After deciding upon the aims of education, the goals towards which all

teaching must strive, the fundamental question to be answered is, "What

have we to work with?" "What is the makeup with which children start in

life?" Given a certain nature, certain definite results are possible;

but if the nature is different, the results must of necessity differ.

The possibility of education or of teaching along any line depends upon
/> the presence of an original nature which possesses corresponding

abilities. The development of intellect, of character, of interest, or

of any other trait depends absolutely upon the presence in human beings

of capacity for growth or development. What the child inherits, his

original nature, is the capital with which education must work; beyond

the limits which are determined by inheritance education cannot go.

All original nature is in terms of a nervous system. What a child

inherits is not ideas, or feelings, or habits, as such, but a nervous

system whose correlate is human intelligence and emotion. Just what

relationship exists between the action of the nervous system and

consciousness or intellect or emotion is still an open question and need

not be discussed here. One thing seems fairly certain, that the original

of any individual is bound up in some way with the kind of nervous

system he has inherited. What we have in common, as a human race, of

imagination, or reason, or tact, or skill is correlated in some fashion

to the inheritance of a human nervous system. What we have as individual

abilities, which distinguish us from our fellows, depends primarily upon

our family inheritance. Certain traits such as interest in people, and

accuracy in perception of details, seem to be dependent upon the sex

inheritance. All traits, whether racial, or family, or sex, are

inherited in terms of a plastic nervous system.

The racial inheritance, the capital which all normal children bring into

the world, is usually discussed under several heads: reflexes,

physiological actions, impulsive actions, instincts, capacities, etc.,

the particular heads chosen varying with the author. They all depend for

their existence upon the fact that certain bonds of connection are

performed in the nervous system. Just what this connection is which is

found between the nerve cells is still open to question. t may be

chemical or it may be electrical. We know it is not a growing together

of the neurones,[1] but further than that nothing is definitely known.

That there are very definite pathways of discharge developed by the laws

of inner growth and independent of individual learning, there can be no

doubt. This of course means that in the early days of a child's life,

and later in so far as he is governed by these inborn tendencies, his

conduct is machine-like and blind--with no purpose and no consciousness

controlling or initiating the responses. Only after experience and

learning have had an opportunity to influence these responses can the

child be held responsible for his conduct, for only then does his

conduct become conscious instead of merely physiological.

There are many facts concerning the psychology of these inborn

tendencies that are interesting and important from a purely theoretical

point of view, but only those which are of primary importance in

teaching will be considered here. A fact that is often overlooked by

teachers is that these inborn tendencies to connections of various kinds

exist in the intellectual and emotional fields just as truly as in the

field of action or motor response. The capacity to think in terms of

words and of generals; to understand relationships; to remember; to

imagine; to be satisfied with thinking,--all these, as well as such

special abilities as skill in music, in managing people or affairs, in

tact, or in sympathy, are due to just the same factors as produce fear

or curiosity. These former types of tendencies differ from the latter in

complexity of situation and response, in definiteness of response, in

variability amongst individuals of the same family, and in

modifiability; but in the essential element they do not differ from the

more evident inborn tendencies.

Just what these original tendencies are and just what the situations are

to which they come as responses are both unknown except in a very few

instances. The psychology of original nature has enumerated the

so-called instincts and discussed a few of their characteristics, but

has left almost untouched the inborn capacities that are more peculiarly

human. Even the treatment of instincts has been misleading. For

instance, instincts have been discussed under such heads as the

"self-preservative instincts," "the social instincts," just as if the

child had an inborn, mystical something that told him how to preserve

his life, or become a social king. Original nature does not work in that

way; it is only as the experience of the individual modifies the blind

instinctive responses through learning that these results can just as

easily come about unless the care of parents provides the right sort of

surroundings. There is nothing in the child's natural makeup that warns

him against eating pins and buttons and poisonous berries, or encourages

him to eat milk and eggs and cereal instead of cake and sweets. He will

do one sort of thing just as easily as the other. All nature provides

him with is a blind tendency to put all objects that attract his

attention into his mouth. This response may preserve his life or destroy

it, depending on the conditions in which he lives. The same thing is

true of the "social instinct"--the child may become the most selfish

egotist imaginable or the most self-sacrificing of men, according as his

surroundings and training influence the original tendencies towards

behavior to other people in one way or the other. Of course it is very

evident that no one has ever consistently lived up to the idea indicated

by such a treatment of original nature, but certain tendencies in

education are traceable to such psychology. What the child has by nature

is neither good nor bad, right nor wrong--it may become either according

to the habits which grow out of these tendencies. A child's inborn

nature cannot determine the goal of his education. His nature has

remained practically the same from the days of primitive man, while the

goals of education have changed. What nature does provide is an immense

number of definite responses to definite situations. These provide the

capital which education and training may use as it will.

