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Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827)
The Approach and Method of Education
An oil portrait of J. H. Pestalozzi with some of his adoring charges.
From "The Development of Education"
Pestalozzi's Educational Practice
The simple broad aims of Pestalozzi have been indicated sufficiently in the brief account of his life and work. Here is attempted some evaluation of those methods and teaching principles which he himself regarded as the most important results of his various experiments and observations.
His opinion on such matters is worthy of respect lacking as they do the pardonable egoism of most innovators. His humility would not permit him to say, "I am a good exponent of my methods. If you consider my teaching successful, copy me". He confesses that it was only in his own imagination that he saw the ideal school community and the perfect teaching method. He would have agreed with his old pupil, Ramsauer, that his classroom method often left much to be desired, especially when he became so carried away that his spate of words poured over his uncomprehending pupils. He did not present a "good example" to his pupils in appearance, for he was susceptible to great negligence and untidiness; unable to present to them a completely controlled adult, for he was disposed to "temper-tantrums" in front of classes of undue fits when he discovered teachers not working satisfactorily or when they incurred his displeasure for any reason.
He would have admitted freely all these failings but it is doubtful whether he would have presumed to offset them by a statement of his own achievement in gaining a spiritual ascendancy over pupils, staff and students. For this achievement he merits recognition as a great educator, yet he himself did not wish to admit that good teaching might be bound up with such qualities of greatness, for he hoped above all that he was helping to show the world its need for many trained teachers, rather than just a few "born" teachers.
That there was much truth in his contention that good teachers could be "made" was proven by the extraordinary fruitfulness of his ideas in both the old and new worlds. It was shown at Yverdun itself, although it might be argued that there the methods were hardly given a fair trial and that it was the spirit of the leader which gave that centre its unique quality. It was certainly something more than a mere inculcation of methodology which ensured the acceptance of communal living conditions by the staff. Each-teacher lived with his own group of pupils - slept and ate with them, supervised their duties, personal hygiene and books and spent his free time with them whenever they showed a desire for his company.
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The Daily Schedule
The first lesson of the day was at six o'clock in the morning and the last finished at eight in the evening. Apart from a few brief breaks between lessons, the times for recreation and exercise were about an hour or an hour and a half at mid-day, and a similar period from four-thirty. Wednesday and Sunday afternoons were given over to conducted excursions. In bad weather recreation and excursion time was spent in a gymnasium. This carefully regulated life and simple food ensured the good health of the pupils, but it also prohibited any extensive freedom for the staff. It is true that few of the younger teachers appear to have sought time to read and study, perhaps because Pestalozzi so often stressed that good teaching could not be learnt from books, only from practice. On the other hand they were encouraged and expected to attend their colleague's lessons as a means of remedying any deficiency of knowledge. Froebel is reported to have sat in class with the boys, learning along with them.
A description of Yverdun by a former pupil, Roger de Guinips, is worthy of quotation because it indicates its remarkable similarity to the modern conception of a "progressive" school. After describing how, in spite of the spread-over of lessons, there was ample time for playing, bathing and tending the little garden plot given to each pupil, he relates that there was complete liberty of egress and ingress, a privilege not abused by the children. "Not one lesson was longer than an hour," he continues, "and they were all followed by a short interval during which the classes usually changed rooms. Some of the lessons consisted of gymnastic exercises or some sort of manual work or gardening. The last hour of the day was a free hour, given up to what the pupils called their own work. They could do anything they wished - draw, read geography, write letters, or arrange their note-books ... The end of the year was devoted to making New Year albums to send to parents, containing drawings, maps, mathematical problems, fragments of history, descriptions of natural objects and literary compositions. On New Year's Day the pupils of each class decorated their room, transforming it into a woodland scene, with cottage, chapel, ruins, and sometimes a fountain, which was so arranged as to play when Pestalozzi came in. Fir-branches, ivy and moss were fetched in large quantities from the neighbouring forests, and transparencies with emblems and inscriptions were secretly prepared: for the decoration of each room was to be a surprise, not only to Pestalozzi. but to the pupils of the other classes ... The principal idea in most of the inscriptions was: 'In summer you take us to see nature; today we try to bring nature to see you'. Frequently on this day the pupils performed a dramatic piece, the subject generally being one of the great episodes from Swiss history of mediaeval times. For these plays the actors made their own costumes and weapons from coloured paper and cardboard".
