Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/822

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ing. It appears, then, that the entire work in the professional training of teachers consists of an investigation into the laws and principles of mind activity, always followed by the effort to rightly adapt the means of stimulation in the schoolroom (the various subjects of instruction) to attain the full, harmonious, capable development of child-nature. In the normal school this work is usually divided into several branches, which, however, are very vitally related, and which are always arranged in the natural order of sequence. The following is, in general, a very brief outline of the work which is usually attempted in each branch:

I. Psychology.— The professional work is most naturally begun by reflection upon the nature of the mind to be educated, endeavoring to find those laws and principles according to which its normal activity is regulated in order that we may intelligently wield the means of stimulation to secure its most natural and speedy development. There are two methods which may be followed in this study: The first assumes that the mind is an inert object which can be abstracted from all concrete cases, and by an analytic process separated into its logical parts. As a result of this treatment we have a formal science of psychology, dealing with the powers and attributes of the so-called faculties of the mind, in the same way that we have a formal science of mathematics, physics, and so on, that treat of characteristic subject-matter in a logical way. The second method, which has come to be followed most largely now in our training schools, regards the mind as a growing, developing, assimilating power, and it is sought to become acquainted with it while under these natural conditions of activity. A knowledge of the mental life gained in this latter way will be very different from that acquired by purely formal study where the mind is considered apart from all concrete instances, and laws and principles are deduced which may, be applicable to it in general, but which have no reference to the peculiar and distinguishing characteristics of specific instances, nor of the manifold modifying conditions under which all activity, as induced by educational agencies, occurs. It should be, and usually is, the aim to lead the prospective teacher to become somewhat familiar with the concrete and developing mind under those conditions which necessarily exist in all school work. It is generally true that those who seek the normal school have not the time nor the breadth of philosophical training and culture to enable them to make the study of formal psychology profitable, although it would be most valuable for one who could spend years in thought and reflection upon the matter, and who would not need to make practical application at once of the principles which he had considered. It is coming to be appreciated that while a teacher need not, in order to do most intelligent