Salt Lake Bible College

Methods of Teaching I

Study Instructions

The textbook used in this class is the timeless classic by John Milton Gregory called "The Seven Laws of Teaching."

You will read through the text and pause at intervals to take Section Tests.  You must take and pass each Section Test before you can go on to study the next section.  You may NOT study more than one section each week unless instructed otherwise in the textbook.  You may not take more than one test in one day; i.e., you may not retake a failed test on the same day.

You must look up every scripture referenced in this course in your KJV Bible.

Testing instructions will be found at the end of each Section.  Section Tests are "open book."

At the end of the book there will be a Final Test.  Final Test is "closed book."



by John Milton Gregory

   This is a clear and simple statement of the important factors
governing the art of teaching. It has been used with great success as
a handbook for teachers in the church school. Its reprint is the
result of the strong demand for this book for this purpose, as well
as for textbook use for those who are preparing for religious

   Dr. John Milton Gregory was a Baptist minister and educator.
Among the educational positions which he held during his long and
useful lifetime were: head of the classical school in Detroit,
Michigan; Michigan State Superintendent of Public Instruction;
President of Kalamazoo College; President of the University of
Illinois. The revisers of Gregory's book on teaching, Dr. Bagley and
Layton, were teachers in the School of Education of the University of

John Milton Gregory

[Edited into digital media in 1994 by
Clyde C. Price, Jr. email:
from a public-domain print-media book
published by BAKER BOOK HOUSE, Grand Rapids, Michigan]
[The Etext Editor's Note, without which this etext is incomplete, is
at the end of the etext.]


THE SEVEN LAWS OF TEACHING was first published in 1884.
Extensive changes were made in 1917 by William C. Bagley and Warren
K. Layton, both of the School of Education at the University of
Illinois. However, every effort was made to retain both the form and
substance of the original. Baker Book House first reprinted this
revised edition in 1954. Frequent reprintings point to the
timelessness of the content of THE SEVEN LAWS OF TEACHING.


The author of this book, John Milton Gregory, was one of the
educational leaders of the generation that has just passed from the
stage. He was born at Sand Lake, in Rensselaer County, New York, on
July 6th, 1822. His early training was obtained in the district
schools and he became himself a district-school teacher at the age of
seventeen. Three years later, apparently destined for the profession
of law, he entered Union College at Schenectady, New York, but after
graduating in 1846, he gave up the study of law to enter the ministry
of the Baptist Church. His heart, however, was in teaching, and in
1852 he became head of a classical school in Detroit, Michigan.
Almost immediately he was recognized as a leader in the educational
councils of the state. He was active in the affairs of the State
Teachers' Association and was one of the founders and the first
editor of the "Michigan Journal of Education." His intimate knowledge
of educational affairs and his popularity among the teachers led to
his election in 1858 to the State superintendency of public
instruction, an office to which he was twice reelected. He declined a
fourth nomination in 1864 when, as president of Kalamazoo College, he
entered upon a new phase of his career -- the organization of
institutions for higher education.

In 1868, when the University of Illinois was established
under the name, "Illinois State Industrial University," Dr. Gregory
was asked to undertake the organization of the new institution. His
work for thirteen years in laying the foundation of one of the
largest and strongest of the state universities gives him a secure
place in the history of American education. After leaving the
University of Illinois he served for some time as a member of the
United States Civil Service Commission. The great work of his life,
however, was the organization of the University, and just before he
died in 1898 he asked that his body be laid to rest within the campus
of the school for which he had done so much. This request was
reverently complied with.

Dr. Gregory's book, "The Seven Laws of Teaching," was first
published in 1884. A clear and simple statement of the important
factors governing the art of teaching, it has been especially
successful as a handbook for Sunday school teachers. In recognition
of Dr. Gregory's great service to the University of Illinois, two
members of the School of Education undertook the revision of the book
which is here presented.


Let us, like the Master, carefully observe a little child,
that we may learn from him what education is; for education, in its
broadest meaning, embraces all the steps and processes by which an
infant is gradually transformed into a full-grown and intelligent

Let us take account of the infant. He has a complete human
body, with eyes, hands, and feet -- and all the organs of sense, of
action, and of locomotion -- and yet he lies helpless in his cradle.
He laughs, cries, feels; he has the attributes of the adult, but not
the powers.

In what does this infant differ from a man? Simply in being a
child. His body and limbs are small, weak, and without voluntary use.
His feet cannot walk; his hands have no skill; his lips cannot speak.
His eyes see without perceiving, and his ears hear without
understanding. The universe into which he has come lies around him
unknown and mysterious.

More observation and study make it clear to us that the child
is but a germ -- he has not his destined growth -- and he is ignorant
-- without acquired ideas.

On these two facts rest the two notions of education: (1) the
development of capacities, and (2) the acquisition of experience. The
first is the maturing of body and mind to full growth and strength;
the second is the process of furnishing the child with the heritage
of the race.

Each of these facts -- the child's immaturity and his
ignorance -- might serve as a basis for a science of education. The
first would emphasize the capacities of the human being, their order
of development and their laws of growth and action. The second would
involve a study of the various branches of human knowledge, and how
they are discovered, developed, and perfected. Each of these sciences
would necessarily involve the other, as a study of powers involves a
knowledge of their products, and a study of effects includes a survey
of causes.

 Based upon these two forms of educational science, we find
the art of education to be a two-fold one:
the art of TRAINING and
the art of TEACHING.

Since the child is immature in the use of all his capacities,
it is the first business of education to give such training as will
bring them to full development. This training may be physical,
mental, or moral.

 Since the child is ignorant, it is the business of education
to communicate to it the experience of the race. This is properly the
work of teaching. Considered in this light, the school is but one of
the agencies of education, since we continue throughout our lives to
acquire experience. The first object of teaching, then, is to
stimulate in the pupil the love of learning, and to form in him
habits and ideals of independent study.

 These two, the cultivation of capacities and the transmission
of experience, together make up the teacher's work. All organizing
and governing are subsidiary of this two-fold aim. The result to be
sought is a full-grown physical, intellectual, and moral manhood,
with such resources as are necessary to make life useful and happy
and as will enable the individual to go on learning from all the
activities of life.

 These two great branches of the educational art -- training
and teaching -- though separable in thought, are not separable in
practice. We can only train by teaching, and we teach best when we
train best. The proper training of the intellectual capacities is
found in the acquisition, elaboration, and application of the
knowledge and skills which represent the heritage of the race.

There is, however, a practical advantage in keeping these two
processes of education before the mind. The teacher with these
clearly in view will observe more easily and estimate more
intelligently the real progress of his pupils. He will not be content
with a dry daily drill which keeps his pupils at work as in a
treadmill, nor will he be satisfied with cramming their minds with
useless facts and names. He will carefully note both sides of his
pupils' education, and will direct his labors and adapt his lessons
wisely and skillfully to secure both of the ends in view.

This statement of the two sides of the science and art of
education brings us to the point of view from which may be clearly
seen the real aim of this little volume. That aim is stated in its
title -- THE SEVEN LAWS OF TEACHING. Its object is to set forth, in
a certain systematic order, the principles of the art of teaching. It
deals with mental capacities only as they need to be considered in a
clear discussion of the work of acquiring experience in the process
of education.

   As the most obvious work of the schoolroom is that of
studying the various branches of knowledge, so the work of teaching
-- the work of assigning, explaining, and hearing lessons -- is that
which chiefly occupies the time and attention of the instructor. To
explain the laws of teaching will, therefore, seem the most direct
and practical way to instruct teachers in their art. It presents at
once the clearest and most practical view of their duties, and of the
methods by which they may win success in their work. Having learned
the laws of teaching, the teacher will easily master the philosophy
of training.

This little book does not claim to set forth the whole
science of education, nor even the whole art of teaching. But if it
has succeeded in grouping around the seven factors, which are present
in every instance of true teaching, the leading principles and rules
of the teaching art, so that they can be seen in their natural order
and relations, and can be methodically learned and used, it has
fulfilled the desire of the author.




1. The Laws of Teaching
The Seven Factors
The Laws Stated
The Laws Stated as Rules
Essentials of Successful Teaching
Skill and Enthusiasm
A Word to Teachers

2. The Law of the Teacher
The Philosophy of the Law
Rules for Teachers
Violations and Mistakes

3. The Law of the Learner
Attention Described
The Philosophy of the Law
Sources of Interest
Interest Varies with Age
Hindrances to Attention
Rules for Teachers
Violations and Mistakes

4. The Law of Language
The Philosophy of the Law
The Vehicle of Thought
The Instrument of Thought
The Language of Objects
Rules for Teachers
Violations and Mistakes

5. The Law of the Lesson
The Philosophy of the Law
Rules for Teachers
Mistakes and Violations

6. The Law of the Teaching Process
The Law of Teaching
The Philosophy of the Law
Knowledge Necessary to Thought
Knowledge and the Feelings
The Self-Active Mind
Rules for Teachers
Violations and Mistakes

7. The Law of the Learning Process
The Philosophy of the Law
Limitations of the Law
Practical Rules for Teachers and Learners
Violations and Mistakes

8. The Law of Review and Application
The Philosophy of the Law
Practical Rules for Teachers
Violations and Mistakes


Final Test

[Etext Editor's Note, by Clyde C. Price, Jr.]




Test is "open book."

TESTING  Make sure you read the testing instructions if you have not already done so.

Should the test fail to open properly, please use F5 to reload or click the refresh symbol on the top of your browser page.

If you failed the test, then restudy this section and retake the test on or after tomorrow.
You may NOT retake the test on the same day.
Once you have passed the test, do not take it again.

If you missed any questions on the test, even though you passed it, then restudy the section and find all of the correct answers to any questions that you missed.  A copy of your test was sent to you with the correct answers on it.  You may use that for comparison purposes to make sure you have found the correct answers in the textbook.
After you have finished this procedure your attendance for the lesson starts the next day.






 1. Teaching has its natural laws as fixed as the laws of the planets
or of growing organisms. It is a process in which definite forces are
employed to produce definite results, and these results follow as
regularly and certainly as the day follows the sun. What the teacher
does, he does through natural agencies working out their natural
effects. Causation is as certain -- if not always so obvious nor so
easily understood -- in the movements of mind as in those of matter.
The laws of mind are as fixed as material laws.

2. To discover the laws of any process, whether of mind or of matter,
makes it possible to bring that process under the control of one who
knows the laws and can command the conditions. Knowledge of the laws
of electric currents has made it possible to send messages through
the oceans; and he who masters the laws of teaching may convey to the
minds of others the experience of the race. He who would gain
harvests must obey nature's laws for the growing of corn, and he who
would teach a child successfully must follow the laws of
teaching. Nowhere, in the world of mind or in the world of matter,
can man produce any effects except as he employs the means upon which
those effects depend.

 3. Teaching, in its simplest sense, is the communication of
experience. This experience may consist of facts, truths, doctrines,
ideas, or ideals, or it may consist of the processes or skills of an
art. It may be taught by the use of words, by signs, by objects, by
actions, or by examples; but whatever the substance, the mode, or the
aim of the teaching, the act itself, fundamentally considered, is
always substantially the same: it is a communication of experience.
It is painting in the mind of another the picture in one's own -- the
shaping of the thought and understanding to the comprehension of some
truth which the teacher knows and wishes to communicate. Further on
we shall see that the word "communication" is used here, not in the
sense of the transmission of a mental something from one person to
another, but rather in the sense of helping another to reproduce the
same experience and thus to make it common to the two.


4. To discover the law of any phenomenon, we must subject that
phenomenon to a scientific analysis and study its separate parts. If
any complete act of teaching be so analyzed, it will be found to
contain seven distinct elements or factors: (1) two personal
factors -- a teacher and a learner; (2) two mental factors -- a
common language or medium of communication, and a lesson or truth or
art to be communicated; and (3) three functional acts or processes --
that of the teacher, that of the learner, and a final or finishing
process to test and fix the result.

5. These are essential elements in every full and complete act of
teaching. Whether the lesson be a single fact told in three minutes,
or a lecture occupying as many hours, the seven factors are all
present, if the work is effective. None of them can be omitted, and
no others need be added. If there is a true science of teaching, it
must be found in the laws and relations of these seven factors.

6. To discover their laws, let us pass the seven factors again in
careful review: (1) a teacher; (2) a learner; (3) a common language
or medium of communication; (4) a lesson or truth; (5) the teacher's
work; (6) the learner's work; (7) the review work, which organizes,
applies, perfects, and fastens the work which has been done. Each of
these seven factors is distinguished from the rest by some essential
characteristics; each is a distinct entity or fact of nature. Since
every fact of nature is the product and proof of some law of nature,
each element here described has its own great law of function,
and these taken together constitute The Seven Laws of Teaching.

7. It may seem trivial so to insist upon all this. Some will say: "Of
course there can be no teaching without a teacher and a pupil,
without a language and a lesson, and unless the teacher teaches and
the learner learns; or, finally, without a proper review, if any
assurance is to be gained that the work has been successful. All this
is too obvious to need assertion." So also is it obvious that when
seeds, soil, heat, light, and moisture come together in proper
measure, plants are produced and grow to the harvest; but the
obviousness of these common facts does not prevent their hiding among
them some of the most profound and mysterious laws of nature. So,
too, a simple act of teaching may hide within it some of the most
potent and significant laws of mental life.


8. These laws are not obscure and hard to reach. They are so simple
and natural that they suggest themselves almost spontaneously to the
careful observer. They lie imbedded in the simplest description that
can be given of the seven elements named, as in the following:

(1) A TEACHER must be one who KNOWS the lesson or truth or
art to be taught.

(2) A LEARNER is one who ATTENDS with interest to the lesson.

(3) The LANGUAGE used as a MEDIUM between teacher and learner
must be COMMON to both.

(4) The LESSON to be mastered must be explicable in the terms
of truth already known by the learner -- the UNKNOWN must be
explained by means of the KNOWN.

the desired thought or to master the desired art.

(6) LEARNING is THINKING into one's own UNDERSTANDING a new
idea or truth or working into HABIT a new art or skill.

(7) The TEST AND PROOF of teaching done -- the finishing and
fastening process -- must be a REVIEWING, RETHINKING, REKNOWING,
REPRODUCING, and APPLYING of the material that has been taught, the
knowledge and ideals and arts that have been communicated.

9. These definitions and statements are perhaps so simple and obvious
as to need no argument or proof; but their force as fundamental laws
may be more clearly seen if they are stated as rules for teaching.
Addressed to the teacher, they may read as follows:

(1) Know thoroughly and familiarly the lesson you wish to
teach -- teach from a full mind and a clear understanding.

(2) Gain and keep the attention and interest of the
pupils upon the lesson. Do not try to teach without attention.

(3) Use words understood in the same way by the pupils and
yourself -- language clear and vivid to both.

(4) Begin with what is already well known to the pupil upon
the subject and with what he has himself experienced -- and proceed
to the new material by single, easy, and natural steps, letting the
known explain the unknown.

(5) Stimulate the pupil's own mind to action. Keep his
thought as much as possible ahead of your expression, placing him in
the attitude of a discoverer, an anticipator.

(6) Require the pupil to reproduce in thought the lesson he
is learning -- thinking it out in its various phases and applications
till he can express it in his own language.

(7) REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW, reproducing the old, deepening
its impression with new thought, linking it with added meanings,
finding new applications, correcting any false views, and completing
the true.


