Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

PART II.

THE MOTIVES AND AIMS OF EDUCATION.

I.

TELEOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF EDUCATION.

CHAPTER I.

The Instinctive Motives.

1. Man may follow certain definite aims in his actions. He may recognize something as desirable, useful, or necessary, an then make its attainment the end of his actions. But it is not only conscious aims that determine a man's actions: the springs and motives of human conduct represent a complex union of definite aims, semi-conscious desires and wishes, and aimless impulses (Drang). Therefore, in analyzing the motives of human actions, whether of everyday life or of the history of the race, we may not content ourselves with ascertaining the leading ideas; but must enter into that dark field where the free will is confronted by those forces that interfere with its activity. In this dark field we shall find the causes of many human actions that have been repeated, notwithstanding the changing conditions, from time immemorial down to the present day.

Among these actions that have been repreated down the ages, we find the efforts made by man to acquire knowledge and to perfect his own powers. Though we may say that man aims consciously at the ideals of education, still in his striving for these ideals there are forces at work that antedate all conscious efforts. These instinctive motives which prompt man's first efforts to acquire an education, are closely related to, and partly identical with, the spontaneous impulses that are responsible for the beginnings of human science and art and all other human endeavor.

Aristotle was fond of tracing the springs of man's actions back to his native dispositions, and he says that man naturally thirsts for knowledge, delights in studies, and is eager to imitate.'

Aristotle, Met., I, 1, p. 980: Πάντες άνθρωποι του είδέναι ορέγονται φύσει. Poet., 4, p. 1448: μανθάνειν ου μόνον τους φιλοσόφους ήδιστον αλλά και τοις άλλοις, αλλ' επί βραχύ κοινωνούσιν αυτού. Ιbid.: το γάρ μιμείσθαι σύμφυτον τοίς ανθρώποις εκ παίδων

1

εστίν.

2

3

In the natural tendency of every living being to use its members and voice, Plato recognizes the element that developed, under the influence of the deitv, into the works of the fine arts.' Cicero speaks in the manner of the Peripatetic school when he regards the thirst for knowledge as evidence of the ideal nature of man.? Other ancient writers speak of opuár (to hasten on towards knowledge), or with more stress on the instinctive element, of ópyâv npòs malýuara (to crave and long for knowledge). One ancient writer compares the search after truth to the actions of animals, especially of bees, and thus intimates the influence of some instinctive force. This writer regarded the delight taken by children in tales of wonder and adventure as the first manifestation of this inborn craving, and advised teachers to avail themselves of the aid of poetry to keep the craving alive. A Christian thinker, Nicholas of Cusa, takes an even deeper view of this craving for truth and knowledge: “To know and to think, to see the truth with the eye of the mind, is always a joy. The older a man grows the greater is the pleasure which

. it affords him, and the more he devotes himself to the search after truth the stronger grows his desire of possessing it.... As love is the life of the heart, so is the endeavor after knowledge and truth the life of the mind."

This instinctive element of intellectual activity can best be observed in the actions of children. It appears not only in the eagerness with which they listen to a fairy tale, but also in that universal empirical interest which is shown, chiefly in the case of gifted children, in the questions that they are likely to propose at any moment. True, to some extent these questions may be prompted by curiosity or by the pleasure found in the variety of mental impressions. Still, the desire to know and to understand is certainly also, at least in part, responsible for the questions put by children. If you ask the children whether you

| Plato, Legs., II, p. 653.

2 Cicero, De fin., V, 18, +8: "Tantus est igitur innatus in nobis cognitionis amor et scientiæ, ut nemo dubitare possit, quin ad eas res hominum natura nullo emolumento invitata rapiatur.

3 Strabo, I, p. 19.

Janssen, History of the German People, transl. by Mitchell and Christie, London, 1896-1910, Vol. I, p. 4. Cf. the following from English writers: “The desire of knowledge, like the thirst of riches, increases ever with the acquisition of it” (Sterns); “Knowledge desires increase: it is like fire, which must first be kindled by some external agent, but which will afterwards propagate itself" (Johnson).

4

should tell them a beautiful story or a true story, they will invariably call for the true story. Even if they let the fairy tale pass as a true story, it is obvious that their desire to hear what is true betokens their craving for something positive, something more than a mere fable.

A similar tendency is at the bottom of the children's eagerness to learn the names of things. When asking for the name of a thing the children obey the general law that an object can not occupy its proper place in the order of things before it is named, and that it is only when we know the name of a thing that we regard our knowledge of it as really valid. When the child asks for the why we have the first proof of the awakening of the speculative interest. This question shows that the child's mind is beginning to grope for an objective interconnection of things and events, and may be regarded, even if it often ends in a mere play of questions, as the initial step toward acquiring a world-view. All healthy children are eager to be active, to construct things, to imitate what they have seen, to exercise their powers and strength; and this eagerness must precede the acquiring of any art and should be turned to account in the educative process. After the children grow a little older, they will delight in collecting material things: insects, plants, coins, stamps, post cards, etc. But when the boy begins to collect things less material-such as words, phrases, proverbs—he is already under the spell, to some extent, of the filing cabinet of the research worker.

2. These inclinations contain the germs of what will later, under favorable circumstances, develop into a love for scientific research, for artistic expression, or educational activity. Even in a fully developed and conscious tendency there will always remain some traces of the first instinctive impulse. In a genius this instinctive impulse will act as a directing force. To a man of extraordinary ability it will prove a valuable aid; and though it is less manifest in the average man, still it will be present and active in him also. Given a highly developed personality, the habitual and characteristic attitude which can be traced to what was originally only an unconscious and instinctive impulse, will be different in the scientific research worker, different in the artist, and, again, different in him whose main efforts are directed towards the perfecting of his inner nature. In a word, the thirst of knowledge, the artistic instinct, and the longing for culture are markedly different from one another. The scientific

« AnteriorContinuar »