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University of California. 



^:.n. ^rr\<i\ 

The Doctrines of Herbart in 
the United States 


Presented to the Graduate School of the University 

of Pennsylvania, in partial fulfilment of the 

requirements for the degree of Doctor 

of Philosophy 


The Doctrines of Herbart in the 
United States 


Presented to the Graduate School of the University 

of Pennsylvania, in partial fulfilment of the 

requirements for the degree of Doctor 

of Philosophy 



• • • • • 
« • * 




• • 

'• -•« » « • • 


Introduction . . . . .5 

Chapter I. A Sketch of Pre-Herbartian Pedagogy . 7 

Chapter II. The Herbartian Movement in America . 16 

Chapter III. The Educational Aim, the Aim of Instruction 

and the Course of Study . . . . 26 

Chapter IV. The Doctrine of Apperception . . 32 

Chapter V. The Doctrine of Interest . . . 35 

Chapter VI. The Doctrine of Correlation . . 40 

Chapter VII. The Doctrine of the Culture Epochs . 48 

Chapter VIII. The Doctrine of the Formal Steps . 55 

Chapter IX. Conclusion . . , 60 


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The Doctrines of Herbari: in the United States 


The Herbartianism which has influenced American edu- 
cational thought and practice is Herbart as found in the 
interpretation of Stoy, Frick, Ziller, and Rein — most par- 
ticularly the latter two. The designation Herbart-Stoy- 
Ziller-Rein pedagogy is found quite frequently in American 
educational literature. 

When we recall the strange fate of Herbart in his uvv'^i 
fatherland, it is clear why this triple or quadruple name has 
been accepted as the most nearly adequate title of the peda- 
gogical doctrine which has become so influential in America. 
His book on General Pedagogy, the source for all subsequent 
developments, appeared in 1806, but received practically no 
attention from the thinking pubHc. The thinkers were so 
engrossed in the philosophy of Fichte, Schelling, and es- 
pecially Hegel, as to have no ears for the message of another. 
Herbart lamented, **My poor pedagogy has not been able to 
lift up its voice" (11 : 4). 

Herbart remained a closed book until he received the 
fructifying interpretation of his disciples. Ziller was recog- 
nized as especially happy both in extending and explaining 
Herbart. In respect to the doctrine of method, for instance, 
the late Professor Vogt, of Vienna, has expressed the opinion 
that it seemed for several years to be a labyrinth of concepts 
out of which it was hard to make anything of practical mo- 
ment until Ziller gave a clear explanation of the meaning and 
showed how application might be made. The interpretations 
upon the Herbartian text varied with other thinkers, who, as 
well as Ziller, won enthusiastic followers for their views. 

The Americans who were first instrumental in introduc- 
ing Herbartianism recognized that in Germany it was a col- 
lective term which included exponents of quite varied opinions. 
It is evident that, studying as they did in Germany, they 
would get their Herbartianism in some one of the systematic 
interpretations prevailing at that time. As a matter of fact, 
it came about that it was the Herbart-Ziller-Stoy pedagogy 
which was propogated in America by returning enthusiasts. 

We must picture Herbartianism in the educational life of 
America as a force both as it transforms educational thought 
and practice and as it is itself transformed by the environ- 
ment in which it works. It does not find unquestioned ac- 
ceptance without a change. What we call Herbartianism, 
after it has been developing here for twenty years, is the re- 
sultant of two forces — ^the initial force as it comes from its in- 


terpreters in Germany plus the American way of looking at 
life and education. 

Perhaps the movement can be divided into periods, if too 
much emphasis is not put upon such divisions. Before 1880 
there were only stray notices of Herbart in America. From 
1880 to 1890 Herbartians were preparing for their work, es- 
pecially by study in Europe. 1890-1900 is the period of 
propagation. Beginning about 1895 is a period of criticism 
and the formulation of American Herbartianism. 

There are some facts of a general nature which may be 
stated here because they give a direction to our thought at the 
outset. Herbartianism was introduced into America oppor- 
tunely, not bom as out of due time. Various events prepared 
for its coming. American thought was bringing forth new 
scientific and philosophical ideas which tended to clarify, illus- 
trate, and confirm, or else to modify somewhat, the traditional 
Herbartian theories so that they underwent development and 
transformation into a sort of American Herbartianism. The 
various doctrines were discussed one after another and this 
fact partially accounts for the order of the following chapters. 


A Sketch of Pre-herbartian Pedagogy 

In view of the main purpose of thi's thesis, there are a few 
points to guide in the selection of subject matter for this chap- 
ter, which may be stated in the form of questions. What was 
the prevailing pedagogy which Herbartianism was to sup- 
plant? What were the most important topics discussed by 
educators from 1870 to 1890 to which Herbartians might 
make new and definite contributions? What solutions were 
proposed before the advent of Herbartianism? On what 
grounds were the answers made? To what extent were the 
answers and reasons in line with Herbartianism and hence 
preparatory to it? To what extent were they in an opposite 
direction? To use an Herbartian term, we are inquiring into 
the pedagogical '.'apperception mass" of American educators. 

The Reports of the National Educational Association 
give the best idea of the prevailing pedagogy, as they also con- 
stitute later on a good index of the progress of Herbartianism. 
The meetings of this association were and are a sort of congress 
of educators, serving as a clearing house for educational ideas. 
Its reports are a fair index of educational movements. For 
greater detail we may have recourse to educational periodicals 
and pedagogical works. 

The point of departure for all pedagogical discussions was 
practical questions. Their solution was sought generally on 
the basis of currently accepted pedagogical principles. 

Altho the independent position of the American schools, 
with regard to the church, made them targets for criticism, 
there was no question more frequently discussed than moral 
education. It was pressed upon educators. There was 
scarcely a session of the N. E. A. at which there were not one or 
more addresses on this topic. There was continual reiteration 
of its supreme importance. "The central aim is effective 
moral training." Speakers pointed out that intellectual train- 
ing may do more harm than good, as in the case of counterfeit- 
ing, where it may make a difficult crime easier. 

There is little evidence of even an inkling of any necessity 
for direct instruction in morality. They apparently think 
that parables and anecdotes teaching moral lessons, history 
and literature affording good examples, and maxims giving 
rules of conduct, exhaust the possible relations between in- 
struction and morality. One man wrote that "act-impelling 
desires are awakened by knowledge," but from the context he 
evidently had in mind nothing more than teaching "^he bare 
maxims of duty. In connection with right methods of learn- 
ing, there are certain virtues such as honesty and persever- 


ance, that are supposed to result as by-products. This sug- 
gests that practically all dependence is put on training, guid- 
ance, and the example of teacher and community (105), 
In fact, educational thinkers, thru presuppositions on the 
nature of the will and the inherited notion of the unworthi- 
ness of the feeling life.were kept from seeing how the subjects 
of instruction could contribute to moral training. The will 
was a sort of unapproachable entity, or at best an independent 
faculty. The abstraction, duty, was glorified sometimes as if 
for the very purpose of slurring the feelings. From this point 
of view it was difficult to perceive a relation between instruc- 
tion and will thru the feeHngs. On the contrary, the feeUngs 
were looked upon as seducers of the will. The very disciplin- 
ing of the will had for its aim the repression of desires. Ex- 
tremists even went so far as to cite brute animals as ex- 
amples of beings controlled by the feelings. 

Many a teacher must have been haunted by the fact that 
there was no established connection between the chief work of 
the school room and the accepted first aim of education. 
The Herbartians held that the key to the situation lay in the 
doctrine of interest. 

In one sense American pedagogy was preparing the way 
for a phase of Herbartianism by keeping up an interest in the 
moral aim and by a half consciousness of the need of a bridge 
between instruction and morality. In another sense, how- 
ever, our pedagogy was putting difficulties in the way of Her- 
bartianism in the form of a solution of the problem of moral 
education which considered the will a faculty, applied the cur- 
rent theory of formal discipline, and ignored the feeling life. 

This fact leads to an inquiry as to the notions held by 
these earlier thinkers concerning interest. Some writers on 
moral training gave expression to statements that showed a 
sort of appreciation of the doctrine of interest. One, for ex- 
ample, said that the greatest educational need was that pupils 
go out "loving truth, honor, and justice, and their neighbors 
and their God . ' ' Alt ho in the address from which this extract is 
taken it has little function other than that of an eloquent sen- 
tence, the use of the word "loving" is an example of a wide- 
spread pre-Herbartian notion of the condition in which a 
child's heart should be. In this sense love can easily form, as 
it once formed for Herbart himself, a transition to the doctrine of 
interest. Some one else spoke of "kindling a genuine interest in 
the things of the understanding," (105) but the term interest 
was used without involving any systematic relation to morality 
or the subjects of instruction. Its use was little more than a 
prophetic glimpse of a truth to be later revealed. A com- 
mittee on the educational value of common school studies, in 
their report in 1886, also used the word interest. It speaks 


of "the interests or objects of life," "the relative value of the 
interests, and the relative value of studies in securing these 
interests," (67 : 419) but the word "interests" is used in such a 
way as to show complete innocence of the significance later 
attached to it. The much used text book of Page has a chap- 
ter on exciting interest in studies. But the sections of the 
chapter — emulation, prizes, proper incentives — show the 
special sense in which the term is used. 

The function of pleasure and pain in learning had cer- 
tainly been discussed in English pedagogy since the days of 
Ascham, who treated the question at considerable length and 
concluded: "Bring not up your children in learning by com- 
pulsion and fear, but by playing and pleasure" (Scholemaster 
96). Another had expressed the more common view that 
"the Rodde onelie was the sworde, that must keep the Scole in 
obedience and the Scholar in good order" (Scholemaster 47) . 
This conception of pleasure in learning was associated with the 
notion of making study interesting. It grew into a sort of 
counter theory to the doctrine of effort which was the off- 
spring of the doctrine of discipline, because, as it was argued, 
the best resulted where the most effort was put forth. More 
effort had to be expended on the unpleasant, therefore the in- 
teresting and pleasant should be ruled out. The party who 
favored making learning interesting received support from the 
humane movements of the century and from the Froebel 
Kindergarten movement. Those who championed interest, 
however, were no match for their opponents in argument. 
As the accepted basis of pedagogy, namely, the doctrine of 
discipline, favored the opposite viewpoint, they had to rely 
very largely upon sentimental grounds. .The greatest im- 
petus to this conception of interest came from Herbert Spencer 
whose writings gave a dignity to the subject. 

