The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
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Book Review by Victor H. Allemandy.
Volume 12, 1901, pgs. 371-377

Apperception, by Dr. Karl Lange.

Dr. Lange's book is a monograph of Psychology and Pedagogy, and is divided into three sections:--(1) "The Doctrine of Apperception"--a Psychological Investigation; (2) "The Theory of Apperception in its Application to Pedagogy"; and (3) a "History of the Term Apperception." An interesting, well-arranged, and lucid introduction is furnished by Dr. De Garmo, who opens his preface with the following words --"If we inquire into the genesis of our present educational ideals, we shall find that they take their rise in the hearts of a few great men. Comenius, Rousseau, and Pestalozzi, to whom much that is excellent in our American schools to-day can be traced, were men who wrote and thought because they saw a great need, because their intense emotional natures were stirred to the depths at the sight of children growing up in ignorance, or wasting the precious time of youth in empty verbalism. Like all great reformers, they were governed more by their feelings and instincts than by the scientific spirit which analyses everything, never taking a step not warranted by logical deduction." And, further on, he introduced Dr. Karl Lange, the Director of the Higher Burger School, Plauen, Germany, as one of the earnest followers of Herbart, the eminent psychologist and educationist. "Among the number," he says, "Dr. Lange has perhaps exhibited the happiest combination of popular presentation and scientific insight. His book will interest the simplest and instruct the wisest; for, being on the one side concrete and readable, it is on the other founded on painstaking research, not only in Herbartian, but also in other modern scientific psychology. A prominent merit of Lange is that he shows us the lines along which we must work in order to reach a solution of educational problems requiring this new element of psychology scientifically developed."

The preliminary chapter is devoted to a discussion of the "Nature and Kinds of Apperception," which subject is treated in a very readable and interesting manner, but it is not until he reaches page 41 that the reader is given a full and adequate meaning of the term apperception. It is stated thus:--"Apperception is therefore that psychical activity by which individual perceptions, ideas, or idea-complexes are brought into relation to our previous intellectual and emotional life, assimilated with it, and thus raised to greater clearness, activity, and significance." The previous pages, however, gradually lead up to this final connotation. Before a perfect apperception can exist there must be first of all a simple perception, and this must be succeeded by a mental process associating this perception with similar perceptions previously obtained. To put the matter in its simplest form, we may say that apperception consist of (1) a simple perception, (2) mental assimilation.

We do not propose quoting very largely from the section dealing with the "Theory of Apperception"; our readers must read it for themselves, and a knowledge of the subject dealt with in this volume will help, later on, to a full understanding of the Herbartian system of education. The following quotation is of importance:--"The young retain many a word, many a sentence purely mechanically, without understanding. It may be years after that the meaning of a form of speech occurs to us. Then we recognize and understand a perception that to our childish mind appeared a sphinx's riddle. And, even to the adult, there come occasionally words and sentences, perceptions or thoughts, so strange and rare, that he knows not at first what to make of them, and catches himself, perhaps, asking with curiosity what sense or significance these new things may contain for him. We undoubtedly have perceptions that are never apperceived. In this list we shall find the earliest, isolate sensations of the child; those perceptions that we do not know what to do with; and such as on account of flagging attention or of transient character sink rapidly under the threshold of consciousness."

Speaking of the "Conditions of Apperception," Dr. Lange remarks:--"The results of mental assimilation, the facility or difficulty of process, its strength and power, are first of all dependent upon the nature of the apperceived as well as of the apperceiving ideas, upon the elements of thought and feeling accompanying them,--i.e., upon the existing conditions of mind and heart." Among these conditions may be mentioned the following:--A perception must not be too rapid or too slow; there must be activity and intensity; "significant, wide-reaching, and plastic groups of ideas. must confront the object of apperception"; the will must be exercised.