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The curriculum included religion, history, classical and modern languages, physical science, natural history, mathematics, geography, spelling, perspective drawing, and singing, and although only the last five subjects were taught according to Pestalozzi's method, the width of the range of subjects is sufficiently remarkable to merit the term "reformed curriculum". It would seem that Locke's plan for the individual little gentleman was now being applied with a considerable measure of success to the group education which he deplored. An outstanding but inevitable problem arising from this was one which still exists - the problem of teaching each pupil so that every step fits his developmental needs. True, at Yverdun the situation was even more complicated by the fact that between them the pupils had half a dozen native languages German, French (prayers were read in both), English (and American), Spanish, Italian and Russian. Perhaps even more serious, however, was another problem shared by most schools today - that the preceding training, and education of the pupils varied so greatly.
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Pestalozzi's Educational Theory
Pestalozzi saw education as a means of social reform but not solely as an aijel't-orating influence. His plea was, in truth, an appeal for equality - it was a duty of society to develop each man's abilities to the full. This could only be accomplished by equipped schools, high moral standards, and sound teaching methods. Moreover, the education itself should be such as would prepare the individual for his future place in life, not in the sense of class distinction but in the sense that he should be able to find satisfaction in his occupation and in his domestic life. Pestalozzi envisaged early education as vocational. He let the school reflect the best of family atmosphere to which its pupils belong. Presumably if the child gains a good general education closely related in pleasures, duties, responsibilities, and activities to a good home training and based on association with the social environment, not on segregation from it, then he will become a fully developed, balanced, disciplined adult who will easily move out from his native society should his skills and abilities make it possible.
In On Infants' Education Pestalozzi describes the object of education as:
"not a perfection in the accomplishments of the school, but fitness for life; not the acquirement of habits of blind obedience and of prescribed diligence, but a preparation for interdependent action"
and, moreover, he emphasises in the same work:
"We have no right to shut out the child from the development of those faculties also, which we may not for the present conceive to be very essential for his future calling or station in life".
His own repeated efforts to draw to him under the same four walls children of all classes, indicate that his various statements on this topic were not mere rhetoric. He truly believed that the rich child missed much of the best of family education by being excused family chores and responsibilities, and also by being so often put in the charge of unimaginative nurses and tutors instead of receiving the best kind of maternal training. In his school-family he aimed to reproduce those conditions of precept and practice, example and experience, which he considered to be the most likely to fulfil the right of all people to:
"a general diffusion of useful knowledge, a careful development of the intellect and judicious attention to all the faculties of man, physical, intellectual and moral".
This emphasis on physical education is reminiscent of Locke and perhaps came to Pestalozzi through Rousseau, but it cannot be doubted that his own health problem and his experience with the orphans of Netthof and Stanz taught him far more than any writings. He was not content to let Nature educate at her own speed in any sphere of development, so that although he accepted Rousseau's standards of simplicity in dress and living conditions, he included in his scheme a very considerable element of physical exercises allied to modern gymnastics, and in addition allowed much time for free out-of-door activities. Specialists accept his ideas as penetrating deeply into the nature of physical education. He aimed to develop strength and control of the limbs through exercises and, in addition, grace through rhythmic movement.
"Exercises may be devised for every age and for every degree of bodily strength, however reduced,"
he wrote, and although this viewpoint has not always been fashionable, it is not disdained today by the boxer, the ballet dancer, the typist and many other specialists in arts and occupations demanding some physical dexterity.
