How to Teach
by George Drayton Strayer and Naomi Norsworthy
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Images may be classified according to the sense through which the original experience came, into visual, auditory, gustatory, tactile, kinaesthetic, and so on. In many discussions of imagery the term "picture" has been used to describe it, and hence in the thought of many it is limited rather definitely to the visual field. Of course this is entirely wrong. The recall of a melody, or of the touch of velvet, or of the fragrance of a rose, is just as much mental imagery as the recall of the sight of a friend.

Three points of dispute in connection with image types are worth while noting. First, the question is raised by some psychologists as to whether kinaesthetic or motor images really exist. An example of such an image would be to imagine yourself as dancing, or walking downstairs, or writing your name, or saying the word "bubble." Those who object to such an image type claim that when one tries to get such an image, the attempt initiates slight muscle movements and the result is a sense experience instead of an imaged one. They believe this always happens and that therefore a motor image is an impossibility. Others agree that this reinstatement of actual movements often happens, but contend that in such cases the image precedes the movement and that the resulting movement does not always take place. The question is still in dispute.

The second question in dispute is as to the possibility of classifying people according to the predominant type of their imagery. People used to be classed as "visualizers," "audiles." etc., the supposition being that their mental imagery was predominantly in terms of vision or hearing. This is being seriously questioned, and experimental work seems to show that such a classification, at least with the majority of people, is impossible. The results which are believed to warrant such a conclusion are as follows: First, no one has ever been tested who always used one type of image. Second, the type of image used changed with the following factors: the material, the purpose of the subject, the familiarity of the subject with the experience imagined. For example, the same person would, perhaps, visualize if he were imaging landscape, but get an auditory image of a friend's voice instead of a visual image of him. He might, when under experimental conditions with the controlling purpose,—that of examining his images,—get visual images, but, when under ordinary conditions, get a larger number of auditory and kinaesthetic images. He might when thought was flowing smoothly be using auditory and motor images, but upon the appearance of some obstacle or difficulty in the process find himself flooded with visual images. Third, subjects who ranked high in one type of imagery ranked high in others, and subjects who ranked low in one type ranked low also in others. The ability seems to be that of getting clear image types, or the lack of it, rather than the ability to get one type. Fourth, most of the subjects reported that the first image was usually followed by others of different types. The conclusions then, that individuals, children as well as adults, are rarely of one fixed type, the mixed type being the usual one, is being generally accepted. In fact, it seems much more probable that materials and outside conditions can more easily be classified as usually arousing a certain type of image, than people can be classified into types.

The third point of controversy grows out of the second. Some psychologists are asking what is the value of such a classification? Suppose people could be put under types in imagery, what would be the practical advantage? Such an attempt at classification is futile and not worth while, for two reasons. First, the result of the mental processes—the goal arrived at is the important thing, and the particular type of image used is of little importance. Does it make any difference to the business man whether his clerk thinks in terms of the visual images of words or in terms of motor images so long as he sells the goods? To the teacher of geography, does it make any difference whether John in his thinking of the value of trees is seeing them in his mind's eye, or hearing the wind rustle through the leaves, or smelling the moist earth, leaf-mold, or having none of these images, if he gets the meaning, and reaches a right conclusion? Second, the sense which gives the clearest, most dependable impressions is not the one necessarily in terms of which the experience is recalled. One of the chief values urged for a classification according to image type of people, especially children, has been that the appeal could then be made through the corresponding sense organs. For instance, Group A, being visualizers, will be asked to read the material silently; Group B, audiles, will have the material read to them; Group C, motiles, will be asked to read the material orally, or asked to dramatize it. For each group the major appeal should be made in terms of the sense corresponding to their image type. But such a correspondence as this does not exist. An individual may learn best by use of his eyes and yet very seldom use visual images in recall. This is true of most people in reading. Most people grasp the meaning of a passage better when they read it than when they hear it read, and yet the predominant type of word image is auditory-motor. Hence if any classification of children is attempted it should be according to the sense by means of which they learn best, and not according to some supposed image type. Many methods of appeal for all children is the safest practical suggestion.

Images may also be classified according to the use made of past experience. Past experience may be recalled in approximately the same form in which it occurred, or it may be reconstructed. In the former case the image is called reproductive image or memory image; in the latter form it is called productive or creative image, or image of the imagination. The reproductive image never duplicates experience, but in its major features it closely corresponds to it, whereas the productive image breaks up old experiences and from them makes new wholes which correspond to no definite occurrence. The elements found in both kinds of imagery must come from experience. One cannot imagine anything the elements of which he has not experienced. Creative imagination transcends experience only in the sense that it remodels and remakes, but the result of that activity produces new wholes as far removed from the actual occurrences as "Alice in Wonderland" is from the humdrum life of a tenement dweller. Just the same, the fact that the elements used in creative work must be drawn from experience is extremely suggestive from a practical point of view. It demonstrates the need of a rich sensory life for every child. It also explains the reason for the lack of appreciation on the part of immature children of certain types of literature and certain moral questions.

No more need be said here of the reproductive image, as it is synonymous with the memory image and was therefore treated fully under the topic of memory. One fact should be borne in mind, however, and that is, that the creative image is to some extent dependent on the reproductive image as it involves recall. However, as productive imagery involves the recall of elements or parts rather than wholes, an individual may have talent in creative imagery without being above the average in exact reproduction.

Productive imagery may be classified as fanciful, realistic, and idealistic according to the character of the material used. Fanciful productive imagery is characterized by its spontaneity, its disregard of the probable and possible, its vividness of detail. It is its own reward, and does not look to any result beyond itself. Little children's imaginations are of this type—it is their play world of make-believe. The incongruity and absurdity of their images have been compared to the dreams of adults. Lacking in experience, without knowledge of natural laws, their imagination runs riot with the materials it has at its command. Some adults still retain it to a high degree—witness the myths and fairy stories, "Alice in Wonderland," and the like. All adults in their "castle-building" indulge in this type of imagery to some extent. Realistic productive imagery, as its name implies, adheres more strictly to actual conditions, it deals with the probable. It usually is constructed for a purpose, being put to some end beyond itself. It lacks much of the emotional element possessed by the other two types. This is the kind most valuable in reasoning and thinking. It deals with new situations—constructs them, creates means of dealing with them, and forecasts the results. It is the type of productive imagery called into play by inventors, by craftsmen, by physicians, by teachers—in fact, by any one who tries to bring about a change in conditions by the functioning of a definite thought process. This is the kind of imagery which most interests grammar school pupils. They demand facts, not fancies. They are most active in making changes in a world of things.

Idealistic productive imagery does not fly in the face of reality as does the fanciful, nor does it adhere so strictly to facts as does the realistic. It deals with the possible—with what may be, but with what is not yet. It always looks to the future, for if realized it is no longer idealistic. It is enjoyed for its own sake but does not exist for that alone, but looks towards some result. It is concerned primarily with human lives and has a strong emotional tone. It is the heart of ideals. The adolescent revels in this type of productive imagery. His dreams concerning his own future, his service to his fellow men, his success, and the like involve much idealistic imagery. Hero worship involves it. It is one of the differences between the man with "vision" and the man without.

The importance of productive imagery cannot be overemphasized. This power to create the new out of the old is one of the greatest possessions of mankind. All progress in every field, whether individual or racial, depends upon it. From the fertility and richness of man's productive imagination must come all the suggestions which will make this world other than what it is. Therefore one of the greatest tasks of education at present is to cherish and cultivate this power. One cannot fail to recognize, however, that with the emphasis at present so largely upon memory, the cultivation of the imagination is being pushed into the background despite all our theories to the contrary. Not only is productive imagery as a whole worth while, but each type is valuable. An adult lacking power of fanciful imagination lacks power to enjoy certain elements in life and lacks a very definite means of recreation. Lacking in realistic imagination he is unable to deal successfully with new situations, but must forever remain in bondage to the past. Without idealistic imagination he lacks the motive which makes men strive to be better, more efficient—other than what they are. At certain times in child development one type may need special encouragement, and at another time some other. All should, however, be borne in mind and developed along right and wholesome lines; otherwise, left to itself, any one of these, and especially the last, may be a source of danger to the character.