10. These rules, and the laws upon which they are based, underlie and
govern all successful teaching. If taken in their broadest
significance, nothing need be added to them or taken away. No one who
thoroughly masters and uses them need fail as a teacher, if he also
has qualities that enable him properly to maintain the good
order necessary to give them free and undisturbed action. Disorder,
noise, and confusion may hinder and prevent the results desired, just
as the constant disturbance of some chemical elements forbids the
formation of the compounds which the laws of chemistry would
otherwise produce. But good teaching, in itself, will often bring
about good order.

11. Like all the great laws of nature, these laws of teaching seem
clear and obvious; but like other fundamental truths, their
simplicity is more apparent than real. Each law varies in its
applications with varying minds and persons, although remaining
constant in itself; and each stands related to other laws and facts
till it reaches the outermost limits of the art of teaching. In the
succeeding chapters we shall proceed to a careful study of these
seven laws, reaching in our discussion many valuable principles in
education and many practical rules which can be of use in the
teacher's work.

12. These laws and rules apply to the teaching of all subjects in all
grades, since they are the fundamental conditions on which ideas may
pass from one mind to another. They are as valid and useful for the
instructor in the university as for the teacher in the elementary
school, and for the teaching of a law in logic as for instruction in

13. There may be many successful teachers who never heard of these
laws, and who do not CONSCIOUSLY follow them; just as there are
people who walk safely without any theoretical knowledge of
gravitation, and talk intelligibly without studying grammar. Like the
musician who plays "by ear," these "natural" teachers have learned
from practice the laws of teaching, and obey them from habit. It is
none the less true that their success comes from obeying law, and not
in spite of law.


14. Let no one fear that a study of the laws of teaching will tend to
substitute a cold, mechanical sort of work for the warmhearted,
enthusiastic teaching so much to be desired, and so much admired and
praised. True skill kindles and keeps alive enthusiasm by giving it
success where it would otherwise be discouraged by defeat. The true
worker's love for his work grows with his ability to do it well.
Enthusiasm will accomplish all the more when guided by intelligence
and armed with skill.

15. Unreflecting superintendents and school boards often prefer
enthusiastic teachers to those who are simply well educated or
experienced. They believe, not without reason, that enthusiasm will
accomplish more with inadequate learning and little skill than the
best-trained and most erudite teacher wholly lacking in zeal. But why
choose either the ignorant enthusiast or the educated
sluggard? Enthusiasm is not confined to the unskilled and the
ignorant, nor are all calm, cool men idlers. There is an enthusiasm
born of skill -- a joy in doing what one can do well -- that is far
more effective, where art is involved, than the enthusiasm born in
vivid feeling. The steady advance of veterans is more powerful than
the mad rush of raw recruits. The world's best work, in the schools
as in the shops, is done by the calm, steady, and persistent efforts
of skilled workmen who know how to keep their tools sharp, and to
make every effort reach its mark.

16. The most serious objection to systematic teaching, based on the
laws of teaching, has sometimes come from pastors, Sunday school
teachers, and others, who have assumed that the principal aim of the
Sunday school is to impress rather than to instruct; and that skilful
teaching, if desirable at all, is much less important than warm
appeals to the feelings and earnest exhortations on the proper
occasions. But what exhortation will have such permanent power as
that which is heralded by some clear truth? If the choice must be
between the warmhearted teacher who makes gushing appeals, and the
coldhearted one who stifles all feeling by his indifference, the
former is perhaps to be preferred; but why either? Is there no
healthful mean between steam and ice for the water of life? The
teacher whose own mind glows with the truth, and who skillfully leads
his pupils to a clear understanding of the same truth, will
not fail in inspirational power.

17. These questions may be left to call forth their own inevitable
answers. They will have served their purpose if they repel the
disposition to discredit the need of true TEACHING in Sunday schools
as well in day schools; and if they convince Sunday school leaders
that the laws of teaching are the laws of mind, which must be
followed as faithfully in studying the Word of God as in studying His


18. Leaving to other chapters the full discussion of the meaning and
philosophy of those seven laws, we here urge the teacher, especially
the Sunday school teacher, to give them the most serious attention.
While facing your pupils, how often have you wished for the power to
look into their minds, and to plant there with sure hand some truth
of science or some belief of the gospel? No key will ever open to you
the doors of those chambers in which live your pupils' souls; no
glass will ever enable you to penetrate their mysterious gloom. But
in the great laws of your common nature lie the lines of
communication by which you may send the thought fresh from your mind,
and awaken the other to receive and embrace it.

19. In the discussion of these laws there will necessarily occur some
seeming repetitions. They are like seven hilltops of different height
scattered over a common territory. As we climb each in succession,
many points in the landscapes seen from their summits will be found
included in different views, but always in a new light and with a
fresh horizon. New groupings will show new relations and bring to
light, for the careful student, new aspects and uses. The repetitions
themselves will not be useless, as they will serve to emphasize the
most important features of the art of teaching, and will impress upon
teachers those principles which demand the most frequent attention.



Test is "open book."

TESTING  Make sure you read the testing instructions if you have not already done so.

Should the test fail to open properly, please use F5 to reload or click the refresh symbol on the top of your browser page.

If you failed the test, then restudy this section and retake the test on or after tomorrow.
You may NOT retake the test on the same day.
Once you have passed the test, do not take it again.

If you missed any questions on the test, even though you passed it, then restudy the section and find all of the correct answers to any questions that you missed.  A copy of your test was sent to you with the correct answers on it.  You may use that for comparison purposes to make sure you have found the correct answers in the textbook.
After you have finished this procedure your attendance for the lesson starts the next day.





1. The universal reign of law is the central truth of modern science.
No force in man or nature but works under the control of law; no
effect in mind or matter but is produced in conformity with law. The
simplest notion of natural law is that nature remains forever uniform
in its forces and operations. Causes compel their effects, and
effects obey their causes, by irresistible laws. Things are what they
are by reason of the laws of their being, and to learn the law of any
fact is to learn the most fundamental truth that we can know about
it. This uniformity of nature is the basis of all science and of all
practical art. In mind and in matter the reign of unvarying laws is
the primal condition of any true science. The mind has freedom within
law but no liberty to produce effects contrary to laws. The teacher
is therefore as much the subject of law as the star that shines or
the ship that sails. Many qualifications are recognized as important
to the teacher's position and work; and if all the requirements
sought for could be obtained, the teacher would be a model man or
woman, a perfect assemblage of impossible excellences. Good
character and rare moral qualities are desirable in an instructor of
the young, if not for his actual work, at least to prevent harm from
his example; but if, one by one, we dismiss from our catalogue of

needful qualifications for the work of teaching those not absolutely
indispensable, we shall find ourselves obliged to retain at last, as
necessary to the very notion of teaching, a knowledge of the subject
matter to be taught. The Law of the Teacher, then -- the law which
limits and describes him -- is this: THE TEACHER MUST KNOW THAT WHICH


2. That we cannot teach without knowledge seems too simple for proof.
How can something come out of nothing, or how can darkness give
light? To affirm this law seems like declaring a truism: but deeper
study shows it to be a fundamental truth -- the law of the teacher.
No other qualification is so fundamental and essential. If the terms
of the law are reversed, another important truth is revealed: WHAT

3. The word KNOW stands central in the law of the teacher. KNOWLEDGE
is the material with which the teacher works, and the first reason
for the law must be sought in the nature of knowledge. What men call
knowledge is of all degrees, from the first glimpse of truth to the
full understanding. At different stages the experience of the
race, as we acquire it, is characterized by: (1) faint recognition;
(2) the ability to recall for ourselves, or to describe in a general
way to others, what we have learned; (3) the power readily to
explain, prove, illustrate, and apply it; and (4) such knowledge and
appreciation of the truth in its deeper significance and wider
relations, that by the force of its importance we ACT upon it -- our
CONDUCT is modified by it. History is history only to him who thus
reads and knows it. It is this last form of knowledge, or experience,
which must be read into the law of the true teacher.

4. It is not affirmed that no one can teach at all without this
fullness of knowledge; nor is it true that every one who knows his
subject matter thus thoroughly will necessarily teach successfully.
But imperfect knowing must be reflected in imperfect teaching. What a
man does not know he cannot teach successfully. But the law of the
teacher is only one of the laws of teaching, and failure may come
from the violations of other conditions as well as from neglect of
this. Likewise success in some measure may come from obedience to the
other laws. However, teaching must be uncertain and limping when
characterized by an inadequate knowledge of the material to be

5. A truth is known by its resemblances, and can best be seen in the
light of other truths. the pupil, instead of seeing a fact
alone, should see it linked to the great body of truth, in all its
fruitful relations. Great principles are discovered amid familiar

facts vividly seen, and concepts clearly wrought. The power of
illustration -- a most important tool in the teacher's art -- comes
only out of clear and familiar knowledge. The unknowing teacher is
like the blind trying to lead the blind with only an empty lamp to
light the way.

6. Consider the common facts taught in the geography of the schools
-- the roundness of the earth, the extent of oceans and continents,
mountains, rivers, and peopled states and cities -- how tame and
slight in interest to the half-taught teacher and his pupils; but how
inspiring as seen by the Herschels, the Danas, and the Guyots! To
them appear in vision the long processions of age-filling causes
which have given shape to the globe. To such teachers geography is
one chapter in the science and history of the universe. So, too, with
Biblical truths; they are meager in meaning to the careless reader
and to the nonstudious teacher, but they are brilliant with truth and
rich with meaning to those who bring to their study the converging
lights of history, science, and indeed all forms of recorded

7. But the law of the teacher goes deeper still. Truth must be
clearly understood before it can be vividly felt. Only the true
students of any science grow enthusiastic over it. It is the
clearness of their vision which inspires the wonderful eloquence of
the poet and the orator, and makes them the teachers of their race.
It was Hugh Miller, the geologist, whose eye deciphered and whose pen
recorded "The Testimony of the Rocks." Kepler, the great astronomer,
grew wild as the mysteries of the stars unrolled before him, and
Agassiz could not afford time to lecture for money while absorbed in
the study of the fishes of an ancient world. That teacher will be
cold and lifeless who only half knows the subject he would teach; but
one fired with enthusiasm will unconsciously inspire his pupils with
his own interest.

8. This earnest feeling of truths clearly conceived is the secret of
the enthusiasm so much admired and praised in teacher and preacher.
Common truths become transformed for such a teacher. History becomes
a living panorama; geography swells out into great continental
stretches of peopled nations; astronomy becomes the march of worlds
and world systems. How can the teacher's manner fail to be earnest
and inspiring when his subject matter is so rich in radiant reality?

9. While knowledge thus thoroughly and familiarly mastered rouses
into higher action all the powers of the teacher, it also gives him
the command and use of those powers. Instead of a feeling of
subservience to his textbook, the teacher who knows his lesson as he
ought is at home in his recitation, and can watch the efforts of his
class and direct with ease the trend of their thoughts. He is ready
to recognize and interpret their first glimpses of truth; to remove
the obstacles from their path, and to aid and encourage them.

10. A teacher's ready and evident knowledge helps to give the pupil
needed confidence. We follow with expectation and delight the guide
who has a thorough knowledge of the field we wish to explore, but we
follow reluctantly and without interest the ignorant and incompetent
leader. Children object to being taught by one in whom they have no
confidence. And this is not all. The great scholars -- the Newtons,
the Humboldts, and the Huxleys -- kindle public interest in the
sciences in which they themselves are working; in the same way the
well-prepared teacher awakens in his pupils the active desire to
study further. In some unfortunate cases, great knowledge is
unaccompanied by the ability to inspire pupils with a love of study,
and this is a condition fatal to successful teaching, especially with
young pupils. Better a teacher with limited knowledge but with the
power to stimulate his pupils, than an Agassiz without it.

11. Such is the philosophy of this first great law of teaching. Thus
understood, it clearly portrays the splendid ideal which no one
except the Great Teacher ever fully realized, but which every
true teacher must approach. It defines accurately the forces with
which the successful teacher must go to his work. From the mother
teaching her little child, to the instructor of the most abstract
science, the orator addressing senates, and the preacher teaching
great congregations, this law knows no exceptions and permits no
successful violations. It affirms everywhere, THE TEACHER MUST KNOW


12. Among the rules which arise out of the Law of the Teacher, the
following are the most important:

(1) Prepare each lesson by fresh study. Last year's knowledge
has necessarily faded somewhat. Only fresh conceptions inspire us to
our best efforts.

(2) Find in the lesson its analogies to more familiar facts
and principles. In these lie the illustrations by which it may be
taught to others.

(3) Study the lesson until it takes shape in familiar
language. The final product of clear thought is clear speech.

(4) Find the natural order of the several steps of the
lesson. In every science there is a natural path from the simplest
notions to the broadest views; so, too, in every lesson.

(5) Find the relation of the lesson to the lives of the
learners. Its practical value lies in these relations.

(6) Use freely all legitimate aids, but never rest until the
real understanding is clearly before you.

(7) Bear in mind that complete mastery of a few things is
better than an ineffective smattering of many.

(8) Have a definite time for the study of each lesson, in
advance of the teaching. All things help the duty done on time. One
keeps on learning the lesson studied in advance, and gathers fresh
interest and illustrations.

(9) Have a plan of study, but do not hesitate, when
necessary, to study beyond the plan. The best mnemonic device is to
ask and answer these questions about the lesson: What? How? Why?

(10) Do not deny yourself the help of good books on the
subject of your lessons. Buy, borrow, or beg, if necessary, but
obtain somehow the help of the best thinkers, enough at least to
stimulate your own thought; but do not read without thinking. If
possible, talk the lesson over with an intelligent friend; collision
often brings light. In the absence of these aids, write your views;
expressing your thoughts in writing may clear them of obscurities.


13. This discussion would be incomplete without some mention of the
frequent violations of the law. The best teacher may spoil his most
careful and earnest work by thoughtless blunders. The true
teacher will make as few errors as possible, and will profit by those
that he makes.

(1) The very ignorance of his pupils may tempt the teacher to
neglect careful preparation and study. He may think that in any event
he will know much more of the lesson than the pupils can, and imagine
that he will find something to say about it, or that the ignorance
will pass unnoticed: A sad mistake, and one that often costs dearly.
The cheat is almost sure to be discovered, and from that time the
teacher's standing with the class is gone.

(2) Some teachers assume that it is the pupils' work, not
theirs, to study the lesson, and that with the aid of the book in
hand, they will be able easily to ascertain whether the pupils have
done their duty. Better let one of the pupils who knows his lesson
examine the others, than to discourage study by your own indifference
and lack of preparation. Teaching is not merely "hearing lessons."

(3) Others look hastily through the lesson, and conclude that
though they have not thoroughly mastered it, or perhaps any part of
it, they have gathered enough to fill the period, and can, if
necessary, supplement the little they know with random talk or story.
or, lacking time or heart for any preparation, they dismiss all
thought of teaching, fill the hour with such exercises as may occur
to them, and hope that, as the school is a good thing anyway,
the pupils will receive some benefit from mere attendance.

(4) A more serious fault is that of those who, failing to
find stimulation in the lesson, make it a mere framework upon which
to hang some fancies of their own.

(5) There is a meaner wrong done by the teacher who seeks to
conceal his lazy ignorance with some pompous pretense of learning,
hiding his lack of knowledge by an array of high-sounding phrases
beyond the comprehension of his pupils, uttering solemn platitudes in
a wise tone, or claiming extensive study and profound information
which he has not the time to lay properly before them. Who has not
seen these shams practiced upon pupils?