t is just because education does need to use these tendencies as

capital that the lack of knowledge of just what the responses are is

such a serious one. And yet the difficulties of determining just what

original nature gives are so tremendous that the task seems a hopeless

one to many investigators. The fact that in the human being these

tendencies are so easily modified means that from the first they are

being influenced and changed by the experiences of the child. Because of

the quality of our inheritance the response to a situation is not a

one-to-one affair, like a key in a lock, but all sorts of minor causes

in the individual are operative in determining his response; and, on the

other side, situations are so complex in themselves that they contain

that which may call out several different instincts. For example, a

child's response to an animal will be influenced by his own physical

condition, emotional attitude, and recent mental status and by the

conditions of size and nearness of the animal, whether it is shaggy or

not, moving or still, whether he is alone or with others, on the floor

or in his chair, and the like. t will depend on just how these factors

combine as to whether the response is one of fear, of curiosity, of

manipulation, or of friendliness. When to these facts are added the fact

that the age and previous habits of the child also influence his

response, the immense complexity of the problem of discovering just what

the situations are to which there are original tendencies to respond and

just how these tendencies show themselves is evident. And yet this is

what psychologists must finally do if the use by teachers of these

tendencies is to be both economical and wise. Just as an illustration of

the possibilities of analysis, Thorndike in his "Original Nature of Man"

lists eleven different situations which call out an instinctive

expression of fear and thirty-one different responses which may occur in

that expression. Under fighting he says, "There seem, indeed, to be at

least six separable sets of connections in the so-called 'fighting

instinct,'" in each of which the situation and the response differ from

any other one.

ery few of the instincts are present at birth; most of them develop

later in the child's life. Pillsbury says, "One may recognize the

food-taking instincts, the vocal protests at discomfort, but relatively

few others." This delay in the appearance of instincts and capacities is

dependent upon the development of the nervous system. No one of them can

appear until the connections between nerve centers are ready, making the

path of discharge perfect. Just when these various nervous connections

mature, and therefore just when the respective tendencies should appear,

is largely unknown. n only a few of the most prominent and

comparatively simple responses is it even approximately known. Holding

the head up is accomplished about the fourth month, walking and talking

somewhere near the twelfth, but the more complex the tendency and the

more they involve intellectual factors, the greater is the uncertainty

as to the time of development. We are told that fear is most prominent

at about "three or four" years of age, spontaneous imitation "becomes

very prominent the latter part of the first year," the gang instinct is

characteristic of the preadolescent period, desire for adventure shows

itself in early adolescence, altruism "appears in the early teens," and

the sex instinct "after about a dozen years of life." The child of from

four to six is largely sensory, from seven to nine he is motor, from

then to twelve the retentive powers are prominent. n the adolescent

period he is capable of thinking logically and reasoning, while maturity

finds him a man of responsibilities and affairs. Although there is some

truth in the belief that certain tendencies are more prominent at

certain periods in the development of the child than at others, still it

must be borne in mind that just when these optimum periods occur is not

known. Three of the most important reasons for this lack of knowledge

are: first, the fact that all inborn tendencies mature gradually and do

not burst into being; second, we do not know how transitory they are;

and, third, the fact of the great influence of environment in

stimulating or repressing such capacities.

Although the tendency to make collections is most prominent at nine, the

beginnings of it may be found before the child is five. Moll finds that

the sex instinct begins its development at about six years of age,

despite the fact that it is always quoted as the adolescent instinct.

