Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

mental action. The student of nature, pursuing his investigations in this spirit, is prepared, by successive illustrations of fact, to amplify his classifications into those wide inductions which are the glory of science, and which aid the intellect in accomplishing the vast generalizations for which its powers of comprehension and its ceaseless aspirations seem equally adapted.

The exercise of classification tends to create in the young mind the love of order and method. It is, in fact, a strictly logical discipline, resulting in the highest mental benefits, and preparing the heart for the influence of the most exalted moral principle. It belongs, however, as a process of mental culture, to a very early stage of intellectual progress, and begins appropriately with the first conscious steps of advancement in the observation and study of nature. The child, in Nature's great school, finds himself placed in a vast cabinet of specimens, which he takes a peculiar pleasure in examining, and from which, even when little aided by formal education, he draws, with delight, stores of personal knowledge, and the pure pleasure of the conscious activity which his spirit craves.

The objects of nature, as the results of a designing Mind, seem peculiarly adapted to the end of drawing forth the action of intellect and building up intellectual character in the human being. In no respect is this more true than with reference to the facilities furnished in the three great kingdoms of nature, for the purely intellectual processes of arranging and classifying the objects of observation. The young mind here finds itself placed in a sphere of order, in which every thing is arranged for the correspondent action of thought; in which every object invites to observation, and every group solicits a recognition of the principle of classification.

Early Training in Classification.—Furnished with such an apparatus for the purposes of instruction, the teacher has but to point suggestively to the successive classes of objects most easily accessible to the young learner in the great classified receptacles of earth, air, and water. He has but to encourage his pupil to collect, compare, and classify the various forms of mineral, plant, and animal, which lie within the range of his daily walks; or, even to deposit, in any convenient and suitable receptacle, groups of leaves of similar form, and to define the shape or the feature which, in his distribution of them, is made the ground of classification. The learner thus obtains a measure and a record of his progress in knowledge; and, the knowledge which he acquires, possesses a true and substantial character, which, in turn, affects that of his mind, giving it a taste for solid acquirements and genuine pleasures.

CULTIVATION OF THE EXPRESSIW E FACULTIES.

INTRODUctory Observations.—The classification of the mental faculties under the designations of “perceptive,” “expressive,” and “reflective,” was adopted in the preceding lecture of this series, as a convenient one for a survey of the human mind, with reference to the purposes of education. This classification, it was mentioned, could not be regarded as founded on lines of distinction which could be assumed as rigorously or literally exact; since its terms are properly but so many names for various states, acts, or operations of the mind,itself one and the same in all. Imperfect as such a classification must necessarily be, however, it enables us, by its distinctions, to trace more clearly and definitely the forms of mental action, and the power which the mind possesses of exerting itself in different modes; and it affords to the educator, when contemplating the intellectual capabilities of man with reference to the processes and effects of culture, the advantages of analysis and systematic examination, as aids to the prosecution of his inquiries. Following the order of nature and of fact, when we trace the succession of action in the exercise of man's intellectual powers, as these are designated in the classification which we have adopted, we observe that, in the mature and deliberate use of the mental faculties, the habitual and normal succession is, (1.) Observation, (2) Reflection, (3) Erpression. In the immature and susceptible condition of childhood and youth, however, the spontaneous activity and development of the communicative tendencies of the mind cause the action of the expressive faculties to precede that of the reflective; and to this law the order of education will properly correspond. The perfect action and discipline of the power of expression, require, no doubt, all the aid derived from the maturity of reason and reflection, and, consequently, an advanced stage of intellectual culture. But, in the history of man's mental progress, under the guidance of matural laws, the educator perceives and recognizes in the young mind, an early necessity of utterance, or of expression in some form, as one of the divinely implanted instincts by which it is actuated, and which therefore becomes an indication to be obeyed in the plan and progress of culture. The phenomena of the external world irresistibly impel the child to utter the emotions which they excite; and the judicious educator will always encourage the young observer to record them, long before the era of experience in which they become subjects of reflective thought or profound cogitation. To give consistency and effect, however, to the forms of expression,-whether for purposes of record or of discipline,—a certain degree of progress must have been attained in the exercise and development not only of the perceptive, but also of the reflective faculties;–a result inseparable, indeed,—as was mentioned in the preceding lecture, from the right direction of the perceptive powers themselves. In this and in every other attempt to trace the order of mental development, we are always brought back to the grand primal truth that the mind is properly one, in all its action; we are reminded that this great fact is the basis of all true culture, and that the different intellectual faculties, as we term them, are but the varied phases or modes of action of the same subtle power. As an introduction, accordingly, to the discussion of the principles which regulate the cultivation of the expressive faculties, as a department of intellectual education, our last lecture followed, to some extent, the necessary connection existing between the discipline of the perceptive faculties and the primary action of the reflective. With this preliminary preparation, we will now proceed, on the plan indicated in the first lecture of this series, to the study of the various forms of mental action which, in the figurative language unavoidable in all intellectual analysis and classification, may be termed the expressive faculties. The plan proposed embraced, it will be recollected, the following prominent features:–(1.) an enumeration of each group of faculties, by its modes, or forms, of action; (2) the actuating principle, or impelling force, of each group; (3) the tendency, or habit, of action in each; (4) the result, or issue, of such action; (5) the educational processes, forms of exercise, or modes of culture, suggested by the four preceding considerations. Following the order here mentioned, we commence with the (I.) ENUMERATION of the ExPREssive Faculties. These may be grouped under the following designations:—Emotion Imagination, Fancy, Imitation, Personation, Representation, Language, Taste. - Erplanatory. Remark-To ascertain, with precision, what powers