14. Thus many teachers go to their work either partly prepared or

wholly unprepared. They are like messengers without a message. They
lack entirely the power and enthusiasm necessary to produce the
fruits which we have a right to look for from their efforts. Let this
first fundamental law of teaching be thoroughly obeyed, and our
schools will increase in numbers and in usefulness.



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1. Passing from the teacher to the pupil, our next inquiry is for the
LAW OF THE LEARNER. Here the search must be for those characteristics
which differentiate the learner from other persons -- for the
essential elements which make him a learner. Let us place before us a
successful student, and note carefully his actions and qualities. His
intent look and absorbed manner are signs of his interest and
attention. Interest and attention characterize the mental state of
the true learner, and constitute the essential basis on which the
process of learning rests, The law of the learner, then, may be

2. The law thus stated may seem to be a truism, but it is as really
profound as it is seemingly simple. The plainest proof of its truth
lies in the readiness with which every one will admit it. Its real
significance can be found by careful study.


3. Attention means the direction of the mind upon some object. The
object may be external, as when one watches carefully the
operation of a machine or listens intently to a piece of music; or it
may be mental, as when one "calls to mind" some past experience, or
"reflects" upon the meaning of some idea. The psychologist speaks of
this direction of the mind as the act of bringing the object into the
"focus" of consciousness. Consciousness is thus thought of as
presenting a "focus" and a "margin." The focus is occupied by our
awareness of the object that is being "attended" to, the margin by
those sensations and feelings that are still within the range of
consciousness, but which are vague, indistinct, and not clearly

4. Attention, then, is not a constant and invariable condition. When
we speak of "concentrated" or "absorbed" attention we mean that the
object attended to is occupying the whole of consciousness. But one
may attend with varying degrees of absorption or concentration. One
may let one's mind flit from this object to that, following each
passing stimulus for a moment or two until something else "catches
the attention"; or one may hold oneself resolutely to a certain
object and still be "aware" that other objects are tempting one in
other directions; or one may become so completely absorbed in a given
object that all other objects are practically nonexistent so far as
consciousness is concerned.

5. There are, then, three different kinds of attention, each
of which is important from the point of view of teaching and

(1) Attention of the "flitting" kind is often called
"passive" attention, because it involves no effort of will. One
simply follows the behest of the strongest stimulus; one is "passive"
because one is letting the forces that play about him control the
mental life. This is the primitive, instinctive, basic type of
attention -- the attention of every one at some times during the day,
especially when one is tired or when one is in a playful mood; but
particularly the attention of the little child.
(2) But the essential characteristic of the human mind is
that it can control, rather than be controlled by, the forces that
surround it. It can rise above its immediate environment and look
beyond the present into the future. It can even attend AWAY FROM
objects that naturally attract attention and hold itself persistently
and resolutely to tasks and duties that are not immediately
attractive but which it recognizes as important and worthy and
necessary. It can hold momentary fancy in leash and work resolutely
and persistently toward a remote goal. This distinctively human type
of attention is called "active" attention because its first condition
is an effort of the will, a determination to do what should be done
in spite of allurements to do something else that is pleasanter and
more attractive.

(3) But attention of this effortful, active sort is not
always or often the most economical and effective for
learning. Generally speaking we learn most easily and most
economically when we are "absorbed" in our work, when the objects
that we are trying to fix in mind and remember permanently really
attract us in their own right, so to speak -- when our learning is so
fascinating that it simply "carries us with it." Attention of this
sort frequently grows out of persistent effort -- out of what we have
just termed "active" attention. This attention resembles passive
attention in that its object is always attractive in itself and
demands little or no effort to be brought into the focus of
consciousness; but it also grows out of active attention, out of
effort and persistence. This third type of attention is consequently
termed "secondary passive" attention.

6. It is obvious that attention of the secondary passive type is,
from the learner's point of view, the most desirable to cultivate. It
means economy of learning, it means pleasant learning, it means
effective learning. But the general verdict of human experience is
that these most desirable conditions are not easily fulfilled -- if
they were, indeed, there would be little need for either teachers or
schools. It seems to be generally true that these sustained and
abiding "interests" are to be purchased only at a price -- and the
price is strenuous effort. One cannot lay this down as an unvarying
rule, for there are doubtless some worthy interests that are "grown
into" with little effort -- almost by following the lines of
least resistance. This is possible -- but it is also possible that a
ship which is left to the mercy of every wind that blows MAY be
wafted ultimately into some safe and profitable harbor. Human
experience during the long ages has taught few lessons that are more
dependable than that which predicates effort, sacrifice, and
persistence as the chief ingredients of success, and this holds as
generally of success in learning as it does of success in business,
art, invention, and industry. The man who simply drifts into success
in any field of human activity is almost as rare as the ship that
drifts aimlessly into a safe harbor; certainly those who know well
and know thoroughly have paid the price of mental toil and mental
effort for their mastery -- and mental toil and mental effort are
only other words for active attention.

7. It would be folly, however, for the teacher to interpret this need
of effort upon the part of the learner as meaning that the art of
teaching consists only of setting tasks and driving pupils to the
accomplishment of these tasks -- for it is also agreed that the kind
of effort that comes from the incitement of driving or the incentive
of fear is quite unlikely to develop these permanent and abiding
interests. Thousands if not millions of pupils under such treatment
have never got beyond the stage of active attention; more than this,
they have developed a distinct and permanent dislike for what
they have tried to learn. The duty of the teacher is essentially not
that of a driver or a taskmaster, but rather that of a counselor and
guide. His aim must be to develop secondary passive attention. The
best way to do this is to make the stages of advancement gradual, so
that while the pupil must put forth effort in grasping each new step
in the lesson or in the series of lessons, the completion of each
step will also make the effort seem worthwhile.

8. Modern theories of teaching emphasize the importance of "problems"
in insuring this progressive series of efforts, and there is much to
commend in this movement. The theory is that, if you can interest the
pupil in solving a problem, he will put forth the effort necessary to
grasp the knowledge which is essential to the solution. Thus if the
knowledge that one wishes to teach can be organized with reference to
these problems, the learning, it is maintained, will really take care
of itself.

9. As an example of this "problem method" of teaching as exemplified
in Sunday school work, one may take the general topic, the geography
of Palestine. The traditional method of teaching would consider this
topic as an information-unit. Palestine would be located with
reference to its place on the globe, and with reference to the
adjacent countries; its natural features would be described -- its
mountains, plains, seas, and rivers; the climate would be
referred to and perhaps explained by the various factors of latitude,
altitude, prevailing winds, neighborhood of bodies of water, deserts,
etc.; the productions and the people would be considered in
conclusion. But the problem method would start in another way. An
effort might be made to interest the pupils in an imaginary journey
to Palestine. How they would reach the country, how they would live
and travel while there, how the people lived and worked and dressed
-- all of these and many other subordinate problems would create what
might be called a "natural" demand for the information which, under
the older method, would be presented systematically and somewhat

10. There is an important place for the problem method in teaching,
but it is clear that it cannot entirely replace systematic and
progressive study. Its value lies chiefly in bringing about an
initial momentum for learning. The method should also be used as a
stimulating variant, breaking the monotony of a too logical and
abstract procedure. Most children, once they have gained a start in
study, will be able and willing to work systematically. Everything
depends upon the skill with which the teacher passes from step to
step, linking the new with the old, and gradually building up a whole
that is composed of well-articulated parts.


11. However much teachers may neglect it in practice, they readily
admit that without attention the pupil cannot learn. One may
as well talk to the dead as to attempt to teach a child who is wholly
inattentive. All this may seem perhaps too obvious to need
discussion, but a brief survey of the facts which underlie the law
will make clear its force and authority.

12. Knowledge cannot be passed like a material substance from one
mind to another, for thoughts are not objects which may be held and
handled. Ideas can be communicated only by inducing in the receiving
mind processes corresponding to those by which these ideas were first
conceived. Ideas must be rethought, experience must be
re-experienced. It is obvious, therefore, that something more is
required than a mere presentation; the pupil must think. He must work
with a fixed aim and purpose -- in other words, with attention. It is
not enough to look and listen. If the mind is only half aroused, the
conceptions gained will be faint and fragmentary -- as inaccurate and
useless as they are fleeting. Teacher and textbook may be full of
information but the learner will get from them only so much as his
power of attention enables him to shape in his own mind.

13. The notion that the mind is only a receptacle in which to stow
other people's ideas is entirely incorrect. The nature of mind, as
far as we can understand it, is that of a power, or force, actuated
by motives. The striking clock may sound in the ear, and the passing
object may paint its image in the eye, but the inattentive
mind neither hears nor sees. Who has not read a whole page with the
eyes, and at the bottom found himself unable to recall a single idea
that it contained? The senses had done their work, but the mind had
been busy with other thoughts.

14. The vigor of mental action, like that of muscular action, is
proportioned to the stimulus which inspires it. The pupil's mind may
not at once respond to the command of the teacher, nor to the call of
a cold sense of duty. It is only when we begin our work "with a will"
-- that is, with interest in our work -- that we are working with
maximal effectiveness. Unexpected reserve powers come forth when the
demand is strong enough. With growing interest, attention grows, and
we are enabled to accomplish more.


15. The sources of interest, which are the approaches to attention,
are many. Each sense-organ is a gateway to the mind of the pupil.
Infants are lured by a bit of bright ribbon, and will cease crying to
gaze upon some strange object swung before their eyes. The orator's
gesturing hand, his smiling or passionate look, his many-toned voice
often do more to hold the attention of his auditors than the meaning
of his speech. The mind attends to that which makes a powerful appeal
to the senses.

16. The teacher may not have the orator's opportunity for free
gesticulation and commanding use of the voice; but within narrower
limits he has it in his power to use face, voice, and hand. A sudden
pause, with lifted hand, will arrest confusion and cause the pupils
to listen and give attention. The showing of a picture, or of some
other illustrative material, will attract the most careless and
awaken the most apathetic. The sudden raising or lowering of the
voice arouses fresh attention. All of these have value.

17. But let it be remembered that these are only devices to be
employed when necessary; your effort at all times should be to make
your presentation so interesting that the attention of the pupils
will follow it. Teach the pupils to concentrate; they will soon pass
through the stage of ACTIVE ATTENTION and reach the effective stage
of SECONDARY PASSIVE ATTENTION. Resort to artificial stimuli only as
a last means to gain attention.

18. A source of genuine interest may be found in the relation of the
lesson to something in the past of the learner, and a still richer
one in the relation of the lesson to his future. We may add to these
the sympathetic interest inspired by the teacher's delight in the
theme, and by the emulation of the pupil's fellow learners in the
same field. All these touch the pupil's personality, for an appeal is
made to enlightened self-interest.


19. The sources of interest vary with the ages of the learners, with
the advancing stages of growth and intelligence. This fact is
important. The child of six, in general, feels no interest in and
gives no attention to many themes which attract the youth of sixteen.
Children and adults are often interested in the same scenes and
objects, but usually not in the same phases of them. The child finds
some striking fact of sense or some personal gratification an
adequate stimulus to attention; the adult attends to the profounder
relations, to the causes or the consequences. As children approach
maturity, their interests tend to change from the concrete and more
self-centered things to the abstract and ultimate.

20. Since attention follows interest, it is folly to attempt to gain
attention without first stimulating interest. It is true that it is
the duty of children to pay attention to the performance of their
lessons; but the sense of duty must be felt by the child as well as
by the teacher. In the very little child, this sense of duty may be
represented in part by affection and sympathy, and through these he
may be made to feel the claims of obligations which he cannot as yet
fully understand. The little pupil may thus be led to feel an
interest in things which the teacher loves and praises, before he has
come fully to comprehend their importance.

21. The power of attention increases with the mental development, and
is proportioned to the years of the child. Very short lessons will
exhaust the attention of little children "Little and often"
should be the rule for teaching these little people. Prolonged
attention belongs to more mature minds.


22. The two chief hindrances to attention are apathy and distraction.
The former may be due to a lack of taste for the subject under
consideration, or to weariness or some other physical condition.
Distraction is the division of the attention among several objects,
and is the foe of all learning. If the apathy or distraction comes
from fatigue or illness, the wise teacher will not attempt to force
the lesson.


23. Out of this Law of the Learner emerge some of the most important
rules of teaching.

(1) Never begin a class exercise until the attention of the
class has been secured. Study for a moment the faces of the pupils to
see if all are mentally, as well as bodily, present.

(2) Pause whenever the attention is interrupted or lost, and
wait until it is completely regained.

(3) Never wholly exhaust the attention of your pupils. Stop
as soon as signs of fatigue appear.

(4) Adapt the length of the class exercise to the ages of the
pupils: the younger the pupils, the briefer the lesson.

(5) Arouse attention when necessary by variety in your
presentation, but be careful to avoid distractions; keep the real
lesson in view.

(6) Kindle and maintain the highest possible interest in the
subject. Interest and attention react upon each other.

(7) Present those aspects of the lesson, and use such
illustrations as will correspond to the ages and attainments of the

(8) Appeal whenever possible to the interests of your pupils.

(9) The favorite stories, songs, and subjects of the pupils
are often keys to their interest and attention. Find out what these
are, and make use of them.

(10) Look for sources of distraction, such as unusual noises,
inside the classroom and out, and reduce them to a minimum.

(11) Prepare BEFOREHAND thought-provoking questions. Be sure
that these are not beyond the ages and attainments of your pupils.

(12) Make your presentation as attractive as possible, using
illustrations and all legitimate devices. Do not, however, let these
devices be so prominent as themselves to become sources of

(13) Maintain and exhibit in yourself the closest attention
to and most genuine interest in the lesson. True enthusiasm is

(14) Study the best use of the eye and the hand. Your pupils
will respond to your earnest gaze and your lifted hand.


24. The violations of the Law of the Learner are numerous and
they constitute the most serious errors of many teachers.

(1) Recitations are commenced before the attention of the
pupils has been gained, and continued after it has ceased to be
given. One might as well begin before the pupils have entered the
room, or continue after they have left.

(2) Pupils are urged to listen after their power of attention
has been exhausted, and when fatigue has set in.

(3) Little or no effort is made to discover the tastes or
experiences of the pupils, or to create a real interest in the
subject. The teacher, himself feeling no great interest in his work,
seeks to compel the attention which he is unable to attract, and
awakens disgust instead of delight.

(4) Not a few teachers kill the power of attention in their
pupils by failing to utilize any fresh inquiries or any new,
interesting statements to stimulate interest in the subject. They
drone on through their work, thinking of it themselves as routine.
Naturally the pupils soon assume the same attitude.

25. What wonder that through these and other violations of this law
of teaching our schoolrooms are often unattractive and their success
so limited! And if obedience to these rules is so important in the
public schools, where the attendance of children is compelled, and
where the professional instructor teaches with full authority of the
law, it is all the more necessary in the Sunday school, where
attendance and teaching are voluntary. The Sunday school teacher who
would win the richest and best results of teaching should give to
this Law of the Learner his best thought and most thorough obedience.
He should master the art of gaining and keeping attention, and of
exciting genuine interest, and he will rejoice at the fruitfulness of
his work.




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After you have finished this procedure your attendance for the lesson starts the next day.