Not the least among his educational aims in physical training, in addition to the remedial and preventive aspects, is its contribution to moral education comparable to that he attributes to music, indicating, perhaps, that he was not entirely forgetful of his early reading of Plato. He writes of gymnastics as promoting cheerfulness, comradely spirit, frankness, courage and perseverance, and he describes music as striking at the root of "every bad or narrow feeling, of every ungenerous or mean propensity, of every emotion unworthy of humanity".
He emphasised the role of the mother - she awakens in her child feelings of love, confidence, gratitude and obedience. Her constant loving care, her firmness, her consistency and her simple teaching about God. The child gains feelings of security and confidence combined with habits of obedience both to her and to the father. The great task of the educator is to preserve these virtuous feelings and habits:
"Here you must not trust nature; you must do all in your power to supply the place of her guidance by the wisdom of experience".
Thus life itself forms the beginning of moral education, and its continuation, through the development of the will to goodness, should also be based on real experience and not on mere homilies and sermons, for
"words alone cannot give a real knowledge of things . . . will cannot be aroused by mere words".
Children need to have noble sentiments "engrafted on their hearts" by example and by experience. This is clearly an adaptation of Plato's method of habituation to goodness, but there is a greater emphasis on the need to give love and kindness to children to make unceasing efforts to broaden their sympathies, and to develop their good judgement and tactfulness. Pestalozzi emphasises the nature of moral control and the formation of personal standards.
The basic elements of intellectual education are comparable to those of physical and moral education although Pestalozzi suggests that the natural laws for the development of human powers are not the same for the heart, the mind and the body. In fact, the different needs of each side of man's nature account for the basic principle of Pestalozzi's method, best indicated by an extract from an address he gave on his seventy-second birthday:
"Each of our moral, mental, and bodily powers must have its development based upon its own nature and not based upon artificial and outside influences. Faith must be developed by exercises in believing and cannot be developed from the knowledge and understanding only of what is to be believed; thought must grow from thinking, for it cannot come simply from the knowledge and understanding of what is to be thought or the laws of thought; love must be developed by loving, for it does not arise merely from a knowledge and understanding of what love is and of what ought to be loved; art also, can only be cultivated through doing artistic work and acquiring skill, for unending discussion of art and skill will not develop them. Such a return to the true method of Nature in the method of the development of our powers necessitates the subordination of education to the knowledge of the various laws which govern those powers".
Pestalozzi emphasises that the three aspects of education need to go hand in hand for the harmonious development of the individual, but it is in his ideas on the training of the intellect that are most clearly defined his principles for improving the tendencies and powers of humanity according to the course of Nature. The mother and the teacher can do no more than "assist the child's nature in the effort which it makes for its own development". Therefore the first task of educational research should be the discovery by observation of the child's unfolding powers and changing needs, and the arrangement of the whole range of human knowledge in an order adapted to those powers and needs. Pestalozzi would deem forced precocity as undesirable as backwardness, for he believes child development should proceed like that of plants according to the "norm" for each stage. This attitude accounts for his indifference to the actual attainments of his pupils in the traditionally "important" subjects. He was more concerned with discovering "the unbroken chain of measures originating in . . . a knowledge of the constant laws of our nature".
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Pestalozzi's Idea of Learning - Anschtauung
Pestalozzi's concept of intellectual education is related to Locke's principle for the conduct of the understanding - a development of reasoning by the practice of reasoning. The mind receives impressions from the outside world and it analyses, compares, and combines those impressions. Education must foster this process by following the course of nature - for the first mental impression is received immediately after birth, so that much has been stored up by the time formal education begins. To the fundamental processes of the mind of Pestalozzi gave the name Anschauung, a term which does not bear translation by one equivalent, since it embraces all and any of the various stages of the evolution of ideas. Sometimes it is the process of reception by the mind of a sense-impression and the resultant production of an idea - an idea of softness, of prickliness, of warmth, of dullness - independent of a knowledge of the appropriate word used to describe it. Sometimes it is the process of idea formation through a combination of sense-impression and observation - the latter term implying intellectual awareness or attention. Sometimes it is the immediate mental realisation of an idea without the intervention of external things. These three versions of Anschauung explain its translation as "sense-impression" or "observation" or "intuition". Pestalozzi intended it to have a very wide meaning:
"Anschauung is the immediate and direct impression produced by the world on our inner and outer senses-the impressions of the moral world on our moral sense and of the physical universe on our bodily senses".