Children in the kindergarten can think out their little problems

purposively, even though reasoning is supposed to mark the high school

pupil. The elements of most tendencies show themselves early in crude,

almost unrecognizable, beginnings, and from these they grow gradually to


n the second place how quickly do these tendencies fade? How transitory

are they? t has always been stated in general psychology that instincts

are transitory, that therefore it was the business of teachers to strike

while the iron was hot, to seize the wave of interest or response at its

crest before the ebb had begun. There was supposed to be a "happy moment

for fixing in children skill in drawing, for making collections in

natural history," for developing the appreciative emotions, for training

the social instinct, or the memory or the imagination. Children are

supposed to be interested and attracted by novelty, rhythm, and

movement,--to be creatures of play and imagination and to become

different merely as a matter of the transitoriness of these tendencies

due to growth. When the activities of the adult and the child are

analyzed to see what tendencies have really passed, are transitory, it

is difficult to find any that have disappeared. True, they have changed

their form, have been influenced by the third factor mentioned above,

but change the surroundings a little and the tendency appears. Free the

adult from the restraints of his ordinary life and turn him out for a

holiday and the childish tendencies of interest in novelty and the

mysterious, in physical prowess and adventure and play, all make their

appearance. n how many adults does the collecting instinct still

persist, and the instinct of personal rivalry? n how many has the crude

desire for material ownership or the impulse to punish an affront by

physical attack died out? Experimental evidence is even proving that the

general plasticity of the nervous system, which has always been

considered to be transitory, is of very, very much longer duration than

has been supposed.

n illustration of the third fact, namely, the effect of environment to

stimulate or repress, witness the "little mothers" of five and the wage

earners of twelve who have assumed all the responsibilities with all

that they entail of maturity. On the other side of the picture is the

indulged petted child of fortune who never grows up because he has had

everything done for him all his life, and therefore the tendencies which

normally might be expected to pass and give place to others remain and

those others never appear. That inborn tendencies do wax, reach a

maximum, and wane is probably true, but the onset is much more gradual

and the waning much less frequent than has been taken for granted. Our

ignorance concerning all these matters outweighs our knowledge; only

careful experimentation which allows for all the other factors involved

can give a reliable answer.

One reason why the facts of delayedness and transitoriness in instincts

have been so generally accepted without being thoroughly tested has been

the belief in the recapitulation or repeating by the individual of

racial development. So long as this was accepted as explaining the

development of inborn tendencies and their order of appearance,

transitoriness and delayedness must necessarily be postulated. This

theory is being seriously questioned by psychologists of note, and even

its strongest advocate, President Hall, finds many questions concerning

it which cannot be answered.

The chief reasons for its acceptance were first, on logical grounds as

an outgrowth of the doctrine of evolution, and second, because of an

analogy with the growth of the physical body which was pushed to an

extreme. On the physiological side, although there is some likeness

between the human embryo and that of the lower animals, still the stages

passed through by the two are not the same, being alike only in rough

outline, and only in the case of a few of the bodily organs is the

series of changes similar. n the case of the physical structure which

should be recapitulated most closely, if behavior is to follow the same

law,--namely, in that of the brain and nervous system,--there is least

evidence of recapitulation. The brain of man does not follow in its

development at all the same course taken in the development of brains in

the lower animals. And, moreover, it is perfectly possible to explain

any similarity or parallelism which does exist between the development

of man's embryo and that of lower animals by postulating a general order

of development followed by nature as the easiest or most economical,

traces of which must then be found in all animal life. When it comes to

the actual test of the theory, that of finding actual cases of

recapitulation in behavior, it fails. No one has been able to point out

just when a child passes through any stage of racial development, and

any attempt to do so has resulted in confusion. There is no clear-cut

marking off into stages, but, instead, overlapping and coexistence of

tendencies characterize the development of the child. The infant of a

few days old may show the swimming movements, but at the same time he

can support his own weight by clinging to a horizontal stick. Which

stage is he recapitulating, that of the fishes or the monkeys? The

nine-year-old boy loves to swim, climb trees, and hunt like a savage all

at the same period, and, what is more, some of these same tendencies

characterize the college man. The late maturing of the sex instinct, so

old and strong in the race, and the early appearing of the tendencies

towards vocalization and grasping, both of late date in the race, are

facts that are hard to explain on the basis of the theory of


As has been already suggested, one of the most important characteristics

of all these tendencies is their modifiability. The very ease with which

they can be modified suggests that this is what has most often to be

done with them. On examination of the lists of original tendencies there

are none which can be kept and fixed in the form in which they first

appear. Even the best of them are crude and impossible from the

standpoint of civilized society. Take as an illustration mother-love;