1. We have now, confronting each other, the teacher with his law of
knowledge, and the learner with his condition of interested
attention. We are next to study the medium of communication between
them and learn the Law of the Language.

2. Two persons, who have material bodies which are limiting prisons,
are to be brought into intellectual intercourse -- the fine commerce
of thought and feeling. There are no known spiritual connections
between individuals in this world. Here the organs of sense are parts
of material bodies, and can be touched and impressed only by matter
and material phenomena. Out of these phenomena persons must construct
the symbols and signs by which they can signal to one another the
ideas which they wish to communicate. A system of such symbols or
signs is a language. It may consist of the picture writing of the
savage races, the alphabet systems of civilized peoples, the manual
signs of the deaf, the oral speech of the hearing; but, whatever its
form, it is language -- a medium of communication between minds, a
necessary instrument of teaching, and having, like all other
factors in the teaching art, its own law.

3. This law, like those already discussed, is as simple as an

everyday fact. It may be stated as follows: THE LANGUAGE USED IN
it must be understood by each, with the same meaning to both.


4. The Law of Language reaches down into the deepest facts of mind,
and runs out to the widest connections of thought with life and with
the world in which we live. The power of thought rests largely upon
this fabric of speech.

5. Language in its simplest form is a system of artificial signs. Its
separate words or signs may have no likeness to the things they
signify, and no meanings except those that we give to them
arbitrarily. A word is the sign of an idea only to the one who has
the idea and who has learned the word as its sign or symbol. Without
the image or the idea in the mind, the word comes to the ear only as
a sound without meaning, a sign of nothing at all. No one has more
language than he has learned. The vocabulary of the teacher may be
many times larger than that of the pupil, but the child's ideas are
represented by his vocabulary, and the teacher must come within this
sphere of the child's language power if he would be understood.
Outside of these limits, the language of the teacher will be
characterized by lack of meaning, or perhaps perverted meaning, in
proportion as the unfamiliar words exceed the familiar ones.

6. Many words in our language have more than one meaning. For
example, consider the following expressions: mind and matter; what
is the matter? what matters it? it is a serious matter; the subject
matter ...; the same word is made to carry several meanings. This
variety of meanings may enrich words for the use of the orator or the
poet, but it presents difficulty for the young learner. Having
mastered a word as the sign of a familiar idea, he is suddenly
confronted by it with a new and unknown meaning. He has learned,
perhaps, to tie a horse to a post, when he hears the strange text,
"My days are swifter than a post," or reads the warning, "Post no
bills," and hears of a "military post." the teacher, knowing all the
meanings of his words, and guided by the context in selecting the one
required by the thought, reads on or talks on, thinking perhaps that
his language is rich in ideas and bright with meaning; but his
pupils, knowing perhaps only a single meaning for each word, are
stopped by great gaps in the sense, bridged only by sounds without
meaning which puzzle and confuse them. It would often amuse us if we
could know what ideas our words call up in little children. The boy
who wanted to see "the wicked _flea_ whom no man pursueth," and the
other who said, "Don't view me with a _cricket's_ eye," have
many companions in the schools.


7. Language has been called the VEHICLE of thought; but it does not
carry thoughts as trucks carry goods, to fill an empty storehouse.
Rather it conveys them as the wires convey telegrams, as signals to
the receiving operator, who must retranslate the messages from the
ticks he hears. Not what the speaker expresses from his own mind, but
what the hearer understands and reproduces in HIS mind, measures the
communicating power of the language used. Words that are poor and
weak to the young and untrained may be eloquent with many rich and
impressive meanings to the mature, trained mind. Thus the simple word
ART may mean "craft" to some minds, a mechanic's "trade," or even the
pretense of a hypocrite; to a Reynolds or a Ruskin it is also the
expression of all that is beautiful in human achievement, and of all
that is elevating in civilization. It speaks of paintings, sculpture
and cathedrals, and of all that is beautiful in nature, in landscape,
sky, and sea -- all that is noble or picturesque in history and life
-- all that is hidden in the moral and aesthetic nature of man. Men's
words are like ships laden with the riches of every shore of
knowledge which their owner has visited; while the words of the child
are but toy boats on which are loaded the simple notions he has
picked up in his brief experience.

8. So, too, words often come to be liked or disliked for the ideas
they suggest. Thus the word RELIGION to many is sublime with the
divinest and most profound meanings. It paints on the dark background
of human history, filled with sin and sorrow, all that is glorious in
the character and government of God, all that is highest in faith and
feeling, and all that is hopeful and bright in the future of man. To
the more worldly, religion is sometimes the name of a mass of more or
less disagreeable ceremonies or of distasteful duties. To the atheist
it suggests superstition and creeds. In some degree, such variations
of meaning belong to hundreds of the common words of our language.
That teacher will do the best work who chooses his words wisely,
raising the most and the clearest images in the minds of his pupils.

9. The reason goes further. In all effective teaching, thought passes
in two directions -- from pupil to teacher as well as from teacher to
pupil. It is as necessary for the teacher fully to understand the
child, as for the child to understand the teacher. Oftentimes a pupil
will load ordinary words with some strange, false, or distorted
meanings, and the mistakes may remain uncorrected for years. Children
are often compelled by their very poverty of speech to use words with
other than their correct meanings. The teacher must learn the needs
of the pupil from his words.


10. But language is the INSTRUMENT, as well as the vehicle of
thought. Words are tools under the plastic touch of which the mind
reduces the crude mass of its impressions into clear and valid
conceptions. Ideas become incarnate in words; they take form in
language, and stand ready to be studied and known, to be marshaled
into the mechanism of intelligible thought. Until they are thus given
expression, they are like vague phantoms, indistinct and intangible.
It is one of the most important functions of teaching to help the
child to gain a full and clear expression of what he already knows
imperfectly. No teaching is complete that does not issue in plain and
intelligent expression of the lesson; this means that the expression
should be in the language of the child, and not mere repetition of
ready-made definitions of someone else, in words very likely in many
cases to be totally unfamiliar.

11. We may go even further and say that talking is thinking, for
ideas must precede words in all but parrot speech. The most useful,
and sometimes the most difficult processes in thinking are those in
which we fit words to ideas. The full and clear statement of a
problem is often the best part of solving it. Ideas rise before us at
first like the confused mass of objects in a new landscape; to put
them into clear and correct words and sentences is to make the
landscape familiar.

Thoughts disentangle passing o'er the lip.

12. We master truth by expressing it, and are glad when we
have clearly expressed our thought. But in order to make TALKING into
THINKING, there must be independent and original effort, not a mere
parrotlike repetition of the words of other people. The pupil himself
must do much of the talking. What teacher has not watched the battle
when a little group of children have attacked some knotty problem,
and each has tried to reduce the truth to proper speech? and how
proud the victor when he has forced the thought into fitting words
which all recognized as the true expression! Krusi -1- tells of one
of his pupils who was told to write a letter to his parents, and
complained: "It is hard for me to write a letter." "Why! you are now
a year older, and ought to be better able to do it." "Yes, but a
year ago I could say everything I knew, but now I know more than I
can say." Krusi adds: "This answer astonished me." It will surprise
all of us who have not thought of the difficulty of obtaining
sufficient mastery of language to express our thoughts.

[-1- Hermann Krusi was a friend and fellow-worker of the
great Swiss schoolmaster and educational reformer, Pestalozzi

13. Language has still another use; it is the STOREHOUSE of our
knowledge. All that we know may be found laid up in the words
concerning it. Thus words are not only the signs of our ideas, but
they are clues by which we recover and recognize those ideas at will,
and in the manifold derivative forms and combinations of these
words, we store up the modifications and relations of the notion of
which the simple word is the symbol. A group of words like act,
acted, acting, actor, actress, action, actionable, active, actively,
actual, actually, actualize, actuality, actuate, suggests a large
volume of facts concerning persons, movements, relations, qualities,

14. The language of the child, then, may be considered not only the
measure of his attainments, but the embodiment of the elements of his
knowledge. When we employ in our teaching the language of our pupils,
we summon to our aid their acquired experience. New words must be
learned when new objects are to be named or new ideas are to be
symbolized; but if care is taken that the idea shall go before the
word and that the word is mastered as a symbol before it is used in
speech, it will guide and illumine rather than cloud the child's


15. Words are not the only medium through which to speak. There are
many ways to express thought. The eye, the head, the hand, the foot,
the shoulder, are often used in speech in ways that are most
intelligible. Among savage peoples whose language is too meager to
meet their needs, symbolic actions often take the place of words. The
gestures of some speakers frequently tell more than the spoken
sentences of others. There is speech also in pictures. From rough
sketches on the blackboard to paintings that are works of art,
teaching by pictorial representation is swift and impressive.

16. Finally, nature aids speech.

... she speaks a various language.

Her innumerable forms are always ready as effective illustrations,
and her analogies throw light on many deep problems. No teaching was
ever more instructive than the parables of Jesus, drawn from nature
around Him.

17. Ordinary artificial language probably must be the chief means of
communication between teacher and pupil; but no wise teacher will
forego the aid of all these various means of entrance to the minds of
their pupils. Language by itself is at best but an imperfect medium
of thought, and no one knows this better than the experienced
teacher, who has sometimes found it ineffective, and who has been
compelled to resort to any available means of illustration to make
himself understood.

18. This discussion of language should not be interpreted as an
encouragement to the teacher to become a lecturer before his class.
The lecture is useful in its place, but its place is small in a
school for children. It will be shown elsewhere that a too-talkative
teacher is rarely a good teacher. An accurate knowledge of language
is, however, of great advantage; those who talk little should
certainly talk well, and those who expect to teach through
language should know language themselves.


19. Out of our Law of Languages, thus defined and explained, flow
some of the most useful rules for teaching.

(1) Study constantly and carefully the language of the
pupils, to learn what words they use and what meanings they give to
these words.

(2) Secure from them as full a statement as possible of their
knowledge of the subject, to learn both their ideas and their modes
of expressing them, and to help them to correct their knowledge.

(3) Express yourself as far as possible in the language of
your pupils, carefully correcting any errors in the meaning they read
into your words.

(4) Use the simplest and the fewest words that will express
your meaning. Unnecessary words add to the child's work, and increase
the possibilities for misunderstanding.

(5) Use short sentences, of the simplest construction. Long
sentences are difficult to attend to and are frequently confusing to

(6) If the pupil obviously fails to understand you, repeat
your thought in other language, if possible with greater simplicity.

(7) Help the meaning of the words by illustrations; natural
objects and pictures are to be preferred for young children. Take
illustrations from the children's own experiences whenever

(8) When it is necessary to teach a new word, give the idea
before the word. This can be done best by simple illustrations
closely related to the children's own experience.

(9) Try to increase the number of the pupil's words, and at
the same time improve the clearness of meaning. Real enlargement of a
child's vocabulary means an increase of his knowledge and power.

(10) As the acquisition of language is one of the important
aims in the process of education, do not be content to have your
pupils listen in silence very long at a time, no matter how attentive
they are. Encourage them to talk freely.

(11) Here, as everywhere in teaching the young, MAKE HASTE
SLOWLY. Each word should be learned thoroughly before others are

(12) Test frequently the pupil's understanding of the words
that he uses, to make sure that he attaches no incorrect meaning and
that he sees the true meaning as vividly as possible.


20. This third law of teaching is violated more frequently than the
best teachers suspect.

(1) The interested look of the pupils often cheats the
teacher into the belief that his language is thoroughly understood,
and all the more easily because the pupil himself may be deceived and
say that he understands, when he has perhaps caught only a
mere glimpse of the meaning.

(2) Children are often entertained by the manner of the
teacher, and seem attentive to his words when really they are
watching only his eyes, lips, or actions. Again, they will sometimes
profess to understand simply to please their instructor and gain his

(3) The misuse of language is one of the common faults in
teaching. Not to mention those teachers who attempt to cover up their
own ignorance or indolence with a cloud of verbiage which they know
the children will not understand, and omitting also those who are
more anxious to exhibit their own wisdom than to teach others, there
are still many honest teachers who try hard to make the lesson clear,
and then think that their duty is done; that if the children do not
understand, it must be either from willful inattention or hopeless
stupidity. These teachers do not suspect that they may have used
words which had no meaning for the class, or into which the children
read a wrong meaning.

(4) It may be a single unusual or misunderstood term that
breaks the connection, but it does not occur to the teacher to hunt
up the break and restore the connection. Children do not always ask
for explanations, discouraged sometimes by fear of the teacher, or
shame for their own ignorance, and too often they are charged with
stupidity or inattention when no amount of attention would have
helped them to understand the unfamiliar language.

(5) Even those teachers who naturally use simple language to
their classes sometimes fail in the higher uses of this instrument of
teaching. They do not take the trouble to secure from the child in
return some clear statement, and they have, therefore, no test of
their success. The children do not talk themselves, nor are their
vocabularies enlarged.

(6) Many teachers have no proper appreciation of the
wonderful character and complexity of language; they do not reflect
that modern society could scarcely exist without speech. Many persons
have decidedly limited vocabularies. It has often been found that one
of the greatest obstacles to the general enlightenment of people lies
in their lack of the knowledge through which they must be addressed.
A commission from the British Parliament was once sent to investigate
the language of the coal miners and other laborers of England in
order to ascertain the possibility of diffusing useful information
among them by means of tracts and books. It was found that their
knowledge of language, in a large number of the cases examined, was
entirely too meager to permit of such a means of instruction. How
much greater this deficiency must be among the young, whose
experience is so much more limited. If we would teach children
successfully, we must widen and deepen this channel of
communication between them and ourselves.

(7) Many of the topics studied in school lie outside the
daily life and language of the children; and every science has a
language of its own which must be mastered by the student who makes
any progress in it. The teacher in the Sunday school should recognize
that here lies one of his problems; many times the facts and truths
of religion are likely to be distorted by the half-understood terms
in which they are told. To the teacher of children in the schools of
Bible learning should come the warning to make his words clear.



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 1. Our fourth law takes us at once to the core of teaching. The first
three laws dealt with the teacher, the learner, and the language, the
medium of communication between them. We come now to the lesson, the
process to be mastered, the problem to be solved. This is where the
teacher must pass on to the pupils the recorded experience of the
race; the method of transmission of this crystallized race experience
must be such as to inspire these pupils with principles that shall be
active forces in their lives, and at the same time furnish them with
an instrument of research and further study -- this is the very heart
of the work of the teacher, the condition and instrument, as well as
the culmination and the fruit, of all the rest.

2. It is the Law of the Lesson that we are next to seek. Passing, as
remote from this discussion, the steps by which the mind of an infant
obtains its first notions of the world about it, we may go at once to
the obvious fact that our pupils learn the new by the aid of the old
and familiar. The new and unknown can be explained only by the
familiar and the known. This, then, is the Law of the Lesson: THE

3. This law is neither so simple nor so obvious as those that have
preceded it; but it is no less certain than they, while its scope is
even wider and its relations are perhaps even more important.


4. The Law of the Lesson has its reason in the nature of mind and in
the nature of human knowledge.

5. All teaching must begin at some point of the subject or lesson. If
the subject is wholly new, then a known point must be sought by
showing some likeness of the new to something known and familiar.
Even among grown persons, the skilful narrator struggles to find some
comparison with familiar experiences, seeking some likeness of the
unknown to something known before proceeding with his story. Until
this starting point is found, he knows that it will be useless to go
on. To do so would be like telling someone to follow you over a
winding path in the darkness without first letting him know where you
are or starting him on the path. Naturally, if adults must have this
aid, children can scarcely be expected to do without it. Often
pupils in the schools explain their inability to understand the
lesson by the simple statement: "I did not know what the
teacher was talking about." The fault lies distinctly with the
teacher in such a case.

