HotFreeBooks.com
Emile - or, Concerning Education; Extracts
by Jean Jacques Rousseau
Previous Part     1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

When I want to measure an angle of sixty degrees, I will describe from the apex of the angle not an arc only, but an entire circle; for with children nothing must be taken for granted. I find that the portion intercepted by the two sides of the angle is one-sixth of the whole circumference. Afterward, from the same centre, I describe another and a larger circle, and find that this second arc is one-sixth of the new circumference. Describing a third concentric circle, I test it in the same way, and continue the process with other concentric circles, until Emile, vexed at my stupidity, informs me that every arc, great or small, intercepted by the sides of this angle, will be one-sixth of the circumference to which it belongs. You see we are almost ready to use the instruments intelligently.

In order to prove the angles of a triangle equal to two right angles, a circle is usually drawn. I, on the contrary, will call Emile's attention to this in the circle, and then ask him, "Now, if the circle were taken away, and the straight lines were left, would the size of the angles be changed?"

It is not customary to pay much attention to the accuracy of figures in geometry; the accuracy is taken for granted, and the demonstration alone is regarded. Emile and I will pay no heed to the demonstration, but aim to draw exactly straight and even lines; to make a square perfect and a circle round. To test the exactness of the figure we will examine it in all its visible properties, and this will give us daily opportunity of finding out others. We will fold the two halves of a circle on the line of the diameter, and the halves of a square on its diagonal, and then examine our two figures to see which has its bounding lines most nearly coincident, and is therefore best constructed. We will debate as to whether this equality of parts exists in all parallelograms, trapeziums, and like figures. Sometimes we will endeavor to guess at the result of the experiment before we make it, and sometimes to find out the reasons why it should result as it does.

Geometry for my pupil is only the art of using the rule and compass well. It should not be confounded with drawing, which uses neither of these instruments. The rule and compass are to be kept under lock and key, and he shall be allowed to use them only occasionally, and for a short time, lest he fall into the habit of daubing. But sometimes, when we go for a walk, we will take our diagrams with us, and talk about what we have done or would like to do.

Hearing.

What has been said as to the two senses most continually employed and most important may illustrate the way in which I should exercise the other senses. Sight and touch deal alike with bodies at rest and bodies in motion. But as only the vibration of the air can arouse the sense of hearing, noise or sound can be made only by a body in motion. If everything were at rest, we could not hear at all. At night, when we move only as we choose, we have nothing to fear except from other bodies in motion. We therefore need quick ears to judge from our sensations whether the body causing them is large or small, distant or near, and whether its motion is violent or slight. The air, when in agitation, is subject to reverberations which reflect it back, produce echoes, and repeat the sensation, making the sonorous body heard elsewhere than where it really is. In a plain or valley, if you put your ear to the ground, you can hear the voices of men and the sound of horses' hoofs much farther than when standing upright. As we have compared sight with touch, let us also compare it with hearing, and consider which of the two impressions, leaving the same body at the same time, soonest reaches its organ. When we see the flash of a cannon there is still time to avoid the shot; but as soon as we hear the sound there is not time; the ball has struck. We can estimate the distance of thunder by the interval between the flash and the thunderbolt. Make the child understand such experiments; try those that are within his own power, and discover others by inference. But it would be better he should know nothing about these things than that you should tell him all he is to know about them.

We have an organ that corresponds to that of hearing, that is, the voice. Sight has nothing like this, for though we can produce sounds, we cannot give off colors. We have therefore fuller means of cultivating hearing, by exercising its active and passive organs upon one another.

The Voice.

Man has three kinds of voice: the speaking or articulate voice, the singing or melodious voice, and the pathetic or accented voice, which gives language to passion and animates song and speech. A child has these three kinds of voice as well as a man, but he does not know how to blend them in the same way. Like his elders he can laugh, cry, complain, exclaim, and groan. But he does not know how to blend these inflections with the two other voices. Perfect music best accomplishes this blending; but children are incapable of such music, and there is never much feeling in their singing. In speaking, their voice has little energy, and little or no accent.

Our pupil will have even a simpler and more uniform mode of speaking, because his passions, not yet aroused, will not mingle their language with his. Do not, therefore, give him dramatic parts to recite, nor teach him to declaim. He will have too much sense to emphasize words he cannot understand, and to express feelings he has never known.

Teach him to speak evenly, clearly, articulately, to pronounce correctly and without affectation, to understand and use the accent demanded by grammar and prosody. Train him to avoid a common fault acquired in colleges, of speaking louder than is necessary; have him speak loud enough to be understood; let there be no exaggeration in anything.

Aim, also, to render his voice in singing, even, flexible, and sonorous. Let his ear be sensitive to time and harmony, but to nothing more. Do not expect of him, at his age, imitative and theatrical music. It would be better if he did not even sing words. If he wished to sing them, I should try to invent songs especially for him, such as would interest him, as simple as his own ideas.

The Sense of Taste.

Of our different sensations, those of taste generally affect us most. We are more interested in judging correctly of substances that are to form part of our own bodies than of those which merely surround us. We are indifferent to a thousand things, as objects of touch, of hearing, or of sight; but there is almost nothing to which our sense of taste is indifferent. Besides, the action of this sense is entirely physical and material. Imagination and imitation often give a tinge of moral character to the impressions of all the other senses; but to this it appeals least of all, if at all. Generally, also, persons of passionate and really sensitive temperament, easily moved by the other senses, are rather indifferent in regard to this. This very fact, which seems in some measure to degrade the sense of taste, and to make excess in its indulgence more contemptible, leads me, however, to conclude that the surest way to influence children is by means of their appetite. Gluttony, as a motive, is far better than vanity; for gluttony is a natural appetite depending directly on the senses, and vanity is the result of opinion, is subject to human caprice and to abuse of all kinds. Gluttony is the passion of childhood, and cannot hold its own against any other; it disappears on the slightest occasion.

Believe me, the child will only too soon leave off thinking of his appetite; for when his heart is occupied, his palate will give him little concern. When he is a man, a thousand impulsive feelings will divert his mind from gluttony to vanity; for this last passion alone takes advantage of all others, and ends by absorbing them all. I have sometimes watched closely those who are especially fond of dainties; who, as soon as they awoke, were thinking of what they should eat during the day, and could describe a dinner with more minuteness than Polybius uses in describing a battle; and I have always found that these supposed men were nothing but children forty years old, without any force or steadiness of character. Gluttony is the vice of men who have no stamina. The soul of a gourmand has its seat in his palate alone; formed only for eating, stupid, incapable, he is in his true place only at the table; his judgment is worthless except in the matter of dishes. As he values these far more highly than others in which we are interested, as well as he, let us without regret leave this business of the palate to him.

It is weak precaution to fear that gluttony may take root in a child capable of anything else. As children, we think only of eating; but in youth, we think of it no more. Everything tastes good to us, and we have many other things to occupy us.

Yet I would not use so low a motive injudiciously, or reward a good action with a sugar-plum. Since childhood is or should be altogether made up of play and frolic, I see no reason why exercise purely physical should not have a material and tangible reward. If a young Majorcan, seeing a basket in the top of a tree, brings it down with a stone from his sling, why should he not have the recompense of a good breakfast, to repair the strength used in earning it?

A young Spartan, braving the risk of a hundred lashes, stole into a kitchen, and carried off a live fox-cub, which concealed under his coat, scratched and bit him till the blood came. To avoid the disgrace of detection, the child allowed the creature to gnaw his entrails, and did not lift an eyelash or utter a cry.[23] Was it not just that, as a reward, he was allowed to devour the beast that had done its best to devour him?

A good meal ought never to be given as a reward; but why should it not sometimes be the result of the pains taken to secure it? Emile will not consider the cake I put upon a stone as a reward for running well; he only knows that he cannot have the cake unless he reaches it before some other person does.

This does not contradict the principle before laid down as to simplicity in diet. For to please a child's appetite we need not arouse it, but merely satisfy it; and this may be done with the most ordinary things in the world, if we do not take pains to refine his taste. His continual appetite, arising from his rapid growth, is an unfailing sauce, which supplies the place of many others. With a little fruit, or some of the dainties made from milk, or a bit of pastry rather more of a rarity than the every-day bread, and, more than all, with some tact in bestowing, you may lead an army of children to the world's end without giving them any taste for highly spiced food, or running any risk of cloying their palate.

Besides, whatever kind of diet you give children, provided they are used only to simple and common articles of food, let them eat, run, and play as much as they please, and you may rest assured they will never eat too much, or be troubled with indigestion. But if you starve them half the time, and they can find a way to escape your vigilance, they will injure themselves with all their might, and eat until they are entirely surfeited.

Unless we dictate to our appetite other rules than those of nature, it will never be inordinate. Always regulating, prescribing, adding, retrenching, we do everything with scales in hand. But the scales measure our own whims, and not our digestive organs.