The glimpse we have taken is sufficient to show the con- 
fusion in the use of the term "interest" in popular speech. 
It helps us to appreciate the difficulty of grasping the Her- 
bartian doctrine and also suggests who among former edu- 
cational thinkers will be the foes of Herbartianism and who 
will be friendly — tho friendly because they interpret the Her- 
Ipartian "interest" to mean what they have understood by the 
word. This adds still more to the confusion. The pre-Her- 
bartian thought had in one sense prepared the way by fre- 
quent discussion of interest. In another sense difficulties had 
been put in the way of getting a correct conception of the 
Herbartian use of the term. 

Another question often discussed was the relative value 
of studies, the controversy over the sciences and classics having 
much to do with bringing this topic into the foreground. The 
earlier method of determining educational values, gives an ex- 


cellent example of the older pedagogy in contrast with Her- 
bartian thought. 

A committee of the National Educational Association, 
of which W. T. Harris was chairman, reported in 1876 on a 
course of study. They were guided in their selection of studies 
by two principles — discipHne and usefulness. Reading, writ- 
ing, and arithmetic had a paramount value over all other 
branches (47 : 60) . The committee found the material of in- 
struction to lie in two fields — man and nature. A course of 
study was outlined into five parallel groups: nature, both 
organic and inorganic; man, intellect, feeling and will. Arith- 
metic, geography, grammar, history, and literature are typical 
studies in the five groups. If we substitute interest for the 
subjects, we see a striking resemblance to Herbart. But just 
that word — the key to the situation, was lacking. The fact is, 
there was no further progress in solving the problem for 
fifteen years. If anything, there was retrogression. The 
more the thinkers of the old school worked upon the question 
the more they enmeshed themselves in a tangled web. The 
need of a knowledge of the educational value of the different 
studies was strongly felt (48 : 48). 

The report of a committee in 1886 on the educational 
value of each of the common school studies may be taken as 
typical of the results of the effort to solve the problem on pre- 
vailing educational principles. There was a substantial agree- 
ment among the members of the committee, and, in turn, they 
reflected the general view of their contemporaries concerning 
the standards for judging the relative educational value of 
common school studies. In general, two values were recog- 
nized — practical and disciplinary. Dr. White added a third 
which he called culture and which referred to the mental satis- 
faction or delight studies afford. Dr. Brooks stated the tests 
a little differently, in that he said the value lay in culture and 
knowledge, but he meant by "culture" the same that others 
meant by "discipline." Since knowledge is either purely 
practical or a means to mental development, which is dis- 
cipline. Dr. Brooks' statement resolves itself into the first. 
Discipline was considered the more important of the two 

To ascertain the worth of a study, declared the report, 
the educator must determine both the relative worth of the 
faculties and the value of a given study in cultivating them. 
It will not be necessary to go fully into the rather elaborate 
classification of the mental capacities arranged in a scale of 
worth (67 : 410). Let the following suffice as showing the 
method of ranking the faculties: moral character ranks first 
with a percentage of 100, deductive thought grades 95, in- 
ductive thought 90, memory 50, attention 95, perception 70. 


The different studies are classified with the number of facul- 
ties they train and the degree of training, with markings on 
the basis of 10. A part of one example will illustrate this 
curious system. The worth of arithmetic for training the 
different faculties is indicated by the figure following each: 
the language faculty 5, perception 4, memory 6, generalization 
7, judgment 9, inductive reasoning 5, deductive reasoning 9, 
attention 10, will 10. A third table is made combining the 
worth of the faculties influenced with the values of the par- 
ticular studies for the faculties. The grand total will show 
the true worth of a study for discipline. Now the studies may 
be arranged in a scale relative to their value. They range in 
value from writing, worth 1960 units, to Latin which is worth 
6230 units. 

A somewhat similar method, not unlike Herbert Spencer's, 
is followed in ranking studies as to their utility. Of what use 
are studies for life, business, enjoyment, parenthood, society, 
politics, morality? The method of ranking studies would 
be similar to the preceding. Dr. Brooks does not carry thru 
the investigation. He says, "I venture the opinion that the 
solution of the problem from the standpoint of culture (dis- 
cipline) is sufficient for all practical purposes in education." 
"If discipline is attained, useful knowledge is usually ac- 
quired" (67 : 419). The point considered of minor worth 
bridges over into Herbartianism. It is to be noted that the 
chairman of this committee, and likewise Herbert Spencer, 
were thinking of the amount of knowledge that might be put 
to use and not of the interests which might be created. 

Herbert Spencer's celebrated essay on "What knowledge 
is most worth" aroused a great deal of debate about educa- 
tional values. No new principles were advanced for their 
solution. The principles were discipline and usefulness. 
Spencer's conclusion is the opposite of that of Dr. Brooks' just 
quoted. Spencer says. Choose the useful and discipline will 
take care of itself. 

With all this discussion, the curriculum threatened and 
still threatens, for the lack of an adequate selective principle, 
to be an unwieldy conglomerate mass of studies. One class 
demands that agriculture be taught because the farmer wants 
it, another class wants political economy, a third preparation 
for trade and industry, physicians want more physiology, 
lawyers want law — a governor in a western state recommends 
in his annual message that the penal code be used as a text 
book — prohibitionists want temperance instruction, and so on 
indefinitely (N. E. A. 1883 : 14). 

Closely related to the selection of studies was their se- 
quence. The topic was an old one in American thought. 
Doubtless the Pestalozzian wave added to the interest in the 


question. Herbart had credited Pestalozzi with an earnest 
effort to find the best order for the studies. Already in the 
forties President Hill of Harvard wrote, with profundity of 
thought, on the "True Order of Studies," but in the period 
we have particularly in mind there was no carefully worked out 
and systematic treatment based on principles. The chief 
reliance was in the logical maxim from the simple to the com- 
plex. However, there were suggestions of principles that in- 
terest us because they prepare pedagogical thought for the 
Herbartian principles shortly to be presented. 

We may take for illustration the report of 1876 by Harris 
and others. One suggestion for securing an order of studies is 
that each of the five groups must be represented in the course 
each year. There is a hint of that important principle of se- 
quence : namely, apperception. True, it is not called "apper- 
ception," but is spoken of as previous preparation. Tho not 
systematically applied, it is worth something to have even a 
hint of this principle. 

There is another suggestion in this report which may have 
prepared the mind for the Herbartian doctrine of culture 
epochs. It is the argument that it is the prevailing scientific 
conception of the age that in order to know a subject thoroly 
it must be studied in its history, i. e., in its embryology and 
growth (47 : 63) . Use was not made of this argument in de- 
termining the order of studies, but it was urged in favor of 
retaining Latin and Greek. Since they represented the first 
stages in the development of the race, in order to know the 
present we must know the first steps in the development. 

Herbert Spencer, more than any other one person, made 
American educators familiar with the notion of parallelism of 
racial and human development. His treatment called forth 
much thought and discussion. Spencer prepared the way for 
the Herbartian idea, altho he applied the notion quite differ- 
ently, being primarily concerned with the sciences; hence 
his application to method rather than to the sequence of stud- 
ies. Herbert Spencer is to be credited with advancing in- 
terest as a selective principle for material and sequence. 
"No subject is worth teaching which is not interesting," 
would be a short way of expressing this principle. 

In practice the child's capacities had to be taken into con- 
sideration. Systematic child study had merely been begun. 
In the United States it dates from Hall's study of the "Con- 
tents of Children's Minds" based upon a similar Berlin study. 
But Stoy had made such studies in Jena years before, because 
any application of Herbartian principles depended upon such 
knowledge. Child study has more significance for Her- 
bartianism than is often credited. Its dependence upon the 


intimate and systematic appreciation of child life is easily- 
overlooked by non-Herbartian students of children. 

The principle which had the most influence in determin- 
ing the order of studies was a logical one. A certain subject 
has to be mastered before another is studied. In spirit, the 
principle is anti-Herbartian, for it opposes the doctrine of 
apperception. The latter says certain material may be 
studied now because the pupil is prepared for it. The view we 
are considering says that such and such material must be 
studied because of what is to be studied next. There are sug- 
gestions of the Herbartian principles latent in American edu- 
cational thought. They need to be classified and systematic- 
ally applied. 

We have had to refer to the theoretical principles upon 
which attempted solutions were made. So far as theory or 
science of education are concerned, America was practically 
under the dominance of English writers, notably Joseph Payne. 
W. H. Payne said in 1880 that Joseph Payne had infifuenced 
pedagogy more than any other writer (N. E. A. 1880 : 45), 
Bain's "Science of Education" was accepted as a guide in 
England, and in a far less measure in America, in determining 
what a science of education should be (40 : 236) . It was by no 
means so popular or influential as Joseph Payne's writings. 

The central thought of what may be called English peda- 
gogy is the idea of discipline and that based on a faculty 
psychology. All this goes back to John Locke. The most 
popular American text book of pedagogy expressed the 
thought in one sentence: "Discipline of the mind, then, is the 
great thing in intellectual training" (92 : 97). Payne wrote, 
"Faculty of whatever kind grows by exercise" (94 : 170). 
English teachers had actually worked out in detail the dis- 
ciplinary value, not only of the different subjects, but of the 
different classic authors down to definite pages and portions in 
minute detail. So in the spirit of such a pedagogy the live 
question of educational values was fought out. The promot- 
ers of new subjects, the sciences and modem languages, were 
first concerned to show the disciplinary value of the new 
studies. It is to be expected that a generation brought up on 
such theories would fight Herbartianism. We will have oc- 
casions to note some of the objections to the new pedagogy 
based on necessary corollaries of the prevailing pedagogy. 

It was often asserted that Pastalozzianism was the ruling 
pedagogy before the introduction of Herbart. This view was 
shared by Harris and many prominent educators. The 
Pestalozzi as interpreted by Harris was the Pestalozzi as prac- 
ticed in the schools, i.e., the use of object lessons for training 
the senses and object lessons to provide material before ab- 
straction takes place. The defect pointed out was that 


Pestalozzi took no account of previous experience as an aid 
to perception. We are not concerned with the correctness of 
the interpretation put upon him. We want to point out the 
interpretation because later it plays a considerable part in the 
initial stages of the Herbartian movement. 