6. All teaching must advance in some direction. Its proper direction
of march should be toward the acquisition of new experiences. To
teach over again what is already acquired and understood is to check
the desire of the pupils for obtaining further knowledge and to
deaden their power of attention by compelling them to walk on a
treadmill, instead of leading them forward to the inspiration of new
scenes and the conquest of new fields. It is a serious error to keep
the studies of pupils too long on familiar ground under the assumed
necessity for thoroughness. Old mines may be reworked if you can find
ore at deeper levels, and old lessons may be worked over if new uses
may be made of them. At this point it should be borne in mind that
this does not contradict the Law of Review, to be discussed later.

7. Learning must proceed by graded steps. These steps must be those
which link one fact or concept to another, as simple and concrete
things lead naturally to general and abstract things, as premises
lead to conclusions, and as an understanding of natural phenomena
leads to laws. Each new idea mastered becomes a part of the knowledge
of the child, a part of his equipment of race experience, and serves
as a starting point for a fresh advance. It adds its own light to the
 knowledge that preceded it, and throws increased illumination
forward for the next discovery. But each step must be fully mastered
before the next is taken, or the pupils may find themselves
proceeding into unknown fields without the proper preparation. It is
here that the demand for thoroughness arises; everything in the
lesson which is within the range of the child's comprehension, should
be fully understood. Thoroughness of this sort is the essential
condition of true teaching. Imperfect understanding at any point
clouds the whole process. The pupil who has mastered one lesson, half
knows the next; therefore the well-taught class is always eager for
the next step. One of the sayings of Pestalozzi was: "It is easy to
add to what is already discovered."

8. But the philosophy of this law goes deeper still. It must be
remembered that knowledge is not a mass of simple, independent facts;
it is made up of the experience of the race crystallized and
ORGANIZED in the form of facts together with their laws and
relations. Facts are linked together in systems, associated by
resemblances of one sort or another. Each fact leads to, and
explains, another. The old reveals the new; the new confirms and
corrects the old.

9. All this pertains equally to the limited knowledge and experience
of children as well as to riper and maturer knowledge. New elements
of knowledge must be brought into relation with other facts
and truths already known before they themselves can be fully revealed
and take their place in the widening circle of the experience of the
learner. Thus the very nature of knowledge compels us to seek the new
through the aid of the old.

10. The act of KNOWING is in part an act of comparing and judging --
of finding something in past experience that will explain and make
meaningful the new experience. If a friend tells us of an experience
or an adventure, we interpret his story by a running comparison with
whatever has been most like it in our own experience; and if he
states something utterly without likeness to anything that we have
known, we ask him for explanations or illustrations which may bring
the strange facts into relation with our point of view. If children
are told something novel and entirely unfamiliar, they will probably
struggle in vain to understand, and then ask for further information
or light, if they do not at once abandon the attempt to connect the
new idea with their own experience. Figures of speech, such as
similes, metaphors, and allegories, have sprung out of the need for
relating new truths to old and are familiar scenes and objects and
experiences. They are but so many attempts to reach the unknown
through the known -- they try to flash light from the old upon the

11. Explanation, then, means usually the citation and use of
fact and principles already understood to make clear the nature of
new material. Therefore the unknown cannot explain the unknown. The
knowledge already in the equipment of the child must furnish the
explanation of now facts and laws, or these must remain unexplained.
The difficulty so often met in answering the questions of little
children, lies not so much in the difficulty of the questions
themselves, as in the lack upon the part of the child of knowledge
required in the explanation. To answer fully a boy's questions about
the stars, you must first teach him some astronomy. The lad who has
seen a large city can perhaps understand fairly well a description of
London or New York, but one whose experience has been confined
entirely to his country home, cannot properly understand the network
of streets, walled in by buildings, and the shifting panorama of city

12. The very language with which new knowledge must be expressed
takes its meanings from what is already known and familiar. The child
without knowledge would be also without words, for words are the
signs of things known. An American traveler in Europe might perhaps
fancy that he could make people understand by speaking in a loud,
clear voice, and with slow, careful enunciation; but his success
would be measured only by the degree to which his hearers had a
knowledge of the native tongue of the American; if they were 
familiar only with their own different language, his words would be
without meaning.

13. A blunder analogous to this is that of the teacher who hopes by
the mere urgency of his manner, and by his carefully chosen words,
familiar to himself, to convey his ideas to the understanding of his
pupils, with no reference to the pupils' previous knowledge of the

14. Persons use by preference only the clearest and most familiar
things in their interpretation of new facts or principles. Each man
is prone to borrow his illustrations from his calling: the soldier
from the camps and trenches, the sailor from the ships and the sea,
the merchant from the conditions of the market, and the artisans and
mechanics from their crafts. Likewise in study, each pupil is
attracted to the qualities which relate to his own experience. To the
chemist, common salt is sodium chloride, a binary compound; to the
cook it is something to use in the seasoning of foods and in the
preservation of meats. Each thinks of it in the aspect most familiar
to him, and in this aspect would use it to illustrate something else
in which salt was concerned. Finding a new plant, the botanist would
consider it in the light of known plants, to discover its
"classification"; the former would be interested in its use, and the
artist in its beauty. This bent of preference, while one of the
elements of prejudice which may shut the eyes to some new truths and
open them to others, is at the same time one of the elements
of strength in intellectual work.

15. A fact or principle only vaguely understood is used only rarely
and reluctantly -- and even then sometimes most erroneously -- in
interpreting new experiences; and if used, it carries only vagueness
and imperfection into the new concepts or judgments. A cloud left
upon the lesson of yesterday casts its shadow over the lesson of
today. On the other hand, the thoroughly mastered lesson throws great
light on the succeeding ones. Hence the value of that practice of
some able teachers who make the elementary portions of a subject as
familiar as household words -- a conquered territory from which the
pupil may go on to new conquests as from an established base, with
confidence and power.

16. But it must be carefully noted that so complete a mastery, like
all thoroughness in study, is really relative. No human knowledge or
power is perfect, and the capacities of childhood are necessarily
much further from completeness than those of adults. And there are
wide individual differences which must be recognized in the school.
What to some children is as clear as day, is to others only vaguely
suggestive. If the teacher makes the pupils talk about the lesson, as
was suggested in the discussion of the law of language, some of these
differences will be revealed, and the proper means of meeting them
and of adjusting the instruction to them, may be discovered.

17. Our discussion of the lesson would be incomplete without some
mention of the nature of the thinking process as applied to the
solution of problems. The word "problem" is a familiar one to the
teacher; the problems and tasks of everyday life in the schoolroom
are very close to him. But let us now think of the problem in a
rather different sense. We have been speaking of the "lesson" and its
"law." Let us think of the process of learning lessons as akin to the
solution of problems, as a process in which the learner faces a real
situation, the mastery of which will involve the application of his
power of thought. How is he to think?

18. The older notion that because the pupils in our schools are
young and immature they are incapable of real thinking is a fallacy.
Too often teachers believe that their pupils think only in a symbolic
way -- that they react only to artificial situations in which their
task is to do what the teacher wishes, rather than to do real
independent thinking for themselves. This is not necessarily true,
and if true in some instances, the fault very likely lies with the
teacher himself. The fact is that the power to think is part and
parcel of the original mental equipment of the child, and develops
gradually, as other capacities do. The situations that call
out this power in children are simple, but they are none the less
real. The difference in thinking between the child and the adult is a
difference in degree.

19. If we are to set the learner at the task of real thinking in the
solution of real problems, we must define this process of thinking.
There are three stages in the process. First, there must be a stage
of doubt or uncertainty; certain things are known, and something is
to be done to them. For example, the loss of a cherished toy presents
just this situation to a child: he sees what has happened, and
wonders what he can do in its absence -- how he can replace it,
perhaps. Second, there is an organizing stage in which the individual
considers the means at his disposal to reach the ends desired.
Lastly, there is a critical attitude involving selection and
rejection of the schemes which have suggested themselves. This
problematic situation arises very frequently in daily life, with
children as well as with adults. The setting of school tasks should
always be done with this process of thinking in mind; teachers in the
day schools and in the Sunday schools should remember that if the
training which they give is to bear fruit, it must present real
situations which will call forth this reflective attitude, and they
should abjure the sort of tasks which can be met by trial and error,
by blindly following the lead of another, or by doing what one
has already done in a similar situation merely because one recognizes
the new situation as like the other.


20. In a very important sense, what we call knowledge is a record of
solved problems. Facts and laws have been collected and tested and
organized into systems, but at basis they represent the results of
facing situations and finding things out at first hand. In passing
knowledge on to others the more closely we can approximate real,
vital situations, the better will be our teaching. There are some who
go so far as to say that no attempt should be made to impart
knowledge unless the child feels a distinct need for it -- unless he
sees that it is essential to solve some problem that is real and
vital to his life. This is doubtless an extreme view, but it is none
the less incumbent upon the teacher to know what the problems of
child life are and to utilize them in making his instruction just as
rich and meaningful as possible.

21. This law of knowledge, thus explained, affords to the thoughtful
teacher rules of the highest practical value. It offers clear
guidance to those who are teachers of children and anxious that their
task shall be well done.

(1) Find out what your pupils know of the subject you wish to
teach to them; this is your starting point. This refers not only to
textbook knowledge but to all information that they may
possess, however acquired.

(2) Make the most of the pupils' knowledge and experience.
Let them feel its extent and value, as a means to further knowledge.

(3) Encourage your pupils to clear up and freshen their
knowledge by a clear statement of it.

(4) Begin with facts or ideas that lie near your pupils, and
that can be reached by a single step from what is already familiar;
thus, geography naturally begins with the home town, history with the
pupils' own memories, morals with their own conscience.

(5) Relate every lesson as much as possible to former
lessons, and with the pupils' knowledge and experience.

(6) Arrange your presentation so that each step of the lesson
shall lead easily and naturally to the next.

(7) Proportion the steps of the lesson to the ages and
attainments of your pupils. Do not discourage your children with
lessons or exercises that are too long, or fail to rise to the
expectations of older pupils by giving them lessons that are too

(8) Find illustrations in the commonest and most familiar
objects suitable for the purpose.

(9) Lead the pupils themselves to find illustrations from
their own experience.

(10) Make every new fact or principle familiar to your
pupils; try to establish and entrench it firmly, so that it will be
available for use in explaining new material to come.

(11) Urge the pupils to make use of their own knowledge and
attainments in every way that is practicable, to find or explain
other knowledge. Teach them that knowledge is power by showing how
knowledge really helps to solve problems.

(12) Make every advance clear and familiar, so that the
progress to the next succeeding step shall in every case be on known

(13) As far as possible, choose the problems which you give
to your pupils from their own activities, and thus increase the
chances that they will be real and not artificial problems.

(14) Remember that your pupils are learning to think, and
that to think properly they must learn to face intelligently and
reflectively the problems that arise in connection with their school
work, and in connection with their life outside of school.


22. The wide scope of this Law of the Lesson affords opportunity for
many mistakes and violations. Among the more common are the

(1) It is not unusual for teachers to set their pupils to
studying new lessons, or even new subjects, for which they are
inadequately prepared or not prepared at all, either by previous
study or by experience.

(2) Many teachers neglect entirely to ascertain carefully the
pupils' equipment with which to begin the subject.

(3) A common error is the failure to connect the new lessons
with those that have gone before in such a way that the pupils can
carry over what they know or have learned into the new field. Many
individual lessons and recitations are treated as if each were
independent of all the others.

(4) Oftentimes past acquisitions are considered goods stored
away, instead of instruments for further use.

(5) Too often elementary facts and definitions are not made
thoroughly familiar.

(6) Every step is not always thoroughly understood before the
next is attempted.

(7) Some teachers err in assigning lessons or exercises that
are too long for the powers of the pupils, or for their time, making
impossible an adequate mastery of principles that may be needful for
future progress in the subject.

(8) Teachers frequently fail to place their pupils in the
attitude of discoverers. Children should learn to use what they have
already been taught in the discovery of new problems.

 (9) A common fault is the failure to show the connections
between parts of the subject that have been taught and those that are
yet to come.

23. As a consequence of these and other violations of the law, much
teaching is poor, and its benefits, if any, are fleeting. People are
found to have inadequate knowledge and to lack the power of studying
for themselves. This is as true of Biblical knowledge as of any
other. Instead of a related whole, a concept with one purpose, the
Bible is viewed as scattering parts, like bits of broken glass, and
its effect is many times only to puzzle and confuse; it is never seen
as a connected whole, as it should be.



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1. Our survey of the teaching art has thus far involved these four
considerations: the teacher, the learner, the language, and the
lesson. We are now to study these in action, and to observe the
conduct of the teacher and his pupil. The previous discussions have
already brought these partly into view, but as each of them has its
own law, each demands more careful consideration than has yet been
given it. In the laws of the teacher and the learner, we found
necessarily reflected the actions of both; but an actor and his part
are easily separated in thought, and each possesses aspects and
characteristics of its own. Following the natural order, the teaching
function comes first before us, and we are now to seek its law. The
law of the teacher was essentially a law of qualification; the law of
teaching is a law of function.

2. Thus far we have considered teaching as the communication of
knowledge or experience; more properly, we should say that this is a
RESULT of teaching. Whether by telling, demonstrating, or leading
pupils to discover for themselves, the teacher is transmitting
experience to his pupils; that is his aim and purpose, and his
teaching is conditioned by that aim. But the explanation of the work
of the teacher in terms of function is to be distinguished from the
definition in terms of purpose. The actual work of the teacher
consists of the awakening and setting in action the mind of the
pupil, the arousing of his self-activities. As already shown,
knowledge cannot be passed from mind to mind like objects from one
receptacle to another, but must in every case be recognized and
rethought and relived by the receiving mind. All explanation and
exposition are useless except as they serve to excite and direct the
pupil in his own thinking. If the pupil himself does not think, there
are no results of the teaching; the words of the teacher are falling
upon deaf ears.


3. We are now ready to state the law of teaching: EXCITE AND DIRECT

4. The second clause in this law is of sufficient importance to
justify its position in the formulation of the law, although it is
negatively stated. There are cases in which it may be necessary to
disregard this caution in order to save time, or in the case of a
very weak or discouraged pupil, or sometimes when intense interest
has been aroused and there is a keen demand for information
that the teacher can give quickly and effectively, but its violation
is almost always a loss which should be compensated by a definite
gain. Considered affirmatively, this caution would read: "Make your
pupil a discoverer of truth -- make him find out for himself." The
great value of this law has been so often and so strongly stated as
to demand no further proof. No great writer on education has failed
to consider it in some form or another; if we were seeking the
educational maxim most widely received among good teachers, and the
most extensive in its applications and results, we should fix upon
this law. It is the same fundamental truth as the one found in such
rules as the following: "Wake up your pupils' minds"; "Set the pupils
to thinking"; "Arouse the spirit of inquiry"; "Get your pupils to
work." All these familiar maxims are different expressions of this
same law.

5. In discussing the principles of attention, language, and
knowledge, we have considered to some extent the operations of the
mind. We should now study these further.