or attributes of the human being should be regarded as properly comprehended under the above denomination, the educator would do well, here as elsewhere, to advert to the primitive signification of the term which is employed to designate the class of faculties to which it is applied. At every step of his progress in the study of man as a being capable of systematic development, the teacher finds a guiding light perpetually emanating from the primary sense of the terms which constitute the nomenclature of intellectual philosophy, in its nalysis of the human faculties. These terms are often highly figurative, and hence peculiarly suggestive with reference whether to distinctness of classification, or to purposes of culture and development. In no case does this remark apply more forcibly than in the present. The term “expression,” (pressing out.) implies, in the first instance, the existence of something within, which, under the action of a force, working whether from within or from without, is pressed out, and thus rendered external, palpable, or perceptible. Referring this term to the phenomena of human experience, we derive, from its primary and figurative sense, the inference, or implication, that man is endued with the power of giving an external manifestation to his internal conditions of thought or feeling. The form of this manifestation may be that of attitudes and actions of the body, changes in the aspect of the countenance, effects on the tones of the voice, or efforts in the organs of articulation, and modifications of the accents of speech; it may appear in imitative acts, in suggestive graphic delineations, or in intelligible written characters. But in all cases, it is the representative expression (pressing out.) of what has been impressed, or is present, within-The inward working may be that of a feeling, an affection, an emotion, or a passion: it may be that of an impressive idea, or of a thought, an opinion, or a sentiment. But the result is invariably an outward effect, audible or visible. Whatever power or faculty, therefore, has an agency in the process of thus giving an external manifestation to an internal mental condition, will be appropriately comprehended under the designation “expressive;” and the classification will be exhaustive and complete, if it include all those mental states, acts, or operations which give form to thought or feeling. The preceding enumeration of the expressive faculties, however, is intended to present only those which are prominently active in the ordinary conditions of humanity, and which are the principal subjects of disciplinary training, in the processes of education. 1. Emotios: its offices in Expression.—Emotion is the natural language of that sensibility which tends to render man conse” of himself, which serves to unite him, by a law of sympathy, with othel beings as well as with those of his own race, and which, as a stimulus to his power of will, impels him to the various forms of salutary and pleasurable, or injurious and destructive action. Without this power, (“emotion,”—moving outward) man might, indeed, possess the profoundest capacity of feeling, the utmost depth of thought, the grandest or the most beautiful forms of imagination. His whole inner world might be consciously a scene of ideal glory. But, to his fellow man, he would be mute and unintelligible. Self-contained and solitary, the individual would be as destitute of sympathy as of expression, and live unappreciated and uninterpreted, because incommunicative and unintelligible. Emotion, therefore, we find is not left wholly at the discretion or the control of man, as a purely voluntary power. Its first and all its strongest manifestations are spontaneous and involuntary. It is the natural and irrepressible language of that wondrous capacity of pleasure and pain with which the human being is invested, in consequence of the susceptive sensibility with which his Creator has seen fit to enliven and to protect his nature. Emotion, as the natural expression of sympathy, renders feeling legible and audible, and thus enables man instinctively to utter or to interpret the language of the heart; as an intination of the will, it enables him to read the disposition and intentions, friendly or hostile, of his fellow beings. It is an early instrument of power to the helplessness or the sufferings of infancy, while it proclaims the presence of pain, and brings to the little patient the ready sympathy and remedial aid of the mother. It expresses and attracts the sympathetic affections of childhood and youth. It gives eloquence to the speech of man, warmth to the cordial welcome of friendship, or fire to the hostility of hatred. It melts in pity and compassion for suffering: it glows with indignation at oppression and wrong; it bends in humility and adoration before Infinite majesty, and in reverence to human worth; or it looks haughtily down on the lowly, spurns the petitioner for mercy, and tramples on the weak and the unresisting. Its power for good or evil is unspeakable in all that involves the moral or the intellectual character of human utterance. The Forms of Emotion.—These are as various as the mental relations of man. It is Love, in the instincts of affection ; Wonder, in those of the intellect; Awe, in those of the spirit; Admiration, in those of sentiment; Joy and Grief, to the heart; Hatred and Revenge, in the malignant passions; Ardor and Enthusiasm, in the aspirations of the soul; Courage and Exultation, in conflict; Fear and

« ForrigeFortsett »