what are the original tendencies and behavior? "All women possess

originally, from early childhood to death, some interest in human

babies, and a responsiveness to the instinctive looks, calls, gestures,

and cries of infancy and childhood, being satisfied by childish

gurglings, smiles, and affectionate gestures, and moved to instinctive

comforting acts of childish signs of pain, grief, and misery." But the

mother has to learn not to cuddle the baby and talk to it all the time

it is awake and not to run to it and take it up at every cry, to steel

her heart against the wheedling of the coaxing gurgles and even to allow

the baby to hurt himself, all for his own good. This comes about only as

original nature is modified in line with knowledge and ideals. The same

need is evidenced by such a valuable tendency as curiosity. So far as

original nature goes, the tendency to attend to novel objects, to human

behavior, to explore with the eyes and manipulate with the hands, to

enjoy having sensations of all kinds merely for their own sakes, make up

what is known as the instinct of curiosity. But what a tremendous amount

of modification is necessary before these crude responses result in the

valuable scientific curiosity. Not blind following where instinct leads,

but modification, must be the watchword.

On the other hand, there are equally few tendencies that could be

spared, could be absolutely voted out without loss to the individual or

the race. Bullying as an original tendency seems to add nothing to the

possibilities of development, but every other inborn tendency has its

value. Jealousy, anger, fighting, rivalry, possessiveness, fear, each

has its quota to contribute to valuable manhood and womanhood. Again,

not suppression but a wise control must be the attitude of the educator.

nhibition of certain phases or elements of some of the tendencies is

necessary for the most valuable development of the individual, but the

entire loss of any save one or two would be disastrous to some form of

adult usefulness or enjoyment. The method by which valuable elements or

phases of an original tendency are fixed and strengthened is the general

method of habit formation and will be taken up under that head in

Chapter . When the modification involves definite inhibition, there

are three possible methods,--punishment, disuse, and substitution. As an

example of the use of the three methods take the case of a child who

develops a fear of the dark. n using the first method the child would

be punished every time he exhibited fear of the dark. By using the

second method he would never be allowed to go into a dark room, a light

being left burning in his bedroom, etc., until the tendency to fear the

dark had passed. n the third method the emotion of fear would be

replaced by that of joy or satisfaction by making the bedtime the

occasion for telling a favorite story or for being allowed to have the

best-loved toy, or for being played with or cuddled. The situation of

darkness might be met in still another way. f the child were old

enough, the emotion of courage might replace that of fear by having him

make believe he was a soldier or a policeman.

The method of punishment is the usual one, the one most teachers and

parents use first. t relies for its effectiveness on the general law of

the nervous system that pain tends to weaken the connections with whose

activity it is associated. The method is weak in that pain is not a

strong enough weapon to break the fundamental connections; it is not

known how much of it is necessary to break even weaker ones; it is

negative in its results--breaking one connection but replacing it by

nothing else. The second method of inhibition is that of disuse. t is

possible to inhibit by this means, because lack of use of connections in

the nervous system results in atrophy. As a method it is valuable

because it does not arouse resistance or anger. t is weak in that as

neither the delayedness nor the transitoriness of instincts is known,

when to begin to keep the situation from the child, and how long to keep

it away in order to provide for the dying out of the connections, are

not known. The method is negative and very unsure of results. The method

of substitution depends for its use upon the presence in the individual

of opposing tendencies and of different levels of development in the

same tendency. Because of this fact a certain response to a situation

may be inhibited by forming the habit of meeting the situation in

another way or of replacing a lower phase of a tendency by a higher one.

This method is difficult to handle because of the need of knowledge of

the original tendencies of children in general which it implies as well

as the knowledge of the capacities and development of the individual

child with whom the work is being done. The amount of time and

individual attention necessary adds another difficulty. However, it is

by far the best method of the three, for it is sure, is economical,

using the energy that is provided by nature, is educative, and is

positive. To replace what is poor or harmful by something better is one

of the greatest problems of human life--and this is the outcome of the

method of substitution. All three methods have their place in a system

of education, and certain of them are more in place at certain times

than at others, but at all times if the method of substitution can be

used it should be.