6. We can learn without a teacher. Children learn hundreds of facts
before they ever see a school, sometimes with the aid of parents or
others, often by their own unaided efforts. In the greater part
of our acquisitions we are self-taught, and it is quite generally
conceded that knowledge is most permanent and best which is dug out
by unaided research. Everything, at the outset, must be learned by
the discoverer without an instructor, since no instructor knows it.
If, then, we can learn without being taught, it follows that the true
function of the teacher is to create the most favorable conditions
for self-learning. Essentially the acquisition of knowledge must be
brought about by the same agencies and through the use of the same
methods, whether with or without a teacher.

7. What, then, is the use of schools, and what is the necessity of a
teacher? The question is pertinent, but the answer is plain.
Knowledge in its natural state lies scattered and confused; it is
connected, to be sure, in great systems, but these connections are
laws and relations unknown to the beginner, and they are to be
learned only through ages of observation and careful study. The
school selects for its curriculum what it regards as the most useful
of the experiences of the race, organizes these, and offers them to
the pupils along with its facilities for learning. It offers to these
pupils leisure and quiet for study, and through its books and other
materials of education the results of other people's labors, which
may serve as charts of the territories to be explored, and as beaten
paths through the fields of knowledge. True teaching, then, is
not that which GIVES knowledge, but that which stimulates pupils to
GAIN it. One might say that he teaches BEST who teaches LEAST; or
that he teaches best whose pupils learn most without being taught
directly. But we should bear in mind that in these epigrammatic
statements two meanings of the word TEACHING are involved: one,
simply telling, the other creating the conditions of real learning.

8. That teacher is a sympathizing guide whose knowledge of the
subjects to be studied enables him properly to direct the efforts of
the pupil, to save him from a waste of time and strength, from
needless difficulties. But no aid of school or teacher can change the
operations of the mind, or take from the pupil his need of knowing
for himself. The eye must do its own seeing, the ear its own hearing,
and the mind its own thinking, however much may be done to furnish
objects of sights, sounds for the ear and stimuli for the
intelligence. The innate capacities of the child produce the growth
of body or mind. "If childhood is educated according to the measure
of its powers," said Saint Augustine, "they will continually grow and
increase; while if forced beyond their strength, they decrease
instead of increasing." The sooner the teacher abandons the notion
that he can make his pupils intelligent by hard work upon their
passive receptivity, the sooner he will become a good teacher
and obtain the art, as Socrates said, of assisting the mind to shape
and put forth its own conceptions. It was to his skill in this that
the great Athenian owed his power and greatness among his
contemporaries, and it was this that gave him his place as one of the
foremost of the great teachers of mankind. It is the "forcing
process" in teaching which separates parrotlike and perfunctory
LEARNING from KNOWING. A boy, having expressed surprise at the shape
of the earth when he was shown a globe, was asked: "Did you not learn
that in school?" He replied: "Yes. I learned it, but I never knew

9. The great aims of education are to acquire knowledge and ideals,
and to develop abilities and skills. Our law derives its significance
from both of these aims. The pupil must know for himself, or his
knowledge will be knowledge in name only. The very effort required in
the act of thus learning and knowing may do much to increase the
capacity to learn. The pupil who is taught without doing any studying
for himself will be like one who is fed without being given any
exercise: he will lose both his appetite and his strength.

10. Confidence in our own powers is an essential condition of their
successful use. This confidence can be gained only by self-prompted,
voluntary, and independent use of these capacities. We learn
to walk, not by seeing others walk, but by walking. The same is true
of mental abilities.

11. The self-activities or mental powers do not set themselves at
work without some motive or stimulus to put them in action. In early
life external stimuli are stronger, and in riper years the internal
excitants are the ones to which we respond more readily. To the young
child the objects of sense -- bright colors, live animals, and things
in motion -- are most attractive and exciting. Later in life, the
inner facts of thought and feeling are more engaging. The child's
mental life has in it an excess of sensation; the mental life of the
adult has more reflection.

12. But whatever the stimulus, the processes of cognition are largely
the same. There is the comparison of the new with the old, the
alternating analysis and synthesis of parts, wholes, classes, causes,
and effects; the action of memory and imagination, the use of
judgment and reason, and the effects upon thought of tastes and
prejudices as they have been concerned with the previous knowledge
and experience of the learner. If thinking does not take place, the
teacher has applied the stimuli in vain. He perhaps will wonder that
his pupils do not understand, and will very likely consider them
stupid and incompetent, or at least lazy. Unfortunately the stupidity
is sometimes on the other side, and its sins against this law
of teaching in assuming that the teacher can MAKE the pupil learn by
dint of vigorous telling, or teaching as he calls it, whereas true
teaching only brings to bear on the pupil's mind certain natural
stimuli or excitants. If some of these fail, he must find others, and
not rest until he attains the desired result and sees the activity of
the child at work upon the lesson.

13. Comenius -1- said, over two hundred years ago, "Most teachers sow
plants instead of seeds; instead of proceeding from the simplest
principles they introduce the pupil at once into a chaos of books and
miscellaneous studies." The figure of the seed is a good one, and is
much older than Comenius. The greatest of teachers said: "The seed is
the word." The true teacher stirs the ground and sows the seed. It is
the work of the soil, through its own forces, to develop the growth
and ripen the grain. [-1- Johann Amos Comenius (1592-1671) was a
Moravian clergyman, whose efforts to reform school practices have
given him an enduring place in the history of education.]

14. The difference between the pupil who works for himself and the
one who works only when he is driven is too obvious to need
explanation. The one is a free agent, the other is a machine. The
former is attracted by his work, and, prompted by his interest, he
works on until he meets some overwhelming difficulty or reaches the
end of his task. The latter moves only when he is urged. He
sees what is shown him, he hears what he is told, advances when his
teacher leads, and stops just where and when the teacher stops. The
one moves by his own activities, and the other by borrowed impulse.
The former is a mountain stream fed by living springs, the latter a
ditch filled from a pump worked by another's hand.


15. The action of the mind is limited practically to the field of its
acquired knowledge. The individual who knows nothing cannot think,
for he has nothing to think about. In comparing, imagining, judging,
and reasoning, and in applying knowledge to plan, criticize, or
execute one's own thoughts, the mind must necessarily work upon the
material in its possession. Hence the power of any object or fact as
a mental stimulus depends in each case upon the number of related
objects or facts which the individual already knows. A botanist will
be aroused to the keenest interest by the discovery of a hitherto
unknown plant, but will perhaps care little or nothing for a new
stone or a new star. The physician eagerly studies new diseases, the
lawyer recent decisions, the farmer new crops, and the mechanic new

16. The infant knows little, and his interest is brief and slight;
the adult knows many things, and his interests are deeper, wider, and
more persistent. Thoughtfulness deepens and grows more intense
with the increase of knowledge. The student of mathematics who has
worked long and diligently in his field never finds it dry or
tiresome; the wisest student of the Bible finds in its pages the
greatest delight. All these illustrations show the principles which
underlie our law and prove its value.

17. The two chief springs of interest through which the mind can be
aroused are the love of knowledge for its own sake, that is, its
cultural value, and the desire for knowledge to be used as a tool in
solving problems or obtaining other knowledge. In the former are
mingled the satisfaction of the native curiosity which craves to know
the real nature and causes of the phenomena around us, the solution
of the questionings which often trouble the mind, the relief from
apprehensions which ignorance feels in the presence of nature's
mysteries, the sense of power and liberty which knowledge often
brings, the feeling of elevation which each new increment of
knowledge gives, and the "rejoicing in the truth" because of its own
beauty and sublimity, or its moral charm and sweetness, its appeals
to our taste for wit and humor, and for the wonderful. All these
enter separately or together into the intellectual appetite to which
the various forms of knowledge appeal, and which give to reading and
study their greatest attraction. Each affords an avenue
through which the mind can be reached and roused by the skilful

18. It is evident that this manifold mental appetite must vary in
character and intensity with the tastes and attainments of the
pupils. Some love nature and her sciences of observation and
experiment; others love mathematics and delight in its problems;
still others prefer the languages and literature, and others history
and the sciences which deal with the powers, deeds, and destinies of
man. Each special preference grows by being fostered, and becomes
absorbing as its acquisitions become great. The great masteries and
achievements in arts, literature, and science have come from these
innate tastes, and in all these "the child is father of the man."

In each pupil lies the germ of such tastes -- the springs of
such powers -- awaiting the art of the teacher to water the germs and
set the springs in motion.

19. The respect for knowledge because of its value as a tool includes
the desire for education as a means of livelihood or as a source of
better social standing; the felt or anticipated need of some special
skill or ability as an artist, lawyer, writer, or some other brain
worker; as well as study for the purpose of winning rewards or
avoiding punishments. This indirect desire for learning varies with
the character and aims of the pupils, but does not increase
with attainment unless it ripens, as it may, into the true love of
knowledge above described. Its strength depends upon the nature and
magnitude of the need which impels the study. The activities aroused
for such study go to a self-imposed task and are not very likely to
continue their work after the task is done. The rewards and
punishments used in school to promote the studying of lessons have
just this force and no more. They inspire no generous activity which
works for the love of the work and which does not pause when the
assigned lesson has been covered. Witness the spirit that pervades
every school so taught and so managed. On the other hand, if the true
uses of knowledge are constantly pointed out by the teacher and
recognized by the child, the time may well come when respect for
knowledge because it is useful becomes a real love of knowledge for
its own sake.


20. Our discussion thus far has taken for granted the intimate and
indissoluble connection between the intellect and the feelings, the
inseparable union of thought and feeling. To think without feeling
would be thinking with a total indifference to the object of thought,
which would be absurd; and to feel without thinking would be almost
impossible. As most of the objects of thought are objects also of
desire or dislike, and therefore objects of choice, it follows that
all important action of the intellect has a moral side. This, again,
 is an assumption that we have made throughout our discussion.
The love of knowledge for itself or for its uses is in reality moral,
as it implies moral affections and purposes of good or evil. All
motives of study have a moral character or connection, in their early
steps; hence no education or teaching can be absolutely divorced
from morals. The affections come to school with the intellect.

21. This moral consciousness finds its fuller sphere in the
recognized domain of duty -- the higher realm of the affections and
the other moral qualities. From these come the highest and strongest
incentives to study and also the clearest understanding. The teacher
should constantly address the moral nature and stimulate moral
sentiments, if he wishes to achieve the greatest measure of success.

22. This moral teaching was the chief merit of the work of
Pestalozzi, and it is the leading characteristic of the work of all
great teachers. Love of country, love of one's fellows, aspirations
for a noble and useful life, love for truth -- these are all motives
to which appeal should be made. If these motives are lacking in
pupils, the teacher must build them up.


23. It follows from all this that only when the mental powers work
freely and in their own way can the product be sure or permanent. No
one can know exactly what any mind contains, or how it
performs, save as that mind imperfectly reveals it by words or acts,
or as we conceive it by reflecting upon our own conscious experience.
Just as the digestive organs must do their own work, masticating and
digesting whatever food they receive, selecting, secreting,
assimilating, and so building bone, muscle, nerve, and all the
various tissues and organs of the body, so, too, in the last resort,
the mind must perform its function, without external aid, building,
as it can, concepts, faith, purposes, and all forms of intelligence
and character. As Milton expressed it:

The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.

24. If the fact of the mind's autocracy is thus emphasized, it is not
for the purpose of belittling the work of the teacher, but only to
show more clearly the law which gives to that work all its force and
dignity. It is the teacher's mission to stand at the spiritual
gateways of his pupil's mind, serving as a herald of science, a guide
through nature, to summon the minds to their work, to place before
them the facts to be observed and studied, and to guide them into the
right paths to be followed. It is his by sympathy, by example, and by
every means of influence -- by objects for the senses, by facts for
the intelligence -- to excite the mind of the pupils, to stimulate
their thoughts.

25. The cautionary clause of our law which forbids giving too much
help to pupils will be needless to the teacher who clearly
sees his proper work. Like a skilful engineer who knows the power of
his engine, he chooses to stand and watch the play of the splendid
machine and marvel at the ease and vigor of its movements. It is only
the unskilled teacher who prefers to hear his own voice in endless
talk rather than to watch and direct the course of the thoughts of
his pupils.

26. There is no disagreement between this law and the first and
third, which so strongly insist upon the teacher's knowledge of the
subject. Without full and accurate knowledge of the subject that the
pupil is to learn through his self-active efforts, the teacher
certainly cannot guide, direct, and test the process of learning. One
may as well say that a general need know nothing of a battlefield
because he is not to do the actual fighting, as that a teacher may
get on with inadequate knowledge because the pupils must do the
studying. As we have said, there are exceptions to the rule that the
pupil should be told nothing that he can discover for himself. There
are some occasions when the teacher may, for a few moments, become a
lecturer and, from his own more extensive experience, give his pupils
broader, richer, and clearer views of the field of their work. But in
such cases he must take care not to substitute mere telling for true
teaching, and thus encourage passive listening where he needs to call
for earnest work.

27. The most important stimuli used by nature to stir the minds of
men have already been noted. They might all be described as the
silent but ceaseless questions which the world and the universe are
always addressing to man. The eternal questions of childhood are
really the echoes of these greater questions. The object or the event
that excites no question will provoke no thought. Questioning is not,
therefore, merely one of the devices of teaching, it is really the
whole of teaching. It is the excitation of the self-activities to
their work of discovering truth. Nature always teaches thus. But it
does not follow that every question should be in the interrogative
form. The strongest and clearest affirmation may have all the effect
of the interrogation, if the mind so receives it. An explanation may
be so given as to raise new questions while it answers old ones.

28. The explanation that settles everything and ends all questions,
usually ends all thinking also. After a truth is clearly understood,
or a fact or principle established, there still remain its
consequences, applications, and uses. Each fact and truth thoroughly
studied leads to other facts which renew the questioning and demand
fresh investigation. The alert and scientific mind is one that never
ceases to ask questions and seek answers. The scientific spirit is
the spirit of tireless inquiry and research. The present time, so far
excelling the past in the development of its arts and
sciences, is the time of great questions.

29. As with the world, so with the child. His education begins as
soon as he begins to ask questions. It is only when the questioning
spirit has been fully awakened, and the habit of raising questions
has been largely developed, that the teaching process may embody the
lecture plan. The truth asks its own questions as soon as the mind is
sufficiently awake. The falling apple had the question of gravitation
in it for the mind of Newton; and the boiling teakettle propounded to
Watt the problem of a steam engine.


30. Like our other laws, this one also suggests some practical rules
for teaching.

(1) Adapt lessons and assignments to the ages and attainments
of the pupils. Very young children will be interested more in
whatever appeals to the senses, and especially in activities; the
more mature will be attracted to reasoning and to reflective

(2) Select lessons which relate to the environment and needs
of the pupils.

(3) Consider carefully the subject and the lesson to be
taught, and find its point of contact with the lives of your pupils.

(4) Excite the pupil's interest in the lesson when it is
assigned, by some question or by some statement which will awaken
inquiry. Hint that something worth knowing is to be found out
if the lesson is thoroughly studied, and then be sure later to ask
for the truth to be discovered.

(5) Place yourself frequently in the position of a pupil
among your pupils, and join in the search for some fact or principle.

(6) Repress your impatience which cannot wait for the pupil
to explain himself, and which tends to take his words out of his
mouth. He will resent it, and will feel that he could have answered
had you given him time.