Images may be classified according to the material dealt with into object images or concrete images and into word or abstract images. No one of these terms is very good as a name of the image referred to. The first group—object or concrete image—refers to an image in which the sensory qualities, such as color, size, rhythm, sweetness, harmony, etc., are present. The images of a friend, of a text-book, of the national anthem, of an orange, of the schoolroom, and so on, would all be object images. A word or abstract image is one which is a symbol. It stands for and represents certain sensory experiences, the quality of which does not appear in the image. Any word, number, mathematical or chemical symbol—in fact, any abstract symbol will come under this type of image. If in the first list of illustrations, instead of having images of the real objects, an individual had images of words in each case, the images would be abstract or verbal images. Abstract images shade into concrete by gradual degrees—there is no sharp line of division between the two; however, they do form two different kinds of images, two forms which may have the same meaning.

The question as to the respective use and value of these two kinds of images is given different answers. There is no question but that the verbal image is more economical than the object image. It saves energy and time. It brings with it less of irrelevant detail and is more stable than the object image, and therefore results in more accurate thinking. It is abstract in nature and therefore has more general application. On the other hand, it has been claimed for the object image that it necessarily precedes the verbal image—is fundamental to it; that it is essential in creative work dealing with materials and sounds and in the appreciation of certain types of descriptive literature, and that in any part of the thinking process when, because of difficulty of some kind, a percept would help, an object image would be of the same assistance. It is concerning these supposed advantages of the object image that there has been most dispute. There is no proof that the line of growth is necessarily from percept, through object image, to verbal image. In certain fields, notably smell, the object image is almost absent and yet the verbal images in that field carry meaning. It is also true that people whose power of getting clear-cut, vivid object images is almost nil seem to be in nowise hampered by that fact in their use of the symbols. Knowing the unreliability of the object image, it would seem very unsafe to use it as the link between percept and symbol. Much better to connect the symbol directly with the experience and let it gain its meaning from that. As to its value in constructive work in arts, literature, drama, and invention, the testimony of some experts in each field bears witness that it is not a necessary accompaniment of success. The musician need not hear, mentally, all the harmonies, changes, intervals; he may think them in terms of notes, rests, etc., as he composes. The poet need not see the scene he is describing; verbal images may bear his meanings. Of course this does not mean that object images may not be present too, but the point is that the worker is not dependent on them. The aid offered by object images in time of difficulty is still more open to doubt. As an illustration of what is meant by this: Suppose a child to be given a carpeting example in arithmetic which he finds himself unable to solve. The claim is made that if he will then call up a concrete image of the room, he will see that the carpet is laid in strips and that suggestion may set him right. But it has been proved experimentally over and over again that if he doesn't know that carpets are laid that way, he will never get it from the image, and if he does know it, he doesn't need an object image. It seems to be a fact that object images do not function, in the sense that one cannot get a correct answer as to color, or form, or number from them. One can read off from a concrete image what he knows to be true of it—or else it is just guessing. "Knowing" in each case involves observation and judgment, and that means verbal images. Students whose power of concrete imagery is low do, on the average, in situations where a concrete image would supposedly help, just as well as students whose power in this field is high. It does seem to be true that object images give a vividness and color to mental life which may result in a keener appreciation of certain types of literature. This warmth and vividness which object images add to the mental processes of those who have them is a boon.

On the whole, then, word images are the more valuable of the two types. Upon them depends, primarily, the ability to handle new situations, and even in the constructive fields they are all sufficient. These two facts, added to the fact that they are more accurate, speedy, and general in application, makes them a necessary part of the mental equipment of an efficient worker, and means that much more attention must be given to the development of productive symbol images.

Two warnings should be borne in mind: First, although the object images are not necessary in general, as discussed above, to any given individual, because of his particular habits of thought, they may be necessary accompaniments to his mental processes. Second, although object images may not help in giving understanding or appreciation under new conditions, still the method of asking students to try to image certain conditions is worth while because it makes them stop and think, which is always a help. Whether they get object or word images in the process makes no difference.

The discussion concerning the possibility of "imageless" thought, while an interesting one, cannot be entered into here. Whether "meanings" can exist in the human mind apart from any carrier in the form of some sensory or imaginal state is unsettled, but the discussion has drawn attention to at least the very fragmentary nature of those carriers. A few fragments of words, a mental shrug of the shoulder, a feeling of the direction in which a certain course is leading, a consciousness of one's attitude towards a plan or person—and the conclusion is reached. The thinking, or it may even have been reasoning, involved few clear-cut images of any kind. The fragmentary, schematic nature of the carriers and the large part played by feelings of direction and attitude are the rather astonishing results of the introspective analysis resulting from this discussion. This sort of thinking is valuable for the same reasons that thinking in terms of words is valuable—it only goes a step further, but it needs direction and training.

Images of all kinds have been discussed as if they stood out clearly differentiated from all other types of mental states. This is necessary in order that their peculiar characteristics and functions may be clear. However, they are not so clearly defined in actual mental life, but shade into each other and into other mental states, giving rise to confusion and error. The two greatest sources of error are: first, the confusion of image with percept, and second, the confusion of memory image with image of the imagination. The chief difference between these mental states as they exist is a difference in kind and amount of associations. These different associates usually give to the percept a vividness and material reality which the other two lack. They give to the memory image a feeling of pastness and trueness which the image of imagination lacks. Therefore lack of certain associations, due to lack of experience or knowledge, or presence of associations due to these same causes and to the undue vividness of other connections, could easily result in one of these states being mistaken for another. There is no inherent difference between them. The first type of confusion, between percept and image, has been recently made the subject of investigation. Perky found that even with trained adults, if the perceptual stimulus was slight, it was mistaken for an image. All illusions would come under this head. Children's imaginary companions, when really believed in, are explained by this confusion. However, the confusion is much more general than these illustrations would seem to imply. The fact that "Love is blind," that "We see what we look for" are but statements of this same confusion, and these two facts enter into multitudes of situations all through life. The need to "see life clearly and see it whole" is an imperative one.

The second type of confusion, between reproductive and productive memory, is even more common. The "white lies" of children, the embroidering of a story by the adult, the adding to and adding to the original experience until all sense of what really happened is lost, are but ordinary facts of everyday experiences. The unreliability of witness and testimony is due, in part, to this confusion.


1. How is the process of imagination like memory?

2. What is the relation of imagination to thinking?

3. What kind of images do you seek to have children use in their work in the subjects which you teach?

4. Can you classify the members of your class as visualizers, audiles, and the like?

5. If one learns most readily by reading rather than hearing, does it follow that his images will be largely visual? Why?

6. Give examples from your own experience of memory images; of creative images.

7. To what degree does creative imagination depend upon past experiences?

8. What type of imagery is most important for the work of the inventor? The farmer? The social reformer?

9. Of what significance in the life of an adult is fanciful imagery?

10. What, if any, is the danger involved in reveling in idealistic productive imagery?

11. What advantages do verbal images possess as over against object images?

12. Why would you ask children to try to image in teaching literature, geography, history, or any other subject for which you are responsible?