The instinct of physical activity is one of the most noticeable ones in

babyhood. The young baby seems to be in constant movement. Even when

asleep, the twitchings and squirmings may continue. This continued

muscular activity is necessary because the motor nerves offer the only

possible path of discharge at first. As higher centers in the brain are

developed, the ingoing currents, aroused by all sense stimuli, find

other connections, and ideas, images, trains of thoughts, are aroused,

and so the energy is consumed; but at first all that these currents can

do is to arouse physical activity. The strength of this instinct is but

little diminished by the time the child comes to school. His natural

inclination is to do things requiring movement of all the growing

muscles. nhibition, "sitting still," "being quiet," takes real effort

on his part, and is extremely fatiguing. This instinct is extremely

valuable in several ways: it gives the exercise necessary to a growing

body, provides the experience of muscle movements necessary for control,

and stimulates mental growth through the increase and variety of

experiences it gives.

The tendency to enjoy mental activity, to be satisfied with it for its

own sake, is peculiarly a human trait. This capacity shows itself in two

important ways--in the interest in sensory stimuli, usually discussed

under the head of curiosity, and in the delight in "being a cause" or

mental control. The interest in tastes, sounds, sights, touches, etc.,

merely for their own sake, is very evident in a baby. He spends most of

his waking time in just that enjoyment. Though more complex, it is still

strong when the child enters school, and for years any object of sense

which attracts his attention is material which arouses this instinct.

The second form in which the instinct for mental ability shows itself is

later in development and involves the secondary brain connections. t is

the satisfaction aroused by results of which the individual is the

cause. For example, the enjoyment of a child in seeing a ball swing or

hearing a whistle blown would be a manifestation of curiosity, while the

added interest which is always present when the child not only sees the

ball swing but swings it, not only hears the whistle but blows it

himself, is a result of the second tendency, that of joy in being a

cause. As the child grows older the same tendency shows itself on a

higher level when the materials dealt with, instead of being sensations

or percepts, are images or ideas. The interest in following out a train

of ideas to a logical conclusion, of building "castles in the air," of

making plans and getting results, all find their taproot in this

instinctive tendency towards mental activity.

n close connection with the general tendency towards physical activity

is the instinct of manipulation. From this crude root grows

constructiveness and destructiveness. As it shows itself at first it has

the elements of neither. The child inherits the tendency to respond by

"many different arm, hand, and finger movements to many different

objects"--poking, pulling, handling, tearing, piling, digging, and

dropping objects. Just what habits of using tools, and the like, will

grow out of this tendency will depend on the education and training it

gets. The habits of constructiveness may be developed in different sorts

of media. The order of their availability is roughly as follows: first,

in the use of materials such as wood, clay, raffia, etc.; second, in the

use of pencil and brush with color, etc.; third, in the use of words. We

should therefore expect and provide for considerable development along

manual lines before demanding much in the way of literary expression.

ndeed, it may be argued that richness of experience in doing is

prerequisite to verbal expression.

Acquisitiveness and collecting are two closely allied tendencies of

great strength. Every child has a tendency to approach, grasp, and carry

off any object not too large which attracts his attention, and to be

satisfied by its mere possession. Blind hoarding and collecting of

objects sometimes valueless in themselves results. This instinct is very

much influenced in its manifestation by others which are present at the

same time, such as the food-getting instinct, rivalry, love of approval,

etc. The time at which the tendency to collect seems strongest is at

about nine years, judged by the number of collections per child.

Rivalry as an instinct shows itself in increased vigor, in instinctive

activity when others are engaged in the same activity, and in

satisfaction when superiority is attained. There is probably no inborn

tendency whereby these responses of increased vigor and satisfaction are

aroused in connection with any kind of activity. We do not try to

surpass others in the way we talk or in our moral habits or in our

intellectual attainments, as a result of nature, but rather as a result

of painstaking education. As an instinct, rivalry is aroused only in

connection with other instinctive responses. n getting food, in

securing attention or approval, in hunting and collecting, the activity

would be increased by seeing another doing the same thing, and

satisfaction would be aroused at success or annoyance at failure. The

use of rivalry in other activities and at other levels comes as a result

of experience.