The kindergarten had been established, and the theories 
of Froebel had won exponents. This is worth noting in this 
place, for the American mind was predisposed by these the- 
ories to accept Herbart with certain modifications which would 
harmonize features of Herbart and Froebel. 

Mentioning Pestalozzi and Froebel suggests a consider- 
ation of the general attitude toward German educational 
thought, before drawing the conclusion of this chapter. 
There had been fifty years and more of intimate pedagogical 
relation with Germany. A conscious influence in an unbroken 
succession begins with the publication of books on Prussian 
education, visits and reports of educators, the presence of im- 
migrants, especially scholars exiled for political reasons in the 
thirties and in forty-eight, and in the returning American 
students singing the praises of German Universities. 

Mr. Ticknor was charmed by an account of German Uni- 
versities contained in Madame de Stael's book on Germany 
(62). Soon after he matriculated at Goettingen Uiiiversity. 
He was followed by such representative Americans as Everett, 
Bancroft, and Longfellow. By 1850 there had been not less 
than 225 Americans at German Universities. The translation 
of the report of Victor Cousin on the Prussian system fell into 
American hands. The state of Michigan organized her school 
system on this model. Of the many notable educators to re- 
port on German education from their own observation was 
Horace Mann. The famous seventh annual report was the 
more influential because of the opposition of the school-mast- 
ers which it aroused. 

Almost invariably we have heard the bright side of Ger- 
man education. Seldom have the dark colors been painted. 
German ideals have influenced more than German realities. 
The criticisms in English have been generally of a mild na- 
ture, such as Carlyle's characterization of German professors 
as "miserable creatures lost in statistics," or Lowell's humor- 
ous complaint that "German scientists have picked all the 
apples of wonder. Perhaps there are two or three left in 
Africa. Two or three have hitherto hung luckily beyond reach 
on a lofty bough shadowing the interior of that continent — but 
there is a German doctor at this very moment pelting at them 
with sticks and stones." Severe criticism has been wasted, 
in the face of the popularity of German ideas. 

Under German influences and after German models, we 
had evolved an organized school system, — borrowed the 


kindergarten in toto, revised and revolutionized the elementary 
schools, and added the philosophical faculty to the universi- 
ties. As if to confirm us in our faith, there came, in quick suc- 
cession, the unparalleled victories of Prussia over Denmark, 
Austria, and France. Von Moltke's statement, "The school- 
master has won our battles," was quoted time out of mind. 
Respect for German educational thought increased, if that 
were possible. It is obvious that the general interest in Get- 
man education explains partly the response to German Her-^ 

ti-^- To' stimmarize : we have seen that Americans during the 
seventies and eighties were laboring with the following ques- 
iriOns : multiplicity of subjects, choice and value of studies, and 
sequence of studies. They were troubled about realizing the 
educational aim. We have noted the methods of solution 
attempted, some of which Herbartians would have to discard 
and some of which would be favorable to the new views. We 
have noted the confusion in American pedagogy, and we must 
have felt the lack of clarifying principles. Just as into a test 
tube of cloudy liquid the chemist may pour a clarifying solu- 
tion, so the introduction of Herbartianism clarified American 
pedagogy. Herbartians isolated the problems and gave a 
systematic outline under which the discussions might be car- ^ 
ried on. To the problems with which American educators '_ 
were concerned Herbart offered a solution in a systematic, 
form, under such heads as, the aim, apperception, interest, con- 
c^tration, culture epochs, and formal steps. 




There was but little known of Herbart previous to about 
1890. In 1876 a sketch of Herbart's pedagogies, by Dr. Karl 
Schmidt, appeared in the Journal of Speculative Philosophy. 
That an account of Herbart should be first read in a magazine 
devoted to speculative philosophy, and chiefly Hegelian at 
that, is suggestive of the fate of Herbart. As at home, so in 
America, the glamor of Hegel eclipsed Herbart, so far as im- 
mediate recognition was concerned. It is the beginning of a 
curious parallelism between Herbart in Germany and Herbart 
in America. In 1878 Barnard published in "German Peda- 
gogy" a few pages on Herbart which had previously appeared 
in the American Journal. 

Col. Parker said in 1880, before the National Educational 
Association, that people had been accusing him of stealing his 
ideas. He said jestlingly it was true — he had stolen from 
Aristotle, Pestalozzi, and Spencer (N. E. A. 1880 : 471). He 
does not mention Herbart as having also contributed. In 1882 
G. Stanley Hall read a paper before the Department of Super- 
intendence on "Chairs of Pedagogy in our Higher Institutions 
of Learning." He made repeated and extended reference to 
German pedagogy and asserted with emphasis that pedagogy 
"was far more cultivated and further developed in Germany 
than in this country (46 : 42)". Hall made a very compli- 
mentary reference to an Herbartian — not mentioned by name 
— whom he looked upon as the most active of the professors of 
pedagogy, and reported that this professor was constantly 
lecturing, writing, and studying children and methods (46 : 36) . 
In 1883 Professor DeGarmo, in a paper before the N. E. A., 
had occasion to refer to German pedagogy, but made no refer- 
ence to Herbart. He did make this significant statement, 
tho: "I am now on my way to Germany there to spend some, 
years in the study of pedagogy" (N. E. A. 1883 : 50). As a 
motive, he said he hoped to return and help to lift American 
Normal schools to a higher efficiency. 

In 1884 a committee, of which Harris, Hall, Soldan.and 
others were members, presented a report affirming that there 
was a science of education. Mr. Soldan in referring to Herbart 
as the founder of a science of pedagogy extensively taught in 
Germany, praises him for his systematization of pedagogical 
knowledge (48 : 64, 44, 46) . The vagueness of his conception 
of Herbart is apparent in Mr. Soldan's statement that Her- 
bart's aim of education was freedom. A report before the 
N. E. A. in 1888, on "Books of Pedagogy," together with its 
discussion, indicates how slight an impression Herbart had 


made, for in this report he is mentioned no more than if he had 
never existed. Pestalozzi, Rousseau, Froebel, Sailer, Fitch, 
Macell, Latham, are some of the names used. 

There was then studying in Jena, under Professor Rein, 
a band of young Americans, who on their return to America 
were to change completely the current of educational dis- 
cussion. No less than nine had studied in Jena before 1890. 
Among the first were DeGarmo, C. A. and Frank McMurry, 
Lukens, Rice, Van Liew. Before 1900 the number must have 
approached fifty. 

The Jena Seminar is, then, practically the fountain head 
of American Herbartianism. It has a distinctive vitality that 
wins disciples for Herbart. Americans were greatly interested 
in its organizatiou and purpose, and freely discussed it. The 
first work that counted toward the propagation of Herbartian- 
ism in America was the quiet work of pioneers in encouraging 
others to go to Jena. 

If middle Germany, and especially Jena, was the center 
from which Americans brought their Herbartian ideas, with as 
much truth, Illinois, and esepcially the Normal School at 
Normal in that state, was the center for their distribution in 
America in the early days. DeGarmo taught here after he 
returned from study in Germany, as did the McMurrys. The 
first practice school on Herbartian principles was organized at 
Normal (112 : 98). The School-Masters' Club of Illinois dis- 
cussed Herbartian questions. The first Herbartian literature 
of any extent came from that state. 

Continuing to look upon the N. E. A. as mirroring the 
progress of Herbart, we note first how gradually Herbart comes 
into prominence. In 1887 DeGarmo presented a paper on 
German Normal Schools. Herbart's name was not mentioned. 

Note : The following is a partial list of American students 
in Jena in the earlier period : 





Blaich, Lydia 


^ Brown, E. E. 














Hall, J. B. 







McMurry, C. A. 

McMurry, F. L. 










Shank, Burgess 

Shank, Bemice 


-.-Van Liew 




The same year Mr. Soldan contributed a paper entitled, 
"Outline of a Philosophy of Education." On reading over 
Mr. Soldan's paper, one sees in every line the Herbartian 
source of the ideas. He treated in a purely Herbartian way 
the six forms of interest, the ethical aim, and sciences, effect of 
interest on the will, guidance, discipline, and instruction; but 
Herbart's name was not mentioned. No one discussed the 

A necessary element in any successful propaganda of 
ideas is to have a party with a distinctive name. Without a 
live personality about whom ideas cluster, it is doubtful 
whether they will be speedily accepted. There were Galileos 
and Newtons even in the mathematical sciences, not to speak 
of Luthers and Calvins where emotions play a larger part. 
There is inspiration in a party name. Enthusiasm and hot 
discussion were later aroused by these same ideas, but by that 
time it had become customary to make Herbart the spiritual 

In 1890 Professor DeGarmo read a paper on the relation of 
instruction to will training. Herbart's name was mentioned 
once. The discussion which followed did not bear on the 
paper at all. By 1892 the Herbartian adherents had won 
confidence and were more outspoken. In that year Mr. Frank 
McMurry read a paper on "The Value of Herbartian Pedagogy 
for Normal Schools." He believed the dislike for pedagogy 
was due to lack of system, declaring that writers on the subject 
in English had discussed it in only a disconnected way. 
Herbart alone, he asserted, had ever produced a system of 
pedagogy in detail. The paper bristles with the words 
"Herbart" and "Herbartians." The reason for the changed 
attitude can be better understood when we have glanced over 
the early Herbartian literature. One can readily see how the 
growth of literature laid a firm foundation for the large ad- 
vances to be spoken of shortly. 