From Pestalozzi's definition of education as natural development, it is clear that he assumes the existence of one's tendencies to form ideas through Anschauting. The simple ideas gained from early experience build themselves up into complex powers of reasoning and abstract thought, so that the educator's task is not to put knowledge or reasoning power into the pupil, but to provide the best conditions for his full development - to tend him as a gardener tends a plant, removing noxious weeds from his vicinity, and supplying healthy, fertile soil and the right degrees of sun, water and shelter. In fact, the pupil develops himself through self-activity - he develops speech through speaking and thought through thinking. The highest and best form of any human skill, accomplishment, or virtue is achieved through performance and practice in the right conditions from the elementary beginnings initiated by natural human impulses.
The justification for education is therefore, that even as a plant's growth may be uncertain or retarded in neglected soil, so man, without education, is prevented from achieving full mental and moral stature. The accidental, ill-arranged experiences of life permit but limited development, so that both parents and teachers need to order and plan the environmental experiences of the young-here we see a measure of agreement with Rousseau. Later, as the young person takes his place in the world, the state, or society itself, should take the place of parents and teachers in ensuring that he is not denied the opportunity of suitable work and conditions of life, for on these depends his continued development in the perception of moral values, the realisation of duty and the appreciation of goodness and justice.
Pestalozzi does not suggest that complete development can be achieved without conscious effort on the part of the learner. He needs to study, to direct his own search for knowledge, and he needs to seek constant exercise of his powers of reasoning and judgement. Nevertheless, such activity starts from much experience in weighing up and estimating simple impressions gained from things. Practice and maturity bring increased capacity to proceed from the known to the unknown. The use of this mental capacity to weigh up impressions to compare and contrast them, to put them into categories, is the activity which results in the formation of ideas, whether simple or complex. The baby in the hot bathwater gains an "idea" of heat without knowing the word and without consciously relating it to other ideas. The nurse testing the bathwater with her elbow could, if necessary, describe her experience, but, more important, she can gain very quickly an idea of exact temperature because, through the practice of comparing and judging past experiences of a similar kind, she has gained an insight into the real nature of hot water - she has a distinct and accurate idea of it. The probationer, through lack of practice in identifying the particular grades and categories of water-testing experiences, may have only a vague, confused idea, or even a completely wrong idea, of the correct temperature for baby's bath. The tutor does not insist that each attempt at testing be analysed into its elements and the temperature deduced accurately. It will be enough to give the probationer guidance and to provide adequate opportunities for the involuntary development of skill in differentiating between temperatures.
As it is through the formation of ideas through Anschauung
that the highest intellectual processes can be attained,
it is important that the teacher should guide and foster the production
of clear, accurate ideas at each stage. To ensure this accuracy, two factors
- perfection and completeness of the original sense-impression (or intuition. or observation) and
- achievement, through practice, of facility in reasoning and judging at that level before proceeding to the next stage which involves more difficult and more complex ideas.
This repetition and practice at each stage needs to be based upon a series of the most representative experiences in that particular category.
The implications of this theory in class teaching are simple but nevertheless
of fundamental significance. Assuming that Pestalozzi's requirement of
educational research has been fulfilled, the teacher should be able to
plan a syllabus graded according to difficulty. Each study should begin
with observation of the object or the external physical manifestation
of the topic which should be a normal, representative specimen, or series
of specimens. If it is unavoidable, the real specimens may be replaced
by pictures, but never merely by words. The
teacher helps the pupils to name the object, to investigate and name its
parts and properties and after due consideration of this description to
formulate a definition representing their distinct idea of the object.
