Recent Views Of German Writers On The Art Of Education -- By: G. Baur

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 012:45 (Jan 1855)
Article: Recent Views Of German Writers On The Art Of Education
Author: G. Baur


Recent Views Of German Writers On The Art Of Education

Dr. G. Baur

Nearly a century has elapsed, since the publication of Rousseau’s “Emile” created a new era in the history of pedagogy. It would be difficult to exaggerate the excitement produced by this remarkable book, or the confidence with which many philanthropists indulged the expectation that henceforth in education “old things were to pass away and all things to become new.” Nor can it be denied that its loud and fearless declaration of war à l’outrance with the weaknesses of the systems then in vogue, and its energetic representations of the advantages to be derived from the adoption of its own theory, were inopportune or uncalled for, if a more universal interest was to be awakened in the vocation of the teacher, and rational and effective action to supersede the “antiquated imbecilities” of stale and time-worn routine. That the pedagogues of this period gave vigorous impulsion to the new movement, is their high praise and undisputed merit. Pestalozzi might fairly write that he “now hoped and desired nothing farther; a new and better method of human culture is at hand. Whether my system will usher in the desirable event, or whether on its ashes a better light will chase

away the darkness; still less, whether the results of my method will be important before my decease, or its efficiency not be recognized until I am in the tomb, is to me a matter of indifference. Enough, that I have succeeded in interesting the heads and hearts of hundreds of worthy men in favor of the establishment of a more thorough educational system, who will strive to reach my goal in a way and with a power, which I never ventured to expect, or hoped that I should live to see.” On the other hand, the one-sidedness and error, which distinguished alike the opposition to the old, and the attempt to introduce a system entirely new, could not long escape detection; more particularly in a sphere, in which theoretic suggestions are promptly submitted to the fiery ordeal of practical application. A reform, which is intended to exert a widely diffused and permanent influence upon human thought and practice, cannot be the offspring of a purely subjective creation; it must originate in an accurate knowledge of the actual relations of daily life, and be pressed forward by their necessarily progressive development. If this fact is not always kept in view,-every project for the reform of education must be beset with difficulties, which will constantly oppose, and probably destroy, its practical utility. Unfortunately, the men who took the initiative in the movement of which we have been speaking, were but slightly acquainted with the world, and had enjoyed, in their own personal experience, few opp...

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