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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/830

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

activity is spontaneous, the result of an inside motive. How to teach children to desire to undertake and stick to scjiool work, whether the teacher be present or absent, tradition does not state. To be sure, children's questioning in school as a real educative force and a rule of practice is, it may be, startlingly new; but any means, precedented or unprecedented, that will certainly result in spontaneous activity should be earnestly sought for and fairly used.

The idea of educating children through their activities has of late years found expression in giving them something to do with their hands, as seen in the various forms of manual training. The advocates and teachers of this work indulge the thought and give the impression that it brings out children's self-activities remarkably well. Many fondly believe that by means of it the "whole boy" is sent to school. Nevertheless, his self-activities seem to have but little more opportunity for development than before the doing era, advantageous as that really is. Children in all departments of manual training are taught, instructed, crammed, compelled, it may be, as of old, and then they work out the instruction with head and hand, whereas formerly the head only attempted to follow instructions, more often unsuccessfully. Certainly a great advance was made by the introduction of manual training; but spontaneous self-activity is not a leading motive in the work, if any at all. The work is prescribed.

The child's curiosity or investigating spirit does not receive its satisfaction in any form of manual training now in use. Individual experimentation and investigation have small place in it, so that the need of other educational forces is felt. The spirit of inquiry is much less apparent in school than out. "Whose fault is it? Surely not the children's. Nature studies are doing the most to foster the spirit of inquiry, manual training hardly anything. Constructiveness is important, but no more important in education than investigation. Investigation and voluntary work are the expressions of self-activities, while prescribed work is the expression of activities governed by a temporary, outside, dominating influence.

In connection with manual training H. Courthope Bowen says in his work on Froebel and Self-activities: "Broadly speaking, Pestalozzi's plan is one of observing and imitating; Froebel's, one of observing and inventing. To exercise the creative, originating powers of the child is Froebel's main object; to teach the child to speak and to do work already prescribed is largely the aim of Pestalozzi. Froebel's plan, therefore, more directly tends to develop independence and originality of character." To carry out Froebel's plan children must have far more true liberty in thought and action in school than they now have. Their spirit and temper must