To return to my illustrations; among country folk the larder and the orchard are always open, and nobody, young or old, knows what indigestion means.

Result. The Pupil at the Age of Ten or Twelve.

Supposing that my method is indeed that of nature itself, and that I have made no mistakes in applying it, I have now conducted my pupil through the region of sensations to the boundaries of childish reason. The first step beyond should be that of a man. But before beginning this new career, let us for a moment cast our eyes over what we have just traversed. Every age and station in life has a perfection, a maturity, all its own. We often hear of a full-grown man; in contemplating a full-grown child we shall find more novelty, and perhaps no less pleasure.

The existence of finite beings is so barren and so limited that when we see only what is, it never stirs us to emotion. Real objects are adorned by the creations of fancy, and without this charm yield us but a barren satisfaction, tending no farther than to the organ that perceives them, and the heart is left cold. The earth, clad in the glories of autumn, displays a wealth which the wondering eye enjoys, but which arouses no feeling within us; it springs less from sentiment than from reflection. In spring the landscape is still almost bare; the forests yield no shade; the verdure is only beginning to bud; and yet the heart is deeply moved at the sight. We feel within us a new life, when we see nature thus revive; delightful images surround us; the companions of pleasure, gentle tears, ever ready to spring at the touch of tender feelings, brim our eyes. But upon the panorama of the vintage season, animated and pleasant though it be, we have no tears to bestow. Why is there this difference? It is because imagination joins to the sight of spring-time that of following seasons. To the tender buds the eye adds the flowers, the fruit, the shade, sometimes also the mysteries that may lie hid in them. Into a single point of time our fancy gathers all the year's seasons yet to be, and sees things less as they really will be than as it would choose to have them. In autumn, on the contrary, there is nothing but bare reality. If we think of spring then, the thought of winter checks us, and beneath snow and hoar-frost the chilled imagination dies.

The charm we feel in looking upon a lovely childhood rather than upon the perfection of mature age, arises from the same source. If the sight of a man in his prime gives us like pleasure, it is when the memory of what he has done leads us to review his past life and bring up his younger days. If we think of him as he is, or as he will be in old age, the idea of declining nature destroys all our pleasure. There can be none in seeing a man rapidly drawing near the grave; the image of death is a blight upon everything.

But when I imagine a child of ten or twelve, sound, vigorous, well developed for his age, it gives me pleasure, whether on account of the present or of the future. I see him impetuous, sprightly, animated, free from anxiety or corroding care, living wholly in his own present, and enjoying a life full to overflowing. I foresee what he will be in later years, using the senses, the intellect, the bodily vigor, every day unfolding within him. When I think of him as a child, he delights me; when I think of him as a man, he delights me still more. His glowing pulses seem to warm my own; I feel his life within myself, and his sprightliness renews my youth. His form, his bearing, his countenance, manifest self-confidence and happiness. Health glows in his face; his firm step is a sign of bodily vigor. His complexion, still delicate, but not insipid, has in it no effeminate softness, for air and sun have already given him the honorable stamp of his sex. His still rounded muscles are beginning to show signs of growing expressiveness. His eyes, not yet lighted with the fire of feeling, have all their natural serenity. Years of sorrow have never made them dim, nor have his cheeks been furrowed by unceasing tears. His quick but decided movements show the sprightliness of his age, and his sturdy independence; they bear testimony to the abundant physical exercise he has enjoyed. His bearing is frank and open, but not insolent or vain. His face, never glued to his books, is never downcast; you need not tell him to raise his head, for neither fear nor shame has ever made it droop.

Make room for him among you, and examine him, gentlemen. Question him with all confidence, without fear of his troubling you with idle chatter or impertinent queries. Do not be afraid of his taking up all your time, or making it impossible for you to get rid of him. You need not expect brilliant speeches that I have taught him, but only the frank and simple truth without preparation, ornament, or vanity. When he tells you what he has been thinking or doing, he will speak of the evil as freely as of the good, not in the least embarrassed by its effect upon those who hear him. He will use words in all the simplicity of their original meaning.

We like to prophesy good of children, and are always sorry when a stream of nonsense comes to disappoint hopes aroused by some chance repartee. My pupil seldom awakens such hopes, and will never cause such regrets: for he never utters an unnecessary word, or wastes breath in babble to which he knows nobody will listen. If his ideas have a limited range, they are nevertheless clear. If he knows nothing by heart, he knows a great deal from experience. If he does not read ordinary books so well as other children, he reads the book of nature far better. His mind is in his brain, and not at his tongue's end. He has less memory than judgment. He can speak only one language, but he understands what he says: and if he does not say it as well as another, he can do things far better than they can.

He does not know the meaning of custom or routine. What he did yesterday does not in any wise affect his actions of to-day. He never follows a rigid formula, or gives way in the least to authority or to example. Everything he does and says is after the natural fashion of his age. Expect of him, therefore, no formal speeches or studied manners, but always the faithful expression of his own ideas, and a conduct arising from his own inclinations.

You will find he has a few moral ideas in relation to his own concerns, but in regard to men in general, none at all. Of what use would these last be to him, since a child is not yet an active member of society? Speak to him of liberty, of property, even of things done by common consent, and he may understand you. He knows why his own things belong to him and those of another person do not, and beyond this he knows nothing. Speak to him of duty and obedience, and he will not know what you mean. Command him to do a thing, and he will not understand you. But tell him that if he will do you such and such a favor, you will do the same for him whenever you can, and he will readily oblige you; for he likes nothing better than to increase his power, and to lay you under obligations he knows to be inviolable. Perhaps, too, he enjoys being recognized as somebody and accounted worth something. But if this last be his motive, he has already left the path of nature, and you have not effectually closed the approaches to vanity.

If he needs help, he will ask it of the very first person he meets, be he monarch or man-servant; to him one man is as good as another.

By his manner of asking, you can see that he feels you do not owe him anything; he knows that what he asks is really a favor to him, which humanity will induce you to grant. His expressions are simple and laconic. His voice, his look, his gesture, are those of one equally accustomed to consent or to refusal. They show neither the cringing submission of a slave, nor the imperious tone of a master; but modest confidence in his fellow-creatures, and the noble and touching gentleness of one who is free, but sensitive and feeble, asking aid of another, also free, but powerful and kind. If you do what he asks, he does not thank you, but feels that he has laid himself under obligation. If you refuse, he will not complain or insist; he knows it would be of no use. He will not say, "I was refused," but "It was impossible." And, as has been already said, we do not often rebel against an acknowledged necessity.

Leave him at liberty and by himself, and without saying a word, watch what he does, and how he does it. Knowing perfectly well that he is free, he will do nothing from mere thoughtlessness, or just to show that he can do it; for is he not aware that he is always his own master? He is alert, nimble, and active; his movements have all the agility of his years; but you will not see one that has not some definite aim. No matter what he may wish to do, he will never undertake what he cannot do, for he has tested his own strength, and knows exactly what it is. The means he uses are always adapted to the end sought, and he rarely does anything without being assured he will succeed in it. His eye will be attentive and critical, and he will not ask foolish questions about everything he sees. Before making any inquiries he will tire himself trying to find a thing out for himself. If he meets with unexpected difficulties, he will be less disturbed by them than another child, and less frightened if there is danger. As nothing has been done to arouse his still dormant imagination, he sees things only as they are, estimates danger accurately, and is always self-possessed. He has so often had to give way to necessity that he no longer rebels against it. Having borne its yoke ever since he was born, he is accustomed to it, and is ready for whatever may come.

Work and play are alike to him; his plays are his occupations, and he sees no difference between the two. He throws himself into everything with charming earnestness and freedom, which shows the bent of his mind and the range of his knowledge. Who does not enjoy seeing a pretty child of this age, with his bright expression of serene content, and laughing, open countenance, playing at the most serious things, or deeply occupied with the most frivolous amusements? He has reached the maturity of childhood, has lived a child's life, not gaining perfection at the cost of his happiness, but developing the one by means of the other.

While acquiring all the reasoning power possible to his age, he has been as happy and as free as his nature allowed. If the fatal scythe is to cut down in him the flower of our hopes, we shall not be obliged to lament at the same time his life and his death. Our grief will not be embittered by the recollection of the sorrows we have made him feel. We shall be able to say, "At least, he enjoyed his childhood; we robbed him of nothing that nature gave him."

In regard to this early education, the chief difficulty is, that only far-seeing men can understand it, and that a child so carefully educated seems to an ordinary observer only a young scapegrace.

A tutor usually considers his own interests rather than those of his pupil. He devotes himself to proving that he loses no time and earns his salary. He teaches the child such accomplishments as can be readily exhibited when required, without regard to their usefulness or worthlessness, so long as they are showy. Without selecting or discerning, he charges the child's memory with a vast amount of rubbish. When the child is to be examined, the tutor makes him display his wares; and, after thus giving satisfaction, folds up his pack again, and goes his way.