Professor DeGarmo was the first to publish works upon 
Herbart. "The Essentials of Method," issued in 1889, was 
the first work which gave an extensive account of any Her- 
bartian doctrine. Thru it American teachers had access to a 
considerable portion of Herbartianism, especially the notion of 
apperception and the doctrine of formal steps. In 1890 he 
published a translation of Lindner's "Empirical Psychology. 
This served well to bring the spirit of Herbartian psychology 
before the American .public. Access to some of Herbart's 
works was given English-speaking educators thru translations. 
In 1891 Herbart's Psychology was translated by Miss Smith 
and published in the series edited by Dr. Harris. In 1892 
"The Science of Education" and "The Aesthetic Revelation of 
the World" were translated by Mr. and Mrs. Felkin in Eng- 


land. Dr. Lukens contributed *'Herbart*s Psychological 
Basis of Teaching" to Noss's "Outlines of Psychology." 
In 1890 Charies McMurry wrote "How to Conduct the Recita- 
tion." He pubHshed in 1891 "A Geography Plan for the 
Grades" and "Pioneer History Stories" for the third and 
fourth grades. The first original American work coming at all 
near a systematic presentation of the whole field was McMur- 
ry' s "Elements of General Method based on the Principles of 
Herbart," published in 1892. In it the Ziller-Rein interpreta- 
tions are adapted to American conditions. The ascendency 
of that interpretation is largely due to the able and sensible 
presentation found in tfie General Method. The work lays a 
foundation for subsequent developments. Not the least of 
its merits is its simplicity of style. Rooper's entertaining and 
instructive book, "A Pot of Green Feathers," was published in 
1892. Articles by Charles McMurry, Frank McMurry, Noss, 
Harris, Brown, Smith, DeGarmo and others began to appear, 
in educational periodicals. Most of this literature was of an 
expository sort. 

The disciples of Herbart now sought the added influence 
which comes thru organization. A Herbart Club was formed 
in 1892 for the purpose of "facilitating the spread of the new 
ideas and to promote their rational application in school work 
under American and English conditions." An especial ser- 
vice of the association was the translations of Herbartian 
literature. Of these were Lange's "Apperception" in 1893 
and Ufer's "Introduction to Herbart" in 1894. Both books, 
and especially Lange's, had a vast influence on American 

In 1895 a more ambitious organization was formed bear- 
ing the name of "The Herbart Society for the Scientific Study 
of Teaching," which name was later changed to "The National 
Herbart Society for the Scientific Study of Education." Its 
purpose was to give the doctrines of Herbart, as of other edu- 
cators, a thoro study and criticism, "and to test all theories by 
the standard of usefulness (19 : 205). "Papers were presented ^ 
and discussed before the society. The proceedings were pub- f 
lished, and they exerted a widespread influence. The year- 
books are especially valuable in throwing light upon the de- 
velopment of Herbartianism. The society was not narrowly 
Herbartian. Non-Herbartians were members and freely de- 
bated the questions at issue. This open nature of the pro- 
ceedings was manifestly for the best interests of the new doc- 
trines, as they received readier hearing and a more searching 
criticism. It is difficult to say whether the usefulness of the 
society was due more to the avowed disciples or to those who 
gave the movement their sympathetic encouragement. The 
noted men who served on the executive committee in the first 


years of the society's history did not all profess Herbartian- 
ism. Of the committee Charles DeGarmo was president, and 
the other members were N. M. Butler, John Dewey, W. S. 
Jackman, E. E. Brown, F. M. McMurry, C. A. McMurry, L. 
Seeley, and C. C. Van Liew. 

During the first three years, the topics were purely Her- 
bartian, such as Interest, Concentration, Culture Epochs. In 
the fourth year, there was a partial breaking away from these 
topics, and subjects not distinctively Herbartian were taken 
up. The organized campaign for Herbartianism is unique in 
American educational history. Certainly the disciples of no 
other educator were ever so well organized or conducted a 
campaign with so much energy. 

Herbartianism was not allowed to enjoy an unchallenged 
triumphal progress. Its right to the field was disputed with 
some bitterness. Before the Department of Superintendence, 
before the N. E. A., before the Herbart Society, and in the edu- 
cational press, there were sharp conflicts between the Her- 
bartian forces and their opponents. The discussions partly 
concerned Herbartianism in a general way, but the most fruit- 
ful were those upon specific doctrines. In this chapter we 
shall confine our attention to the general phases of the Her- 
bartian movement* 

We have spoken of the favorable attitude toward German 
thought, but this assertion must be qualified to some extent. 
\ There are always those who resent an5rthing foreign just be- 
/ cause it is foreign. So it was in this case. In one of the ses- 
sions of the Herbart Society, an opponent, evidently in a 
belligerent mood, expressed his dislike of what he thought was 
an implication that there was in this country no philosophy of 
education "until this German plant was brought across the 
sea " (First Supplement to the First Year Book of the Herbart 
Society, 151). The Herbartians often took occasion to defend 
themselves by the counter attack, that all American peda- 
gogy was of foreign origin, from Locke, Pestalozzi, Spencer and 
Froebel, and that it was none the worse for that fact. In line 
with the arguments based on the foreign origin were tauntings 
of servility to Herbart. These taunts stung. DeGarmo in 
reply made the remark, "We do not worship our ancestors, 
but we have a very healthy respect for them." (as above 152). 
The meetings were characterized as storm centers, and, even in 
the cold printed pages of the reports, one can see that feeling 
ran high. 

We may believe that for some of the older educators this 
foreign doctrine was the more obnoxious because the men who 
introduced it were young men. They are referred to repeated- 
ly as "a group of young men." 

Some of the objections just mentioned may seem trivial, 



but they are a part of the story and must be recorded. Some- 
thing much more serious might have come of them if the op- 
ponents had chanced to have had a wit in their number who 
could have raised such a laugh at the expense of the Her- 
bartians as to have seriously hindered progress for sometime. 
There is no mistaking the fact that for a short time the Her- 
bartians were put upon the defensive. However, no wit was 
forthcoming. This sort of argument against the Herbartians 
did not cease at once. Later G. Stanley Hall criticised the 
movement to the extent that too many regarded the Her- 
bartian pedagogy as the "consummate formulation of educa- 
tional theory and have tried to apply its rubrics blindly to 
different American conditions" (33 : Introduction). The 
criticism was asserted to be groundless by those at whom it 
was aimed. 

In the sessions of the Herbart Society and of theNational 
Educational Association, there were a number of non-Her- 
bartians who argued against the new movement, not simply 
because it was foreign but in a different spirit. One line of at- 
tack was against its philosophical presuppositions. To 
abandon them entirely was the easiest way to meet these ob- 
jections, in which case the arguments came to naught. In 
this phase, W. T. Harris was the notable opponent. The 
philosophers could get themselves into all sorts of difficulties 
by following out what they thought was Herbart' s philosophy, 
and could show that it ran into all sorts of absurdities. The 
Herbartians did not pride themselves on being philosophers, 
and hence did not have so many troubles. It is significant for 
Herbartianism in America that, from the outset, the meta- 
physical psychology of Herbart was denied a determining 
place in educational thought. The emphasis was put upon 
the purely pedagogical doctrines, even tho the metaphysical 
support which Herbart had created for them might be re- 
jected. We can illustrate the position by quoting directly 
from Herbartians and non- Herbartians. In the course of the 
early discussions, George P. Brown said, "I do not understand 
it (Herbartianism) to be a system of metaphysics at all, but a 
method." "Herbartian metaphysics I can find no use for." 
"Herbartian psychology seems to me to have little inspiration 
in it" (First Year Book, First Supplement, 141). Col. Parker 
declared, "The Herbartian doctrine is a working hypothesis — 
the best working hypothesis ever presented for the study of 
teachers;" (Same 153-155). Dr. Harris: "His usefulness in 
education is proportioned to his uselessness as a philosopher " 
(N. E. A. 1895, 345). N. M. Butler said, "It is undoubtedly 
true that we cannot accept Herbart's psychology as a satis- 
factory explanation of mental life, but it is not necessary in 
order to secure the benefit of the educational theory and the 


educational practice that bears Herbart's name" (N. E. A. 
1895, 349). A year or so later Professor DeGarmo stated 
what was the probable attitude of American Herbartians, 
when he spoke of the confidence in the doctrine of interest, but 
asserted that they do not feel called upon "to break any 
lances in behalf of Herbart's psychology" (24 : 141). 

Along with the criticism, there was praise for the Her- 
bartians who were spoken of as "the most modest of men." 
One remarked truly, "These young men have set the teachers 
to thinking" (First Year Book, First Supplement, 143). Col. 
Parker gave it his warmest encouragment, for he believed no 
subject had arisen which afforded so much food for thought. 
He referred to the Herbartians as "the distinguished teachers 
who have spent several years at Jena studying under the fa- 
mous Dr. Rein" (Same 153). Hall, in the introduction to 
Dorpfeldt's "Connection between Thought and Memory," 
spoke of these same men as "a choice group of young Americans 
who have studied in a post-graduate and professional way in 
Europe and at home" (33 : Intro IX). 

It was not long before the movement had reached "the 
second stage in the progress of new truth," as one speaker 
rather facetiously remarked. The three stages he had in mind 
are: first, "It is impossible;" second, "There is nothing new in 
it;" and third, "I always believed it." 

Before going farther, it may be well to note who were the 
Herbartians. In the earlier discussions, there were a certain 
number who always said "we." These were evidently 
Herbartians. They numbered such as DeGarmo, theMcMur- 
rys, Lukens, Van Liew. There were others who said "they." 
Those who used this pronoun, altho in some points they may 
have shared Herbartian views, preferred not to profess disci- 
pleship. Parker and Harris were in this group. There was 
still another class who employed neither of these pronouns, 
but w^ho nevertheless busied themselves with educational 
problems along lines of Herbartian thought. Among these 
were Dewey and Butler. At best, Herbartianism is a collec- 
tive term. It is not necessary to call anyone an Herbartian if 
he does not want to be so called. The principles provoked 
thought and were in turn changed by the discussion. As that 
is the most important thing we shall draw into our treatment 
any man who may have played a part in these events. 

