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THERE is no topic in educational psychology more important than that of memory and its cultivation. Memory is indispensable in all intellectual processes, and therefore must be trained and developed. But it is liable to prove destructive to the other faculties (so called) and supplant them; hence it must be restrained within its proper limits, made auxiliary to the other faculties, and not allowed to assume the chief rôle. It is a matter of every-day comment that much memorizing deadens the power of thought-verbal or statistical memory being “mechanical.” But it is also equally true that memory may paralyze the powers of senseperception, imagination, and will. With an overactive memory we suppose ourselves tơ see in an object what we remember to have seen in it before, and any new features escape our superficial perception. This is true, too, in the case of imagination, the power which ought to be productive as well as reproductive, and by which we ought to envisage not only real objects but possible ones, and thereby sharpen our powers of invention and discovery. Even the imagination may be dulled by a too active memory, and degenerate into a mirror of the



past. The productive imagination should belong not only to poets and artists, but to all men, as a faculty of discovering ideals and emancipating us from the imperfect reality. It should give us a tendency to invention and to aspiration. But, under the weight of prescribed forms and the sway of memory, a civilization crushes out self-activity on the part of individuals and imposes the rôle of external authority upon all. Thus the will of the individual loses freedom, and settles down into passive obedience to custom and prescription.

The important question to determine is the proper amount of memory-cultivation. The Chinese education fills the memory with maxims of Confucius and Mencius, and the individual follows these because there is little else in his mind : their lives are graven so deep that nothing else seems important.

The antidote for this baneful effect of memory is to be sought in a method of training that associates effects with causes, and individuals with species ; that associates one idea with another through its essential relations, and not by its accidental properties. One must put thought into the act of memory.

Memory is not one faculty, so to speak, but a condition of activity of all faculties. There is one memory of places, another memory of the names of places; one memory of persons, and another memory of names of persons; still another memory of dates; another of principles and causes; and so on. The cultivation of one species of memory may assist or it may hinder another kind of memory, according as the mental activity by which the attention is fixed on one subject aids or hinders the mental activity of the other kind of memory.


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“Hence,” says Mr. Kay (page 13), "we may cultivate the memory for persons without at all improving that for places, and a good memory for colors may afford little help toward the remembrance of forms." On the other hand, the memory of names assists the memory of persons, and that of places assists that of forms.

The cases are rare in which a person has a weak memory in all directions.

In considering the question of improving the memory,

therefore, the individual must ask in what respect he is defective; is it dates, or names, or something else that he fails to remember? Moreover, it is necessary to ask whether it is important to remember those items that he forgets so easily—whether, in short, it is worth while to acquire a habit of remembering them. For instance, as children we remembered village gossip, personal remarks, actions, or things and events, that are so trivial that we do not permit ourselves now to interest ourselves in them or recall them. Do we not find, in fact, our memories of those insipid things and events of childhood still too vivid ? We are apt to speak of children, for this very reason, as having strong memories. But would we willingly have again our childish memories ? Would it content us to notice trivial circumstances and overlook essential matters? If so, it is easy to gratify our desire by cultivating the childish form of memory. We may give our attention to the accidental features of an event, to the details of trivial gossip, and neglect the main issues and the causal processes. It will naturally result, then, that we shall remember as children remember, with the difference that we shall find ourselves able

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