The teacher's function is to train pupils inhabits of accurate observation
not in the memorising of words. However true the teacher may know those
words to be, they have no reality or truth for the pupil unless based
on his own perceptions. The inspiration of Herbart's theory of apperception
probably lies in Pestalozzi's belief that the association of like ideas
- gained from like objects serve to weaken the non-conforming ideas gained
from unrepresentative objects in a category. Therefore it is important
that plenty of worthy, noble, and correct ideas are formed for they will
surely oust the unworthy, ignoble and incorrect.
The teacher encourages the pupil in the development of language, observation, and mental skills which proceed from the "three elementary powers" of making sounds, forming images, and imagining concepts, powers on which Pestalozzi based his whole educational practice. In aiming to make education "a steady, unbroken development of these fundamental powers", and to ensure certain progress "from obscure to definite sense-impressions, from definite sense-impressions to clear images, and from clear images to distinct ideas", he seeks to base all teaching on sound, form, and number. He postulates that the natural tendency of the mind, when presented with a confused mass of objects, is to sort them out into separate objects and to group them in categories - that is, to number them; the mind also notices the shape of the objects and seeks to apply to them some name already in the mind through previous experience. The properties of number, form, and name are common to all things and all other properties which are not thus shared are nevertheless related to those three elements. He contends, "whatever ideas we may have to acquire in the course of our life. They are all introduced through the medium of one of these three departments".
From such a conviction grew his methods in elementary education. All activities were planned to enable correct ideas of number, form, and language to be developed from good and full perception. Reading, writing, and arithmetic were not the bases of instruction but these elementary skills are useful only in so far as they can be employed in efficient pursuit of further knowledge. It is far more important than the skills themselves and so in place of the old "words and things" learning, Pestalozzi substituted the approach to the three R's through the object lesson.
Until children have learnt to feel and think and until they have acquired some knowledge of the world around them, there is no purpose in learning to read. From the first they have the capacity to feel intuitively the meaning of sound. They need guidance in expanding this capacity of intuitive understanding, guidance also in the conscious acquisition of a vocabulary and, not least, guidance in the ability to describe things accurately in speech. The natural place for this early guidance is in the home, and later in the school. The study of grammar should come only after a long, thorough, carefully graduated course in language-using. A very large area of advanced thought is dependent on a wide knowledge of language for its clear and meaningful functioning, even as another large area of thought is dependent on mathematical symbols. Hence, language teaching should consist of giving exercise in "describing accurately" at the appropriate child level. In the early stages, the sense-impressions made by objects or pictures will give rise to discussion and simple definitions of properties and characteristics. and pupils will easily recall their findings about objects with similar properties.
Constant exercise in describing what he sees, feels and hears, and what he has seen, has felt, and has heard, will give a child increasing command over language both in vocabulary and construction. Pestalozzi accepted as a fundamental that a whole sentence is simpler than its component parts, yet when he planned the teaching of spelling and reading, he started from syllables - he assumed that the "natural" process was the formation of single sounds into words, and words into speech. His system had the great advantage over the later elementary routine, that much directed and guided talking preceded any learning of spelling and reading. Had he been content to regard his artificial syllable learning as mere exercise for the articulating organs, it might have been suspected that he had studied the evolution of infant speech, its combination of consonants and syllables as shown by Dr M. M. Lewis. While deeming the alphabet but "dead signs", he yet found it desirable to learn letters separately, and he devised play-way methods and apparatus for this purpose.
The teaching of "form" was an interesting attempt to combine measuring, drawing and writing on the assumption that the "natural order" involved these activities in this order. Practice in measuring and drawing gives clearer, more accurate ideas of shapes of objects, but the pupil should not be employed in making copies of copies. He should measure and draw real things. For some time Pestalozzi and his colleagues experimented with a scheme for teaching "the simple elements of the laws of form", supposedly essential before drawing could be undertaken. This curious "alphabet" of geometrical forms repeated the same mistake as the division of words into syllables but its defects were more obvious and the inventors eventually modified it. A knowledge of, and practice with, the fundamental lines, angles, and curves, were supposed to facilitate the learning of writing and to prevent the development of bad habits. Again, in addition to arranging the letters in order of difficulty (of lines, angles, etc.), Pestalozzi devised ways of helping the pupils. An object could be placed immediately above the line to be written; the work could be checked by the pupils themselves by placing over their work transparent forms bearing perfect strokes and letters. Writing is much more than a mechanical exercise, however, penmanship is a skill which enables speech to be written down, thoughts to be expanded and clarified, and imagination to be exercised.
