There are two classes of teachers of education and writers of educational textbooks. The first, the earliest in the field and still the more numerous, are decidedly vague in their knowledge, yet pompous in their claims of "knowing it all," laud the methods of teaching far more than the material to be taught, and for the most part merit the scorn which they receive from their colleagues on the faculty. As writers, they are all-inclusive in their scope, cover up lack of accurate knowledge by sweeping, dogmatic statements, revel in superlatives, and produce a type of textbook worth little when published and worthless a few years later. It is this class chiefly that has brought upon teachers of education the much-discussed criticisms in The Unpopular Review and the vituperations of Professor Shorey. The second class is composed of educational experts, men who look upon teaching as a science which may be studied as exactly as any laws of psychology and the principles of administration that bring about successful schools; as writers, these men, unfortunately still few in number, produce books that are eminently practical and scientific, based on knowledge, not hearsay, produced only after extensive laboratory work and experimentation. Professor Freeman's new book, like his earlier volumes, certainly belongs to this second class. In that realm of vagaries-how to learn and how to teach-he presents facts and rules that may be practically applied.
This book is in reality a textbook in applied psychology, particularly for grade school teachers; in the words of the editor, it is to reveal "to teachers and students how all effective instruction of children must be founded on the utilization and development of the child's native and acquired responses to the stimuli of our civilization." As a text in educational psychology it differs from its predecessors by Thorndike and Colvin in having a larger number of direct applications to the problems of teaching, and is simpler in style and more elementary. The editor states that the book has been prepared for use as a text in colleges and normal schools, and for reading circles. The writer hesitates to believe that any college class in educational psychology, which has probably already had an elementary course in psychology, would find Chapter II on The Nervous System too difficult; yet the author in his preface implies that some of his readers may so find it. This chapter is a valuable addition to the book; can any student profitably study the psychological principles underlying education unless he is able to master the technique of the nervous system so simply and graphically described here?
The psychology is, naturally, behavioristic. The author's obvious desire to stress action and response sometimes leads him to make too sweeping statements; exception might be taken to the discussion of the specialized instinct of play (p. 61); many leading psychologists would seriously disagree with the statement regarding the instinct of imitation (p 80): "It is entirely clear that the child is stimulated to do such things because he observes other people doing these things." These criticisms are minor and are due to omissions rather than inaccuracies; if the book is intended for college students should it not include some treatment of other theories, for instance, of play, imitation, and fatigue, even tho rejected by the author? Brevity and definiteness may lead to incompleteness.
Professor Freeman has written a book which is a decidedly valuable addition to the field of educational psychology, which will be welcomed alike by teachers of teachers and, what is a better tribute to the book's excellence, by teachers actually in service.
- Educational Review, Volume 56 show more