13. How would you handle a boy who is hi the habit of confusing memory images with images of imagination?

14. In what sense is it true that all progress, is dependent upon productive imagination?

* * * * *


The term "thinking" has been used almost as loosely as the term "imagination," and used to mean almost as many different things. Even now there is no consensus of opinion as to just what thinking is. Dewey says, "Active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it, and the further conclusions to which it tends, constitutes reflective thought."[5] Miller says, "Thinking is not so much a distinct conscious process as it is an organisation of all the conscious processes which are relevant in a problematic situation for the performance of the function of consciously adjusting means to end."[6] Thinking always presupposes some lack in adjustment, some doubt or uncertainty, some hesitation in response. So long as the situation, because of its simplicity or familiarity, receives immediately a response which satisfies, there is no need for thinking. Only when the response is inadequate or when no satisfactory response is forthcoming is thinking aroused. By far the majority of the daily adjustments made by people, both mental and physical, require no thinking because instinct, habit, and memory suffice. It is only when these do not serve to produce a satisfactory response that thinking is needed—only when there is something problematic in the situation. Even in new situations thinking is not always used to bring about a satisfactory adjustment. Following an instinctive prompting when confronted by a new situation; blindly following another's lead; using the trial and error method of response; reacting to the situation as to the old situation most like it; or response by analogy: all are methods of dealing with new situations which often result in correct adjustments, and yet none of which need involve thinking. This does not mean that these methods, save the first mentioned, may not be accompanied by thinking; but that each of them may be used without the conscious adjustment of means to end demanded by thinking. That these methods, and not thinking, are the ones most often used, even by adults, in dealing with problems, cannot be denied. They offer an easy means of escape from the more troublesome method of thinking. It is so much easier to accept what some one else says, so much easier to agree with a book's answer to a question than to think it out for oneself. Following the first suggestion offered, just going at things in a hit-or-miss fashion, uncritical response by analogy, saves much time and energy apparently, and therefore these methods are adopted and followed by the majority of people in most of the circumstances of life. It is human nature to think only when no other method of mental activity brings the desired response. We think only when we must.

Not only is it true that problems are often solved correctly by other methods than that of thinking, but on the other hand much thinking may take place and yet the result be an incorrect conclusion, or perhaps no solution at all be reached. Think of the years of work men have devoted to a single problem, and yet perhaps at the end of that time, because of a wrong premise or some incorrect data, have arrived at a result that later years have proved to have been utterly false. Think of the investigations being carried on now in medicine, in science, in invention, which because of the lack of knowledge are still incomplete, and yet in each case thinking of the most technical and rigorous type has been used. Thinking cannot be considered in terms of the result. Correct results may be obtained, even in problematic situations, with no thinking, and on the other hand much thinking may be done and yet the results reached be entirely unsatisfactory. Thinking is a process involving a certain definite procedure. It is the organisation of all mental states toward a certain definite end, but is not any one mental state. In certain types of situations this procedure is the one most certain of reaching correct conclusions, in some situations it is the only possible one, but the conclusion is not the thinking and its correctness does not differentiate the process from others.

From the foregoing discussions it must not be deduced that because of the specific nature and the difficulty of thinking that the power is given only to adults. On the contrary, the power is rooted in the original equipment of the human race and develops gradually, just as all other original capacities do. Children under three years of age manifest it. True, the situations calling it out are very simple, and to the adult seem often trivial, as they most often occur in connection with the child's play, but they none the less call for the adjustment of means to end, which is thinking. A lost toy, the absence of a playmate, the breaking of a cup, a thunderstorm, these and hundreds of other events of daily life are occasions which may arouse thinking on the part of a little child. It is not the type of situation, nor its dignity, that is the important thing in thinking, but the way in which it is dealt with. The incorrectness of a child's data, their incompleteness and lack of organization, often result in incorrect conclusions, and still his thinking may be absolutely sound. The difference between the child and the adult in this power is a difference in degree—both possess the power. As Dewey says, "Only by making the most of the thought-factor, already active in the experience of childhood, is there any promise or warrant for the emergence of superior reflective power at adolescence, or at any later period."[7]

Thinking, then, is involved in any response which comes as a result of the conscious adaptation of means to end in a problematic situation. Many of the processes of mental activity which have been given other names may involve this process. Habit formation—when the learner analyzes his progress or failure, when he tries to find a short cut, or when he seeks for an incentive to insure greater improvement—may serve as a situation calling for thinking. The process of apperceiving or of assimilation may involve it. Studying and trying to remember may involve it. Constructive imagination often calls for it. Reasoning, always requires it. In the older psychology reasoning and thinking were often used as synonyms, but more recently it has been accepted by most psychologists that reasoning is simply one type of thinking, the most advanced type, and the most demanding type, but not the only one. Thinking may go on (as in the other processes just mentioned) without reasoning, but all reasoning must involve thinking. It is this lack of differentiation between reasoning and thinking, the attempt to make of all thinking, reasoning, that has limited teachers in their attempts to develop thinking upon the part of their pupils.

The essentials of the thinking process are three: (1) a state of doubt or uncertainty, resulting in suspended judgment; (2) an organization and control of mental states in view of an end to be attained; (3) a critical attitude involving selection and rejection of suggestions offered. The recognition of some lack of adjustment, the feeling of need for something one hasn't, is the only stimulus toward thinking. This problematic situation, resulting in suspended judgment, caused by the inadequacy of present power or knowledge, may arise in connection with any situation. It is unfortunate that the terms "problematic situation" and "feeling of inadequacy" have been discussed almost entirely in connection with situations when the result has some pragmatic value. There is no question but what the situation arousing thinking must be a live one and a real one, but it need not be one the answer to which will be useful. It is true that with the majority of people, both children and adults, a problem of this type will be more often effective in arousing the thinking process than a problem of a more abstract nature, but it is not always so, nor necessarily so. Most children sometimes, and some children most of the time, enjoy thinking simply for the sake of the activity. They do not need the concrete, pragmatic situation—anything, no matter how abstract, that arouses their curiosity or appeals to their love of mastery offers enough of a problem. Sometimes children are vitally interested in working geometrical problems, translating difficult passages in Latin, striving to invent the perpetual motion machine, even though there is no evident and useful result. It is not the particular type of situation that is the thing to be considered, but the attitude that it arouses in the individual concerned. Educators in discussion of the situations that make for thinking must allow for individual differences and must plan for the intellectually minded as well as for others.

The thinker confronted by a situation for which his present knowledge is not adequate, recognizes the difficulty and suspends judgment; in other words, does not jump at a conclusion but undertakes to think it out. To do this control is continually necessary. He must keep his problem continually before him and work directly for its solution, avoiding delays, avoiding being side-tracked. This means, of course, the critical attitude towards all suggestions offered. Each one as it comes must be inspected in the light of the end to be reached—if it does not seem to help towards that goal, it must be rejected. Criticism, selection, and rejection of suggestions offered must continue as long as the thinking process goes on. "To maintain the state of doubt and to carry on systematic and protracted inquiry—these are the essentials of thinking."

In order to maintain this critical attitude to select and reject suggestions with reference to a goal, the suggestions as they come cannot be accepted as units and followed. Such a procedure is possible only when the mental process is not controlled by an end. Control by a goal necessitates analysis of the suggestions and abstraction of what in them is essential for the particular problem in hand. It is because no complete association at hand offers a satisfactory response to the situation that the need for thinking arises. Each association as it comes must be broken up, certain parts or elements emerge, certain relationships, implications, or functions are made conscious. Each of these is examined in turn; as they seem to be valueless for the purpose of the thinker, they are rejected. If one element or relationship seems significant for the problem, it is seized upon, abstracted from its fellows, and becomes the center of the next series of suggestions. A part, element, quality, or what not, of the situation is accepted as significant of it for the time being. The part stands for the whole—this is characteristic of all thinking. As a very simple illustration, consider the following one reported by Dewey:

"Projecting nearly horizontally from the upper deck of the ferryboat on which I daily cross the river, is a long white pole, bearing a gilded ball at its tip. It suggested a flag pole when I first saw it; its color, shape, and gilded ball agreed with this idea, and these reasons seemed to justify me in this belief. But soon difficulties presented themselves. The pole was nearly horizontal, an unusual position for a flag pole; in the next place, there was no pulley, ring, or cord by which to attach a flag; finally, there were elsewhere two vertical staffs from which flags were occasionally flown. It seemed probable that the pole was not there for flag-flying.

"I then tried to imagine all possible purposes of such a pole, and to consider for which of these it was best suited: (a) Possibly it was an ornament. But as all the ferryboats and even the tugboats carried like poles, this hypothesis was rejected. (b) Possibly it was the terminal of a wireless telegraph. But the same considerations made this improbable. Besides, the more natural place for such a terminal would be the highest part of the boat, on top of the pilot house, (c) Its purpose might be to point out the direction in which the boat is moving.