My pupil is not so rich; he has no pack at all to display; he has nothing but himself. Now a child, like a man, cannot be seen all at once. What observer can at the first glance seize upon the child's peculiar traits? Such observers there are, but they are uncommon; and among a hundred thousand fathers you will not find one such.



[1] Puer, child; infans, one who does not speak.

[2] Reading these lines, we are reminded of the admirable works of Dickens, the celebrated English novelist, who so touchingly depicts the sufferings of children made unhappy by the inhumanity of teachers, or neglected as to their need of free air, of liberty, of affection: David Copperfield, Hard Times, Nicholas Nickleby, Dombey and Son, Oliver Twist, Little Dorrit, and the like.

[3] Here he means Xerxes, King of Persia, who had built an immense bridge of boats over the Hellespont to transport his army from Asia into Europe. A storm having destroyed this bridge, the all-powerful monarch, furious at the insubordination of the elements, ordered chains to be cast into the sea, and had the rebellious waves beaten with rods.

[4] The feeling of a republican, of the "citizen of Geneva," justly shocked by monarchial superstitions. Louis XIV. and Louis XV. had had, in fact, from the days of their first playthings, the degrading spectacle of a universal servility prostrated before their cradle. The sentiment here uttered was still uncommon and almost unknown when Rousseau wrote it. He did much toward creating it and making it popular.

[5] Civil bondage, as understood by Rousseau, consists in the laws and obligations of civilized life itself. He extols the state of nature as the ideal condition, the condition of perfect freedom, without seeing that, on the contrary, true liberty cannot exist without the protection of laws, while the state of nature is only the enslavement of the weak by the strong—the triumph of brute force.

[6] In this unconditional form the principle is inadmissible. Any one who has the rearing of children knows this. But the idea underlying the paradox ought to be recognized, for it is a just one. We ought not to command merely for the pleasure of commanding, but solely to interpret to the child the requirements of the case in hand. To command him for the sake of commanding is an abuse of power: it is a baseness which will end in disaster. On the other hand, we cannot leave it to circumstances to forbid what ought not to be done. Only, the command should be intelligible, reasonable, and unyielding. This is really what Rousseau means.

[7] This is not strictly true. The child early has the consciousness of right and wrong; and if it be true that neither chastisement nor reproof is to be abused, it is no less certain that conscience is early awake within him, and that it ought not to be neglected in a work so delicate as that of education: on condition, be it understood, that we act with simplicity, without pedantry, and that we employ example more than lectures. Rousseau says this admirably a few pages farther on.

[8] Nothing is more injudicious than such a question, especially when the child is in fault. In that case, if he thinks you know what he has done, he will see that you are laying a snare for him, and this opinion cannot fail to set him against you. If he thinks you do not know he will say to himself, "Why should I disclose my fault?" And thus the first temptation to falsehood is the result of your imprudent question.—[Note by J. J. ROUSSEAU.]

[9] He refers to Cato, surnamed of Utica, from the African city in which he ended his own life. When a child, he was often invited by his brother to the house of the all-powerful Sulla. The cruelties of the tyrant roused the boy to indignation, and it was necessary to watch him lest he should attempt to kill Sulla. It was in the latter's antechamber that the scene described by Plutarch occurred.

[10] While writing this I have reflected a hundred times that in an extended work it is impossible always to use the same words in the same sense. No language is rich enough to furnish terms and expressions to keep pace with the possible modifications of our ideas. The method which defines all the terms, and substitutes the definition for the term, is fine, but impracticable; for how shall we then avoid travelling in a circle? If definitions could be given without using words, they might be useful. Nevertheless, I am convinced that, poor as our language is, we can make ourselves understood, not by always attaching the same meaning to the same words, but by so using each word that its meaning shall be sufficiently determined by the ideas nearly related to it, and so that each sentence in which a word is used shall serve to define the word. Sometimes I say that children are incapable of reasoning, and sometimes I make them reason extremely well; I think that my ideas do not contradict each other, though I cannot escape the inconvenient contradictions of my mode of expression.

[11] Another exaggeration: the idea is not to teach children to speak another language as perfectly as their own. There are three different objects to be attained in studying languages. First, this study is meant to render easy by comparison and practice the knowledge and free use of the mother tongue. Second, it is useful as intellectual gymnastics, developing attention, reflection, reasoning, and taste. This result is to be expected particularly from the study of the ancient languages. Third, it lowers the barriers separating nations, and furnishes valuable means of intercourse which science, industries, and commerce cannot afford to do without. The French have not always shown wisdom in ignoring the language of their neighbors or their rivals.

[12] From this passage, it is plain that the objections lately raised by intelligent persons against the abuse of Latin conversations and verses are not of recent date, after all.

[13] There is indeed a faulty method of teaching history, by giving children a dry list of facts, names, and dates. On the other hand, to offer them theories upon the philosophy of history is quite as unprofitable. Yet it is not an absurd error, but a duty, to teach them the broad outlines of history, to tell them of deeds of renown, of mighty works accomplished, of men celebrated for the good or the evil they have done; to interest them in the past of humanity, be it melancholy or glorious. By abuse of logic Rousseau, in protesting against one excess, falls into another.

[14] Rousseau here analyzes several of La Fontaine's fables, to show the immorality and the danger of their "ethics." He dwells particularly upon the fable of the Fox and the Crow. In this he is right; the morality of the greater part of these fables leaves much to be desired. But there is nothing to prevent the teacher from making the application. The memory of a child is pliable and vigorous; not to cultivate it would be doing him great injustice. We need not say that a true teacher not only chooses, but by his instructions explains and rectifies everything he requires his pupil to read or to learn by heart. With this reservation one cannot but admire this aversion of Rousseau's for parrot-learning, word-worship, and exclusive cultivation of the memory. In a few pages may here be found a complete philosophy of teaching, adapted to the regeneration of a people.

[15] Rousseau here alludes to the typographical lottery invented by Louis Dumas, a French author of the eighteenth century. It was an imitation of a printing-office, and was intended to teach, in an agreeable way, not only reading, but even grammar and spelling. There may be good features in all these systems, but we certainly cannot save the child all trouble; we ought to let him understand that work must be in earnest. Besides, as moralists and teachers, we ought not to neglect giving children some kinds of work demanding application. They will be in better spirits for recreation hours after study.

[16] It is well to combine the two methods; to keep the child occupied with what immediately concerns him, and to interest him also in what is more remote, whether in space or in time. He ought not to become too positive, nor yet should he be chimerical. The "order of nature" itself has provided for this, by making the child inquisitive about things around him, and at the same time about things far away.

[17] This expresses rather too vehemently a true idea. Do not try to impart a rigid education whose apparent correctness hides grave defects. Allow free course to the child's instinctive activity and turbulence; let nature speak; do not crave reserve and fastidiousness at the expense of frankness and vigor of mind. This is what the writer really means.

[18] An English philosopher, who died in 1701. He wrote a very celebrated "Treatise on the Education of Children."

[19] A celebrated professor, Rector of the University of Paris, who died in 1741. He left a number of works on education.

[20] An abbe of the seventeenth century who wrote a much valued "History of the Church," and a "Treatise on the Method and Choice of Studies." He was tutor to Count Vermandois, natural son to Louis XIV.

[21] A professor of mathematics, born at Lausanne, tutor to Prince Fredrick of Hesse Cassel.

[22] "Passion is not born of familiar things."

[23] Recorded as illustrating Spartan education.



BOOK THIRD.

The third book has to do with the youth as he is between the ages of twelve and fifteen. At this time his strength is proportionately greatest, and this is the most important period in his life. It is the time for labor and study; not indeed for studies of all kinds, but for those whose necessity the student himself feels. The principle that ought to guide him now is that of utility. All the master's talent consists in leading him to discover what is really useful to him. Language and history offer him little that is interesting. He applies himself to studying natural phenomena, because they arouse his curiosity and afford him means of overcoming his difficulties. He makes his own instruments, and invents what apparatus he needs.

He does not depend upon another to direct him, but follows where his own good sense points the way. Robinson Crusoe on his island is his ideal, and this book furnishes the reading best suited to his age. He should have some manual occupation, as much on account of the uncertain future as for the sake of satisfying his own constant activity.

Side by side with the body the mind is developed by a taste for reflection, and is finally prepared for studies of a higher order. With this period childhood ends and youth begins.



The Age of Study.

Although up to the beginning of youth life is, on the whole, a period of weakness, there is a time during this earlier age when our strength increases beyond what our wants require, and the growing animal, still absolutely weak, becomes relatively strong. His wants being as yet partly undeveloped, his present strength is more than sufficient to provide for those of the present. As a man, he would be very weak; as child, he is very strong.

Whence arises this weakness of ours but from the inequality between our desires and the strength we have for fulfilling them? Our passions weaken us, because the gratification of them requires more than our natural strength.

If we have fewer desires, we are so much the stronger. Whoever can do more than his wishes demand has strength to spare; he is strong indeed. Of this, the third stage of childhood, I have now to speak. I still call it childhood for want of a better term to express the idea; for this age, not yet that of puberty, approaches youth.