The fighting responses are called out by a variety of situations. These

situations are definite and the responses to them differ from each

other. n each case the child tries by physical force of some kind, by

scratching, kicking, biting, slapping, throwing, and the like, to change

the situation into a more agreeable one. This is true whether he be

trying to escape from the restraining arms of his mother or to compel

another child to recognize his mastery. Original nature endows us with

the pugnacious instinct on the physical level and in connection with

situations which for various reasons annoy us. f this is to be raised

in its manner of response from the physical to the intellectual level,

if the occasions calling it out are to be changed from those that merely

annoy one to those which involve the rights of others and matters of

principle, it must be as a result of education. Nature provides only

this crude root.

mitation has long been discussed as one of the most important and

influential of human instincts. t has been regarded as a big general

tendency to attempt to do whatever one saw any one else doing. As such a

tendency it does not exist. t is only in certain narrow lines that the

tendency to imitate shows itself, such as smiling when smiled at,

yelling when others yell, looking and listening, running, crouching,

attacking, etc., when others do. To this extent and in similar

situations the tendency to imitate seems to be truly an instinct.

mitating in other lines, such as writing as another writes, talking,

dressing, acting like a friend, trying to use the methods used by

others, etc., are a result of experience and education. The

"spontaneous," "dramatic," and "voluntary" imitation discussed by some

authors are the stages of development of _habits_ of imitation.

The desire to be with others of the same species, the satisfaction at

company and the discomfort aroused by solitude, is one of the strongest

roots of all social tendencies and customs. t manifests itself in young

babies, and continues a strong force throughout life. As an instinct it

has nothing to do with either being interested in taking one's share in

the duties or pleasures of the group or with being interested in people

for their own sakes. t is merely that company makes one comfortable and

solitude annoys one. Anything further must come as a result of


Motherliness and kindliness have as their characteristic behavior

tendencies to respond by instinctive comforting acts to signs of pain,

grief, or misery shown by living things, especially, by children, and by

the feeling of satisfaction and the sight of happiness in others. Of

course very often these instinctive responses are interfered with by the

presence of some other instinct, such as fighting, hunting, ownership,

or scorn, but that such tendencies to respond in such situations are a

part of the original equipment of man seems beyond dispute. They are

possessed by both sexes and manifest themselves in very early childhood.

There are original tendencies to respond both in getting and in giving

approval and scorn. By original nature, smiles, pats, admiration, and

companionship from one to whom submission is given arouses intense

satisfaction; and the withdrawal of such responses, and the expression

of scorn or disapproval, excites great discomfort. Even the expression

of approval or scorn from any one--a stranger or a servant--brings with

it the responses of satisfaction or discomfort. Just as strongly marked

are original tendencies which cause responses of approval and cause as a

result of "relief from hunger, rescue from fear, gorgeous display,

instinctive acts of strength, daring and victory," and responses of

scorn "to the observation of empty-handedness, deformity, physical

meanness, pusillanimity, and defect." The desire for approval is never

outgrown--it is one of the governing forces in society. f it is to be

shown or desired on any but this crude level of instinctive response, it

can only come by education.

Children come to school with both an original nature determined by their

human inheritance and by their more immediate family relationship, and

with an education more significant, perhaps, than any which the school

can provide. From earliest infancy up to the time of entering a

kindergarten or a first grade, the original equipment in terms of

instincts, capacities, and abilities has been utilized by the child and

directed by his parents and associates in learning to walk and to talk,

to conform to certain social standards or requirements, to accept

certain rules or precepts, or to act in accordance with certain beliefs

or superstitions. The problem which the teacher faces is that of

directing and guiding an individual, who is at the same time both

educated and in possession of tendencies and capacities which make

possible further development.

Not infrequently the education which children have when they come to

school may in some measure handicap the teacher. t is unfortunate, but

true, that in some homes instinctive tendencies which should have been

overcome have been magnified. The control of children is sometimes

secured through the utilization of the instinct of fear. The fighting

instinct may often have been overdeveloped in a home in which

disagreement and nagging, even to the extent of physical violence, have

taken the place of reason. Pride and jealousy may have taken deep root

on account of the encouragement and approval which have been given by

thoughtless adults.

The teacher does not attack the problem of education with a clean slate,

but rather it is his to discover what results have already been achieved

in the education of the child, whether they be good or bad, for it is in

the light of original nature or original tendencies to behave, and in

the light of the education already secured, that the teacher must work.

When one realizes the great variety or differences in ability or

capacity, as determined by heredity, and when there is added to this

difference in original nature the fact of variety in training which

children have experienced prior to their school life, he cannot fail to

emphasize the necessity for individualizing children. While it is true

that we may assume that all children will take delight in achievement,

it may be necessary with one child to stir as much as possible the

spirit of rivalry, to give as far as one can the delight which comes

from success, while for another child in the same class one may need to

minimize success on account of a spirit of arrogance which has been

developed before school life began. t is possible to conceive of a

situation in which some children need to be encouraged to fight, even to

the extent of engaging in physical combat, in order to develop a kind of

courage which will accept physical discomfort rather than give up a

principle or ideal. n the same group there may be children for whom the

teacher must work primarily in terms of developing, in so far as he can,

the willingness to reason or discuss the issue which may have aroused

the fighting instinct.

For all children in elementary and in high schools the possibility of

utilizing their original nature for the sake of that development which

will result in action which is socially desirable is still present. The

problem which the teacher faces will be more or less difficult in

proportion as the child's endowment by original nature is large or

small, and as previous education has been successful or unsuccessful.

The skillful teacher is the one who will constantly seek to utilize to

the full those instincts or capacities which seem most potent. This

utilization, as has already been pointed out, does not mean a blind

following of the instinctive tendencies, but often the substitution of a

higher form of action for a lower, which may seem to be related to the

instinct in question. t is probably wise to encourage collections of

stamps, of pictures, of different kinds of wood, and the like, upon the

part of children in the elementary school, provided always that the

teacher has in mind the possibility of leading these children, through

their interest in objects, to desire to collect ideas. ndeed, a teacher

might measure her success in utilizing the collecting instinct in

proportion as children become relatively less interested in things

collected, and more interested in the ideas suggested by them, or in the

mastery of fields of knowledge or investigation in which objects have

very little significance. The desire for physical activity upon the part

of children is originally satisfied by very crude performances.

Development is measured not simply in an increase in manual dexterity,

but also in terms of the higher satisfaction which may come from

producing articles which have artistic merit, or engaging in games of

skill which make for the highest physical efficiency.

During the whole period of childhood and adolescence we may never assume

that the results of previous education, whether they be favorable or

unsatisfactory, are permanent. Whether we succeed or not in achieving

the ends which we desire, the fact of modifiability, of docility, and of

plasticity remains. The teacher who seeks to understand the individuals

with whom he works, both in terms of their original nature and in terms

of their previous education, and who at the same time seeks to

substitute for a lower phase of an instinctive tendency a higher one, or

who tries to have his pupils respond to a situation by inhibiting a

particular tendency by forming the habit of meeting the situation in

another way, need not despair of results which are socially desirable.


1. May a teacher ever expect the children in his class to be equal in

achievement? Why?

2. Why is it not possible to educate children satisfactorily by

following where instincts lead?

3. Which of the instincts seem most strong in the children in your


4. Can you give any example of an instinctive tendency which you think

should have been outgrown but which seems to persist among your pupils?

5. Give examples of the inhibition of undesirable actions based upon

instinctive tendencies by means of (1) punishment, (2) disuse, (3)


6. How can you use the tendency to enjoy mental activity?

7. Why does building a boat make a stronger appeal to a boy than

engaging in manual training exercises which might involve the same

amount of activity?

8. Cite examples of collections made by boys and girls in which the

ideas associated with the objects collected may be more important than

the objects themselves.

9. n what degree are we justified in speaking of the social instinct?

The instinct to imitate?

10. How can you use the fighting instinct in your work with children?

11. What can teachers do to influence the education which children have

received or are getting outside of school?

12. What differences in action among the children in your class do you

attribute to differences in original nature? What to differences in


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