The third section on the "Significance of Apperception in the Spiritual Development of Man" should be of special interest to parents, giving, as it does, so many examples from child life. Many have denied that apperception belongs to childhood or early school life, but the author contends that many "passive apperceptions occur even in earliest childhood," and proceeds to fully enforce this in subsequent pages. Instances are given of a child's use of language in its earliest years; thus "cornstalks" have been called "trees," "swans" "fishes," every man is spoken of as "pa" or "daddy," "flying creatures" as "birds" or "dickies." "It does not even appear advisable," he says, "to give to the child from the beginning of the corresponding word for every new perception; he would not be able to remember all the names for the multitude of external impressions. But where confusion is likely to result, some persons would meet the child's urgent inquiries for the names of things in another manner: in the earliest period of development they tell the child the generic name of many homogeneous objects, and not that of the individual or the species. They speak to their little ones, not of the birch, oak, linden, pine, fir, but of the tree. For the swallow, the finch, the sparrow, the starling, the name bird or a still more child-like expression is for a time sufficient."

An incident full of meaning is given in a foot-note on p. 67, but it is too long to quote here; it should be read by every parent as throwing a light on the wonderful working of a child's mind, and how one idea gives rise to several others and helps a child to obtain a clearer meaning. The whole chapter deserves careful reading and thought.

With the section devoted to the "Application of Apperception to Pedagogy" we are not concerned here to any extent, as the choice and arrangement of the subjects of a curriculum fall rather within the province of teachers. Valuable suggestions are given in this chapter concerning Bible stories and Biblical instruction; popular fairy tales, which "have great national educational value, since they reflect the thoughts and feelings, the naive view of creation characteristic of the youthful period of our people, and since they disclose the noblest traits in the souls of the people--fidelity and moral purity"; heroic sagas; Hellenic sagas, e.g., the history of Achilles and Hercules; the Nibelungen Tales; a knowledge of home environment (Heimatkunde); school excursions, which are such a popular feature in German schools; drawing and colouring; geographical and historical instruction, etc. The final portion of the volume contains a History of the Idea of Apperception and gives the views of Leibnitz, Kant, Herbart, Lazarus, Steinthal, Fichte, Lotze, and Wundt.

Education, by H. Holman.

The sub-title of this book is an "Introduction to its Principles and their Psychological Foundations," and its object is set out in the following terms:--"My aim throughout this book is to give the beginner a clear and intelligible outline of education, as to science only, and at the same time to suggest, but not to discuss, some of its deeper and more philosophic aspects." From a perusal of the preface and from an acquaintance with one or two of Mr. Holman's books, we expected great things from this volume, and we were not disappointed. Mr. Holman's qualifications admirably fit him to write a book on education, considering that he has been acquainted with his subject, from various standpoints, for nearly twenty-five years. "I have been a practical teacher," he says, "for nearly a quarter of a century, and my experience has included the teaching of infants; of boys and girls in elementary and secondary schools, and in private families; and of men and women at a University and a University College. I have taught an East-end gamin the elements of the three R.'s, and have coached students for honours examinations at Cambridge and other Universities; and I have had charge of the training of teachers, and a short experience as an inspector of schools."

Unfortunately, the space at our disposal will not enable us to do justice to a book which should be read by every teacher and parent throughout the country.

Among the topics, are "The Nature and Scope of Education," "Mind and the General Nature of Mental Life," "General Principle of Education," "General Characteristics of Mental Development," "Development of Ideas," "Development of Knowledge," and "Determinants of Mental Growth and Development."

In dealing with the "Nature and Scope of Education," Mr. Holman gives an account of the origin of education, the claims of education to rank as a science, the scope of education, education in Ancient Persia, Ancient Egypt, and Ancient China. In the former "youths were taught running, shooting with the bow, javelin-throwing, stone-slinging, riding, hunting, the making of long marches, the foraging for food, farming, digging for roots, and the making of fighting and hunting implements"; whilst in the two latter countries education was purely literary in its character. The highest and truest idea of education is discussed, also definitions of education, the function of education, ideas of great thinkers, including Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Quintilian, Plutarch, Comenius, Forebel and Pestalozzi, and educational ends. "Educations," says the author, "is based upon what are called the moral sciences, viz., psychology, logic and ethics, so far as the purely intellectual side of man is concerned, and upon physiology, hygiene, etc., with regard to the physical nature of man. It will therefore follow the method of these sciences, which is the inductive method."