"In support of this conclusion, I discovered that the pole was lower than the pilot house, so that the steersman could easily see it. Moreover, the tip was enough higher than the base, so that, from the pilot's position, it must appear to project far out in front of the boat. Moreover, the pilot being near the front of the boat, he would need some such guide as to its direction. Tugboats would also need poles for such a purpose. This hypothesis was so much more probable than the others that I accepted it. I formed the conclusion that the pole was set up for the purpose of showing the pilot the direction in which the boat pointed, to enable him to steer correctly."[8]

The problem was to find out the use of the flag pole. No adequate explanation came as the problem presented itself; it therefore caused a state of uncertainty, of suspended judgment, and a process of thinking in order to get an answer. Each suggestion that came was analyzed, its requirements and possibilities checked up by the actual facts and the goal. The suggestions that the pole was simply to carry a flag, was an ornament, was the terminal of a wireless telegraph, were examined and rejected. The final one, that the pole was to point out the direction in which the boat was moving, upon analysis seemed most probable and was accepted. The one characteristic of the pole, that it points direction, and its position, need to be accepted as the essential facts in the situation, for the particular problem. Without control of the process, without the two steps of analysis and abstraction, no conclusion could have been reached.

Analysis and abstraction may be facilitated in three ways. First, by attentive piecemeal examination. The total situation is examined, element by element, attentively, until the element needed is reached or approximated. This method of procedure helps to emphasize minor bonds of association which the element possesses in the learner's experience but which he needs to have brought to his attention. It can only be used when the element is known to some degree. It is the method to use when elements are known in a hazy, incomplete, or indefinite way and need clearing up. Second, by varying the concomitant. An element associated with many situations, which vary in other respects, comes to be felt and recognized as independent. This is the method to use when a new element in a complex is to be taught. Third, by contrast. A new element is brought into consciousness more quickly if it is set side by side with its opposite. Of course, this is only true provided the opposite has already been learned. To present opposites, both of which are new or only partially learned, confuses the analysis instead of facilitating it.

Reasoning, as the highest type of thinking, includes all that thinking in general does, and adds some particular requirement which differentiates it from the simpler forms. Further discussion of it, then, should make clearer the essential in thinking as a process, as well as make clear its most difficult form. Reasoning is defined by Miller as "controlled thinking,—thinking organized and systematized according to laws and principles and carried on by use of superior technique."[9] Reasoning, then, is the kind of thinking that deals directly with laws and principles. Much thinking may be carried on without any overt, definite use of laws and principles, as in constructive imagination or in apperception, but, if this is so, it seems better to call the thinking by one of the other names. Of course this classification is somewhat arbitrary, but there can be no question that types of thinking do differ. As has already been noted, some psychologists have used the terms thinking and reasoning as synonyms, but such usage has resulted in confusion and has not been of practical value. It is only as the mental process desired becomes clearly conceived of, its connotations and denotation clearly defined, that it becomes a real goal towards Which a teacher or learner may strive. This, then, is the primary criterion of reasoning—that the thinker be dealing consciously with laws and principles. An acceptance of this first essential makes clear that the particular process of reasoning cannot be carried on in subjects which lack laws and principles. Spelling, elementary reading, vocabulary study, most of the early work in music and art, the acquisition of facts wherever found—these situations may offer opportunity for thinking, but little if any for reasoning. Because a teacher is using the development method does not mean necessarily that her students are reasoning. The two terms are not in any way synonymous.

The second essential in reasoning is the presence of a definite technique. This technique consists of two factors: first, certain definite mental states, and second, the use of the process of thinking by either the inductive or the deductive method.

First as to the mental states involved. The fact that the thinking deals with laws and principles necessitates the presence, in the thinking process, of constructive verbal or symbolic imagery, logical relationships, logical concepts, and explicit judgments. This does not at all exclude other types of these mental states and entirely different mental states. The kind of analysis involved simply necessitates the presence of these types, whatever others may be present. Constructive symbolic imagery has already been discussed. Logical relationships are those that are independent of accidental conditions, are not dependent on mere contiguity in time and space, but are inherent in the association involved. Such relationships are those of likeness and difference, cause and effect, subject and object, equality, concession, and the like. Logical concepts are those which are the result of thinking, whose definite meaning has been brought clearly into consciousness so that a definition could be framed. A child has some notion of the meaning of tree, or man, or chemist, and therefore possesses a concept of some kind, but the exact meaning, the particular qualities necessary, are usually lacking, and so it could not be called a logical concept. Explicit judgments are those which contain within themselves the reasons for the inference. They, too, are the result of thinking. One may say that "cheating is wrong," or that "water will not rise above its source level," or that "cleanliness is necessary to health," or that "this is a Rembrandt"—as a matter of experience, habit, but without any reflection and with no reasons for such judgment. If, on the other hand, the problems to which these judgments are answers had been a matter of thinking, the reasons or the ground for such judgment would have become conscious and the judgment then become explicit. It must be evident that in any problems dealing with laws and principles the mental states involved must be definite, clear cut, logically sound, and their implications thoroughly appreciated and understood.

The second element in the technique necessary in reasoning is the use of either the inductive or the deductive method in the process. Induction requires—a problem, search for facts with which to solve it, comparison and analysis of those facts, abstraction of the essential likenesses, and conclusion. Deduction requires—a problem, the analysis of the situation and abstraction of its essential elements, search for generals under which to classify it, comparison of it with each general found, and conclusion. It is unfortunate that in the discussions of induction and deduction the differences have been so emphasized that they have been regarded as different processes, whereas the likenesses far outweigh the differences. An examination of the requirements of each as stated above shows that the process in the two is the same. Not only do both involve reasoning and therefore require the major steps of analysis and abstraction present in all thinking, but both also involve search and comparison. Both, of course, involve the same kind of mental states. At times it is very difficult to distinguish between them. Although for practical purposes it is necessary, sometimes, to stress the differences, the inherent similarity should not be lost sight of.

The differences between these two methods of reasoning are, first, in the locus of the problem; second, in the order of the steps of the process; third, in the relative proportion of particulars and generals used; fourth, in the devices used, (1) In induction the problem is concerned with a general. In some situation a concept, law, or principle has proven inadequate as a response. The question is then raised as to what is wrong with it and the inductive process is instigated. The problem is solved when the principle or concept is perfected or enlarged—in other words, is made adequate. In deduction the problem is concerned with the individual situation. Some problem is raised by a particular fact or experience and is answered when it is placed under the law or concept to which it belongs. Deduction is, practically the classification of particulars. (2) The order of steps is different. In induction, because present knowledge falls short, the major step of analysis necessary to abstraction of the essential is impossible, and therefore the search for new facts must come first, whereas in deduction, the analysis of the particular situation results in a search for generals and a classification of the situation in question. (3) In induction many particular facts may be necessary before one concept or principle is made adequate, while in deduction many concepts or principles may be examined before one particular is classified. (4) In induction the hypothesis is used as a device to make clear the possible goal; in deduction the syllogism is used as a device to make clear the conclusion which has been reached, to throw into relief the classification and the result coming from it.

In this discussion, induction and deduction have been treated, for the sake of clearness, as if they acted independently of each other, as if a thinker might at one time use deduction and at another time induction. They have been outlined in such a way that one might think that the movement of the mind in one process was such that it precluded the possibility of the other process. This is not so—the two are inextricably mingled in the actual process of reasoning, and further, induction as used in practical life always involves deduction at two points, as an initial starting point and as an end point. The knowledge that a certain principle is inadequate comes to consciousness through the attempt to classify some particular experience under it. Failure results and the inductive process may then be initiated, but this initial attempt is deductive and if it had been successful there would have been no need of induction. After the inductive process is complete and the general principle has been classified or perfected, the final step is testing it to see if it is adequate, first by applying it to the particular problem which caused the whole process, and then to new situations. If it tests, it is accepted,—if not, further induction is necessary. This again is deduction. Not only is induction not complete without deduction, but each deduction influences the principle which is applied, making it more sure and more flexible. Even in the process of induction, there are attempts to classify these facts which are being gathered under suggested old principles, or half-formed new ones, before the process is completed. This is a deductive movement, even though it prove unsatisfactory or impossible. Dewey describes this interaction by saying, "There is thus a double movement in all reflection: a movement from the given partial and confused data to a suggested comprehension (or inclusive) entire situation; and back from this suggested whole—which as suggested is a meaning, an idea—to the particular facts, so as to connect these with one another and with additional facts to which the suggestion has directed attention."[10] However true this intermingling of induction and deduction may be, the fact still remains true that in any given case the major movement is in one direction or the other, and that therefore in order to insure effective thinking measures must be taken accordingly. As a child formulates his conception of a verb, or words the characteristic essentials of the lily-family, or frames the rule for addition of fractions or the action of a base on a metal, he is concerned primarily with the form of the reasoning process known as induction. When he classes a certain word as a conjunction, a certain city as a trade center, a certain problem as one in percentage, he is using deduction. Complexes and gradual shadings of one state into another, not clearly defined and sharply differentiated processes and states, are characteristic of all mental life.

