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Psychology - A Resume

( Originally Published 1916 )

THE aims with which we set out were : to study in the light of modern psychology the characteristic endowments of human nature, the native tendencies and powers which, as they are called into activity by the challenge of outward conditions, determine to a large extent the course of the unfolding of personality : and to present incidentally a view of education which has the unfolding of personality as its central aim.

With regard to the first of these aims, what we have done has been—starting from the fundamental conceptions of a primary nucleus and a development from it, analogous to the processes of growth ; first, to trace out man's instinctive tendencies, which are not only an initial source of energy but continue, side by side with what is derived from experience, to be a source of energy in all our mental activity ; then, to follow the course of the mental process in one or two of its more salient aspects, noting (a) the combining of instinctive tendency with the results of experience (b) the continuity of the mental life, with a side-glance at the nature of memory and a main emphasis upon activity as the bond or basis of mental continuity. This was followed by a somewhat detailed reference to self-determination as one of the distinctive forms of the activity which belongs to developing personality. And, finally, a cursory view has been taken of the wider resourcefulness of the self whether in our sub-conscious life or in supra-rational intuition.

As to the second of the two aims, the educational reference has been kept up throughout. Such points have been noted as the following : progress has taken place and will continue to take place both in our conception of education and in our practice of it ; the tendency is and will be to use more and more the spontaneous readiness and activity of the learner ; the curriculum is being studied and will be increasingly studied and planned so as to be within the powers of the learner, and yet meet his nascent tendencies and call for effort ; biological parallels, as is now almost universally seen, fit the case better than mechanical parallels ; hence education is being increasingly vested with living and human meanings. Instinctive tendencies have been some-what carefully noted because of their bearing upon both intellectual and moral development. We have seen that underlying the whole process of the blending between various parts of our experience is the activity of apperception, that is, the child's own active use of what he knows and what he can do in learning what is new. Opportunities for the exercise of character must be given—this was one or Dr. Arnold's great methods ; opportunities, too, for the emergence of the sub-conscious. " Religious Education" —this is a corollary from the last chapter—will be rather a keeping of the scholar's mind and heart and will open to what is above him than the adding on of a new " subject," or, to put what is practically the same conclusion in another form, whatever is included in the school time-table as religious instruction will be less a matter of learning things than of acquiring an attitude and an outlook, and a liberty and strength of spirit.

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