In number teaching Pestalozzi set out to find ways of helping children really to understand number. and not merely to develop speed and accuracy in the mechanical working of examples. He wanted children to discover for themselves the mathematical rules through activities based, like all other learning activities, in the first place on sense-impressions. Pestalozzi wrote:
"Any number, whatever be its name, is nothing but an abbreviation of the elementary process of counting".
And so the counting of real objects, the grouping, the adding, the subtracting were the essential basic activities of early number work, in order that the primitive constitution of numbers should be deeply impressed upon the mind without being complicated and confused by written symbols. Pupils would gain "an intuitive knowledge" of the real properties and proportions of numbers - a useful illustration of the Pestalozzian meaning of the term "intuition" - a knowing in the mind independent of sense-impression or reasoning. Pestalozzi's description of his method:
"I make him go over the same numbers again . . . with beans, pebbles, or any other objects which are at hand".
reminds us that nursery and infant schools today use a great deal of number apparatus in a similar way. True, much of it aims to enable the child to gain experience in counting, grouping, adding, and subtracting without the teacher's guidance, but the principle - the use of units, at first solid and later as marks on paper - is exactly the same.
To facilitate progress to division, multiplication, and the understanding of fractions, Pestalozzi devised his Table of Units in which the unit adopted was the square, a figure which lends itself to simple visual subdivision and partition. Through activities with these divisible squares, pupils gain an "intuitive knowledge" of the proportions of the different fractions and so can proceed later to their symbolic representation with clear ideas of their true significance. Although the details of the scheme were too full and elaborate to suit the modern fashion for "freedom", the operation of the scheme produced results which evoked more wonder and admiration from visitors to Yverdun than any other aspect of the school's work, perhaps because arithmetical skill was a newer and more impressive accomplishment than fluent, vigorous speech. The pupils were not only quick but remarkably accurate in the working of practical arithmetic.
This then, was Pestalozzi's basic curriculum, but as we have seen, his scheme also opened up wide fields of knowledge and experience. Not only did he provide an education which even according to modern standards was "general", and this at a time when child education was still closely hedged in by tradition, but he also made praiseworthy attempts to apply his Anschauung principle to the teaching of all other subjects. Even where he failed, or where the method became cluttered up by over-elaboration, his insistence on individual experience as the basis of all learning may be well used by many more educators of children. Perhaps the most striking example of an excellent lead, ignored by many generations of teachers, was his work in geography teaching. From his experience with his own son - illustrated by his story of the river - he developed a method which the best teachers are struggling to put into practice today - the guided observation of the local area and the introduction to maps, not through maps made by strangers, but through the activities of making large-scale models and maps of the locality. An old pupil described this work: "We were taken to a narrow valley not far from Yverdun . . . After taking a general view we were made to examine the details until we obtained an exact and complete idea of it. We were then taken some clay lay in beds on one side of the valley ... and on our return we too reproduced in relief the valley we had just studied. In the course of the next few days we covered more ground and each time with a further extension of our work. Only when our relief was finished were we shown the map - which by this time we had not seen."
The basic idea is as valid today as two centuries ago. Equally worth while is Pestalozzi's view that geography should be closely coordinated with related subjects. Karl Ritter, one of the most appreciative of Pestalozzi's pupil-teachers was the great German pioneer in geography teaching, who had a wide and lasting influence on German elementary education in his day. Germany had in the nineteenth century by far the best geography teaching in the world. Many of its best characteristics - including heimat kunde - persisted into the twentieth century.
