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The treatise is divided into three parts, namely, the introduction, physical education, and practical or moral education. In spite of its lack of careful, systematic development, it is notable for the lofty spirit in which it is written, and for the profound pedagogical principles which here and there appear. The introduction which, with a few minor omissions, is here given, presents pretty fully the various phases of Kant's system of education. He assigns a high aim to education — the perfection of the individual — and lays great stress upon the importance of moral training. His pedagogy was not without influence. A number of prominent German educators, among whom may be mentioned Niemeyer, Schwarz, and Rosenkranz, were stimulated and directed by the teachings of the Königsberg philosopher.
SELECTION FROM KANT.
Man is the only creature that needs to be educated. By education we understand nurture (attention, food), discipline, and instruction together with culture. Accordingly man is infant, child, and pupil.
Animals use their powers, as soon as they are possessed of them, according to a regular plan, that is, in a way not to injure themselves. It is indeed wonderful, for example, that young swallows, newly hatched and still blind, are careful not to defile their nest. Animals therefore need no nurture, but at the most food, warmth, and guidance, or a kind of protection. It is true most animals need feeding, but they do not require nurture. For by nurture we mean the tender care that parents exercise in order to prevent their children from using their powers in a way to be harmful to them. For instance, should an animal cry at birth, as
children do, it would surely fall a prey to wolves and other wild animals, which would be attracted by its cry.
2. Discipline or training transforms animal nature into human nature. An animal is by instinct all that it ever can be; some other reason has already provided everything for it. But man needs a reason of his own. Having no instinct, he has to work out a plan of conduct himself. Since, however, he is not able to do this at once, but comes into the world undeveloped, others must do it for him.
Through its own efforts the human race is by degrees to develop all the natural endowments of man. tion educates the next. The beginning of this process may be looked for either in a rude and unformed, or in a perfect and cultivated condition. If we assume the latter, man must afterwards have degenerated and lapsed into barbarism.
Discipline prevents man from being turned aside by his animal impulses from humanity, his appointed end. It must restrain him, for example, from venturing wildly and thoughtlessly into danger. Discipline thus is merely negative, namely, the process by which man is deprived of his brutality. Instruction, on the contrary, is the positive part of education.
Brutality is independence of law. Discipline subjects man to the laws of mankind, and lets him feel their constraint. But this must take place early. Thus children are at first sent to school, not so much to learn anything, as to become accustomed to sitting still and obeying promptly what they are told, to the end that later in life they may not actually and instantly follow all their impulses.
3. The love of freedom is naturally so strong in man that when he has once grown accustomed to it, he will sacrifice everything for it. For this very reason discipline must be brought into exercise early; for when this has not been done, it is difficult afterwards to change the character.
He will then follow every caprice. We see this also among savage nations which, though they may live in subjection to Europeans a long time, yet never adopt European customs. With them, however, this is not a noble love of freedom, as Rousseau and others imagine, but a kind of savagery, in which the animal, so to speak, has not yet developed its humanity. Man should therefore accustom himself early to submit to the dictates of reason. If a man in his youth is allowed to follow his own will without opposition, he will retain a certain lawlessness through life. And it is no advantage to such a man to be spared in his youth through a superabundant motherly tenderness, for later on he will meet with all the more opposition on every side and everywhere encounter rebuffs, when he enters into the business of the world.
It is a common mistake in the education of the great that, because they are destined to rule, they should never meet with opposition in their youth. Owing to his love of freedom, man needs to have his native roughness smoothed down; but with animals instinct renders this unnecessary.
4. Man needs nurture and culture. Culture includes discipline and instruction. These, so far as we know, no animal needs; for none of them learn anything from their elders, except the birds, which are taught by them to sing. It is a touching sight to watch the mother bird singing with all her might to her young ones, which like children at school, try to produce the same tones out of their tiny throats.
Man can become man only by education. He is nothing but what education makes him. It is to be noted that man is educated only by men who have themselves been educated. Hence lack of discipline and instruction on the part of some men makes them in turn bad educators of their pupils. Were some being of a higher nature than man to undertake
our education, we should then be able to see what man might become. Since some things are imparted to man by education, and others only developed, it is difficult for us to estimate accurately his native capabilities. If, by the help of the great and the coöperative efforts of many persons, the experiment were made, we might gain some idea of the eminence which it is possible for man to attain. But it is just as important for the philosopher, as it is sad for the philanthropist, to see how the great generally care only for their own interests, and take no part in the weighty experiments of education, which might bring our nature one step nearer to perfection.
5. A theory of education is a glorious ideal, and it matters little, if we are not able to realize it at once. Only we must not look upon the idea as chimerical, nor decry it as a beautiful dream, though difficulties stand in the way of its realization.
An idea is nothing else than the conception of a perfection that has not yet been realized. For instance, the idea of a perfect republic governed by the principles of justice is it impossible because it has never existed ? First of all our idea must be correct, and then, in spite of all the hindrances that stand in the way of its realization, it is by no means impossible. If, for example, lying became universal, would veracity on that account be merely a whim? And the idea of an education which will develop all man's natural gifts is certainly a true one.
6. Under the present system of education man does not fully attain the object of his being., For how differently men live! Uniformity can prevail among them, only when they act according to the same principles, which have become to them a second nature. We can work out a better system of education, and hand down to posterity such directions as will enable them by degrees to bring it to realization.
There are many undeveloped powers in man; and it is our task to unfold these natural gifts in due proportion, to develop humanity from its germinal state, and to lead man to a realization of his destiny. Animals unconsciously fulfil their destiny themselves. Man must strive to attain it, but this he can not do, unless he has a conception as to the object of his existence. The fulfilment of his destiny is absolutely impossible to the individual. In times pasť men had no conception of the perfection to which human nature might attain. We ourselves have not yet become perfectly clear on the subject. This much, however, is certain : no individual man, whatever may be the culture of his pupils, can insure the fulfilment of their destiny. To succeed in this high end, not the work of individuals, but that of the whole human race, is necessary.
7. Education is an art, the practice of which can become perfect only through many generations. Each generation, provided with the knowledge of the preceding one, can more and more bring about an education, which will develop man's natural gifts in due proportion and relation to their end, and thus advance the whole human race towards its destiny. Providence has willed that man shall develop the good that lies hidden in his nature, and has spoken, as it were, thus to him:
Go forth into the world, I have equipped thee with all the potencies of good. It is for thee to develop them, and thus thy happiness and unhappiness depend upon thyself alone."
Man must develop his talents for the good; Providence has not placed a fully formed goodness in him, but merely capabilities without moral distinction. Man's duty is to improve himself; to cultivate his mind, and when he is evil, to develop moral character. Upon reflection we shall find this very difficult. Hence education is the greatest and most difficult problem to which man can devote himself. For