At the age of twelve or thirteen the child's physical strength develops much faster than his wants. He braves without inconvenience the inclemency of climate and seasons, scarcely feeling it at all. Natural heat serves him instead of clothing, appetite instead of sauce. When he is drowsy, he lies down on the ground and falls asleep. Thus he finds around him everything he needs; not governed by caprices, his desires extend no farther than his own arms can reach. Not only is he sufficient for himself, but, at this one time in all his life, he has more strength than he really requires.

What then shall he do with this superabundance of mental and physical strength, which he will hereafter need, but endeavor to employ it in ways which will at some time be of use to him, and thus throw this surplus vitality forward into the future? The robust child shall make provision for his weaker manhood. But he will not garner it in barns, or lay it up in coffers that can be plundered. To be real owner of this treasure, he must store it up in his arms, in his brain, in himself. The present, then, is the time to labor, to receive instruction, and to study; nature so ordains, not I.

Human intelligence has its limits. We can neither know everything, nor be thoroughly acquainted with the little that other men know. Since the reverse of every false proposition is a truth, the number of truths, like the number of errors, is inexhaustible. We have to select what is to be taught as well as the time for learning it. Of the kinds of knowledge within our power some are false, some useless, some serve only to foster pride. Only the few that really conduce to our well-being are worthy of study by a wise man, or by a youth intended to be a wise man. The question is, not what may be known, but what will be of the most use when it is known. From these few we must again deduct such as require a ripeness of understanding and a knowledge of human relations which a child cannot possibly acquire; such as, though true in themselves, incline an inexperienced mind to judge wrongly of other things.

This reduces us to a circle small indeed in relation to existing things, but immense when we consider the capacity of the child's mind. How daring was the hand that first ventured to lift the veil of darkness from our human understanding! What abysses, due to our unwise learning, yawn around the unfortunate youth! Tremble, you who are to conduct him by these perilous ways, and to lift for him the sacred veil of nature. Be sure of your own brain and of his, lest either, or perhaps both, grow dizzy at the sight. Beware of the glamour of falsehood and of the intoxicating fumes of pride. Always bear in mind that ignorance has never been harmful, that error alone is fatal, and that our errors arise, not from what we do not know, but from what we think we do know.[1]

The Incentive of Curiosity.

The same instinct animates all the different faculties of man. To the activity of the body, striving to develop itself, succeeds the activity of the mind, endeavoring to instruct itself. Children are at first only restless; afterwards they are inquisitive. Their curiosity, rightly trained, is the incentive of the age we are now considering. We must always distinguish natural inclinations from those that have their source in opinion.

There is a thirst for knowledge which is founded only upon a desire to be thought learned, and another, springing from our natural curiosity concerning anything which nearly or remotely interests us. Our desire for happiness is inborn, and as it can never be fully satisfied, we are always seeking ways to increase what we have. This first principle of curiosity is natural to the heart of man, but is developed only in proportion to our passions and to our advance in knowledge. Call your pupil's attention to the phenomena of nature, and you will soon render him inquisitive. But if you would keep this curiosity alive, do not be in haste to satisfy it. Ask him questions that he can comprehend, and let him solve them. Let him know a thing because he has found it out for himself, and not because you have told him of it. Let him not learn science, but discover it for himself. If once you substitute authority for reason, he will not reason any more; he will only be the sport of other people's opinions.

When you are ready to teach this child geography, you get together your globes and your maps; and what machines they are! Why, instead of using all these representations, do you not begin by showing him the object itself, so as to let him know what you are talking of?

On some beautiful evening take the child to walk with you, in a place suitable for your purpose, where in the unobstructed horizon the setting sun can be plainly seen. Take a careful observation of all the objects marking the spot at which it goes down. When you go for an airing next day, return to this same place before the sun rises. You can see it announce itself by arrows of fire. The brightness increases; the east seems all aflame; from its glow you anticipate long beforehand the coming of day. Every moment you imagine you see it. At last it really does appear, a brilliant point which rises like a flash of lightning, and instantly fills all space. The veil of shadows is cast down and disappears. We know our dwelling-place once more, and find it more beautiful than ever. The verdure has taken on fresh vigor during the night; it is revealed with its brilliant net-work of dew-drops, reflecting light and color to the eye, in the first golden rays of the new-born day. The full choir of birds, none silent, salute in concert the Father of life. Their warbling, still faint with the languor of a peaceful awakening, is now more lingering and sweet than at other hours of the day. All this fills the senses with a charm and freshness which seems to touch our inmost soul. No one can resist this enchanting hour, or behold with indifference a spectacle so grand, so beautiful, so full of all delight.

Carried away by such a sight, the teacher is eager to impart to the child his own enthusiasm, and thinks to arouse it by calling attention to what he himself feels. What folly! The drama of nature lives only in the heart; to see it, one must feel it. The child sees the objects, but not the relations that bind them together; he can make nothing of their harmony. The complex and momentary impression of all these sensations requires an experience he has never gained, and feelings he has never known. If he has never crossed the desert and felt its burning sands scorch his feet, the stifling reflection of the sun from its rocks oppress him, how can he fully enjoy the coolness of a beautiful morning? How can the perfume of flowers, the cooling vapor of the dew, the sinking of his footstep in the soft and pleasant turf, enchant his senses? How can the singing of birds delight him, while the accents of love and pleasure are yet unknown? How can he see with transport the rise of so beautiful a day, unless imagination can paint all the transports with which it may be filled? And lastly, how can he be moved by the beautiful panorama of nature, if he does not know by whose tender care it has been adorned?

Do not talk to the child about things he cannot understand. Let him hear from you no descriptions, no eloquence, no figurative language, no poetry. Sentiment and taste are just now out of the question. Continue to be clear, unaffected, and dispassionate; the time for using another language will come only too soon.

Educated in the spirit of our principles, accustomed to look for resources within himself, and to have recourse to others only when he finds himself really helpless, he will examine every new object for a long time without saying a word. He is thoughtful, and not disposed to ask questions. Be satisfied, therefore, with presenting objects at appropriate times and in appropriate ways. When you see his curiosity fairly at work, ask him some laconic question which will suggest its own answer.

On this occasion, having watched the sunrise from beginning to end with him, having made him notice the mountains and other neighboring objects on the same side, and allowed him to talk about them just as he pleases, be silent for a few minutes, as if in deep thought, and then say to him, "I think the sun set over there, and now it has risen over here. How can that be so?" Say no more; if he asks questions, do not answer them: speak of something else. Leave him to himself, and he will be certain to think the matter over.

To give the child the habit of attention and to impress him deeply with any truth affecting the senses, let him pass several restless days before he discovers that truth. If the one in question does not thus impress him, you may make him see it more clearly by reversing the problem. If he does not know how the sun passes from its setting to its rising, he at least does know how it travels from its rising to its setting; his eyes alone teach him this. Explain your first question by the second. If your pupil be not absolutely stupid, the analogy is so plain that he cannot escape it. This is his first lesson in cosmography.

As we pass slowly from one sensible idea to another, familiarize ourselves for a long time with each before considering the next, and do not force our pupil's attention; it will be a long way from this point to a knowledge of the sun's course and of the shape of the earth. But as all the apparent motions of the heavenly bodies are upon the same principle, and the first observation prepares the way for all the rest, less effort, if more time, is required to pass from the daily rotation of the earth to the calculation of eclipses than to understand clearly the phenomena of day and night.

Since the sun (apparently) revolves about the earth, it describes a circle, and we already know that every circle must have a centre. This centre, being in the heart of the earth, cannot be seen; but we may mark upon the surface two opposite points that correspond to it. A rod passing through these three points, and extending from one side of the heavens to the other, shall be the axis of the earth, and of the sun's apparent daily motion. A spherical top, turning on its point, shall represent the heavens revolving on their axis; the two extremities of the top are the two poles. The child will be interested in knowing one of them, which I will show him near the tail of Ursa Minor.

This will serve to amuse us for one night. By degrees we shall grow familiar with the stars, and this will awaken a desire to know the planets and to watch the constellations.

We have seen the sun rise at midsummer; we will also watch its rising at Christmas or some other fine day in winter. For be it known that we are not at all idle, and that we make a joke of braving the cold. I take care to make this second observation in the same place as the first; and after some conversation to pave the way for it. One or the other of us will be sure to exclaim, "How queer that is! the sun does not rise where it used to rise! Here are our old landmarks, and now it is rising over yonder. Then there must be one east for summer, and another for winter." Now, young teacher, your way is plain. These examples ought to suffice you for teaching the sphere very understandingly, by taking the world for your globe, and the real sun instead of your artificial sun.

Things Rather than their Signs.

In general, never show the representation of a thing unless it be impossible to show the thing itself; for the sign absorbs the child's attention, and makes him lose sight of the thing signified.