(7) In all class exercises aim to excite constantly fresh
interest and activity. Share questions for the pupils to investigate
out of class. The lesson that does not culminate in fresh questions
ends wrong.

(8) Observe each pupil to see that his mind is not wandering
so as to forbid its activities being bent to the lesson in hand.

(9) Count it your chief duty to awaken the minds of your
pupils, and do not rest until each child shows his mental activity by
asking questions.

(10) Repress the desire to tell all you know or think about
the lesson or subject; if you tell something by way of illustration
or explanation, let it start a fresh question.

(11) Give the pupil time to think, after you are sure that
his mind is actively at work, and encourage him to ask questions when

(12) Do not answer too promptly the questions asked, but
restate them, to give them greater force and breadth, and often
answer with new questions to secure deeper thought.

(13) Teach pupils to ask What? Why? and How? -- the nature,
cause, and method of every fact or principle taught them; also Where?
When? By Whom? and What of it? -- the place, time, actors, and
consequences of events.

(14) Recitations should not exhaust a subject, but leave
additional work to stimulate the thought and the efforts of the


31. Many a teacher neglecting these rules kills all interest in his
class, and wonders how he did it.

(1) The chief and almost constant violation of this law of
teaching is the attempt to force lessons by simply telling. "I have
told you ten times, and yet you don't know!" exclaims a teacher of
this sort, who is unable to remember that knowing comes by thinking,
not by being told.

(2) It is another mistake to complain of memory for not
keeping what it never held. If facts or principles are to be
remembered, the attention must be concentrated upon them at the time,
and there must be a conscious effort to remember.

(3) A third violation of the law comes from the haste with
which teachers require prompt and rapid recitations in the very words
of the book; and, if a question is asked in class, to refuse the
pupils time to think. If the pupil hesitates and stops for
lack of thought, or in apparent lack of memory, the fault lies in
yesterday's teaching which shows its fruit today; but if it comes
from the slowness of the pupil's thinking, or from the real
difficulty of the subject, then time should be given for additional
thought; and, if the recitation period will not permit it, let the
answer hold over until the next time.

32. It is to this hurried and unthinking lesson-saying that we owe
the superficial and impractical character of so much of our teaching.
Instead of learning thoroughly the material of our lessons, we
endeavor to learn them only so as to recite them promptly. If faults
of this character are prevalent in our day schools, how much more
serious are they in the Sunday schools? If the lessons of the Sunday
schools are to carry over into the lives of the pupils by purifying
and exalting their thoughts and making them wise in the religious
beliefs taught them, the instruction must not be mere telling, but
must be accompanied by the better methods used in the regular

33. How different are the results when this great law of teaching is
properly followed! The stimulated self-activities operate in the
correct manner, and the classroom is transformed under their power
into a busy laboratory. The pupils become thinkers -- discoverers.
They master great truths, and apply them to the great questions of
life. They invade new fields of knowledge. The teacher merely
leads the march. Their reconnaissance becomes a conquest. Skill and
power grow with their exercise. Through this process, the students
find out what their minds are for, and become students of life.



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1. We must now pass from the side of the teacher to that of the
learner. It has been seen that the teacher's work consists
essentially in arousing and guiding the self-activities of the
pupils. The pupils' work, which we are now to consider, is the use of
those self-activities in studying. The laws of teaching and learning
may seem at first to be only different aspects of the same law, but
they are really quite distinct -- the one applying to the work of the
instructor, the other to that of the one receiving the instruction.
The law of the TEACHING PROCESS involves the means by which the
self-activities are to be awakened; the law of the LEARNING PROCESS
determines the manner in which these activities shall be employed.

2. If we observe a child as he studies, and note carefully what he
does, we shall easily see that it is not merely an effort of the
attention nor a vague and purposeless exertion of his powers, that is
required of him. There is a clear and distinct act or process which
we wish him to accomplish. It is to form in his own mind, by
the use of his own powers, a true concept of the facts or principles
in the lesson. This is the purpose to which all the efforts of
teacher and pupil must be directed. The law of the learning process
may therefore be stated thus: THE PUPIL MUST REPRODUCE IN HIS OWN

3. With the laws previously discussed the teacher has been chiefly
concerned; the law now before us concerns the pupil also. It brings
into view the principles which must guide the student in his
studying, and which it is the business of the instructor to emphasize
and enforce. While telling the teacher how to teach, it also tells
the pupil how to study.


4. We have said that merely pouring out before pupils the content of
the teacher's knowledge is not teaching. It should now be pointed out
that true learning is not memorization and repetition of the words
and ideas of the teacher. The work of education, contrary to common
understanding, is much more the work of the pupil than of the
teacher. This idea, which has been presented before in this
discussion, is here reaffirmed as fundamental.

5. We must distinguish between the original discovery of a truth and
learning it from others. Discovery is made by processes of original
investigation and research which are usually slow, tentative,
and laborious. Learning comes by processes of interpretation, which
may be easy and rapid. Still there is much in common; the learner
rediscovers in part the material that he learns. No real learning is
wholly a repetition of the thoughts of others. The discoverer borrows
largely of facts known to others, and the student must add to what he
studies from his own experience. His aim should be to become an
independent searcher in the fields of knowledge, not merely a passive
learner at the hands of others. Both the original investigator and
the student must be seekers for new facts and principles, and both
must aim to gain clear and distinct conceptions of them. It is
indispensable that the student should become an investigator.

6. There are several phases of the learning process which should be
carefully noted here in order that the full meaning of the law shall
be seen and understood.

(1) A pupil is sometimes said to have learned the lesson when
he has committed it to memory, and can repeat or recite it word for
word. This is all that is attempted by many pupils, or required by
such teachers as consider their work done if they can secure verbatim
reproductions. Education would be cheap and easy if this were real
learning and could be made to stay.

(2) It is an evident advance over the memorizing of words
when the pupil has also an understanding of the thought. It
is so much better that many teachers are tempted to care only for the
thought, and so to inform their pupils. There is a danger here, for
in many cases, as in the teaching of the lessons in the Bible, it is
important to know and to remember the words.

(3) It is still better when the pupil can translate the
thought accurately into his own or other words without detriment to
the meaning. The one who can do this has advanced beyond the work of
mere learning, and has placed himself in the attitude of a
discoverer. He has learned to deal with his own thoughts as well as
the thoughts of others. The capable teacher will recognize this, and
will pardon possible crudeness of expression, while he encourages the
pupil to more accurate thinking as a means to more accurate language.

(4) The pupil shows still greater progress when he begins to
seek evidence of the statements which he studies. The one who can
give a reason for the things he believes is a better student as well
as a stronger believer than the one who believes but does not know
why. The real student seeks proofs, and a large part of the work of a
student of nature is to prove the things which he discovers. The
student of the Bible ought to seek to find out for himself if these
things are so. Even the youngest pupils will take a stronger hold of
the truth if they can see a reason for it. In searching for proof,
the student encounters much knowledge on the way, like the
mountain climber who finds the landscape always widening around him.
The particular problem with which he is engaged is seen to be a part
of the great empire of truth.

(5) A still higher and more fruitful stage of learning is
found in the study of the uses and applications of knowledge. No
lesson is fully learned until it is traced to its connections with
the great working machinery of nature and of life. Every fact has its
relation to life, and every principle its applications, and until
these are known, facts and principles are idle. The practical
relations of truth, and the forces which lie behind all facts, are
never really understood until we apply our knowledge to some of the
practical purposes of life and of thought. The boy who finds a use
for what he has learned in his lesson becomes doubly interested and
successful in his school work. What was idle knowledge becomes
practical wisdom.

7. The learning process is not completed until this last stage has
been reached. The other steps aid in illumining the understanding of
the pupils as they progress in their work, but our law of the
learning process demands this final stage, and to this purpose the
efforts of the teacher and the pupils must constantly be directed.

8. The earnest student will be enabled, by means of these
steps, to watch his own progress with his work. He can ask these
questions: What does the lesson say? What is its meaning? How can I
express this meaning in my own language? Do I believe what the lesson
tells me, and why? What is the good of it -- how may I apply and use
the knowledge which it gives?

9. It is true that many lessons are not learned with this
comprehensive thoroughness, but this does not change the fact that no
lesson is really learned until so understood and so mastered.


10. We should consider two limitations to this law of learning. The
first has to do with the age of the pupils. It should be remembered
that the mental activity of young children lies close to the senses.
Their knowledge of a lesson will be largely confined to the facts
which appeal to the eye, or which can be illustrated to the senses. A
little later the desire of pupils for activity and for carrying on
some active enterprise may profitably be utilized in their training.
As maturity is approached, young people think more and more about
reasons, and the lessons which will appeal most to them will be the
ones which ask reasons and which give conclusions.

11. Another limitation is one concerned with the different fields of
human knowledge. In each branch of knowledge there are distinct
evidences and applications, and therefore the operation of
the law of the learning process will vary to meet conditions. The
capable teacher will discover these differences, and will find the
proper conditions of successful study of each.

12. Herman Krusi, one of the best of teachers because one of the most
sympathetic students of childhood, said: "Every child that I have
ever observed, during all my life, has passed through certain
remarkable questioning periods which seem to originate from his inner
being. After each had passed through the early time of lisping and
stammering, into that of speaking, and had come to the questioning
period, he repeated at every new phenomenon the question, 'What is
that?' If for an answer he received the name of a thing, it
completely satisfied him; he wished to know no more. After a number
of months, a second state made its appearance, in which the child
followed its first question with a second: 'What is there in it?'
These questions had much interest for me, and I spent much reflection
upon them. In the end it became clear to me that the child had struck
out the right method for developing its thinking faculties." Krusi's
questions belong chiefly to the first period of growth and education;
in the later periods come other questions.


13. The rules which follow from this law are useful both for teacher
and pupil.

(1) Help the pupil to form a clear idea of the work to be

(2) Warn him that the words of his lesson have been carefully
chosen; that they may have peculiar meanings, which it may be
important to find out.

(3) Show him that usually more things are implied than are

(4) Ask him to express, in his own words, the meaning of the
lesson as he understands it, and to persist until he has the whole

(5) Let the reason WHY be perpetually ASKED till the pupil is
brought to feel that he is expected to give a reason for his
opinions. But let him also clearly understand that reasons must vary
with the nature of the material he is studying.

(6) Aim to make the pupil an independent investigator -- a
student of nature and a seeker after truth. Cultivate in him the
habit of research.

(7) Help him to test his conceptions to see that they
reproduce the truth taught, as far as his powers permit.

(8) Seek constantly to develop in pupils a profound regard
for truth as something noble and enduring.

(9) Teach the pupils to hate shams and sophistries and to
shun them.


14. The violations of this law of the learning process are perhaps
the most common and most fatal of any in our school work. Since the
work of learning is the very heart of school work, a failure here is
a failure in all. Knowledge may be placed before the pupils
in endless profusion and in the most attractive guise; teachers may
pour out instruction without stint, and lessons may be learned and
recited under all the pressure of the most effective discipline and
of the most urgent appeals; but if this law is not followed, the
attainments will fall short of their mark. Some of the more common
mistakes are these:

(1) The pupil is left in the twilight of an imperfect and
fragmentary mastery by a failure to think it into clearness. The
haste to go on often precludes time for thinking.

(2) The language of the textbook is so insisted upon that the
pupil has no incentive to try his own power of expression. Thus he is
taught to feel that the words are everything, the meaning nothing.
Students often learn the demonstrations of geometry by heart, and do
not suspect that there is any meaning in them.

(3) The failure to insist upon original thinking by the
pupils is one of the most common faults of our schools.

(4) Frequently no reason is asked for the statements in the
lesson, and none is given. The pupil believes what the book says,
because the book says it.

(5) The practical applications are persistently neglected.
That the lesson has a use, is the last thought to enter the minds of
many pupils.

15. Nowhere are these faults in teaching more frequent or
more serious than in the Sunday school. "Always learning, but never
able to come to a knowledge of the truth," tells the sad story of
many a Sunday school class. If that class be taught as our law
prescribes, the results might be very different.



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1. Let us suppose the process of teaching to be completed. The
teacher and the pupils have met and have done their work together.
Language freighted with ideas and aided with illustrations has been
spoken and understood. Knowledge has been thought into the minds of
the pupils, and it lies there in greater or less completeness, to
feed thought, to guide and modify conduct, and to form character.
What more is needed? The teacher's work seems ended. But difficult
work yet remains, perhaps the most difficult. All that has been
accomplished lies hidden in the minds of the pupils, and lies there
as a potency rather than as a possession. What process shall fix into
active habits the thought-potencies which have been evolved? What
influence shall mold into permanent ideals the conceptions that have
been gained? It is for this final and finishing work that our seventh
and last law provides. This law of the confirmation and ripening of
results, may be expressed as follows: THE COMPLETION, TEST AND

2. The statement of this law seeks to include the chief aims of the
review: (1) to perfect knowledge, (2) to confirm knowledge, and (3)
to render this knowledge ready and useful. These three aims, though
distinct in idea, are so connected in fact as to be secured by the
same process. It would be difficult to overstate the value and
importance of this law of review. No time in teaching is spent more
profitably than that spent in reviewing. Other things being equal,
the ablest and most successful teacher is the one who secures from
his pupils the most frequent, thorough, and interesting reviews.


3. A review is more than a repetition. A machine may repeat a
process, but only an intelligent agent can review it. The repetition
done by a machine is a second movement precisely like the first; a
repetition by the mind is the rethinking of a thought. It is
necessarily a review. It is more: it involves fresh conceptions and
new associations, and brings an increase of facility and power.

4. Reviews are of different grades of completeness and thoroughness,
from the mere repetition of the words of lessons, or a rapid glance
thrown back to some fact or phrase, to the most careful resurvey of
the whole field -- the occupancy in full force of the ground of which
the first study was only a reconnaissance. The simplest
reviews are mostly repetitions; the final and complete reviews should
be thorough restudies of the lessons.

5. A partial review may embrace a single lesson, or it may include a
single topic of the subject -- the development of a single fact or
principle, the recall of some event, or of some difficult point or
question. The complete review may be a cursory reviewing of the whole
field in a few general questions, or it may be a full and final
reconsideration of the whole ground. Each kind of review has its
place and use. We shall see in our discussion that no teaching can be
complete without the review, made either under the teacher's
direction, or voluntarily by the pupil himself.

6. A new lesson or a fresh topic never reveals all of itself at
first. It distracts the attention and its novelties may dazzle the
mind. When we enter a strange house we do not know where to look for
its several rooms, and the attention is drawn to a few of the more
singular and conspicuous pieces of furniture or articles of
decoration. We must return again and again, and resurvey the scene
with eyes grown familiar to the place, before the whole plan of the
building and the uses of all the rooms and their furniture will stand
clearly revealed. So one must return again and again to a lesson if
he would see all there is in it, and come to a true and vivid
understanding of its meaning. We have all noticed how much we
find that is new and interesting in reading again some old and
familiar volume.

7. Even in the best-studied book, we are often surprised to find
fresh truths and new meanings in passages which we had read perhaps
again and again. It is the ripest student of Shakespeare who finds
the most freshness in the works of the great dramatist. The familiar
eye discovers in any great masterpiece of art or literature touches
of power and beauty which the casual observer cannot see. So a true
review always adds something to the knowledge of the student who
makes it.

8. Especially is this true of the Bible, of which the latest study is
the richest and most interesting. Nothing more surprises or delights
us in the great preachers than the new meanings they discover in old
and familiar texts -- meanings which clearly are there, but which we
had not found in our own reading. Sometimes these meanings are hidden
in a word, and need perhaps only the right emphasis to reveal them;
sometimes they lie close by the path and appear by some sidelight
thrown skillfully upon them by the text. Repetition with varying
emphasis often may bring to light these hidden meanings.

9. On one occasion at least, the Great Teacher resorted to this power
of repetition, when three times in succession He asked Peter the
question, "Lovest thou me?" The heart of the disciple burned
under this powerful iteration, and with memory and conscience
quickened he appealed to the Master to witness to the truth of his
questioned love.

10. But the repetitions of a review are not made the same hour. They
are spread over days and weeks, and hence a new element is brought
into play. The lapse of time changes the point of view. At every
review we survey the lesson from a new standpoint. Its facts rise in
a new order and are seen in new relations. Truths that were
overshadowed in the first study now come forth into the light. When
one climbs a mountain, from each successive outlook the eye visits
again the same landscape, but the position of the observer is always
changed. The features of the landscape are seen in different
perspective, and each successive view is larger, more comprehensive,
and more complete than its predecessor.

11. The human mind does not achieve its victories by a single effort.
There is a sort of mental incubation as a result of which some
splendid discovery oftentimes springs forth. The physiologists call
it unconscious cerebration, by which they mean that the brain itself
goes on working unknown to us. It is an easier explanation that the
evergrowing mind reaches constantly new positions, and obtains new
light by which a new truth becomes visible. Some fresh
experience or newly acquired idea serves as a key to the old lesson,
and what was dark in the first study is made clear and bright in the

12. The old saying, "Beware of the man of one book," has this in it,
that his repeated readings of his one book give him a mastery of the
subject which makes him a dangerous antagonist in his chosen field.
He shows the power conferred by frequent reviews.

13. Frequent repetitions are valuable to correct memorization and
ready recall. Memory depends upon the association of ideas -- the
idea in mind recalling the ideas with which it has been linked by
some past association. Each review establishes new associations,
while at the same time it familiarizes and strengthens the old. The
lesson that is studied but once is likely learned only to be
forgotten. That which is thoroughly and repeatedly reviewed is woven
into the very fabric of our thoughts, and becomes a part of our
equipment of knowledge. Not what a pupil has once learned and
recited, but what he permanently remembers and uses is the correct
measure of his achievement.

14. Not merely to know, but to have knowledge for use -- to possess
it fully, like money for daily expenditures, or tools and materials
for daily work -- such is the aim of true study. This readiness
of knowledge cannot be gained by a single study. Frequent and
thorough reviews can alone give this firm hold and free handling of
the truth. There is a skill in scholarship as well as in handicraft,
and this skill in both cases depends upon habits; and habit is the
child of repetition.

15. The plastic power of truth in shaping conduct and molding
character belongs only to the truths which have become familiar by
repetitions. Not the scamper of a passing child but the repeated
tread of coming and going feet beats for us the paths of our daily
life. If we would have any great truth sustain and control us, we
must return to it so often that it will at last rise up in mind as a
dictate of conscience, and pour its steady light upon every act and
purpose with which it is concerned.

16. The well known influence of maxims and proverbs comes from the
readiness with which they are remembered and recalled, and the power
which they gather by repetition. The Scriptural texts which most
influence us are those that have become familiar in use, and which
arise in mind as occasions demand.

17. From all this it will be seen that the review is not simply an
added excellence in teaching which may be dispensed with if time is
lacking; it is one of the essential conditions of all true teaching.
Not to review is to leave the work half done. The law of
review rests upon the laws of mind. The review may not always be made
formally and with clear design, but no successful teaching was ever
done in which the review in some form, either by direction of the
teacher or by the private impulse of the learner, did not take place
-- the revisiting and repetition of the lesson that had been learned.
The "line upon line and precept upon precept" rule of the Bible is a
recognition of this truth.

18. The processes of review must necessarily vary with the subject of
study, and also with the age and advancement of the pupils. With very
young pupils the review can be little more than simple repetition;
with older pupils, the review will be a thoughtful restudy of the
ground to gain deeper understanding.

19. A principle in mathematics may be reviewed with fresh
applications and problems. A scientific principle may be fixed by the
study or analysis of a fresh specimen, or by additional facts in
support of the same principle. A chapter in history may be restudied
with fresh questions calling for a fresh view, or by comparing it
with the new statements of another author. A scriptural truth will be
reviewed by a new application to the heart and conscience or to the
judgment of the duties and events of the life.

20. In the Bible more than in any other book are reviews
needful and valuable. Not only does the Bible most require and most
repay repeated study, but most of all ought Bible knowledge to be
familiar to us. Its words and precepts should rest clear and precise
in the thought as the dictates of duty.

21. Any exercise may serve as a review which recalls the material to
be reviewed. One of the best and most practical forms of review is
the calling up of any fact or truth learned and applying it to some
use. Nothing so fixes it in the memory or gives such a grasp of it to
the understanding. Thus the multiplication table may be learned by
orderly repetitions of its successive factors and products, but its
frequent review and use in daily computations alone give us that
perfect mastery of it which makes it come without call. So in that
largest, most wonderful, and most perfect acquisition of the human
mind -- the thousands of wholly artificial word-signs and idioms of
the mother tongue -- nothing but the ceaseless repetitions and
reviews of daily use could so imbed them in the memory and so work
them into the habitudes of the mind that they come with the ideas
that they symbolize and keep pace with the swift movements of thought
itself, as if a natural part of the thinking process.

22. The ready skill of artisans and professional men in recalling
instantaneously the principles and processes of their arts or
professions is the product of the countless repetitions of daily
practice. This kind of review is available in all cases where the
pupil can be called upon to apply the material learned to the
solution of common problems, the conduct of any process, or the
performance of any series of acts. The art of the teacher, in this
work, lies in the stating of questions which shall properly make use
of the material to be reviewed.

23. The use of handwork in review ought by no means to be neglected.
The hand is itself a capable teacher, and few reviews are more
effective than those which are aided by the hand. Witness the power
and value of laboratory work, now so common in all scientific study.

24. The request for the pupils to bring lists of persons, objects,
places, etc., mentioned in the lessons, for tabular statements of
facts or events, for maps, plans, or drawings of places or things, or
for short written statements or answers, will be of valuable
assistance in reviewing.


25. Among the many practical rules for review, the following are some
of the most useful:

(1) Consider reviews as always in order.

(2) Have set times for review. At the beginning of each
period review briefly the preceding lesson.

(3) At the close of each lesson, glance backward at the
ground which has been covered. Almost every good lesson closes with a
summary. It is well to have the pupils know that any one of them may
be called upon to summarize the lesson at the close of the class

(4) After five or six lessons, or at the close of a topic,
take a review from the beginning. The best teachers give about
one-third of each period to purpose of review. Thus they make haste
slowly but progress surely.

(5) Whenever a reference to former lessons can profitably be
made, the opportunity thus afforded to bring old knowledge into fresh
light should be seized.

(6) All new lessons should be made to bring into review and
application the material of former lessons.

(7) Make the first review as soon as practicable after the
lesson is first learned.

(8) In order to make reviews easily and rapidly, the teacher
should hold in mind the material that has been learned, in large
units or blocks, ready for instant use. He is thus able to begin at
any time an impromptu review in any part of the field. The pupils,
seeing that the teacher thinks it worth while to remember and recall
what has been studied, will desire to do the same, and will be
ambitious to be ready to meet his questions.

(9) New questions on old lessons, new illustrations for old
texts, new proof for old statements, new applications of old truths,
will often send the pupil back with fresh interest to his old
material, thus affording a profitable review.

(10) The final review, which should never be omitted, should
be searching, comprehensive, and masterful, grouping the different
topics of the subject as on a map, and aiding the pupil to a familiar
mastery of the material which he has learned.

application involves a useful and effective review.

(12) Do not forget the value of handwork in review.

(13) Do not forget the value of handwork on the material of
previous lessons. Let this be done frequently; the pupils will soon
learn to come to their classes with questions ready to ask, and with
ready answers for other questions.


26. The common and almost constant violations of this law of teaching
are well known to every one. But the disastrous violations are known
only to those who have considered thoughtfully the inadequate and
stinted outcomes of much of our laborious and costly teaching. The
lack of proper review is not by any means the sole cause of failure;
however, a wider and more thorough use of the principle of review
would go far to remedy the evils from other causes. We pour water
into broken cisterns; good reviews might not at once increase the
quantity of water which goes in, but they would stop the leaks.

(1) The first violation of the law is the total neglect of
review. This is the folly of the utterly poor teacher.

(2) The second is the wholly inadequate review. This is the
fault of the hurried and impatient teacher who is often more
concerned with getting through the work of the term or semester than
making the work the pupils' own.

(3) The third mistake is that of delaying all review work
until the end of the semester or term, when, the material of the
course being largely forgotten, the review amounts to little more
than a poor relearning, with little interest and less value.

(4) The fourth error is that of making the review merely a
process of lifeless and colorless repetition of questions and answers
and often the very questions and answers which were originally used.
This is a review in name only.

27. The law of review in its full force and philosophy requires that
there shall be fresh vision -- a clear rethinking and reusing of the
material which has been learned, which shall be related to the first
study as the finishing touches of the artist to his first sketches.



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28. We have now finished our discussion of the seven laws of
teaching. If we have succeeded in our purpose, our readers have seen:
FIRST, the true teacher, equipped with the knowledge he
wishes to communicate; SECOND, the pupil, with attention fixed and
interest aroused eager to pursue his studies; THIRD, the true medium
of communication between the two -- a language clear, simple, and
easily understood by both; FOURTH, the true lesson, the knowledge or
experience to be communicated. These four, the actors and the
machinery of the drama, have been shown in action, giving, FIFTH, the
true teaching process, the teacher arousing and directing the
self-activities of the pupils; SIXTH, the true learning process, the
pupils reproducing in their own thought, step by step -- first in
mere outline and finally in full and finished conception -- the
lesson to be learned; and SEVENTH, the true review, testing,
correcting, completing, connecting, confirming, and applying the
subject studied. In all this there has been seen only the working of
the great natural laws of mind and truth effecting and governing that
complex process by which a human intelligence gains possession of
knowledge. The study of these laws may not make of every reader a
perfect teacher; but the laws themselves, when fully observed in use,
will produce their effects with the same certainty that chemical laws
generate the compounds of chemical elements, or that the laws of life
produce the growth of the body.

[End of THE SEVEN LAWS OF TEACHING by John Milton Gregory.]



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The final test will be on the following material:
1. The Conclusion with its Seven points which you must put in proper sequence.

FIRST, the true teacher
SECOND, the pupil
THIRD, the true medium
FOURTH, the true lesson
FIFTH, the true teaching process
SIXTH, the true learning process
SEVENTH, the true review

2. The Seven Laws of Teaching as put forth in the following list which you must be prepared to quote verbatim.  Use correct spelling.  Proper punctuation including all dashes (-) must be memorized.  Capitalization is optional.

It will be a "closed book" test.

Memorize the following in order.

Know the number of each Law because they will not be given in order on the test.
You will be given the number of the Law and you will enter the corresponding text.
Do not include the number when giving the law- you will give only the text of the rule.

The Seven Laws of Teaching

1. A TEACHER must be one who KNOWS the lesson or truth or art to be taught.

2. A LEARNER is one who ATTENDS with interest to the lesson.

3. The LANGUAGE used as a MEDIUM between teacher and learner must be COMMON to both.

4. The LESSON to be mastered must be explicable in the terms of truth already known by the learner -- the UNKNOWN must be explained by means of the KNOWN.

5. TEACHING is AROUSING and USING the PUPIL'S MIND to grasp the desired thought or to master the desired art.

6. LEARNING is THINKING into one's own UNDERSTANDING a new idea or truth or working into HABIT a new art or skill.

7. The TEST AND PROOF of teaching done -- the finishing and fastening process -- must be a REVIEWING, RETHINKING, REKNOWING, REPRODUCING, and APPLYING of the material that has been taught, the knowledge and ideals and arts that have been communicated.


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July 1994 [abridged January 1996 for Project Gutenberg release]

THE SEVEN LAWS OF TEACHING by John Milton Gregory was one of
my textbooks in seminary at the Atlanta School of Biblical Studies in
a class in Christian Education, and I consider it to be a tremendous
resource for teachers in churches, private schools and for
homeschoolers. However, I believe that its applicability is much
wider than a restrictively religious environment. The author was a
Christian who worked and wrote in a society which functioned within a
generally Christian world-view that recognized "absolutes" and which
considered that the function of education included the transmission
of a body of information (_facts_) and also the development of the
capacities of the student to continue throughout life as a thinking
and learning responsible person.

I commend to all educators the reading of this book, in
whatever media available, and hope that it will be re-included as a
resource for the training of educators even in non-religious
settings. The fact that the author includes in his writing references
to religion and morals, and includes Biblical allusions and
illustrations should not invalidate the insights of a tremendously
influential mind of the nineteenth century.

Much "modern" education has moved away from content-oriented
teaching to the process of socializing and molding students into
uncritical and controllable "world citizens." To such social
engineers, the concepts of this book will no doubt be anathema. To
Humanists and Skinnerians, I commend the reading of this book anyway,
even if only for the purpose of arguing with its "outmoded" concepts
(which are still strongly influencing a very effective stream of
"alternative education"). The alarming decrease of language and
math skills in American public schools is a strong indicator that
something is badly wrong with the prevailing educational practices
and philosophy in our country. Dr. Gregory's work is a pretty good
statement of the educational philosophy "from whence we have fallen".
Perhaps even a "secular" reevaluation of his concepts can bring about
an institutional "repentance." This is my hope.

In editing this book into digital media (actually rekeying it
on my 32K TRS-80 Model 100 Portable Computer, rearranged with the
Dvorak Simplified Keyboard), I find that my late-twentieth-century
sensitivities to gender-related language have been twigged, but I
have refrained from all but the most minimal of "editing." This was
the way people talked back then, and the masculine bias in their
language was not intended to exclude female teachers or students.
I judge that an attempt to "update" the book's language or
illustrations would be a waste of effort: Gregory stands in the
setting of his own time, and that is a part of his great value.

Gregory's book in print-media is public domain, and I choose
to refrain from claiming a copyright on this edition. As long as the
printed book is available, I recommend that my straight-ASCII version
be used as an easily searchable (and easily sharable) onscreen
resource. Instead of printing it out, just buy the book.

I'm committed to continue producing ASCII-editions of good
books which I hope to be able to release in freely distributable
form. Since I was a teen, I have spent much of my time working with
children, teens and people who are limited in their understanding of
English, and I am committed to being a "teacher", whether I have
that job-title or not. I frankly solicit copies of "Reading Lists"
used by homeschoolers, private schools or public schools,
(preferably) in ASCII as email, or email me for my current mailing
address. If you know of books in the public domain or which the
owners are willing to distribute freely in digital media which would
be worthwhile additions to an educational digital library, I ask you
to contact me and tell me of your interests.

Clyde C. Price, Jr.

John Milton Gregory, THE SEVEN LAWS OF
TEACHING, a valuable and practical
"classic" on education, "required
reading" for Sunday-School teachers &
other educators. Public domain etext.