Craftsmanship in Teaching eBook

William Bagley
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 217 pages of information about Craftsmanship in Teaching.
Some day, if we work hard enough, psychology will become a predictive science, just as mathematics and physics and chemistry and, to a certain extent, biology, are predictive sciences to-day.  Meantime psychology is of inestimable value in giving us a point of view, in clarifying our ideas, and in rationalizing the truths that empirical practice discovers.  A very few psychological principles are strongly enough established even now to form the basis of prediction.  Among the most important of these are the laws of habit building, some laws of memory, and the larger principles of attention.  Successful educational practice is and must be in accord with these indisputable tenets.  But the bane of education to-day is in the pseudo-science, the “half-baked” psychology, that is lauded from the house-tops by untrained enthusiasts, turned from the presses by irresponsible publishing houses, and foisted upon the hungry teaching public through the ever-present medium of the reading circle, the teachers’ institute, the summer school, and I am very sorry to admit (for I think that I represent both institutions in a way) sometimes by the normal schools and universities.

Most of the doctrines that are turning our practice topsy-turvy have absolutely no support from competent psychologists.  The doctrine of spontaneity and its attendant laissez-faire dogma of school government is thoroughly inconsistent with good psychology.  The radical extreme to which some educators would push the doctrine of interest when they maintain that the child should never be asked to do anything for which he fails to find a need in his own life,—­this doctrine can find no support in good psychology.  The doctrine that the preadolescent child should understand thoroughly every process that he is expected to reduce to habit before that process is made automatic is utterly at variance with long-established principles which were well understood by the Greeks and the Hebrews twenty-five hundred years ago, and to which Mother Nature herself gives the lie in the instincts of imitation and repetition.  It is conceivable that these radical doctrines were justified as means of reform, especially in secondary and higher education, but, even granting this, their function is fulfilled when the reform that they exploited has been accomplished.  That time has come and, as palpable untruths, they should either be modified to meet the facts, or be relegated to oblivion.


It is safe to say that formalism is no longer a characteristic feature of the typical American school.  It is so long since I have heard any rote learning in a schoolroom that I am wondering if it is not almost time for some one to show that a little rote learning would not be at all a bad thing in preadolescent education.  We ridicule the memoriter methods of Chinese education and yet we sometimes forget that Chinese education has done something that no other system of education,

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Craftsmanship in Teaching from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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