The armillary sphere[2] seems to me poorly designed and in bad proportion. Its confused circles and odd figures, giving it the look of a conjurer's apparatus, are enough to frighten a child. The earth is too small; the circles are too many and too large. Some of them, the colures,[3] for instance, are entirely useless. Every circle is larger than the earth. The pasteboard gives them an appearance of solidity which creates the mistaken impression that they are circular masses which really exist. When you tell the child that these are imaginary circles, he understands neither what he sees nor what you mean.

Shall we never learn to put ourselves in the child's place? We do not enter into his thoughts, but suppose them exactly like our own. Constantly following our own method of reasoning, we cram his mind not only with a concatenation of truths, but also with extravagant notions and errors.

In the study of the sciences it is an open question whether we ought to use synthesis or analysis. It is not always necessary to choose either. In the same process of investigation we can sometimes both resolve and compound, and while the child thinks he is only analyzing, we can direct him by the methods teachers usually employ. By thus using both we make each prove the other. Starting at the same moment from two opposite points and never imagining that one road connects them, he will be agreeably surprised to find that what he supposed to be two paths finally meet as one.

I would, for example, take geography at these two extremes, and add to the study of the earth's motions the measurement of its parts, beginning with our own dwelling-place. While the child, studying the sphere, is transported into the heavens, bring him back to the measurement of the earth, and first show him his own home.

The two starting-points in his geography shall be the town in which he lives, and his father's house in the country. Afterward shall come the places lying between these two; then the neighboring rivers; lastly, the aspect of the sun, and the manner of finding out where the east is. This last is the point of union. Let him make himself a map of all these details; a very simple map, including at first only two objects, then by degrees the others, as he learns their distance and position. You see now what an advantage we have gained beforehand, by making his eyes serve him instead of a compass.

Even with this it may be necessary to direct him a little, but very little, and without appearing to do so at all. When he makes mistakes, let him make them; do not correct them. Wait in silence until he can see and correct them himself. Or, at most, take a good opportunity to set in motion some thing which will direct his attention to them. If he were never to make mistakes, he could not learn half so well. Besides, the important thing is, not that he should know the exact topography of the country, but that he should learn how to find it out by himself. It matters little whether he has maps in his mind or not, so that he understands what they represent, and has a clear idea of how they are made.

Mark the difference between the learning of your pupils and the ignorance of mine. They know all about maps, and he can make them. Our maps will serve as new decorations for our room.

Imparting a Taste for Science.

Bear in mind always that the life and soul of my system is, not to teach the child many things, but to allow only correct and clear ideas to enter his mind. I do not care if he knows nothing, so long as he is not mistaken. To guard him from errors he might learn, I furnish his mind with truths only. Reason and judgment enter slowly; prejudices crowd in; and he must be preserved from these last. Yet if you consider science in itself, you launch upon an unfathomable and boundless sea, full of unavoidable dangers. When I see a man carried away by his love for knowledge, hastening from one alluring science to another, without knowing where to stop, I think I see a child gathering shells upon the seashore. At first he loads himself with them; then, tempted by others, he throws these away, and gathers more. At last, weighed down by so many, and no longer knowing which to choose, he ends by throwing all away, and returning empty-handed.

In our early years time passed slowly; we endeavored to lose it, for fear of misusing it. The case is reversed; now we have not time enough for doing all that we find useful. Bear in mind that the passions are drawing nearer, and that as soon as they knock at the door, your pupil will have eyes and ears for them alone. The tranquil period of intelligence is so brief, and has so many other necessary uses, that only folly imagines it long enough to make the child a learned man. The thing is, not to teach him knowledge, but to give him a love for it, and a good method of acquiring it when this love has grown stronger. Certainly this is a fundamental principle in all good education.

Now, also, is the time to accustom him gradually to concentrate attention on a single object. This attention, however, should never result from constraint, but from desire and pleasure. Be careful that it shall not grow irksome, or approach the point of weariness. Leave any subject just before he grows tired of it; for the learning it matters less to him than the never being obliged to learn anything against his will. If he himself questions you, answer so as to keep alive his curiosity, not to satisfy it altogether. Above all, when you find that he makes inquiries, not for the sake of learning something, but to talk at random and annoy you with silly questions, pause at once, assured that he cares nothing about the matter, but only to occupy your time with himself. Less regard should be paid to what he says than to the motive which leads him to speak. This caution, heretofore unnecessary, is of the utmost importance as soon as a child begins to reason.

There is a chain of general truths by which all sciences are linked to common principles and successively unfolded. This chain is the method of philosophers, with which, for the present, we have nothing to do. There is another, altogether different, which shows each object as the cause of another, and always points out the one following. This order, which, by a perpetual curiosity, keeps alive the attention demanded by all, is the one followed by most men, and of all others necessary with children. When, in making our maps, we found out the place of the east, we were obliged to draw meridians. The two points of intersection between the equal shadows of night and morning furnish an excellent meridian for an astronomer thirteen years old. But these meridians disappear; it takes time to draw them; they oblige us to work always in the same place; so much care, so much annoyance, will tire him out at last. We have seen and provided for this beforehand.

I have again begun upon tedious and minute details. Readers, I hear your murmurs, and disregard them. I will not sacrifice to your impatience the most useful part of this book. Do what you please with my tediousness, as I have done as I pleased in regard to your complaints.

The Juggler.

For some time my pupil and I had observed that different bodies, such as amber, glass, and wax, when rubbed, attract straws, and that others do not attract them. By accident we discovered one that has a virtue more extraordinary still,—that of attracting at a distance, and without being rubbed, iron filings and other bits of iron. This peculiarity amused us for some time before we saw any use in it. At last we found out that it may be communicated to iron itself, when magnetized to a certain degree. One day we went to a fair, where a juggler, with a piece of bread, attracted a duck made of wax, and floating on a bowl of water. Much surprised, we did not however say, "He is a conjurer," for we knew nothing about conjurers. Continually struck by effects whose causes we do not know, we were not in haste to decide the matter, and remained in ignorance until we found a way out of it.

When we reached home we had talked so much of the duck at the fair that we thought we would endeavor to copy it. Taking a perfect needle, well magnetized, we inclosed it in white wax, modelled as well as we could do it into the shape of a duck, so that the needle passed entirely through the body, and with its larger end formed the duck's bill. We placed the duck upon the water, applied to the beak the handle of a key, and saw, with a delight easy to imagine, that our duck would follow the key precisely as the one at the fair had followed the piece of bread. We saw that some time or other we might observe the direction in which the duck turned when left to itself upon the water. But absorbed at that time by another object, we wanted nothing more.

That evening, having in our pockets bread prepared for the occasion, we returned to the fair. As soon as the mountebank had performed his feat, my little philosopher, scarcely able to contain himself, told him that the thing was not hard to do, and that he could do it himself. He was taken at his word. Instantly he took from his pocket the bread in which he had hidden the bit of iron. Approaching the table his heart beat fast; almost tremblingly, he presented the bread. The duck came toward it and followed it; the child shouted and danced for joy. At the clapping of hands, and the acclamations of all present, his head swam, and he was almost beside himself. The juggler was astonished, but embraced and congratulated him, begging that we would honor him again by our presence on the following day, adding that he would take care to have a larger company present to applaud our skill. My little naturalist, filled with pride, began to prattle; but I silenced him, and led him away loaded with praises. The child counted the minutes until the morrow with impatience that made me smile. He invited everybody he met; gladly would he have had all mankind as witnesses of his triumph. He could scarcely wait for the hour agreed upon, and, long before it came, flew to the place appointed. The hall was already full, and on entering, his little heart beat fast. Other feats were to come first; the juggler outdid himself, and there were some really wonderful performances. The child paid no attention to these. His excitement had thrown him into a perspiration; he was almost breathless, and fingered the bread in his pocket with a hand trembling with impatience.

At last his turn came, and the master pompously announced the fact. Rather bashfully the boy drew near and held forth his bread. Alas for the changes in human affairs! The duck, yesterday so tame, had grown wild. Instead of presenting its bill, it turned about and swam away, avoiding the bread and the hand which presented it, as carefully as it had before followed them. After many fruitless attempts, each received with derision, the child complained that a trick was played on him, and defied the juggler to attract the duck.

The man, without a word, took a piece of bread and presented it to the duck, which instantly followed it, and came towards his hand. The child took the same bit of bread; but far from having better success, he saw the duck make sport of him by whirling round and round as it swam about the edge of the basin. At last he retired in great confusion, no longer daring to encounter the hisses which followed.

Then the juggler took the bit of bread the child had brought, and succeeded as well with it as with his own. In the presence of the entire company he drew out the needle, making another joke at our expense; then, with the bread thus disarmed, he attracted the duck as before. He did the same thing with a piece of bread which a third person cut off in the presence of all; again, with his glove, and with the tip of his finger. At last, going to the middle of the room, he declared in the emphatic tone peculiar to his sort, that the duck would obey his voice quite as well as his gesture. He spoke, and the duck obeyed him; commanded it to go to the right, and it went to the right; to return, and it did so; to turn, and it turned itself about. Each movement was as prompt as the command. The redoubled applause was a repeated affront to us. We stole away unmolested, and shut ourselves up in our room, without proclaiming our success far and wide as we had meant to do.

