« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
taught. 11. Think, thought,
thought. 12. Work, wrought,
wrought. This mixed mode of conjugating these verbs existed in the AngloSaxon language, from which the English language is derived ; as, 2. Bringe, brohte,
tæht. 11. Thence, thohte,
gethoht. 12. Wyrce, worhte,
geworht. Also in Gothic, the most ancient form of the Teutonic language; as, 2. Brigga, brahta,
briggans. 3. Bugja,
bauhta. 6. Mag,
mahta. 10. Teiha, 11. Thagkja,
thahta. 12. Vaurkja,
X. MENTAL SCIENCE AS A BRANCH OF EDUCATION.*
BY REV. JOSEPH HAVEN, A. M.,
PROFESSOR IN AMHERST COLLEGE.
I DEEM it a privilege to address to-day a convocation of Teachers and of the friends of education, convened from all portions of the country in this our noble old Bay State ;-a State distinguished from the first for its regard for religion, for liberty, and for education. May the time never come when its attachment to any one of these great principles shall be less.
The vocation of the teacher is one which, viewed in all its relations, is hardly second to any other in honor, and importance. Much is entrusted to him, much required of him. To meet these demands, he must be a man of large and liberal culture, knowing the things which he is to teach, and knowing much besides. Every year enlarges the sphere and carries farther and farther out the boundary line of his dominion, brings new sciences into his field of labor, and elevates the standard of his necessary qualifications. He must teach more things, and he must teach them better. Time was when a few simple elements constituted the amount of his stock in trade. To mention arithmetic, geography, reading, writing and spelling, was to give a complete catalogue of the branches taught in our schools. It is not so now. It will never be so again. In these matters our country never moves backward. The people have discovered that there are many things which it is useful for man on the earth to know, and that they have the right to know them;—the child of the poor man as well as of the rich ; in the free school as well as in the academy, and the college ; and they mean that he shall know them. At the doors of our public schools, of every higher grade, stand knocking already, an array of sciences that would have astonished the savans of the last generation. Natural Philosophy, History, Physiology, Botany, Chemistry, Astronomy, Physical Geography, and I know not how many other sciences,—all clamoring for admission ; and for one I predict they will get in. The people will know these
I things, and will insist that their own children shall know them, nor is there any reason why they should not know them.
The teacher must keep up with this demand. The tide of public opinion, of public intelligence and information, in a great and free nation like our own never sets backward.
* An Address delivered before the American lostitute of Instruction at its Annual Meeting in Springfield.
It moves on and on, and schools and committees, and teachers advance with it, or are swept before it.
With this demand for a higher education, a larger and more liberal culture, on the part of those who are to conduct the education of the young, the teachers of the present day are, to a great extent earnestly and cordially complying. It would be difficult to find, in any country, a body of men devoted to education, possessing a larger share of general information, a higher mental culture and training, men of larger views, and higher aims, than the teachers of the public schools of New England, and especially of Massachusetts. I say this without reserve or qualification; I say it with pleasure and pride; I say
it after a careful observation of the school systems of our own and of other countries.
Among the various branches of useful science, all demanding the attention of the well informed, and well educated man, of the present day, there is one whose claims to general attention have I fear been somewhat overlooked in our country. Allow me then the privilege of directing your attention on this occasion to the importance of the science of the human mind, as a distinct branch of knowledge, entitled to a high place in the course of study which every true scholar and every well informed man marks out for himself, and especially worthy the attention of those who are to guide the education of others.
I am aware that in presenting such a subject, I may seem to some, to have forgotten the character and objects of the present association. What has the science of the human mind to do with schools and school-teaching, they may ask. This question I will endeavor to answer before I sit down. Unless, however, I do very much mistake the character of my audience, I see before me to-day men who are determined to omit no effort to attain that discipline of all the mental powers, that range of thought, that wide and large culture, that shall best qualify them for their noble work. To such men my theme is appropriate, and to such I address myself.
Many causes it must be confessed, have hitherto contributed to the comparative neglect of mental science in our own country.