The chapter on the "Mind and the General Nature of Mental Life" is a valuable contribution to Psychology. The following is a brief summary of the main facts:--Mind is a living organism; it is "much more than a mere collection of feelings, knowings, and willings, or of the results of its activities"; it has a continuous existence; it has "progressive stages answering to infancy, youth, maturity, and decay"; the mind must be exercised, if it were not, "our lives would never be much more to us than the experience of the passing moment"; all parts, acts, and elements of the mind are "inter-related, inter-dependent, and inter-active"; there are many forms of mental activities, e.g., remembering, attending, perceiving, etc. Sensations and presentations, feeling, emotion, passion, knowing, attention, memory, sub-consciousness, association, willing, elements of willing, habit, character, and individuality, are the most important sub-sections of this interesting chapter.

"General Principles of Education" extend over five chapters which are of great importance, but so full of facts are these chapters, that we find it impossible to give even a brief summary. One or two quotations of special interest only have been given. Speaking of mental energy and its duration, Mr. Holman remarks:--"Another point which needs very careful consideration is, how long the mind can go on working consecutively so as to do its best work during such time; and thus, in the long run, do the greatest total amount of its best work. Too little or too much energy in mental work, if continued too long or not long enough, is generally wasteful, and likely to be harmful. Just as in the industrial world it is being shown that more and better work is, as a rule, done by those artisans who work eight hours a day than by those who work twelve, fourteen, or more hours a day; so we find that thinkers who work too many hours a day accomplish neither so much or so satisfactory work as those who spend less time at their tasks. Stimulation must, therefore, be regulated accordingly." This passage should interest all brain workers.

Here is another quotation dealing with "Interest," which Herbart regards as one of the main essentials of instruction:--"Monotony is never so monotonous as to the young. Whatever else the educator can afford to neglect, the arousing of interest must always be carefully provided for and earnestly striven after. We may truly say that the first and last condition of effective education is interest. It is the foundation and mainspring of successful effort on the part of the pupil. It is the educational philosopher's stone which turns everything into gold . . . Wherever interest is absent the most scientific and complete system of education will be likely to prove flat, stale, and unprofitable."

Object Lessons and Elementary Science have come into great prominence during the last few years, in order to train the faculty of observation. "Observation and imitation," remarks Mr. Holman, "are the characteristic activities of children. They are intensely interested in all that surrounds them. Every object and action is a matter to which they give all the attention they can, and from which they often get great pleasure. Everything is new to the child, and has all the charms of novelty, whilst occupying and satisfying its restless energy."

The fundamental principles of education consist of (1) Simple to Complex, (2) Concrete to Abstract, (3) Never do for a child what he can do for himself, (4) Particular to General, (5) Known to the Unknown, (6) Indefinite to Definite, each of which is fully explained with numerous practical examples.

The chapters on the "Development of Ideas," the "Development of Knowledge," and "Mental Growth and Development," are full of interest. Scattered throughout the volume are quotations from educationists, ancient and modern. We find in this category the names of Plato, Quintilian, Leibnitz, Herbart, Froebel, Rousseau, Comenius, Compayré, Spencer, Thring, De Garmo, Lange, Quick, Bain, Miall, Lyttleton, Fitch, Sully, and H.G. Wells.

A most useful bibliography for those who wish to pursue the subject at greater length appears at the end of the volume. The majority of those books recommended for study will be found in the P.N.E.U. Library, and several have been selected for review during the year.

Proofread by Leslie Noelani Laurio, July, 2010