To turn to the more positive features of the movement, an 
interesting line of argument lay in showing acceptance of 
Herbart to be a necessary step for Pestalozzians to take. 
Eckoff argued (33 : 39) that Herbartianism should supplant 
the ruling pedagogy, because it is explanatory whilePestaloz- 
zi's pedagogy is only inductive. Pestalozzi was the Kepler of 
pedagogy, but Herbart is the Newton. Dr. Harris likewise 


looked upon Herbart's theories as being supplementary to 
Pestalozzi's. If the American pedagogy was on a Pestaloz- 
zian basis, and if it was true as claimed by the Herbartians 
that Herbart was a completion and development of the Swiss 
educator, it would be the logical thing for Americans to take 
the step Herbart took. This argument was pressed with 

Of necessity, much of the work of the disciples in the 
early daj^s was the clearing up of misunderstandings and con- 
fusions which were bound to arise. Some were due to the way 
people understood. Sometimes the advocates were not clear 
in their own minds. ■ It is not surprising that there was con- 
siderable superficiality in the early discussions. It was to the 
advantage of the cause that its opponents forced those who 
professed discipleship to study and to consider more deeply 
the nature of the real teaching. The fact that Herbartianism 
was introduced in its principles merely, leaving the details of 
practice unemphasized, is partially responsible for mistaken 
ideas. The applications of the principles were left to the good 
sense of the teachers. If the introduction in the form of ab- 
stract principles, instead of concrete rules of procedure, 
brought the danger of misconception, it also brought ad- 
vantages. Herbartianism was saved from the kind of narrow 
practical devices under which the kindergarten suffered much. 
The principles made teachers think. A breadth of view was 
also guaranteed, because the comprehension of wide-reaching 
principles makes the educator take a point of view overlooking 
the whole field. After all, it must be considered the good for- 
tune of Herbartianism to have been introduced in its prin- 
ciples, even if it thereby suffered somewhat in their applica- 

Herbartian theory had the further advantage of being 
developed from the outset in contact with children. This was 
true in its native land as well as in America. The American 
practical spirit showed itself when it came to dealing with 
pedagogy, as well as in business. Arr \f^r\ra-n^ rji^ r^nt allow 

Herb n , rtlRn^'sm, •'•'^ ^•^^•"'^ nn n finn i-Vinr^-ry Kii-(- crMTg r T^f of t^-f \ ^i:^ t^ 

see if it^ woul d wor k. Newness should not intimidate Ameri- 
~fcans, of all people, Tor they are used to new things — ^new tools, 
new inventions, to throwing the old away and giving the new a 
trial. Pearson, in "National Life and Character," points out 
this characteristic in contrast with the European, saying "that 
in England the mental attitude is, 'This can not amount to 
anything or it would have been discovered long ago ; while in 
America the attitude is, 'If this invention is a good thing, or 
this process is valuable, we want it'" (Quoted in Ed. Rev. 24 
25 :) . The obvious danger is that the new be given too short a 


In the case of 'He.rhart^fi.^^^fi^n, the. r.rit,i<;-fl| .SPa„SO^ -Safely 
pa^sen,JJae. mo vemen t-Sjireajll^^idly - All the agencies for its 
Jfop^agation were in activity. At the close of the first year 
the Secretary of the Herbart Society reported a paying mem- 
bership of seven hundred. Notices of the organization of lo- 
cal clubs for the study of Herbart were received every week 
(First Year Book, Second Supplement : 252). Plans for sys- 
tematic study were followed by these clubs. Herbartian prin- 
ciples found a favorable reception in the Normal Schools, for 
Jena-trained Herbartians taught in them in several states. 
Likewise, Herbartian pedagogy was a subject of study in 
colleges and universities. As early as 1891-92, E. E. Brown 
had lectured on Herbart in the University of Michigan. The 
Herbartian literature increased in volume. To the writings of 
Herbart already accessible to English readers were added 
"The A. B. C. of Sense Perception," translated in 1896, and 
"The Outlines of Educational Doctrine." The translation of 
Rein's "Outlines of Pedagogics" in 1893 was an important ad- 
dition to the list of Herbartian books written by Germans. A 
large number were written by Americans and English. Many 
articles appeared in the leading educational magazines. As 
time went on, the literature became less expository and more 
critical and constructive. 

As a consequence of all this activity, Herbart' s name was 
known everywhere. Indeed, Herbartianism spread like a 
contagion. The United States Commissioner in his report of 
1894-5, said, "Xhexe are at present more adherents of Herbart 
in t b f I ^ri i ted vStateR, than in Germ a n y " (U. S. Com. of Ed. 
Report 94 : '5 : 322). He attributed this fact to the greater 
freedom of discussion in America. An educator writing in 
1896 characterized the situation by saying it was .hardly .p_os- 
sible to attend an educational gathering of fair pretensions to 
magnitude or dignity without at least hearing Herbart's name 
^55 : Int. XIII). American educators have begun to five, 
move, and have their being in an atmosphere of Herbartian- 
ism" (55 : Int. XIV). Looking at it from one angle, it is a 
veritable renaissance. Viewed from another angle, the im- 
pression is that Herbart had become the fashion. In America 
and in the rest of the world, too, much goes by fashion. In 
this respect Herbartianism shared the fate of child study. 
In some ways it is unfortunate that such serious matters as 
educational principles should be subject to fashion. Doubtless 
Herbartianism' s very popularity repelled some, but, just as 
with child study, after many had been repelled and grown 
tired, there still remained a large body of earnest students and 
disciples. Alexander Darroch, the Scotch professor, must 
have been viewing Herbart in America in 1902 from this 
second angle when he said, "To some extent in the land of its 


birth, but more particularly in America, Herbartianism has 
become more or less of a craze" (12 : 2) . The truth probably 
is that it partook of the nature of both a fashion and a peda- 
gogical renaissance. 

It will be profitable to turn from the general view to a 
closer study of the different doctrines, for it was by special at- 
tention to the separate topics that American teachers became 
familiar with Herbartianism. Such attempts as Soldan's to 
give a survey of the whole system as a system, were bound to 
be fruitless before well into the nineties. The American read- 
er and hearer were not prepared to grasp the whole system at 
once. Moreover, certain topics were better adapted for first 
introduction than were others. Those topics which were 
most concrete or which had closest resemblance to current 
American pedagogical activity were the first to receive intelli- 
gent attention, even tho they were not first in the logically con- 
structed system. The doctrines were introduced one after 
another in order of concreteness and adaptation to the prepar- 
ation of the American teacher. Thus the first discussions cen- 
tered around method, then apperception, and next concentra- 
tion took the most prominent place, to yield in turn to the 
doctrine of interest. It is more difficult to say when the doc- 
trine of culture epochs and of aim received the most attention. 
All the topics were discussed more or less every year, but dur- 
ing certain years the major part of the attention was given to 
some special topics. 




"The one problem, the whole problem of education, may- 
be comprised in a single concept — morality." With these 
words Herbart has announced the aim of education. He fol- 
lowed the spirit of the Kantian assertion that there is nothing 
good but a good will. Herbart defined the good will more 
closely by representing it as having five phases which he called 
the five ideas or pictures of the will, the idea of inner freedom, 
of completeness, of good will, of rights, and of equity. Ameri- 
can thinkers were prepared for a lofty conception of educa- 
tion. The high ideals which the Pestalozzian wave had intro- 
duced were common property, in theory at least, however 
much of a hold the notion of making an economic success may 
have had on practice. "Character building" was a common 
expression before the advent of Herbartianism. In the opin- 
ion of Button, the concept was often sentimental, but Herbart 
made it "Scientific" (35 : 53-58). 

The educator can contribute to moral character thru the 
will, permanently influencing it in three ways — thru training, 
thru government, and thru instruction. The greatest Her- 
bartian contribution was in showing how knowledge could di- 
rectly influence morality. Beside the aim of education, there 
is a more immediate aim for instruction, which is the building 
of such a moral-religious circle of thought that a good will may 
result from it. Or, since the will follows the interest, it is a 
degree better to say that the aim of instruction is to awaken 
interest. An ideal character requires that a many-sided in- 
terest be produced. The final aim of instruction is morality, 
but the nearer aim, which instruction in particular must set 
before itself in order to reach the final one, is a many-sided 
interest (59 : 62) . 

The great influence and popularity of Professor James 
prepared the way for the acceptance of certain points con- 
nected with the Herbartian notion of the educational aim. 
The Herbartians needed just the sort of psychology to which 
James gave expression on the question of the relation of 
knowledge to will and conduct, for example, "My thinking 
is first and last and always for the sake of my doing" (70 : 383) . 
In fact, the whole pragmatic movement in American philoso- 
phy gave a powerful support to the Herbartian aim and the 
way of its realization thru instruction. Pierce wrote, "The 
whole function of thinking is but one step in the production of 
habits of action" (Quoted in Jr. of Ped. 19 : 43). Dewey's 


Statement that "ideas result from action and develop for the 
sake of better control of action " (31 : 15) fortifies the Her- 
bartian views and also contains a concept which gives a new 
tendency to American Herbartianism. 

In the first popularization of the aim of education in the 
United States there were analyses of character not so very 
different from those in vogue before the introduction of 
Herbartianism (26). The five pictures of the will were at no 
time more than mere words, mentioned in a sort of perfunctory 
way. The writers did not seem to know how to make them 
useful. Other ideas, such as serviceableness and preparation 
for good citizenship, take their place. The whole tendency 
of the American formulation has been in the direction of less 
precise definition. It has tended toward more general des- 
criptions which are more in keeping with the first chapter of 
Paulsen's Ethics than with the Ethics of Herbart. Since 
American public schools do not impart religious instruction, it 
is natural that the religious phase of the moral-religious aim 
has not been emphasized. " 

The American attitude toward the German classification 
of interest, such as Rein's six classes of interest, is not unlike 
the attitude toward the pictures of the will. In the early des- 
cussions the German presentation was followed, but with time 
the classification of interests became more and more neglected. 
The American, like the English, mind is more interested in 
particulars than in elaborate generalizations. The individual 
man is deemed of far more consequence than any abstract 
classifications of his interests. Consequently, it was thought 
desirable to create specific interests thru instruction. 

Standing immediately in the way of any large progress in 
the direction of the Herbartian aim was the centuries-old doc- 
trine of formal discipline. We have in a preceding chapter 
noted the hold this theory had upon pedagogical thought in 
America. This doctrine must be dislodged from its position. 
The Herbartians criticised the doctrine severely, arguing that 
it v/as based upon a faculty theory of the mind, which psy- 
chologists since the days of Herbart had rejected. It was ar- 
gued further, largely from experience, that educators should fol- 
low the psychologists and discard an educational theory which 
rested on a false psychology. As an outcome, the doctrine of 
formal discipline was abandoned by the leaders in education, 
tho it kept its hold upon much of the school room practice. 
Gradually but sullenly the doctrine that subjects should be se- 
lected for their disciplinary value has been yielding the field. 
As the old doctrine gives way, room is made for the exercise of 
saner selective principles. 

