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Talks To Teachers On Psychology; And To Students On Some Of Life's Ideals ebook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 182 pages of information about Talks To Teachers On Psychology; And To Students On Some Of Life's Ideals.
enrich their lives.  And, if its results, as treated statistically, would seem on the whole to have but trifling value, yet the anecdotes and observations of which it in part consist do certainly acquaint us more intimately with our pupils.  Our eyes and ears grow quickened to discern in the child before us processes similar to those we have read of as noted in the children,—­processes of which we might otherwise have remained inobservant.  But, for Heaven’s sake, let the rank and file of teachers be passive readers if they so prefer, and feel free not to contribute to the accumulation.  Let not the prosecution of it be preached as an imperative duty or imposed by regulation on those to whom it proves an exterminating bore, or who in any way whatever miss in themselves the appropriate vocation for it.  I cannot too strongly agree with my colleague, Professor Muensterberg, when he says that the teacher’s attitude toward the child, being concrete and ethical, is positively opposed to the psychological observer’s, which is abstract and analytic.  Although some of us may conjoin the attitudes successfully, in most of us they must conflict.

The worst thing that can happen to a good teacher is to get a bad conscience about her profession because she feels herself hopeless as a psychologist.  Our teachers are overworked already.  Every one who adds a jot or tittle of unnecessary weight to their burden is a foe of education.  A bad conscience increases the weight of every other burden; yet I know that child-study, and other pieces of psychology as well, have been productive of bad conscience in many a really innocent pedagogic breast.  I should indeed be glad if this passing word from me might tend to dispel such a bad conscience, if any of you have it; for it is certainly one of those fruits of more or less systematic mystification of which I have already complained.  The best teacher may be the poorest contributor of child-study material, and the best contributor may be the poorest teacher.  No fact is more palpable than this.

So much for what seems the most reasonable general attitude of the teacher toward the subject which is to occupy our attention.

II.  THE STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS

I said a few minutes ago that the most general elements and workings of the mind are all that the teacher absolutely needs to be acquainted with for his purposes.

Now the immediate fact which psychology, the science of mind, has to study is also the most general fact.  It is the fact that in each of us, when awake (and often when asleep), some kind of consciousness is always going on.  There is a stream, a succession of states, or waves, or fields (or of whatever you please to call them), of knowledge, of feeling, of desire, of deliberation, etc., that constantly pass and repass, and that constitute our inner life.  The existence of this stream is the primal fact, the nature and origin of it form the essential problem, of our science.  So far as we class the states or fields of consciousness, write down their several natures, analyze their contents into elements, or trace their habits of succession, we are on the descriptive or analytic level.  So far as we ask where they come from or why they are just what they are, we are on the explanatory level.

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