Another unfortunate statement with regard to induction and deduction is that the former "proceeds from particulars to generals" and the latter from "generals to particulars." Both of these statements omit the starting point and leave the thinker with no ground for either the particulars or the generals with which he works. The thinker is supposed, let us say, to collect specimens of flowers in order to arrive at a notion of the characteristics of a certain class—but why collect these rather than any others? True, in the artificial situation of a schoolroom or college, the learner often collects in a certain field rather than another, simply because he is told to. But in daily life he would not be told to—-the incentive must come from some particular situation which presents a problem and therefore limits the field of search. The starting point must be a particular experience or situation. The same thing is true in deduction, although the syllogistic form has often been misleading. "Metals are hard; iron is a metal, therefore iron is hard." But why talk about metals at all—and if so why hardness rather than color or effect on bases or some other characteristic? Of course, here again it is some particular problem that defines the search for the general and directs attention to some class characteristics rather than to others. Not only is the starting point of all reasoning some definite situation for which there is no adequate response, but the end point must naturally be the same. A particular problem demanding solution is the cause for reasoning, and, of course, the end of the process must be the solution of that problem.

From the foregoing it must not be concluded that the processes of induction and deduction are manifested only in connection with reasoning. In fact, their use as a conscious tool of technique in reasoning comes only after considerable experience of their use when there was no conscious purpose and no control. A little child's notion of dog, or tree, or city—in fact, all his psychological concepts necessitate the inductive movement, but it has taken place in his spontaneous thinking and the meanings have evolved after considerable experience without any definite control on his part. So with deduction. As he recognizes this as a chestnut tree, that as a rocking chair, as he decides that this is wrong or that it is going to clear, he is classifying things, or conduct, or conditions, and so is following the deductive movement. But the judgments may come as a result of past experience, may be spontaneous and involve no protracted controlled activity which has been defined as thinking. Man's mind works spontaneously both inductively and deductively, and hence the possibility of control of these operations later. Thinking is an outgrowth of spontaneous activity; reasoning is but an application of the natural laws of mental activity to certain situations.

The laws of readiness, exercise, and effect govern thinking just as they do all other mental processes. Thinking is not independent of habit; it is not a mysterious force other than association which deals with novel data. Thinking is merely an exhibition of the laws of habit under certain definite situations. At first sight this seems to be impossible, because, as has been emphasized throughout this chapter, thinking takes place when no satisfactory response is at hand and when nothing is offered by past experience which is adequate. As a result of the thinking, responses are reached which never before have occurred as a result of that situation. Just the same they are reached only because of the operation of the laws of habit. It must be borne in mind that the laws of association do not work in such a way that only gross total situations are bound to total responses. In man particularly, situations are being continually broken up into elements, and those elements connected with responses. Responses are being continually disintegrated, and elements, instead of the whole response, being bound to situations. Analysis is continually taking place merely as a result of the working of these laws. If the nervous mechanism of man were not of this hair-trigger variety, if elements did not emerge from a total complex as a result of bonds formed, of readiness of certain tracts, no willing, no attention on the part of the thinker, would ever bring about analysis. This is made very vivid when one is met by a problem he cannot solve. If the situation does not break up, if the right element does not emerge, if the right cue is not given, he is helpless. All he can do is to hold fast to his problem and wait. As the associations are offered, he can select and reject, but that is all. The marvelous power of the genius, the inventor, the reasoner in all fields, is merely an exhibition of the laws of association working with extremely subtle elements. It seems to transcend all experience because these elements and the bonds which experience has formed cannot be observed. A child fails in his thinking often because he uses his past experience and responds by analogy—we note that fact and criticize him for it. But he succeeds for just the same reason and by the use of just the same laws. James long ago showed conclusively that association by similarity, which is one of the prominent types used in reasoning, was only the law of habit working with elements of novel data.

The fact that thinking is determined by its aim rather than by its antecedents has also been given a mysterious place as apart from association. The thinker who chose the right associate, the one that led him towards his goal rather than some other, was called sagacious. But, after all, this being governed by an aim is nothing more than the operation of the law of readiness among intellectual bonds. One associate is chosen and another rejected because one is more satisfying than another. Certain bonds are made more ready than others because of the general set or attitude of the thinker, and therefore any associate using those bonds brings satisfaction and is retained. "The power that moves the man of science to solve problems correctly is the same that moves him to eat, sleep, rest, and play. The efficient thinker is not only more fertile in ideas and more often productive of the 'right' ideas than the incompetent is; he is also more satisfied by them when he gets them, and more rebellious against the futile and misleading ones. We trust to the laws of cerebral nature to present us spontaneously with the appropriate idea, and also to prefer that idea to others."[11]

The reasons for failure of teachers and educators of all kinds to train people to think are numerous. (1) Scarcity of brains which work primarily in terms of connections between subtle elements, relationships, etc. (2) Lack of knowledge or incorrect knowledge, due to narrow experience or poor memory. (3) Lack of the necessary habits of attention and criticism. (4) Lack of power of the more abstract and intellectual operations to bring satisfaction, due partly to original equipment and partly to training. (5) Lack of power to do independent work, due to poor training. Schools cannot in any way make good the deficiency which is due to a lack of mental capacity. They can, and should, do something to provide knowledge which is well organized around experiences which have proved vital to pupils. Something can undoubtedly be done in the way of cultivating the habit of concentration of attention, and of making more or less habitual the critical attitude. Within the range of the ability which the individuals to be educated possess, the school may do much to give training which will make independent work or thinking more common in the experience of school pupils, and therefore much more apt to be resorted to in the case of any problematic situation.

Possibly the greatest weakness in our schools, as they are at present constituted, is in the dependence of both teachers and children upon text-books, laboratory manuals, lectures, and the like. In almost every field of knowledge which is presented in our elementary and high schools, more opportunity should be given for contact with life activities. Such contacts should, in so far as it is possible, involve the organization of the observations which are made with relation to problems and principles which the subject seeks to develop. In nature study or in geography in the elementary school many of the principles involved are never really mastered by children, by virtue of the fact that they merely memorize the words which are involved, rather than solve any of the problems which may occur, either by virtue of their intellectual interests, or on account of their meaning in everyday life. The following of the instructions given in the laboratory manual does not necessarily result in developing the spirit of inquiry or investigation, nor even acquaint pupils with the method of the science which is supposed to be studied.

Possibly the greatest contribution which a teacher can make to the development of thinking upon the part of children is in discovering to them problems which challenge their attention, the solution of which for them is worth while. As has already been indicated, an essential element in thinking is constantly to select from among the many associations which may be available that one which will contribute to the particular problem which we have in mind. The mere grouping of ideas round some topic does not satisfy this requirement, for such a reciting of paragraphs or chapters may amount simply to memorization and nothing more. If a teacher can in geography or in history send children to their books to find such facts as are available for the solution of a particular problem, she is stimulating thought upon their part, and may at the same time be giving them some command of the technique of inquiry or of investigation. The class that starts to work, either in the discussion during the recitation period, or when they work at their seats, or at home, with a clear statement of the aim or problem may be expected to do much more in the way of thinking than will occur in the experience of those who are merely told to read certain parts of a book. In a well-conducted recitation which involves thinking, the aim needs to be restated a number of times in order that the selection of those associations which are important, and the rejection of those which are not pertinent, may continue over a considerable period.