Another of the older conceptions of the aim of education 
which did not harmonize with the Herbartian was that of 


** rounded development," but the criticism against it was not 
so severe as against the doctrine of formal discipline. It was 
enough to point out the indefiniteness of such a view, for, all in 
all, it was comparatively harmless and had a good side, too, 
namely, to serve as a text to arouse enthusiasm, even if little of 
a definite nature came of it. Finally, some' held that educa- 
tion should aim at the practical; but, as we shall see, Her- 
bartians only needed to qualify this aim to make it do service 
in the direction of their own. 

The most positive American contribution has been to em- 
phasize a social aim. In the early discussions, both in Ger- 
many and in America, the Kantian ethics was the source of in- 
spiration for the treatment of the will, and hence the educa- 
tional aim ; but in later years, in America, sociology has exerted 
by far the greater influence, and has contributed a new and 
widening concept. Education should result in a livelier social 
consciousness and in more efficient social activities. Since 
1900 the new view of education has become very prominent in 
educational literature. The Herbart Society was recognized 
as chiefly responsible for the enthusiastic effort to interpret 
education socially (68 : 12, 231). 

It would be wrong to say, as some did, that Herbart's aim. 
was entirely individualistic, for there is sufficient evidence in 
his own writings to disprove such a notion. He maintained 
that psychology remains incomplete as long as it considers 
man only as an isolated individual. Again, he advocated 
placing human conditions and relationships in the foreground 
of instruction (59 : 25). Still it is probably true that the 
original conception does not put sufficient emphasis upon the 
pupil as a member of a social group. When this side is 
brought into prominence, the center of gravity is changed so 
that it could be said that the religious-moral aim of the Her- 
bartians is socialized. Recently it has become quite common 
to express this widening view of the educational aim as "edu- 
cation for adjustment," since this new aim demands a closer 
correlation of school work with social life. 

Right here lies the chief practical importance of an aim, 
namely, that it serve as a selective principle in making up the 
curriculum. Courses of study will differ with the varying aims 
of education held by those who make them. What material 
shall constitute the course of study? is the question which 
presses immediately when the aim has been determined and 
the possibility of education thru instruction has been estab- 
lished. Those studies must be chosen which will realize the 
educational aim, since it is in this way that the aim becomes a 
standard of selection. The Herbartians introduced the fruit- 
ful term "educative instruction" to express this idea — an ex- 
pression only too little used. 


One of the immediate consequences of abandoning the 
formal discipHne point of view was a new attitude to the three 
Rs. A classification was made into content studies and form 
studies. The former were of primary importance, for they 
could contribute to the circle of thought and the building of 
interests. The position of form studies, such as reading, gram- 
mar, and arithmetic, in the curriculum, is justified by their ser- 
vice to the content studies. They hold a subordinate, altho 
essential position. The way for such a view was prepared in a 
small measure byHuxley and Lubbock who considered the 
three Rs only a means and not an end in themselves. The 
general tendency, since the advent of Herbartianism, has been 
to give the content studies an increasing and the form studies a 
diminishing place. 

The new conception of the aim of education has resulted 
in great changes in the curriculum. Especially the emphasis 
of the social side has led to a broadening of the course of study. 
In the preceding era Herbert Spencer and the scientists 
pleaded for the natural sciences because of their utility. 
Following up the work of Spencer the Herbartians demand a 
large place for the sciences as having a practical importance for 
members of society. They have given a higher meaning to 
utility and have widened its concept. History, literature, and 
the arts, as well as the sciences and manual activities, are prac- 
tical, because they may result in social interests and social 
character. Thus, the new aim has shown a breadth which 
none of the others have. 

Moreover, its value in determining what shall be omitted 
from the curriculum is recognized. At a time when so many 
subjects are pressing into the curriculum so as to overburden 
pupils, lengthen the course, and result in superficial work, 
there is need of an aim that is selective in a double sense: 
choosing what ought to be included and rejecting all that is 
not of most worth. It is quite generally agreed that the final 
test of the fitness of each study for the curriculum is its 
possession of a "plain relation to some need of life, either ethical 
or utilitarian in the narrow sense" (88 : 197) . 

With German Herbartians the material for educative in- 
struction belongs either to the historical or to the natural 
science series. The former is considered especially valuable 
in forming the disposition. Dr. Rein shows how both are re- 
lated to the will, the first by revealing what ought to be or 
ought not to be, and the second by showing what can or can not 
be done. This classification has been especially valuable in 
drawing attention to the educational aim. Altho its practical 
worth was recognized by Americans, yet they took liberties 
either in the direction of dissolving all classification (in a 
measure, Col. Parker) or by increasing the groups (De Garmo). 


The tendency was also away from making a distinction be- 
tween the educative work of the natural science and the 
historical series. The view has grown that whatever can be 
brought into the service of man has its social side. The in- 
terest awakened is not merely speculative. Dr. Dewey and 
others have shown how the study of things may be brought in- 
to a closer relation with the educational aim than had been 
previously realized. 

There was much said and written under the head of an 
enriched course of study. The notable addresses of President 
Eliot may be cited as evidence of interest in it. Undoubtedly 
this movement helped along the Herbartian views for recasting 
the elementary curriculum in the interest of the aim of educa- 

An, intelligent comprehension of the educational aim 
alone is not a sufficient guide for the making of a complete 
course of study. One can say in a general way what subjects 
ought to be in the curriculum, but in order to be specific in 
details and to find those subjects which will realize the aim, 
other principles of selection must be found. Their use, how- 
ever, must always be with an eye single to the aim of education. 

Special attention must be given to two questions of great 
importance to the realization of the aim: the proper sequence 
of the studies and the different portions of each study. If we 
borrow a term from the laboratory we may say the answer to 
the first question deals with the longitudinal section of the 
course of study; the second concerns the relation between the 
subjects taught and, to keep the figure, would deal with suc- 
cessive cross sections of the course of study. The Herbar- 
tians, especially of the Ziller-Rein wing, found an answer for 
the first question in the culture epoch theory, and for the 
second in the theory of concentration. Of course, the edu- 
cational value of subjects will be determined to a certain ex- 
tent by these new principles. Not only the question of suc- 
qession, but also what has been said thus far about educational 
values, is treated by Rein in connection with the culture epoch 
theory. We mirror American practice better in giving a less 
prominent place to the culture epoch theory and in considering 
the choice of studies in immediate connection with the aim. 
The chief importance of all the Herbartian doctrines except 
one, lies in their relation to the selection and arrangement of 
the studies in the curriculum. Therefore, not only the chap- 
ters on the culture epoch theory and concentration, but also 
those on interest and apperception are concerned, implicitly at 
least, with principles of selection. 

It is the genuis of Herbartianism to attach the greatest 
possible importance to the educational aim and the aim of 
instruction. It is significant that Herbart's greatest peda- 


gogical work bore the title "General Pedagogy Deduced from 
its Aim." The aim determines all educational procedure, 
since the system grows out of the aim. Some modifications 
which one may observe in American Herbartianism may be 
traced to an American tendency to change the aim or to lose 
sight of it while discussing individual principles. 




Of all the Herbartian principles, the doctrine of apper- 
ception was the one most readily accepted, because it could be 
appreciated independently of the other doctrines of the sys- 
tem. It was widely discussed and expounded. The first 
public work of the Herbart Club was the translation and pub- 
lication of Lange's "Apperception" in 1892. They beUeved it 
the best book to introduce the young teacher to the new edu- 
cational thought (75 : Int. VIII) . The editor wrote of this 
work, "His book will interest the simplest and instruct the 
wisest " (75 : Int. VII). Rooper's "Pot of Green Feathers" was 
republished in America, and its very title popularized the 
notion of apperception. Dr. Harris saw in Eckoff' transla- 
tion of Herbart's "A. B. C. of Sense Perception" a contribu- 
tion to apperception. All new pedagogical books had promi- 
nent chapters on it. The leaders in education, among them 
Dr. Harris, thought Herbart supplemented Pestalozzi with this 
concept, for Pestalozzi was not credited with taking into ac- 
count previous experience as an aid to perception. At that 
point, then, Herbart supplements Pestalozzi with the idea of 
apperception which is esteemed of far more importance than 
Pestalozzi 's contribution. No other one topic called forth a 
like quantity of discussion in the early nineties. 

For a short time, it almost appeared that the general edu- 
cational public identified Herbartianism and this doctrine. 
At the meeting of the Department of Superintendence in 1891, 
Dr. Harris referred to the "Herbartians whose great word is 
apperception" (U. S. Com. of Ed. Report 92-'3 : 505). In 
1892 the Superintendent of Public Instruction for Missouri 
called Herbart "the apostle of apperception" (Same : 1658). 
At a pedagogical conference Harris said: "The idea of apper- 
ception is the most important fruit thus far developed by the 
study of the psychology of pedagogy" (Quoted in Int. to 98). 
At a later date he wrote that Herbart deserved the study of 
the teacher because of his "painstaking investigation of 
branches of study in view of their value as material of apper- 
ception" (55 : Preface). 

The notion of acquiring new ideas by the aid of old ideas 
already in the mind, appealed to the common sense of teachers. 
Of course they had been using the principle all their lives. 
American psychologists had taught much of its truth under 
the head of such terms as assimilation and association, but 
the new term brought the truth to a conscious focus in the 
every day school work. Its aim was to make instruction in- 
teresting and was a key to memory. A knowledge of apper- 

(( ^^2cKt 


ception helped in determining the arrangements of topics and ^ ' "" 
the association of studies. It could be used in all these di- 
rections even by teachers who were not aware that its primary- 
function was to assure the basis for right interests. The result 
was its diligent use in the school room. David Salmon, 
writing in 1900 on "Impressions of American Education," 
says, "I found everywhere the theory of apperception not a 
dead dogma receiving mere tacit assent (like the Athanasian 
creed), but a living principle" (Ed. Rev. 19 : 38). 