The nature of the science is such that its benefits are not immediately apparent. Men, the dullest, and most uneducated, can see some use in Chemistry, or Botany. They teach how to analyze soils, and how to raise better crops. Natural Philosophy may be of service to the mechanic. Physiology well understood, may tend to lengthen life, and shorten the physician's bill. But what can possibly come of
mental science, they do not so readily perceive. It has no patent, obvious, practical results to show. Its region of thought lies removed somewhat from the actual observation of men. It has no splendid cabinets or museums to throw open to the gaze of the astonished multitude. It can not point you to its magnificent collections, embracing specimens of all the known varieties of thought and feeling; nor can it illustrate by curious instruments, in brass, and wood, and glass, and iron, and by nice experiments unfold the secret working of the laws of association, or memory, or imagination-all the wonderful alchemy of thought, and of our curious inner life. Its simple pages present not even one poor diagram to catch the eye of the curious.
And then it has no great discoveries to make and to announce, no brilliant rewards to bestow on its votaries. Any man of moderate patience and skill, and a glass of medium power, stands a reasonable chance of discovering a half dozen new asteroids between Mars and Jupiter, the first clear night, and then goes his name ad astra, and then comes, by return mail, a diploma from the royal society, and a gold snuff-box from the crown of Russia, or the crown prince of Seringapatam. Not so in mental science—not even in the present disturbed state of affairs, not in the wildest and most excited political gathering, could one hope to discover several new passions in exercise, or a brace of new intellectual faculties in full play. Or even if you were so fortunate as that, it may be doubted whether the world would even take the trouble to inquire your name, or the Czar think it incumbent on him to provide you
with snuff-boxes. But more than all, and as I suppose, the chief obstacle to the more general cultivation of mental science, is to be found in the exclusively practical and active tendencies of the age. We are by nature a stirring, busy, enterprising people, given more to action than to thought. An age of action is seldom also an age of reflection. External life demands the energies of a new people, and a new state. The elements are to be subdued, cities to be built, mountains to be leveled, graded, tunnelled, roads constructed, and a thousand other useful and practical works to be wrought, before the period comes of golden affluence, and leisure, and genial task, and refined culture, which can at once. appreciate and reward the higher efforts of scientific investigation. That age will come; but it is not yet. Meanwhile he who devotes himself to a pursuit so little accordant with the more directly practical tendencies of the age, must be content to pursue his way with little encouragement from without, little reward save that of his own highest culture, and the sweet delight of his own conscious advance in that true wisdom, and those loftier attainments, which like divine truth come not with observation
The causes at which we have now glanced may account in part for the comparative neglect of the science of the mind in our own country. What then are the reasons, if any there may be, why the science of which we speak should be regarded as at least of equal importance with others, in a course of liberal study.
The importance of this branch of education will be apparent, if we consider its relative position with regard to other sciences. As we go forth into the great field of truth, and among the works of God, and begin to explore and observe the things that lie around us, we find indeed nothing unworthy our regard, but not all things equally worthy. The ground on which we tread, and the solid rock, demand and repay our careful investigation; but when we pass from these to the contemplation of vegetable life, when we turn our eve from the soil to the little flower that grows and blooms upon it, we are conscious of advance, of reaching a higher stage of art, a higher department of creation. Passing on still to the forms of animal existence, we are conscious still of the ascending series. The shell minutely beautifully wrought, that lies by the shore of the deep-sounding sea, and listens ever to its roar, the insect rejoicing in the sun-beam, the thousand forms of life that flutter in the air, and creep the earth, and leap up in the waters, and bound in all the consciousness of freedom, and strength, and vigorous life along the mountains and over the plains, these afford us a higher field of study than mere inanimate existence, however curious and delicate may be its organization. When from these we pass on to observe and study man himself, the lord of this entire creation, when we make his nature, his physical structure, his habits, his languages, his cities, his laws, his arts, his wonderful creations, the objects of our careful study, how much higher have we ascended in the scale of being and in the sphere of our explorations,
But when, turning from all these, we make the mind of man himself our study, we find ourselves at once in a region from which we overlook the whole wide field of previous investigation, and toward which all these other sciences conduct, as different paths along the mountain side, starting from different points, and running in different directions, but all converging toward, and coming out at last upon a common terminus at the summit. That summit and common terminus of sciences is the science of mind. As the mineral, the vegetable, the insect, the animal, in their varied and wonderful organizations, are all and necessarily inferior to man, so is the science of them, however important and useful, of necessity inferior to the science of