There was a knock at our door next morning; I opened it, and there stood the mountebank, who modestly complained of our conduct. What had he done to us that we should try to throw discredit on his performances and take away his livelihood? What is so wonderful in the art of attracting a wax duck, that the honor should be worth the price of an honest man's living? "Faith, gentlemen, if I had any other way of earning my bread, I should boast very little of this way. You may well believe that a man who has spent his life in practising this pitiful trade understands it much better than you, who devote only a few minutes to it. If I did not show you my best performances the first time, it was because a man ought not to be such a fool as to parade everything he knows. I always take care to keep my best things for a fit occasion; and I have others, too, to rebuke young and thoughtless people. Besides, gentlemen, I am going to teach you, in the goodness of my heart, the secret which puzzled you so much, begging that you will not abuse your knowledge of it to injure me, and that another time you will use more discretion."

Then he showed us his apparatus, and we saw, to our surprise, that it consisted only of a powerful magnet moved by a child concealed beneath the table. The man put up his machine again; and after thanking him and making due apologies, we offered him a present. He refused, saying, "No, gentlemen, I am not so well pleased with you as to accept presents from you. You cannot help being under an obligation to me, and that is revenge enough. But, you see, generosity is to be found in every station in life; I take pay for my performances, not for my lessons."

As he was going out, he reprimanded me pointedly and aloud. "I willingly pardon this child," said he; "he has offended only through ignorance. But you, sir, must have known the nature of his fault; why did you allow him to commit such a fault? Since you live together, you, who are older, ought to have taken the trouble of advising him; the authority of your experience should have guided him. When he is old enough to reproach you for his childish errors, he will certainly blame you for those of which you did not warn him."[4]

He went away, leaving us greatly abashed. I took upon myself the blame of my easy compliance, and promised the child that, another time, I would sacrifice it to his interest, and warn him of his faults before they were committed. For a time was coming when our relations would be changed, and the severity of the tutor must succeed to the complaisance of an equal. This change should be gradual; everything must be foreseen, and that long beforehand.

The following day we returned to the fair, to see once more the trick whose secret we had learned. We approached our juggling Socrates with deep respect, hardly venturing to look at him. He overwhelmed us with civilities, and seated us with a marked attention which added to our humiliation. He performed his tricks as usual, but took pains to amuse himself for a long time with the duck trick, often looking at us with a rather defiant air. We understood it perfectly, and did not breathe a syllable. If my pupil had even dared to open his mouth, he would have deserved to be annihilated.

All the details of this illustration are far more important than they appear. How many lessons are here combined in one! How many mortifying effects does the first feeling of vanity bring upon us! Young teachers, watch carefully its first manifestation. If you can thus turn it into humiliation and disgrace, be assured that a second lesson will not soon be necessary.

"What an amount of preparation!" you will say. True; and all to make us a compass to use instead of a meridian line!

Having learned that a magnet acts through other bodies, we were all impatience until we had made an apparatus like the one we had seen,—a hollow table-top with a very shallow basin adjusted upon it and filled with water, a duck rather more carefully made, and so on. Watching this apparatus attentively and often, we finally observed that the duck, when at rest, nearly always turned in the same direction. Following up the experiment by examining this direction, we found it to be from south to north. Nothing more was necessary; our compass was invented, or might as well have been. We had begun to study physics.

Experimental Physics.

The earth has different climates, and these have different temperatures. As we approach the poles the variation of seasons is more perceptible,—all bodies contract with cold and expand with heat. This effect is more readily measured in liquids, and is particularly noticeable in spirituous liquors. This fact suggested the idea of the thermometer. The wind strikes our faces; air is therefore a body, a fluid; we feel it though we cannot see it. Turn a glass vessel upside down in water, and the water will not fill it unless you leave a vent for the air; therefore air is capable of resistance. Sink the glass lower, and the water rises in the air-filled region of the glass, although it does not entirely fill that space. Air is therefore to some extent compressible. A ball filled with compressed air bounds much better than when filled with anything else: air is therefore elastic. When lying at full length in the bath, raise the arm horizontally out of the water, and you feel it burdened by a great weight; air is therefore heavy. Put air in equilibrium with other bodies, and you can measure its weight. From these observations were constructed the barometer, the siphon, the air-gun, and the air-pump. All the laws of statics and hydrostatics were discovered by experiments as simple as these. I would not have my pupil study them in a laboratory of experimental physics. I dislike all that array of machines and instruments. The parade of science is fatal to science itself. All those machines frighten the child; or else their singular forms divide and distract the attention he ought to give to their effects.

I would make all our own machines, and not begin by making the instrument before the experiment has been tried. But after apparently lighting by chance on the experiment, I should by degrees invent instruments for verifying it. These instruments should not be so perfect and exact as our ideas of what they should be and of the operations resulting from them.

For the first lesson in statics, instead of using balances, I put a stick across the back of a chair, and when evenly balanced, measure its two portions. I add weights to each part, sometimes equal, sometimes unequal. Pushing it to or fro as may be necessary, I finally discover that equilibrium results from a reciprocal proportion between the amount of weight and the length of the levers. Thus my little student of physics can rectify balances without having ever seen them.

When we thus learn by ourselves instead of learning from others, our ideas are far more definite and clear. Besides, if our reason is not accustomed to slavish submission to authority, this discovering relations, linking one idea to another, and inventing apparatus, renders us much more ingenious. If, instead, we take everything just as it is given to us, we allow our minds to sink down into indifference; just as a man who always lets his servants dress him and wait on him, and his horses carry him about, loses finally not only the vigor but even the use of his limbs. Boileau boasted that he had taught Racine to rhyme with difficulty. There are many excellent labor-saving methods for studying science; but we are in sore need of one to teach us how to learn them with more effort of our own.

The most manifest value of these slow and laborious researches is, that amid speculative studies they maintain the activity and suppleness of the body, by training the hands to labor, and creating habits useful to any man. So many instruments are invented to aid in our experiments and to supplement the action of our senses, that we neglect to use the senses themselves. If the graphometer measures the size of an angle for us, we need not estimate it ourselves. The eye which measured distances with precision intrusts this work to the chain; the steelyard saves me the trouble of measuring weights by the hand. The more ingenious our apparatus, the more clumsy and awkward do our organs become. If we surround ourselves with instruments, we shall no longer find them within ourselves.

But when, in making the apparatus, we employ the skill and sagacity required in doing without them, we do not lose, but gain. By adding art to nature, we become more ingenious and no less skilful. If, instead of keeping a child at his books, I keep him busy in a workshop, his hands labor to his mind's advantage: while he regards himself only as a workman he is growing into a philosopher. This kind of exercise has other uses, of which I will speak hereafter; and we shall see how philosophic amusements prepare us for the true functions of manhood.

I have already remarked that purely speculative studies are rarely adapted to children, even when approaching the period of youth; but without making them enter very deeply into systematic physics, let all the experiments be connected by some kind of dependence by which the child can arrange them in his mind and recall them at need. For we cannot without something of this sort retain isolated facts or even reasonings long in memory.

In investigating the laws of nature, always begin with the most common and most easily observed phenomena, and accustom your pupil not to consider these phenomena as reasons, but as facts. Taking a stone, I pretend to lay it upon the air; opening my hand, the stone falls. Looking at Emile, who is watching my motions, I say to him, "Why did the stone fall?"

No child will hesitate in answering such a question, not even Emile, unless I have taken great care that he shall not know how. Any child will say that the stone falls because it is heavy. "And what does heavy mean?" "Whatever falls is heavy." Here my little philosopher is really at a stand. Whether this first lesson in experimental physics aids him in understanding that subject or not, it will always be a practical lesson.

Nothing to be Taken upon Authority. Learning from the Pupil's own Necessities.

As the child's understanding matures, other important considerations demand that we choose his occupations with more care. As soon as he understands himself and all that relates to him well enough and broadly enough to discern what is to his advantage and what is becoming in him, he can appreciate the difference between work and play, and to regard the one solely as relaxation from the other. Objects really useful may then be included among his studies, and he will pay more attention to them than if amusement alone were concerned. The ever-present law of necessity early teaches us to do what we dislike, to escape evils we should dislike even more. Such is the use of foresight from which, judicious or injudicious, springs all the wisdom or all the unhappiness of mankind.

We all long for happiness, but to acquire it we ought first to know what it is. To the natural man it is as simple as his mode of life; it means health, liberty, and the necessaries of life, and freedom from suffering. The happiness of man as a moral being is another thing, foreign to the present question. I cannot too often repeat that only objects purely physical can interest children, especially those who have not had their vanity aroused and their nature corrupted by the poison of opinion.

