere insulated unrelated fact. Enter a school. Take
up the pupil's books, his Natural Philosophy, for instance; on every page may be