In so far as it is possible, children should be made to feel responsibility for the progress which is made in the solution of their problems. They should be critical of the contributions made by each other. They should be sincere in their expression of doubt, and in questioning whenever they do not understand. Above all, if they are really thinking, they need to have an opportunity for free discussion. In classrooms in which children are seated in rows looking at the backs of each other's heads and reciting to the teacher, the tendency is simply to satisfy what the pupils conceive to be the demands of the teacher, rather than to think and to attempt to resolve one's doubts. In classes in which teachers provide not only for a statement of the problem which is to be solved during the study period, but also for a variety in assignments, children may be expected to bring to class differences in points of view and in the data which they have collected. In such a situation discussion is a perfectly normal process, and thinking is stimulated.

As children pass through the several grades of the school system, they ought to become increasingly conscious of the process of reasoning. They should be asked to tell how they have arrived at their conclusions. They should give the reason for their judgments. A great deal of loose thinking would be avoided if we could in some measure establish the habit upon the part of boys and girls of asking, "Will it work in all cases?"; "What was assumed as a basis for arriving at the conclusion which I have accepted?"; "Are the data which have been brought together adequate?"; "To what degree have the fallacies which are more or less common in reasoning entered into my thinking?" It is not that one would hope to give a course in logic to elementary or to high school children, but rather that they should learn, out of the situations which demand thought, constantly to check up their conclusions and to verify them in every possible way. We may not expect by this method to create any unusual power of thought, but we may in some degree provide for the development of a critical attitude which will enable these same boys and girls, both now and as they grow older, to discriminate between those who merely dogmatize, and those who present a sound basis for their reasoning, either in terms of a principle which can be accepted, or in terms of observations or experiments which establish the conclusions which they are asked to accept.

In all of the work which involves thinking, it is of the utmost importance that we preserve upon the part of pupils, in so far as it is possible, an open-minded attitude. It is well to have children in the habit of saying with respect to their conclusions that in so far as they have the evidence, this or that conclusion seems to be justified. It may even be well to have them reach the conclusion in some parts of their work that there are not sufficient data available upon which to base a generalization, or that certain principles which are accepted as valid by some thinkers are questioned by others, and that the conclusions which are based upon principles which are not commonly accepted must always be stated by saying: it follows, if you accept a particular principle, that this particular conclusion will hold.

We need more and more to encourage the habit of independent work. We must hope as children pass through our school system that they will grow more and more independent in their statement of conclusions and of beliefs. We can never expect that boys and girls, or men and women, will reach conclusions on all of the questions which are of importance to them, but it ought to be possible, especially for those of more than usual capacity, to distinguish between the conclusions of a scientific investigation and the statements of a demagogue. The use of whatever capacity for independent thought which children possess should result in the development of a group of open-minded, inquiring, investigating boys and girls, eager and willing in confronting their common community problems to do their own thinking, or to be guided by those who present conclusions which are recognized as valid. They should learn to act in accordance with well-established conclusions, even though they may have to break with the traditions or superstitions which have operated to interfere with the development of the social welfare of the group with which they are associated.


1. How do children (and adults) most frequently solve their problems?

2. Under what conditions do children think and yet reach wrong conclusions? Give examples.

3. Can first-grade children think? Give examples which prove your contention.

4. What are the important elements to be found in all thinking?

5. Show how these elements may be involved in a first-grade lesson in nature study. In an eighth-grade lesson in geography. In the teaching of any high school subject.

6. When may habit formation involve thinking? Memorization?

7. Give five examples of problems which you believe will challenge the brightest pupils in your class. Which would seem real and worth solving to the duller members of the group?

8. How may the analysis of such ideas as come to mind, and the abstraction of the part which is valuable for the solution of a particular problem, be facilitated?

9. How do you distinguish between thinking and reasoning?

10. What are the essential elements in reasoning? Give an example of reasoning as carried on by one solving a problem in arithmetic or geometry, in geography, physics, or chemistry.

11. In what respects are the processes of induction and deduction alike? In what do they differ?

12. At what stage of the inductive process is deduction involved?

13. Give examples of reasoning demanded in school work in which the process is predominantly inductive. Deductive.

14. Why are the statements "Induction proceeds from particulars to generals" and "Deduction from generals to particulars" inadequate to describe either process?

15. In what sense is thinking dependent upon the operation of the laws of habit?

16. To what degree is it possible to teach your pupils to think? Under what limitations do you work?

* * * * *


Appreciation belongs to the general field of feeling rather than that of knowing. The element which distinguishes appreciation from memory or imagination or perception is an affective one. Any one of these mental states may be present without the state being an appreciative one. But appreciation does not occur by itself as an elementary state, it is rather a complex—a feeling tone accompanying a mental state or process and coloring it. In other words, appreciation involves the presence of some intellectual states, but its addition makes the total complex of an emotional rather than a cognitive nature. The difficulty found in discussing emotions in general, that of defining or describing them in language, which is a tool of the intellect, is felt here. The only way to know what appreciation means is to appreciate. No phase of feeling can be adequately described—its essence is then lost—it must be felt. Nevertheless something may be done to differentiate this type of feeling from others.

Appreciation is an attitude of mind which is passive, contemplative. It may grow out of an active attitude or emotion, or it may lead to one, but in either case the state changes from one of appreciation to something else. In appreciation the individual is quiescent. Appreciation, therefore, has no end outside of itself. It is a sufficient cause for being. The individual is satisfied with it. This puts appreciation into the category of recreation. Appreciation then always involves the pleasure tone, otherwise it could not be enjoyed. It is always impersonal. It takes the individual outside and beyond his own affairs; it is an other-regarding feeling. Possession, achievement, and the like do not arouse appreciation, but rather an egoistical emotion.

One of the salient characteristics of emotions is their unifying power. It has aptly been said that in extreme emotional states one is the emotion. The individual and his emotional state become one—a very different state of affairs from what is true in cognition. This element of unification is present to some extent in appreciation, although, because of its complex nature, to a lesser extent than in a simpler, more primitive feeling state. Still, in true appreciation one does become absorbed in the object of appreciation; he, for the time being, to some extent becomes identified with what he is appreciating. In, order to appreciate this submerging of one's self, this identification is necessary.

Appreciation is bound up with four different types of situations which are of most importance to the teacher—(1) appreciation of the beautiful, (2) appreciation of human nature, (3) appreciation of the humorous, (4) appreciation of intellectual powers. The appreciation found in these four types of situations must vary somewhat because of the concomitants, but the characteristics which mark appreciation as such seem to be present in all four. True, in certain of the situations occurring under these types the emotional element may be stronger than in others—in some the intellectual element may seem to almost outweigh the affective, but still the predominant characteristics will be found to be those of an attitude which has the earmarks of appreciation.

Appreciation of beauty has usually been discussed under the head of aesthetic emotions. As to what rightfully belongs under the head of aesthetics is in dispute—writers on the subject varying tremendously in their opinions. Most of the recent writers, however, agree that the stimulus for aesthetic appreciation must be a sense percept or an image of some sense object. Ideas, meanings, in and of themselves, are not then objects of aesthetic enjoyment. The two senses which furnish the stimuli for this sort of appreciation are the eye and the ear—the former combining sensations under space form and the latter under time form to produce aesthetic feelings. Our senses may cause feelings of pleasure, but the enjoyment is sensuous rather than aesthetic. Nature, in all its myriad forms, art, architecture, music, literature, and the dance are the chief sources of aesthetic appreciation. That there is a definite connection between physiological processes and the feeling of appreciation is without doubt true, but just what physiological conditions in connection with visual and auditory perception are fulfilled when some experience gives rise to aesthetic appreciation, and just what is violated when there is lack of such appreciation, is not known. It is known that both harmony and rhythm must be considered in music, and that the structure and muscular control of the eye plus the ease of mental apprehension play important parts in rousing aesthetic feelings in connection with vision, but further than that little is known.