The theory met with practically no adverse criticism. 
Some of the older pedagogs thought there was too much ado 
made over it. Some psychologists discredited the term. 
Professor James thought psychology could very easily dis- 
pense with the word (70 : 320) . It is significant that, at least 
by implication, he admits the importance and usefulness of 
apperception for pedagogy. A more serious objection, made 
more recently, tends to give certain reasonable limits to the 
use of the principle in teaching. It calls attention to the fact 
that, in memorizing, repetition is an essential element. If ap- 
perception is depended upon entirely as a means of retention, 
and the principle of repetition is neglected, the results are by no 
means satisfactory. The criticism on this point of the pu- 
pil's lack of retention of a certain minimum which ought to be 
remembered, was often aimed wrongly at a misconstrued doc- 
trine of interest or at Herbartian pedagogics in general. It is 
only recently that it has been directed toward the real diffi- 
culty, namely, an excessive reliance upon apperception. 
Probably the research into the problem of learning and 
memory by experiments in psychology and pedagogy has 
made some educators conscious of a healthy and reasonable 
limitation of appercepion as a means of learning. 

At this point may be made some comparisons of the place 
of apperception in American Herbartianism and in the German. 
It has not experienced a development nor been given a dis- 
tinctive American color so much as the other doctrines. Dr. 
Harris said, "His doctrine of apperception does not need cor- 
rection" (N. E. A. 1895 : 345). The one American contribu- 
tion may be said to be the consciousness of the limiting prin- 
ciple to which reference has already been made. Judging 
from the amount of literature distinctively upon apperception 
as compared with other topics, that subject may be said to 
have been given a more prominent place than in German 
pedagogy. It is also treated more independently, i. e., less as 
a dependent and integral part of the whole pedagogical sys- 
tem. As a consequence of the independent consideration 
given the doctrine, it is more than likely that it is often con- 
sidered an end instead of a means. Consequently it plays a 
smaller part as a selective principle. When it is so used, it is 


most often disguised as a mental ability, which of course in- 
cludes apperceptive power and natural ability. All subject 
matter should be within the comprehension of the child. In 
this form it has considerable influence also as a selective rule. 
Altho not used to the extent of its possibilities in this latter 
respect, and altho in the sphere of method often overworked 
and sometimes used mechanically, still it is obvious that it has 
had a stimulating effect on American teaching. 




By virtue of its inherent importance, the subject of in- 
terest gravitated to the center of the discussion, becoming the 
topic of the earHest controversies. It was felt to be the kernel 
of Herbartianism (24 : 141). 

An objection was made by the philosophers among the edu- 
cators, on the ground that interest destroyed the will, that it 
was a makeshift substitute for the will. It was in partial 
answer to this objection that a similarity between love and in- 
terest was pointed out. Love, which was an orthodox end of 
education, was made a stepping-stone to the notion of interest. 
This is in curious parallelism to an incident in Herbart's own 
life, for he himself had occasion to substitute definitely the 
word "interest" for "love" as used by another writer (55 : 75). 

From what we have already noted about interest in pre- 
Herbartian pedagogy, we are prepared to appreciate the fact 
that there was considerable confusion in the use of the newly 
introduced concept. There were some mild-natured people 
who saw an ally in Herbart. They interpreted him of course to 
mean "making the lessons interesting." This, they could say, 
they always had believed in. Such disciples naturally would 
propagate an error and travesty the real doctrine; they could 
not help bringing it into ill repute. There were those of a 
severer type who thought Herbart stood for just that idea, and, 
in dislike of a flabby doctrine so incompatible with that of dis- 
cipline, would have driven it out without giving it a hearing. 
Dr. White in scorn called Herbart's theory of interest a "soup 

In the same paragraph, he voiced a second objection to 
the theory, namely, that it was indefinite. Dr. Galbreath 
showed by example how there was a confusion. He said, "In- 
terest is to guide us in the treatment of subjects, and we are 
also talking of the interest of the child as a guide to him in his 
work" (Fourth Year Book, 109). There was certainly a 
double meaning here that caused a great amount of confusion. 
Even Herbartians were baffled by the confusion which reigned. 

The Herbartians had their work cut out for them by the 
nature of the objections. As De Garmo later said, in the 
sentence already quoted, they had gone by faith in the right- 
ness of the cause. Evidently, an analysis of the whole ques- 
tion of interest was needed. Much of the early controversy 
was due to the fact that the true meaning of the doctrine was 
neither clearly presented nor yet completely understood. 
What interest means and what it does not mean had to be so 
clearly stated that all misleading preconceptions would be re- 


moved. An adequate presentation involved an interpretation 
in terms of native American philosophical and psychological 
thought, even tho it apparently should give a new meaning to 
the concept of interest. The first adequate analysis was given 
by Dr. Dewey. He analyzed the pedagogical doctrine of in- 
terest and showed how Herbart was substantially correct. 
He proved most conclusively how interest in the Herbartian 
sense had nothing to do with the pleasurable as such. It does 
not even mean that objects of knowledge must be made in- 
teresting. An Herbartian leader writes along this line: "In- 
terest is not excited simply in order that one may learn better, 
i. e., more knowledge be acquired. This is the usual view but 
it is not Herbartian" (86 : 427). It is false to associate Her- 
bartian interest with any gingerbread theory of education. 
This point, that pleasure and interest can not be identified, was 
made so clear that there ought to be no longer any question 
about the Herbartian view. No more can there be fellowship, 
on the other hand, with the party which advocated effort for 
the sake of discipline. This negative description of interest 
brought it into relief and, by removing some preconceptions, 
opened the field for positive statements. 

It could now come home with force that Herbart had in 
mind to arouse and build interest as a means of influencing 
conduct. This is the central fact of Herbartian interest. The 
kind of character one has is dependent upon the sort of in- 
terests resulting from his education. There is a sternness and 
seriousness in this central doctrine of Herbartianism, which 
ought to silence any who attempt to identify interest with any 
trifling pleasure. However, it has proved an extremely hard 
matter to keep the true notion in the center of thought and dis- 
cussion. The old conflict constantly recurs, distracting at- 
tention from the main thought. 

It is a part of the service of Dr. Dewey to show a valid re- 
lation between interest as an outcome of education and interest 
as a motive in learning and a means in education, a question 
which had been so long a stumbling block in America. Its so- 
lution came thru a consideration of the psychological phases of 
interest. As mentioned in a preceding chapter, it was a very 
common thing for American Herbartians to reject the Her- 
bartian psychology and philosophy. Unlike most'of the men 
who discussed Herbartian topics, Dr. Dewey was a psycholo- 
gist. He also felt it necessary to reject entirely the psycholo- 
gy Herbart had created and to make a new psychological basis. 
He wrote, "I do not see how the psychology and pedagogy of 
interest among Herbartians can possiblv be made to square 
with each other" (30 : 237). 

The original character of interest must be sought in im- 
pulse, instincts, and feeling. The intellectual basis, so promi- 


nent in Herbart, yields to one in which impulse or will is the 
chief characteristic. Dr. Dewey pressed his belief in the 
fundamental nature of impulsive life in interest. "All con- 
duct springs ultimately and radically out of native instincts 
and impulses" (28 : 27). By way of example our attention is 
called to the close relation between instincts and conduct — 
how we have certain interests because we have certain in- 
stincts. De Garmo has worked out this relationship in more 
detail, discussing the range from the most primitive instincts 
which aid in self-preservation to the instinctive reactions at 
the basis of social conduct. 

James's attractive view of the selves helped to prepare 
Americans for such a view of the psychological basis of in- 
terest as Dewey and DeGarmo presented. In the process of 
the development of the self — in self-expression — interests are 
present, one set of interests giving way to another at different 
stages of development. Such a view does not belittle the im- 
portance of the ideas which are a necessary basis for the in- 
terests, but it does emphasize the wilHng life as primary and 
the source of interests. Now, with this new psychological 
basis, the way is opened for using interest not only as a motive 
but also as an end. This sense has to be always carefully dis- 
tinguished from its primary and original Herbartian meaning. 
It is possible to use it in a way that does justice to the popular 
view and does not do violence to the original. It is a neces- 
sary corollary of that view. Dewey speaks of interests in this 
sense as signs and symptoms of dawning capacities, and indices 
of the material upon which the child may work most fruitfully 
(31 : 16). What a child is interested in, then, is suggestive of 
what ideas may be most easily acquired. Hence they form 
the basis of permanent interests. Economical teaching de- 
mands that subject matter be chosen which will most probably 
be interesting at the same time. To state the same idea 
negatively, as is commonly done, nothing should be brought 
into the course which is not likely to be interesting, unless de- 
manded by the consideration of the aim (88 : 197). We have 
here one use of interest as a selective principle upon which 
considerable reliance is placed. But it is far from Herbartian- 
ism to say, "Follow all interests": it says, rather, "Create in- 
terests which lead to the ultimate educational aim." Ameri- 
can Herbartianism has shown how and when it is possible to 
use native interests as starting points, and further, that where 
there is interest the operations of acquiring are relatively easy. 