When they provide beforehand for their own wants, their understanding is somewhat developed, and they are beginning to learn the value of time. We ought then by all means to accustom and to direct them to its employment to useful ends, these being such as are useful at their age and readily understood by them. The subject of moral order and the usages of society should not yet be presented, because children are not in a condition to understand such things. To force their attention upon things which, as we vaguely tell them, will be for their good, when they do not know what this good means, is foolish. It is no less foolish to assure them that such things will benefit them when grown; for they take no interest in this supposed benefit, which they cannot understand.

Let the child take nothing for granted because some one says it is so. Nothing is good to him but what he feels to be good. You think it far sighted to push him beyond his understanding of things, but you are mistaken. For the sake of arming him with weapons he does not know how to use, you take from him one universal among men, common sense: you teach him to allow himself always to be led, never to be more than a machine in the hands of others. If you will have him docile while he is young, you will make him a credulous dupe when he is a man. You are continually saying to him, "All I require of you is for your own good, but you cannot understand it yet. What does it matter to me whether you do what I require or not? You are doing it entirely for your own sake." With such fine speeches you are paving the way for some kind of trickster or fool,—some visionary babbler or charlatan,—who will entrap him or persuade him to adopt his own folly.

A man may be well acquainted with things whose utility a child cannot comprehend; but is it right, or even possible, for a child to learn what a man ought to know? Try to teach the child all that is useful to him now, and you will keep him busy all the time. Why would you injure the studies suitable to him at his age by giving him those of an age he may never attain? "But," you say, "will there be time for learning what he ought to know when the time to use it has already come?" I do not know; but I am sure that he cannot learn it sooner. For experience and feeling are our real teachers, and we never understand thoroughly what is best for us except from the circumstances of our case. A child knows that he will one day be a man. All the ideas of manhood that he can understand give us opportunities of teaching him; but of those he cannot understand he should remain in absolute ignorance. This entire book is only a continued demonstration of this principle of education.

Finding out the East. The Forest of Montmorency.

I do not like explanatory lectures; young people pay very little attention to them, and seldom remember them. Things! things! I cannot repeat often enough that we attach too much importance to words. Our babbling education produces nothing but babblers.

Suppose that while we are studying the course of the sun, and the manner of finding where the east is, Emile all at once interrupts me, to ask, "What is the use of all this?" What an opportunity for a fine discourse! How many things I could tell him of in answering this question, especially if anybody were by to listen! I could mention the advantages of travel and of commerce; the peculiar products of each climate; the manners of different nations; the use of the calendar; the calculation of seasons in agriculture; the art of navigation, and the manner of travelling by sea, following the true course without knowing where we are. I might take up politics, natural history, astronomy, even ethics and international law, by way of giving my pupil an exalted idea of all these sciences, and a strong desire to learn them. When I have done, the boy will not have understood a single idea out of all my pedantic display. He would like to ask again, "What is the use of finding out where the east is?" but dares not, lest I might be angry. He finds it more to his interest to pretend to understand what he has been compelled to hear. This is not at all an uncommon case in superior education, so-called.

But our Emile, brought up more like a rustic, and carefully taught to think very slowly, will not listen to all this. He will run away at the first word he does not understand, and play about the room, leaving me to harangue all by myself. Let us find a simpler way; this scientific display does him no good.

We were noticing the position of the forest north of Montmorency, when he interrupted me with the eager question, "What is the use of knowing that?" "You may be right," said I; "we must take time to think about it; and if there is really no use in it, we will not try it again, for we have enough to do that is of use." We went at something else, and there was no more geography that day.

The next morning I proposed a walk before breakfast. Nothing could have pleased him better; children are always ready to run about, and this boy had sturdy legs of his own. We went into the forest, and wandered over the fields; we lost ourselves, having no idea where we were; and when we intended to go home, could not find our way. Time passed; the heat of the day came on; we were hungry. In vain did we hurry about from place to place; we found everywhere nothing but woods, quarries, plains, and not a landmark that we knew. Heated, worn out with fatigue, and very hungry, our running about only led us more and more astray. At last we sat down to rest and to think the matter over. Emile, like any other child, did not think about it; he cried. He did not know that we were near the gate of Montmorency, and that only a narrow strip of woodland hid it from us. But to him this narrow strip of woodland was a whole forest; one of his stature would be lost to sight among bushes.

After some moments of silence I said to him, with a troubled air,

"My dear Emile, what shall we do to get away from here?"

EMILE. [In a profuse perspiration, and crying bitterly.] I don't know. I'm tired. I'm hungry. I'm thirsty. I can't do anything.

JEAN JACQUES. Do you think I am better off than you, or that I would mind crying too, if crying would do for my breakfast? There is no use in crying; the thing is, to find our way. Let me see your watch; what time is it?

EMILE. It is twelve o'clock, and I haven't had my breakfast.

JEAN JACQUES. That is true. It is twelve o'clock, and I haven't had my breakfast, either.

EMILE. Oh, how hungry you must be!

JEAN JACQUES. The worst of it is that my dinner will not come here to find me. Twelve o'clock? it was just this time yesterday that we noticed where Montmorency is. Could we see where it is just as well from this forest?

EMILE. Yea; but yesterday we saw the forest, and we cannot see the town from this place.

JEAN JACQUES. That is a pity. I wonder if we could find out where it is without seeing it?

EMILE. Oh, my dear friend!

JEAN JACQUES. Did not we say that this forest is—

EMILE. North of Montmorency.

JEAN JACQUES. If that is true, Montmorency must be—

EMILE. South of the forest.

JEAN JACQUES. There is a way of finding out the north at noon.

EMILE. Yes; by the direction of our shadows.

JEAN JACQUES. But the south?

EMILE. How can we find that?

JEAN JACQUES. The south is opposite the north.

EMILE. That is true; all we have to do is to find the side opposite the shadows. Oh, there's the south! there's the south! Montmorency must surely be on that side; let us look on that side.

JEAN JACQUES. Perhaps you are right. Let us take this path through the forest.

EMILE. [Clapping his hands, with a joyful shout.] Oh, I see Montmorency; there it is, just before us, in plain sight. Let us go to our breakfast, our dinner; let us run fast. Astronomy is good for something!

Observe that even if he does not utter these last words, they will be in his mind. It matters little so long as it is not I who utter them. Rest assured that he will never in his life forget this day's lesson. Now if I had only made him imagine it all indoors, my lecture would have been entirely forgotten by the next day. We should teach as much as possible by actions, and say only what we cannot do.

Robinson Crusoe.

In his legitimate preference for teaching by the eye and hand and by real things, and in his aversion to the barren and erroneous method of teaching from books alone, Rousseau, constantly carried away by the passionate ardor of his nature, rushes into an opposite extreme, and exclaims, "I hate books; they only teach us to talk about what we do not understand." Then, checked in the full tide of this declamation by his own good sense, he adds:—

Since we must have books, there is one which, to my mind, furnishes the finest of treatises on education according to nature. My Emile shall read this book before any other; it shall for a long time be his entire library, and shall always hold an honorable place. It shall be the text on which all our discussions of natural science shall be only commentaries. It shall be a test for all we meet during our progress toward a ripened judgment, and so long as our taste is unspoiled, we shall enjoy reading it. What wonderful book is this? Aristotle? Pliny? Buffon? No; it is "Robinson Crusoe."

The story of this man, alone on his island, unaided by his fellow-men, without any art or its implements, and yet providing for his own preservation and subsistence, even contriving to live in what might be called comfort, is interesting to persons of all ages. It may be made delightful to children in a thousand ways. Thus we make the desert island, which I used at the outset for a comparison, a reality.

This condition is not, I grant, that of man in society; and to all appearance Emile will never occupy it; but from it he ought to judge of all others. The surest way to rise above prejudice, and to judge of things in their true relations, is to put ourselves in the place of an isolated man, and decide as he must concerning their real utility.

Disencumbered of its less profitable portions, this romance from its beginning, the shipwreck of Crusoe on the island, to its end, the arrival of the vessel which takes him away, will yield amusement and instruction to Emile during the period now in question. I would have him completely carried away by it, continually thinking of Crusoe's fort, his goats, and his plantations. I would have him learn, not from books, but from real things, all he would need to know under the same circumstances. He should be encouraged to play Robinson Crusoe; to imagine himself clad in skins, wearing a great cap and sword, and all the array of that grotesque figure, down to the umbrella, of which he would have no need. If he happens to be in want of anything, I hope he will contrive something to supply its place. Let him look carefully into all that his hero did, and decide whether any of it was unnecessary, or might have been done in a better way. Let him notice Crusoe's mistakes and avoid them under like circumstances. He will very likely plan for himself surroundings like Crusoe's,—a real castle in the air, natural at his happy age when we think ourselves rich if we are free and have the necessaries of life. How useful this hobby might be made if some man of sense would only suggest it and turn it to good account! The child, eager to build a storehouse for his island, would be more desirous to learn than his master would be to teach him. He would be anxious to know everything he could make use of, and nothing besides. You would not need to guide, but to restrain him.