The chief danger met in developing the aesthetic appreciation is the tendency to overestimate its dependence on, in the first place, skill in creative work and the active emotions involved in achievement, and in the second place, the intellectual understanding of the situation. It has been largely taken for granted that the constructive work in the arts or in music increased one's power of appreciation. That, if a child used color and painted a little picture, or composed a melody, or modeled in clay, he would therefore be able to appreciate better in these fields. And further that the very development of this power to do necessarily developed the power to appreciate. These two beliefs are true to some extent, but only to a limited extent, and not nearly so far as practice has taken for granted. It is true that some power to do increases power to appreciate, but they parallel each other only for a short time and then diverge, and either may be developed at the expense of the other. In most people the power to appreciate, the passive, contemplative enjoyment, far surpasses the ability to create. On the other hand, men of creative genius often lack power of aesthetic appreciation. This result is natural if one thinks of the mental processes involved in the two. Power to do is associated with muscular skill, with technique, and with the personal emotions of active achievement. AEsthetic appreciation, on the other hand, is associated with neither, but with a mental attitude and feelings which are quite different. Cultivating one set of processes will not develop the other to any great extent and may, on the other hand, be antagonistic to their development. If the aesthetic emotions, if appreciations of the beautiful, are desired, they must be trained and developed directly.

The second danger to be avoided in developing aesthetic appreciation is that of magnifying its dependence on the intellectual factors. To understand, to be able to analyze, to pick out the flaws in a musical selection, or a painting, is not necessary to its appreciation. True, some understanding is necessary, but, as in the case of skill, it is much less than has been taken for granted. Appreciation can go far ahead of understanding. The intellectual factor and the feeling response are not absolutely interdependent in degree. Not only so, but the prominence of the intellectual factor precludes that of the feeling. When one is emphasized the other cannot be, as they are different sorts of mental stuff. Continuous and emphatic development of the intellectual may result in the atrophy of the power of appreciation in any given field either temporarily or permanently. Many a boy's power to enjoy the rhythm and melody of poetry has been destroyed by the overemphasis of the critical facility during his high school course. The fact that a person can analyze the painting, point out the plans in its composition, and so on, does not at all mean that he can aesthetically appreciate. Contemplative enjoyment may be impossible for him—it bores him. Botanists are not noted for their power of aesthetic appreciation. It is an acknowledged fact that some art and music critics have lost their power of appreciation of the things they are continually criticizing. This discussion is not intended to minimize the value of creative skill, or of power of intellectual criticism. Both are talents that are well worth while cultivating. But it is necessary for one to decide which of the three, aesthetic appreciation, creative skill, or intellectual criticism, in the fields of art, nature, and music, is most worth while for the majority of people and then make plans accordingly. No one of the three can be best developed and brought to its highest perfection by emphasizing any one of the others.

The second type of appreciation is appreciation of human nature: appreciation of the value of human life, appreciation of its virtues and trials, appreciation of great characters, and so on. Some writers would probably class this type of appreciation under moral feelings—but moral feelings usually are thought of as active, as accompaniments of conduct, whereas these appreciations are feelings aroused in the onlooker—they are passive and for the time being are an end in themselves. These feelings are stimulated by such studies as literature and history particularly. Geography and civics offer some opportunity for their development, and, of course, contact with people is the greatest stimulus. In this latter type of situation the feelings of appreciation easily pass over into active emotions, but so long as one remains an onlooker, they need not do so. This appreciation, sympathy with and enjoyment and approval of human nature, finds its source in the social instincts, but it needs development and training if it is to be perfected. Very much of the time this appreciation is inhibited by the emphasis put on understanding. The intellectual faculties of memory, judgment, and criticism are the ones called into play in the study of history and often of literature. These studies leave the learner cold. He knows, but it does not make any difference to him. He can analyze the period or the character, but he lacks any feeling response, any appreciation of the qualities of endurance and loyalty portrayed, lacks any sympathetic understanding of the difficulties met and conquered. As was true of the aesthetic appreciation, a certain amount of understanding is necessary for true appreciation of any kind, but overemphasis of the intellectual element destroys the feeling element.

The third type of appreciation to be discussed is the appreciation of humor. Perhaps this does not belong with the other type, but it certainly has many of the same characteristics. Calkins defines a sense of humor as "enjoyment of an unessential incongruity.... This incongruity must be, as has been said, an unessential one, else the mood of the observer changes from happiness to unhappiness, and the comic becomes the pathetic. A fall on the ice which seemed to offer only a ludicrous contrast between the dignity and grace of the man erect and the ungainly attitude of the falling figure ceases utterly to be funny when it is seen to entail some physical injury; and wit which burns and sears is not amusing to its victim."[12] The ability to appreciate the humorous in life is a great gift and should be cultivated to a much greater extent than it is at present.

A fourth type of appreciation has been called appreciation of intellectual powers—a poor name perhaps, but the feeling is a real one. Enjoyment of style, of logical sequence, of the harmony of the whole, of the clear-cut, concise, telling sentences, are illustrations of what is meant. Enjoyment of a piece of literature, of a debate, of an argument, of a piece of scientific research, is not limited to the appreciation of the meanings expressed—in fact, in many cases the only factor that can arouse the feeling element, the appreciation, is this element of form. One may understand an argument or a debate as he hears it, but appreciation, enjoyment of it, comes only as a result of the consciousness of these elements of form.

That one possesses these feelings of appreciation, at least to some degree, is a matter of human equipment, but what one appreciates in art, literature, human nature, etc., depends primarily on training. There is almost no situation in life that with all people at all times will arouse appreciative feelings. Although there are a few fundamental conditions established by the physical make-up of the sense organs and by the original capacities of the human race, still they are few, and at present largely unknown, and experience does much to modify even these. What is crude, vulgar, inharmonious, in art and music to some people, arouses extreme aesthetic appreciation in others. Literature that causes one person to throw the book down in disgust will give greatest enjoyment to another. What is malice to one person is humorous to another. What people enjoy and appreciate depends primarily on their experience for the development of these feelings, depends upon the laws of association, readiness, exercise, and effect. To raise power of appreciation from low levels to high, from almost nothing to a controlling force, needs but the application of these laws. But no one of them can be neglected with impunity. It must be a gradual growth, beginning with tracks that are ready, because of the presence of certain instincts, and working on to others through the law of association. To expect a child of seven to appreciate a steel engraving, or a piece of classic music, or moral qualities in another person is to violate the law of readiness. To expect any one in adult life to enjoy music, or art, or nature, who has not had experience with each and enjoyed each continually as a child, is to violate the laws of exercise and effect.

Two or three suggestions as to aids in the application of these laws may be in place. First, a wealth of images is an aid to appreciation. Second, the absence for the time of the critical attitude. Third, an encouragement of the passive contemplative attitude. Fourth, the example of others. Suggestion and association with other people who do appreciate and enjoy are among the best means of securing it.

The value of feelings of appreciation are threefold: First, they serve as recreation. It is in enjoyment of this kind that most of the leisure of civilized races is spent. It serves on the mental level much the same purpose that play does, in fact, much of it is mental play of a kind. Second, they are impersonal. They are valuable in that they take us out of ourselves, away from self-interests, and therefore make for mental health and sanity as well as for a sympathetic character. They are also a means of broadening one's experience. Third, they have a close relationship with ideals and therefore have an active bearing on conduct. It is not necessarily true that one will tend in himself or in his surroundings to be like what he enjoys and appreciates, but the tendency will be strongly in that direction. If an individual truly appreciates, enjoys, beautiful pictures, good music and books, he will be likely, so far as he can, to surround himself with them. If he appreciates loyalty, openmindedness, tolerance, as he meets them in literature and history, he may become more so himself. At least, the developing of appreciations is the first step towards conduct in those lines. In order to insure the conduct, other means must be taken, but without the appreciation the conduct will be less sure.

One who would count most in developing power of appreciation upon the part of children may well inquire concerning his own power of appreciation. There is not very much possibility of the development of joy in poetry, in music, or any other artistic form of expression through association with the teacher who finds little satisfaction in these artistic forms, who has little power of aesthetic appreciation. It is only as teachers themselves are sincere in their appreciation of the nobility of character possessed by the men and women whose lives are portrayed in history, in literature, or in contemporary social life that one may expect that their influence will be important in developing such appreciation upon the part of children. Those pupils are fortunate who are taught by teachers who have a sense of humor, who are able to grow enthusiastic over the intellectual achievement of the leaders in the field of study or investigation in which the children are at work. Children are, indeed, quick to discover sentimentalism or pseudo-appreciation upon the part of teachers, but even though they may not give any certain expression to their enjoyment, they are usually largely influenced by the attitude and genuine power of appreciation possessed by the teacher.

In our attempt to have children grow in the field of appreciation we have often made the mistake of attempting to impose upon them adult standards. A great librarian in one of our eastern cities has said that he would rather have children read dime novels than to have them read nothing. From his point of view it was more important to have children appreciating and enjoying something which they read than to have their lives barren in this respect. In literature, in music, and in fine art the development in power of appreciation is undoubtedly from the simple, cruder forms to those which we as adults consider the higher or nobler forms of expression. Mother Goose, the rhymes of Stevenson, of Field, or of Riley, may be the beginning of the enjoyment of literature which finds its final expression in the reading and in the possession of the greatest literature of the English language. The simple rote songs which the children learn in the first grade, or which they hear on the phonograph, may lead through various stages of development to the enjoyment of grand opera. Pictures in which bright color predominates may be the beginning of power of appreciation which finds its fruition in a home which is decorated with reproductions of the world's masterpieces.

It is not only in the artistic field that this growth in power of appreciation from the simpler to the more complex is to be found. Children instinctively admire the man who is brave rather than the man who endures. Achievement is for most boys and girls of greater significance than self-sacrifice. It is only as we adapt our material to their present attainment, or to an attempt to have them reach the next higher stage of development, that we may expect genuine growth. All too often instead of growth we secure the development of a hypocritical attitude, which accepts the judgment of others, and which never really indicates genuine enjoyment.

While it is best not to insist upon an analysis of the feelings that one has in enjoying a picture or a poem or a great character, it is worth while to encourage choice. Of many stories which have been told, children may very properly choose one which they would like to tell to others. Of many poems which have been read in class, a group of boys may admire one and commit it to memory, while the girls may care for another and be allowed to memorize it. Wherever such cooeperation is possible, the picture which you enjoy most is the one that will mean most in power of appreciation if placed in your room at home. Spontaneous approval, rather than an agreement with an adult teacher who is considered an authority, is to be sought for. There is more in the spontaneous laughter which results as children read together their "Alice in Wonderland" than could possibly result from an analysis of the quality of humor which is involved.

We are coming to understand as a matter of education that we may hope to develop relatively few men and women of great creative genius. The producers of work of great artistic worth are, for the most part, to be determined by native capacity rather than by school exercises. We must think of the great majority of school children as possible consumers rather than as producers. Schools which furnish a maximum of opportunity to enjoy music and pictures may hope to develop in their community a power of discrimination in these fields which will result in satisfaction with nothing less than the best. The player-piano and the phonograph may mean more in the development of musical taste in a community than all of the lessons which are given in the reading of music. The art gallery in the high school, the folk dances which have been produced as a part of the school festivals, the reading of the best stories, may prepare the way for the utilization of leisure time in the pursuit of the nobler pleasures. The teacher with a saving sense of humor, large in his power of appreciation of the great men and women of his time, and all of the time keen in his own enjoyment and in his ability to interpret for others those things which are most worth while in literature and in art, may count more largely in the life of the community than the one who is a master in some field of investigation.


1. What are the characteristics of the mental states which are involved in appreciation?

2. Name the different types of situations in which appreciation may be developed. Give examples.

3. Does the power to criticize poetry or music necessarily involve appreciation?

4. To what degree may skill in creative work result in power of appreciation?

5. What are the elements involved in appreciating human nature?

6. Give an example of appreciation of intellectual powers.

7. What is the essential element in the appreciation of humor?

8. Explain how the power of appreciation is dependent upon training.

9. What values in the education of an individual are realized through growth in power of appreciation?

10. Why is it important for a teacher to seek to cultivate his own power of appreciation?

11. What poems, or pictures, or music would you expect first-grade children to enjoy? Why?

12. Would you expect fifth-grade children to grow in appreciation of poetry by having them commit to memory selections from Milton's Paradise Lost? Why?

13. Why is it important to allow children to choose the poems that they commit to memory, or the pictures which they hang on their walls?

14. Why would you accept spontaneous expression of approval of the characters in literature or in history, rather than seek to control the judgments of children in this respect?

15. How may teachers prove most effective in developing the power of appreciation upon the part of children?

* * * * *


All human activity might be classified under three heads,—play, work, and drudgery,—but just what activities belong under each head and just what each of the terms means are questions of dispute. That the boundaries between the three are hazy and undefined, and that they shade gradually into each other, are without doubt true, but after all play is different from work, and work from drudgery. Much of the disagreement as to the value of play is due to this lack of definition. Even to-day when the worth of play is so universally recognized, we still hear the criticism's of "soft pedagogy" and "sugar coating" used in connection with the application of the principle of play in education.

Although what we call play has its roots in original equipment, still there is no such thing as the play instinct, in the sense that there is a hunting instinct or a fighting instinct. Instead of being a definite instinct, which means a definite response to a definite situation, it is rather a tendency characteristic of all instincts and capacities. It is an outgrowth of the general characteristic of all original nature towards activity of some kind. This tendency is so broad and so complex, the machinery governing it is so delicate, that it produces responses that vary tremendously with subtle changes in the individual, and with slight modifications of the situation. What we call play, then, is nothing more than the manifestations of the various instincts and capacities as they appear at times when they are not immediately useful. The connections in the nervous system are ripe and all other factors have operated to put them in a state of readiness: a situation occurs which stimulates these connections and the child plays. These connections called into activity may result in responses which are primarily physical, intellectual, or emotional—all are manifestations of this tendency towards activity. All habits of all kinds grow out of this same activity: habits which we call work and those which we call play. Man has not two original natures, one defined in terms of the play instinct, and the other in terms of work. Most of the original tendencies involved in play are not peculiar to it, but also are the source of work. Manifestation results in making "mud pies and apple pies"; physical activity results in the kicking, squirming, and wriggling of the infant and the monotonous wielding of the hammer of the road mender. The conditions under which an activity occurs, its concomitants, and the attitude of the individual performing it determine whether it is play or work—not its source or root.

Much, then, of what we call play is simply the manifestation of instincts and capacities not immediately useful to the child. If they were immediately useful, they would probably be put under the head of work, not play. Many of the activities which seem playful to us and not of immediate service do so because of the conditions of civilized life. Were the infants living under primitive conditions, "in such a community as a human settlement seems likely to have been twenty-five thousand years ago, their restless examination of small objects would perhaps seem as utilitarian as their fathers' hunting."[13] Certainly the tendency of little children to chase a small object going away from them, and to run from a large object approaching slowly, their tendency to collect and hoard, their tendency to outdo another engaged in any instinctive pursuit, would under primitive conditions have a distinct utilitarian value, and yet all such tendencies are ranked as play when manifested by the civilized child.

Other tendencies become playful rather than useful because of the complexity of the environment and of the nervous system responding to it. In actual life we don't find activity following a neatly arranged situation—response system. On the contrary, a situation seldom stimulates one response, and a response seldom occurs in the typical form required by theory. It is this mingling of responses brought about by varying elements in the situation that gives the playful effect. In a less complex environment this complexity would be lessened. Also experience, habit, tends to pin one type of response to a given situation and the minor connections gradually become eliminated. For example, if a boy of nine, alone in the woods, was approached by another with threatening gestures and scowls, the fighting response would be called out, and we would not call it play, because it served as protection. If the same boy in his own garden, with a group of companions, was approached by another with scowls, a perfectly good-natured tussle might take place and we would call it play. The difference between the two would be in minor elements of the situation. Some of these differences are absence or presence of companions, the strangeness or familiarity of the surroundings, the suddenness of the appearance of the other boy, and so on.

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