This is so remarkable a production that it merits serious attention when ordinary works on education deserve no notice. Many valuable contributions are now being made to the solution of the educational problem. Many of these betray, however, the crude stage of thought in which the problem is; they are often choppy; their authors write well on topics but do not develop subjects. Often these works are made up of valuable and interesting parts, but all the parts do not make a consistent whole. In these respects the "Philosophy of Teaching" stands in striking contrast with most of its predecessors; it is a faultless piece of organized knowledge, and on this account alone deserves to be studied by all persons who aspire to systematic thinking. One central movement runs through the whole work and draws the multitude of details into unity.
The introduction discriminates between the science and the philosophy of teaching. This discussion discovers that "the philosophy of teaching as distinguished from the science gives distinct emphasis to the universal element ... It is the explanation of the teaching process by means of universal law." The great working value of law and principle in the details of teaching is indicated by the following: "The teacher who is conscious only of the individual process before him is on the lowest plane of unskilled labor; he is the slave of recipes and devices .... The highest plane is that in which universal law guides the hand and inspires the heart." The first quotation seems to have been the intellectual ideal that beckoned the author, while the second indicates the motive that inspired him. No book can be written with the sustained vigor of this one unless the author is living under the pressure of some great idea and is moved by some worthy motive.
Logically the analysis of the teaching process follows. In my judgment the equal of this portion of the work has never been written. No other writer has ever set forth with equal strength and clearness the organic elements involved in the process of teaching....
Naturally the next subject is the aim in teaching, for since teaching is shown to be a conscious process it must have an aim. Under this head are developed: Diversity of Aims; Aim found in the Nature of Life; and Unification of Aims. The conclusion reached is that the true aim of teaching must be identical with the true aim of life, and this is the soul's highest and best growth. It is, therefore, rightly insisted that the teacher mast be conscious, in teaching the various subjects, what powers of mind and heart are being stimulated. It follows that the next phase of the discussion must concern itself with method in teaching-the process by which the purpose of teaching is realized. The topics under Method are: The Universal Law, with its subordinate points; the Two Organic Phases of the Process, the Two Factors in the Process, the Ultimate Ground of Unity and the Law of Unity; Specific Phases of the Law, with its subordinate topics-Thinking the Individual and Thinking the General; and the Process as a Complex Whole with its sub-points - the Objective Factor, the Subjective Factor, and the Problems Solved by the Law.
The discussion of the above topics presents a striking illustration of how philosophy made concrete may become the handmaid of every teacher however elementary his work. The portion of the work on Thinking the Individual and the General, deserves to be separately printed for use in colleges where students, by trying to master formal logic, fail to become logicians.
Finally, it may be confidently predicted that, since the work is conceived and executed on so high a plane, and since the problems attacked and solved are so vital, the "Philosophy of Teaching" will occupy the very front rank among pedagogical writings.
-Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science show more