Here Rousseau insists upon giving a child some trade, no matter what his station in life may be; and in 1762 he uttered these prophetic words, remarkable indeed, when we call to mind the disorders at the close of that century:—

You trust to the present condition of society, without reflecting that it is subject to unavoidable revolutions, and that you can neither foresee nor prevent what is to affect the fate of your own children. The great are brought low, the poor are made rich, the king becomes a subject. Are the blows of fate so uncommon that you can expect to escape them? We are approaching a crisis, the age of revolutions. Who can tell what will become of you then? All that man has done man may destroy. No characters but those stamped by nature are ineffaceable; and nature did not make princes, or rich men, or nobles.

This advice was followed. In the highest grades of society it became the fashion to learn some handicraft. It is well known that Louis XVI. was proud of his skill as a locksmith. Among the exiles of a later period, many owed their living to the trade they had thus learned.

To return to Emile: Rousseau selects for him the trade of a joiner, and goes so far as to employ him and his tutor in that kind of labor for one or more days of every week under a master who pays them actual wages for their work.

Judging from Appearances. The Broken Stick.

If I have thus far made myself understood, you may see how, with regular physical exercise and manual labor, I am at the same time giving my pupil a taste for reflection and meditation. This will counterbalance the indolence which might result from his indifference to other men and from the dormant state of his passions. He must work like a peasant and think like a philosopher, or he will be as idle as a savage. The great secret of education is to make physical and mental exercises serve as relaxation for each other. At first our pupil had nothing but sensations, and now he has ideas. Then he only perceived, but now he judges. For from comparison of many successive or simultaneous sensations, with the judgments based on them, arises a kind of mixed or complex sensation which I call an idea.

The different manner in which ideas are formed gives each mind its peculiar character. A mind is solid if it shape its ideas according to the true relations of things; superficial, if content with their apparent relations; accurate, if it behold things as they really are; unsound, if it understand them incorrectly; disordered, if it fabricate imaginary relations, neither apparent nor real; imbecile, if it do not compare ideas at all. Greater or less mental power in different men consists in their greater or less readiness in comparing ideas and discovering their relations.

From simple as well as complex sensations, we form judgments which I will call simple ideas. In a sensation the judgment is wholly passive, only affirming that we feel what we feel. In a preception or idea, the judgment is active; it brings together, compares, and determines relations not determined by the senses. This is the only point of difference, but it is important. Nature never deceives us; it is always we who deceive ourselves.

I see a child eight years old helped to some frozen custard. Without knowing what it is, he puts a spoonful in his mouth, and feeling the cold sensation, exclaims, "Ah, that burns!" He feels a keen sensation; he knows of none more so than heat, and thinks that is what he now feels. He is of course mistaken; the chill is painful, but does not burn him; and the two sensations are not alike, since, after encountering both, we never mistake one for the other. It is not, therefore, the sensation which misleads him, but the judgment based on it.

It is the same when any one sees for the first time a mirror or optical apparatus; or enters a deep cellar in mid-winter or midsummer; or plunges his hand, either very warm or very cold, into tepid water; or rolls a little ball between two of his fingers held crosswise. If he is satisfied with describing what he perceives or feels, keeping his judgment in abeyance, he cannot be mistaken. But when he decides upon appearances, his judgment is active; it compares, and infers relations it does not perceive; and it may then be mistaken. He will need experience to prevent or correct such mistakes. Show your pupil clouds passing over the moon at night, and he will think that the moon is moving in an opposite direction, and that the clouds are at rest. He will the more readily infer that this is the case, because he usually sees small objects, not large ones, in motion, and because the clouds seem to him larger than the moon, of whose distance he has no idea. When from a moving boat he sees the shore at a little distance, he makes the contrary mistake of thinking that the earth moves. For, unconscious of his own motion, the boat, the water, and the entire horizon seem to him one immovable whole of which the moving shore is only one part.

The first time a child sees a stick half immersed in water, it seems to be broken. The sensation is a true one, and would be, even if we did not know the reason for this appearance. If therefore you ask him what he sees, he answers truly, "A broken stick," because he is fully conscious of the sensation of a broken stick. But when, deceived by his judgment, he goes farther, and after saying that he sees a broken stick, he says again that the stick really is broken, he says what is not true; and why? Because his judgment becomes active; he decides no longer from observation, but from inference, when he declares as a fact what he does not actually perceive; namely, that touch would confirm the judgment based upon sight alone.

The best way of learning to judge correctly is the one which tends to simplify our experience, and enables us to make no mistakes even when we dispense with experience altogether. It follows from this that after having long verified the testimony of one sense by that of another, we must further learn to verify the testimony of each sense by itself without appeal to any other. Then each sensation at once becomes an idea, and an idea in accordance with the truth. With such acquisitions I have endeavored to store this third period of human life.

To follow this plan requires a patience and a circumspection of which few teachers are capable, and without which a pupil will never learn to judge correctly. For example: if, when he is misled by the appearance of a broken stick, you endeavor to show him his mistake by taking the stick quickly out of the water, you may perhaps undeceive him, but what will you teach him? Nothing he might not have learned for himself. You ought not thus to teach him one detached truth, instead of showing him how he may always discover for himself any truth. If you really mean to teach him, do not at once undeceive him. Let Emile and myself serve you for example.

In the first place, any child educated in the ordinary way would, to the second of the two questions above mentioned, answer, "Of course the stick is broken." I doubt whether Emile would give this answer. Seeing no need of being learned or of appearing learned, he never judges hastily, but only from evidence. Knowing how easily appearances deceive us, as in the case of perspective, he is far from finding the evidence in the present case sufficient. Besides, knowing from experience that my most trivial question always has an object which he does not at once discover, he is not in the habit of giving heedless answers. On the contrary, he is on his guard and attentive; he looks into the matter very carefully before replying. He never gives me an answer with which he is not himself satisfied, and he is not easily satisfied. Moreover, he and I do not pride ourselves on knowing facts exactly, but only on making few mistakes. We should be much more disconcerted if we found ourselves satisfied with an insufficient reason than if we had discovered none at all. The confession, "I do not know," suits us both so well, and we repeat it so often, that it costs neither of us anything. But whether for this once he is careless, or avoids the difficulty by a convenient "I do not know," my answer is the same: "Let us see; let us find out."

The stick, half-way in the water, is fixed in a vertical position. To find out whether it is broken, as it appears to be, how much we must do before we take it out of the water, or even touch it! First, we go entirely round it, and observe that the fracture goes around with us. It is our eye alone, then, that changes it; and a glance cannot move things from place to place.

Secondly, we look directly down the stick, from the end outside of the water; then the stick is no longer bent, because the end next our eye exactly hides the other end from us. Has our eye straightened the stick?

Thirdly, we stir the surface of the water, and see the stick bend itself into several curves, move in a zig-zag direction, and follow the undulations of the water. Has the motion we gave the water been enough thus to break, to soften, and to melt the stick?

Fourth, we draw off the water and see the stick straighten itself as fast as the water is lowered. Is not this more than enough to illustrate the fact and to find out the refraction? It is not then true that the eye deceives us, since by its aid alone we can correct the mistakes we ascribe to it.

Suppose the child so dull as not to understand the result of these experiments. Then we must call touch to the aid of sight. Instead of taking the stick out of the water, leave it there, and let him pass his hand from one end of it to the other. He will feel no angle; the stick, therefore, is not broken.

You will tell me that these are not only judgments but formal reasonings. True; but do you not see that, as soon as the mind has attained to ideas, all judgment is reasoning? The consciousness of any sensation is a proposition, a judgment. As soon, therefore, as we compare one sensation with another, we reason. The art of judging and the art of reasoning are precisely the same.

If, from the lesson of this stick, Emile does not understand the idea of refraction, he will never understand it at all. He shall never dissect insects, or count the spots on the sun; he shall not even know what a microscope or a telescope is.

Your learned pupils will laugh at his ignorance, and will not be very far wrong. For before he uses these instruments, I intend he shall invent them; and you may well suppose that this will not be soon done.

This shall be the spirit of all my methods of teaching during this period. If the child rolls a bullet between two crossed fingers, I will not let him look at it till he is otherwise convinced that there is only one bullet there.

Result. The Pupil at the Age of Fifteen.

I think these explanations will suffice to mark distinctly the advance my pupil's mind has hitherto made, and the route by which he has advanced. You are probably alarmed at the number of subjects I have brought to his notice. You are afraid I will overwhelm his mind with all this knowledge. But I teach him rather not to know them than to know them. I am showing him a path to knowledge not indeed difficult, but without limit, slowly measured, long, or rather endless, and tedious to follow. I am showing him how to take the first steps, so that he may know its beginning, but allow him to go no farther.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse