Page images
PDF
EPUB

three to five tends to be fragmentary physical exercises without plot or systein -- mere running, jumping, climbing, etc. However, the dramatic and imitative instinct early ripens, and the child tends to combine these fragments into crude plays representing actions he witnesses, and so we find that he loves to play riding horse, playing bear, wild Indians, policeman, etc. This representative tendency is the controlling interest from four to six, but the child imitates that which he literally sees, hears, or feels, and his natural play offers no basis for the abstractly symbolic game of the kindergarten. He sees no meaning in his game. He is an actor, not a philosopher. There is no legitimate place for the aesthetic, ethical, or utilitarian attachment we so frequently find hung upon the child's play. The child plays in obedience to physical impulses of his nervous system planted there by the habits of ancient ancestry which lived long before civilized morals, ethics, and modern utilities came upon the field of action. There are a time and place for them, but it is an artificial graft which attempts to attach these to the young child's play instincts.

While the kindergarten cannot invent plays for children, it nevertheless has an important function in guarding the child's right to play, and in providing the time and racial incentives — clean sand to roll and build in, big blocks to build with, space to run in, bushes to hide in, poles to climb, hammers, garden tools, swings, balls, horse reins, etc. The scanty twenty minutes usually allowed for the recess should be at least multiplied by two. The usual excuse offered, that the kindergarten games and calisthenic exercises take the place of natural, free play, is quite untenable. They are artificial exhibition exercises, and have, as shown, little in common with the hereditary forms of play of children of kindergarten age. Internal demands of the growing nervous and muscular systems require their racial forms of exercise, and natural instinct is the only guide we have for these exercises. Even in children of school age the experiments upon fatigue by Kraepelin, Kemsies, Wagner, and others, have shown that systematic gymnastics are more fatiguing mentally than regular school work and cannot be interpolated in school work as recuperative means.

DEPARTMENT OF ELEMENTARY EDUCATION

SECRETARY'S MINUTES

FIRST SESSION. – THURSDAY, JULY 13, 1899

The meeting was called to order in Simpson Tabernacle by A. W. Plummer, of the Local Committee.

Dr. John W. Hall, of the State Normal School, Greeley, Colo., read a paper on “ The Claims of the Individual Pupil in Class Work.”

Miss Louise Hannum, Ph.D., Greeley, Colo., read a paper on “ The Culture-Epoch Theory in Education.”

The discussion was omitted until after the second paper was read.

President William N. Hailmann opened the discussion, and was followed by Dr. J.
H. Hoose, of California ; W. A. Bell, of Indiana; A. H. Collins, of Pasadena, Cal.; Dr.
J. W. Hall, Miss Hannum, and others.
A committee on nominations was appointed, consisting of:
W. A. Bell, Indianapolis, Ind.

A. H. Collins, Pasadena, Cal.
Esther Conway, Winchester, Ind.

SECOND SESSION.- FRIDAY, JULY 14 The meeting was opened by President William N. Hailmann, who delivered his address on "The Place and Development of Purpose in Education.”

Superintendent J. W. Dinsmore, of Beatrice, Neb., read a paper on “The Vices of Childhood and Youth."

An animated discussion followed. Among those taking part were Miss Frink, of California ; Professor J. W. Crabtree, of Nebraska; Professor J. W. Carr, of Indiana ; Mrs. Blanchard, of California; Harry S. Budd, Superintendent Dinsmore, and the president.

Superintendent J. W. Carr, of Anderson, Ind., introduced the following resolution, which was unanimously adopted :

WHEREAS, As a rule, the same persons are interested in the discussions of the Kindergarten Department, Elementary Department, and Child Study Department;

Resolved, That the president of the Elementary Department be requested to invite the co-operation of the presidents of the Kindergarten and Child Study Departments in arranging for one joint session at the meeting for 1900.

The Committee on Nominations submitted the following report, which was adopted :
For President - Miss N. Cropsey, Indianapolis, Ind.
For Vice-President - Superintendent J. W. Dinsmore, Beatrice, Neb.
For Secretary- Miss Bettie A. Dutton, Cleveland, 0,
The department then adjourned.

ESTHER CONWAY

Secretary

575

PAPERS AND DISCUSSIONS

THE CULTURE-EPOCH THEORY IN EDUCATION

BY LOUISE MORRIS HANNUM, STATE NORMAL SCHOOL, GREELEY, COLO.

The doctrine of recapitulation might recommend itself to the educator thru several considerations of various degrees of importance : by satisfactory evidences, by weight of authority, by a record of practical utility in school matters, or by signs of marked promise for the future. But a detailed examination of these claims would of course require a volume and much special knowledge. The object of the present paper is merely to look at the doctrine in a general way, with intent to discover what attitude toward it on the part of the practical teacher is likely to be most fruitful of good and least productive of harm.

The first question will naturally be: Can we accept the doctrine as a fact ? In seeking light on this preliminary inquiry, we must at once distinguish the theory from the notion of an undefined general correspondence between the course of the race and that of the individual. The latter view, taken in the loose, vague way, appears almost axiomatic. The race and the child begin with a comparatively simple and go on to a comparatively complex life. What the race has attained is, in a general way, the end set before the individual, and, in passing from analogous startingpoints to analogous goals, it would seem to follow, from the existence of one world and one general kind of process called mind, that the race and the individual must gather up and organize experience in somewhat the same fashion — must get from the starting point to the goal by somewhat the same path. In this form the idea of recapitulation is more congenial to the poet and the mystic than to the teacher; it has abundant uses in speculation and imaginative expression, but no definite relation to methods and school curricula. The more precise - or, rather, the least nebulousconception of the doctrine assumes that the development both of the race and of the individual can be described as a progress thru certain stages; and that, with some relatively calculable variations, these stages correspond in the two series. The inference is then drawn that, since the history of the child is writ large in that of the race, we can see more clearly in the race than in the child what is the true order of development. To this is often added the idea that, since the race has preserved the products of its activity in the most important stages, we have ready to hand the true food on which the child must be nourished as he goes thru the several zones of progress from infancy to manhood. It seems needless to say that the admission of the undefined general correspondence just mentioned, in which all are doubtless agreed, does not imply acceptance of the more precise doctrine of recapitulation. Nor can the latter be foisted upon us as a corollary of the doctrine of evolution. It is true that the biological argument for the culture-epoch theory would be less tenable without the doctrine of evolution ; but it does not follow, because our species is believed to be the result of successive variations from less com. plex organisms, that therefore the youth of the species should pass thru the successive variations from primitive man. If a theory of recapitulation definite enough to deserve practical consideration is to stand at all, it must do so by force of independent proof.

Now, such alleged proof appears to range itself chiefly under the biological, the sociological, the a priori psychological, and the historical argument. To begin by noting the first of these forms of evidence: Comparative anatomists tell us that the embryonic human brain, from its first appearance as a semi-fluid and shapeless mass, passes in modified form thru the several structures that constitute the permanent and complete brain of fish, reptile, bird, and mammal; and that the mode of development aiter birth to some extent recapitulates that by which the brain of the human species attained its present form and functions. Like the theory of evolution, the conception of parallelism rose at first no higher than physiological phenomena; later, by application of the principle of continuity and the doctrine of parallelism between brain states and states of consciousness, the correspondence of the stages of physical growth before birth with the pre-human series was read up into an analogy between the mental development of the child and that of the species. This biological argument has undoubtedly proved more coercive than any other, and it is certainly difficult to deny it general validity and significance. But a moment's reflection convinces us that, as an argument for the definite parallelism claimed by the culture-epoch theorists, it owes its weight largely to the fact that, while everyone can recognize its general direction, only the specialist can say how far it is modified by a more exact knowledge of facts. It must, however, be apparent to everyone that where the physical parallelism is best made out, namely, between the prenatal human and the animal series, there is no psychical analogy, and where the psychical parallelism is alleged to begin, the physical parallelism disappears or is obscured, no adequate basis for comparison having been laid in an exhaustive study of post-embryonic brain development in the child and post-simian brain development in the race. Before birth, physiological parallelism ; after birth, indications of mental analogy; no common term. Even if we were assured of post-embryonic recapitulation in physical structure, we could not conclude to definite reproduction of mental function. The outcome of the biological argument seems to be that, while the physical analogy between the pre-natal human and the animal series points uncertainly to some analogy between the mental development of the race and that of the individual, it is an inadequate support for a theory of definite correspondence.

In the sociological argument, the terms related, when relieved of their cloudiness, are incapable, at least in the present state of inquiry, of supplying a firm footing for the comparison of child and species. The gist of the contention appears to be that the social mind, like the indi. vidual mind, begins its experience with a “total real” which is gradually broken up and put together again, at first unconsciously, under the stimulus of daily needs and dominated by anthropomorphic conceptions, but later with growing definiteness of purpose in fulfillment of an increasingly conscious ideal set in a world-conception which is less and less anthropomorphic. But as the terms in which this progress are described are borrowed from individual psychology, and the social mind is an abstraction from individual minds, it is doubtful how far any real independence can be ascribed to the social series. On the other hand, an individual mind, viewed as uninfluenced by social forces, can have no concrete existence. Both of the parallel terms are abstractions. What seems to be true is that, in a historical survey of minds, processes can be abstracted which, in their collective aspect, show analogy with the stages of individual mental development. But this statement obviously supports the vague and not the definite theory of recapitulation.

The sociological consideration is helped out by what I have called the a priori psychological argument, based on the supposed nature of mind. Each stage of progress, it is said, must grow out of the preceding stage in accordance with a law of growth ; must be essentially the next step. Hence the advance of the race and that of the individual, coinciding with the law, must coincide with each other. But this argument not only begs the question of the identity of any laws controlling race and individual growth, but forces beyond all evidence the notion of an inner regulative principle which fulfills itself regardless of changes in environment.

The historical argument includes a wide range of investigation. It especially seeks to make the theory more tangible by tracing stages of progress and decay thru the modes of thought, institutions, and ideals of particular nations, and relating these to similar epochs in the life of the individual. Studies in the beginnings of government, religion, morals, literature, natural science, industries, and the arts of representation, particularly drawing, are also thought to provide a wide basis for carrying out the assumed parallelism. But where exact verification is impossible, and both facts and terms wanting in precise definition, even a large number of analogies must fail to do anything more than create a presumption in favor of the doctrine.

Altogether, a glance over the evidence for the culture-epoch theory,

« PreviousContinue »