Of other subjects there is space to say little except that subjects based on Anschauung such as science were approved by Pestalozzi. and those which were not so easily related to experience - such as history - were less favoured. Languages, including Latin, should be learnt on the same principles as the vernacular - by talking and not by grammar - but language work should be as carefully planned as other studies because, in Pestalozzi's view, it should be the link between sense perception and the true faculty of thought. Handicrafts and other manual activities (such as gardening, bookbinding. model-making, shooting, etc.) were accorded equal status with other ways of learning. Indeed, Pestalozzi suggested that an "alphabet of practical abilities" should be sought so that manual work and physical exercises could be analysed into elements, and teaching schemes devised to develop skill in elementary movement in graded order. This suggestion was taken up by Pestalozzi's disciples, and, as in some other subjects, the process was often carried to the point of absurdity.
Early Spreading of Pestalozzi's Educational Methods
In view of the absence of a science of psychology in his day, and in view of the humility and frankness of his reports and suggestions, it would be mere carping to attempt to summarise the weaknesses of Pestalozzi's educational theory. Indeed, those failings which have been subjected to critical comment by other writers may be put forward alternatively as points of strength, if only in that their courageous deviation from the traditional and conventional permitted experiment which might not otherwise have taken place for another century. The same points are among those which have preserved and enhanced his reputation and have given his contribution a permanent significance. For instance, it cannot be established that he and his staff would have taught better or found "short cuts" had they read other men's opinions on education. As it was, they were thrown into true research method. Again, while it may not be entirely true that "anyone can teach", the adoption of the idea of training teachers has in fact, resulted in the handing on of methods evolved through research to thousands of teachers coming from the walks of life on which Pestalozzi wished to draw. Again the contemporary criticism, that his pupils were "too little under restraint", has been confounded by the modern attitude to school discipline. His experiments in methods of self-government have been followed and developed, and now, after a phase of somewhat extreme freedom at some stages of education, general opinion tends to agree with him that firmness and consistency on the part of the teacher are desirable, although his first duty is still "to be interested and interesting".
Many critics have torn to shreds the language-form-number theory, but even if based on faulty psychology and hazy philosophy, surely it deserves recognition as the first attempt to develop knowledge and goodness systematically out of child experience. Pestalozzi himself said:
"I am but the initiator-and depend upon others to carry out my views".
That his followers had not the vision to expand and improve his concepts was the real cause of the tedious oral repetition and the stereotyped object lesson which were the characteristics of the narrowed application of Pestalozzian methods. How far they created the essential "family atmosphere", how far they aimed to foster goodness rather than merely to repress evil, how far they graduated their exercises according to child-understanding, are questions not easily answered. It is extremely doubtful, however, whether any but the few pioneers and contemporary disciples had any true insight into Pestalozzi's heart.
Of all the English people who visited Pestalozzi at Yverdun none did more to interpret directly and fully Pestalozzi's ideals and principles in England than the Rev. Charles Mayo (1792-1846), who spent nearly three years from 1819 as English chaplain at the school. He had deliberately sought leave of his college - he was a Fellow of St John's, Oxford - in order to make this visit, so that it is clear he had a genuine interest in education even before he became a whole-hearted disciple of the Swiss educator. On his return, fired with the desire to introduce to England the methods and principles he had learned, he set up a private school at Epsom and later moved it to Cheam, where he stayed for the rest of his life. Not only did he put into practice the new methods, he also took every opportunity to spread information about them and understanding of them as, for instance, by his lecture in 1826 on the life of Pestalozzi given at the Royal Institution.
Today, there appears to be little public recognition for the work and
methods of Pestalozzi, perhaps because the politics of the time coupled
with Pestalozzi's modesty, restricted their spread. However, there is
no doubt that any modern student of education theory must recognise the
validity of the method and values developed by Pestalozzi. The results
of an educational environment nurturing "head, heart and hands" are consistently
superior to unidimensional methods to which many are subjected. Perhaps,
these methods will gain support as the developemnt of education systems
becomes increasingly politically expedient.
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