Credit was given Dr. Dewey for eliminating the psycho- 
logical objections, and his monograph was warmly received by 
the Herbartians. His psychological analysis was accepted in 
place of Herbart's, since he had expressed for the Herbartians 
what they felt and believed but were unable to reduce to 


words SO successfully (24 : 143). The question was con- 
sidered settled, and for a long time the public discussion of in- 
terest was less general. As an indication of this, Professor 
Shaw edited in 1889 a translation of Ostermann's "Interest in 
its Relation to Pedagogy," with the purpose of reviving the 

It is hard to overestimate the importance of the work of 
Dewey and DeGarmo in the development of a doctrine of in- 
terest. Nevertheless, there were some drawbacks to their ex- 
position. It is sometimes rather bewildering. This is a 
criticism brought against the Dewey monograph, on its first 
reading. If it created a new basis, it did not insure its being 
understood. The discussion cleared up some errors, but it is 
not free from responsibility for some minor mistakes in theory 
and practice. In carrying on a sharp fight against the doc- 
trine of effort and formal drill then prevailing, it was easy to go 
too far. Of course, effort for the sake of discipline can never 
be upheld ; but the argument ought never to be driven so far 
as absolutely to banish from the school room effort, even of an 
unpleasant nature. Naturally, if left, it is for another reason 
than discipline. Herbartians demanded that interests of a 
right sort be formed. Action and interest do result from 
ideas, whether they are in themselves interesting or not. 
When it is desired to form a certain interest with no native in- 
terests to build upon, it is the duty of the strict Herbartian to 
marshall the ideas necessary for such an end, even if old time 
effort has to be used. Could the result be reached by the path 
of the interesting, then so much the better; but reached it 
must be. Unfortunately, many lost sight of the central fact 
of the theory of interest and thought they were doing Her- 
bartian service if only all effort were banished from the school. 
The Herbartians were blamed for the false position. It may 
often require memorizing to firmly fix ideas that are to insure 
a permanent interest. The memorized material may be vi- 
tally necessary for a groundwork. More in a private way 
than thru public discussion, Herbartians are seeing the mis- 
take of over-forcing the fight against effort, for there are oc- 
casions when it is the only way to reach interest in the primary 
sense. It is a question of insisting, as McMurry does, that the 
nature of the child shall not control in the selection of subject 
matter. "The nature of the child is the second factor in in- 
fluence" (Second Year Book of the Society for the Scientific 
Study of Education 49) . The educational aim. is of first import- 
ance. Such a position is not only good Herbartianism, but a 
necessary position to hold at a time when experimental peda- 
gogy is coming to the front, a pedagogy which has to do very 
largely with questions of economy of learning where effort is 
chiefly relied upon to get results. After all, it is not an easy 


matter to hold fast the idea of interest in both the primary and 
the secondary sense. It is so easy to overemphasize the latter. 
Wherever this is done, there is an unsettled sort of teaching 
that does not often reach any definite goal. 

The Americans have not kept up the systematic classifi- 
cations of interests which Herbart made, but in a measure, 
they have replaced it by reference to particular interests. It is 
in harmony with American thought to abandon highly worked- 
out classifications, since they savor too much of pedantry. 

During the discussions, the concept of interest has been 
illuminated from several sides. It has been given a place in 
the general scheme of development as worked out by psy- 
chologists, and has been enriched thru its connection with the 
notion of self-expression and self -activity. Whether the latter 
concept is familiar to American teachers thru Froebel, or is a 
reminder of Hegel to some, among them Harris, it has con- 
tributed to the complete concept of interest as now held. The 
Herbartians' profiting from Child Study has given interest a 
definite place in relation to the instincts, emotions, and 
self -activities and to their stages of development. After in- 
terest has been considered in these new relationships, it ap- 
pears a different and a richer concept. The original orthodox 
meaning, however, is still at the center and can not be held too 
tenaciously. If interest seems of a different color now, it is 
because of its immersion in American psychology and philoso- 




The congested and crowded nature of the school pro- 
grams had been a matter of concern to practical men for sever- 
al years. Such vigorous complaints had been expressed 
against the multiplicity of subjects, that any principle which 
promised relief by concentrating the school studies and by 
making the curriculum less unwieldy was sure of a hearing. 
^n the Herbartian doctrine of concentration, some saw what 
they thought was a remedy for all these evils. Others, after 
thinking over the Herbartian solution, devised variations of 
their own, which they held with the same pride that men usu- 
ally attach to their own creations. Some favored concentra- 
tion, others correlation, and still others co-ordination. Those 
who favored concentration in a narrow sense selected different 
subjects for the core. Likewise among those who favored 
correlation or co-ordination, there was large variation in the 
grouping. To add to the confusion, the terms were often used 
synonomously. All in all, it is probable that concentration 
received more attention than any other one theory, being on 
the crest of the Herbartian wave immediately following that 
devoted to apperception. It was widely used and misused in 
the school room, and was a common topic of discussion exerting 
wide influence. President Butler, in writing of the work of 
the Committee of Ten, says, "Neither the Committee of Ten 
nor the conferences contained a single person who may be 
classed as a follower of Herbartian educational theory as ex- 
emplified by Ziller, Stoy and Rein, yet by purely empirical 
methods the committee and the conferences arrived at a strik- 
ing confirmation of the main doctrines of the Herbartians — 
the co-ordination and correlation of studies" (9 : 77). 

The interest in the theory became so great that in 1893 
the Department of Superintendence appointed a committee 
of fifteen on elementary studies, one of whose specific problems 
was the correlation of studies. In making its report in 1895, it 
aroused discussion thruout the land. At the first meeting of 
the Herbart Society one of the topics discussed was concentra- 
tion. As a matter of fact, it monopolized the attention of the 

The doctrine had a marked influence on school work. 
The Commissioner-General of the United States, in reviewing 
the educational exhibit at the Paris Exposition of 1900, found 
correlation to be one of two characteristics of the American ex- 
hibit, the other being self-activity on the part of pupils. He 
observed that correlation was in evidence on its meritorious 
side in the correction of formalism, and on its unfavorable side 


by its seeking purely artificial relations (U. S. Com. of Ed. 
Report 99-00, 1672). One excuse for the artificial phase is 
that most of the teachers had only the theory for a guide, and 
then often only as expressed in extreme form without oppor- 
tunities of seeing the best practice in the use of the principle. 

We may now attempt a more critical survey of the doc- 
trine, considering the objections offered to it and the changes 
it underwent. 

An illustration of the misconceived notions of concentra- 
tion — or "correlation," which is the term most frequently used 
— may serve as a starting-point for the discussion. A writer 
tells of a visit to a school in a city where concentration was the 
rage. "I remember hearing of a day's lesson in a certain over- 
correlated city. The subject was "the crow." The children 
studied the crow, drew him, wrote about him, added and sub- 
tracted him, bought and sold him, multiplied and divided him, 
and for aught I know, carried him out on a crow-bar" (Educa- 
tion 17, 311). Of course it was a mere travesty of Herbartian- 
ism, but many believed such a farce was Herbartianism itself. 
Such absurdities were represented as its logical outcome. It is 
obvious to anyone, whether he knows anything about the doc- 
trine, that the principle used here is considered an end and not 
a means. 

When we turn back to the Herbartian sources, it is per- 
fectly plain that the doctrine of concentration is one of the 
means for the realization of the educational aim. No small 
part of American thought and practice is colored by treating 
the doctrine as an end detached from the system. Neither of 
the two systems of interpretation which were recognized as the 
starting point of American thought, lost sight of its being a 
means. One School of interpreters was led by Stoy, whose no- 
tions were more fully developed by Frick. Of the two, Frick 
exerted the more influence on American thought. While 
groups of subjects, such as the linguistic and natural science 
studies, were put upon a completely independent basis, and 
there was no subordination, still the course of study was made 
so as to bring out every possible association between the 
studies. History and literature were, moreover, so used as to 
exert a co-ordinating effect upon the other studies. A rational 
-co-ordination thru far-reaching interrelations is sought in the 
higher stages of the gymnasium (80). This interpretation of 
concentration had the most influence in the higher schools.. 

The leaders of the other schools were, first, Ziller and 
later. Rein. They represented a more rigid system than that 
of Stoy and Frick. Since Herbartians were agreed that his- 
torical and literary studies were the educative material of first 
importance, Ziller and Rein chose those subjects for the center 


of the curriculum, correlating others with them. For exam- 
ple, the place of the sciences was not determined by their im- 
portance as sciences, but thru their relation to the central sub- 
jects. A place was given the sciences because they were re- 
lated to man's will as means or limits of its activity. In prac- 
tice, geography was used as an associative study between na- 
ture subjects and the historical-literary. Formal studies like 
arithmetic and grammar, were considered incidental to the 
main elements of the course. We are most concerned with 
bringing to a clear light the fact that the real guide in the 
practice of concentration is the growing personality of the pu- 
pil, for it deals with the child's manifold interests. The true 
center is the developing character of the pupil. The spirit of 
concentration lies primarily in the pupil, and only secondarily 
in the subjects. The aim of education must always be kept in 
mind. The concentration of the branches must be subordi- 
nate to this true concentration. Its only purpose is to do all 
that is possible for economy of effort on the part, first of the 
pupil, and then of the teacher (97 : 94) . Rein recognizes with 
Herbart that a plan which brings all to one point is harmful 
and unnatural (97 : 86). He admitted that Ziller failed be- 
cause much of the connection was artificial (97 : 83) . In the 
actual practice of the followers of the Jena school, the sciences 
are not destroyed, but are preserved in groups. 

The amount of space given to this exposition is justified 
by the fact that we have before us what actually influenced 
American thought. Some, notably De Garmo, came under 
the influence of Stoy and Frick. The Rein-Ziller interpreta- 
tion, however, exerted the most influence, and is what most 
critics had in mind when they discussed Herbartian concentra- 
tion. Too often critics took Ziller unfairly by the letter and 
neglected the development of the doctrine by Rein. 

On the advent of Herbartianism, studies taught in iso- 
lation was the prevailing practice. Mr. White, who had done 
much to mould pre-Herbartian theory and practice, advo- 
cated isolation as essential and fundamental to a course. It is 
certain that many feared to see this condition pass away. 
Any plan which threatened remotely to break down the hard 
and fast divisions between studies was met with opposition 

Numerous objections were made against concentration, 
among them that it destroyed the logical order upon which 
teachers had worked, set up a higher standard for teachers 
than they usually possessed, was liable to degenerate into for- 
mal and mechanical correlation, and subordinated all studies 
to one central study (Summarized 83). One of the most 
vulnerable points of attack was the artificial and strained use 
of the principle. Only a few had the opportunity to learn how 
to use it by seeing it in actual practice at Jena or as used by 


some disciples. The teacher had only the theory to follow, 
and that detached from counter-influences of other parts of the 
system. It was not Herbartian, tho many represented the 
practice as such. Just as in Europe failure of some had made 
concentration a byword in the mouths of many (97 : 87), so 
likewise in America overdoing it had brought ridicule. 

However, the kernel of the opposition lay in fear for the 
fate of the subjects. Many of the critics devoted more atten- 
tion to the way the different studies and sciences developed 
than to the development of the pupil's character. They 
missed absolutely the Herbartian viewpoint. 

To meet the arguments of the critics, the Herbartians em- 
phasized more strongly than ever that school sciences as such 
did not exist. They are not systematic bodies of knowledge" 
(Second Year Book 33) . Geography, for instance, derives its 
material from biology, mathematics, and history (Second 
Year Book 29) . Therefore, on the basis of its own theory, the 
isolated treatm^ent of geography finds no support. Out of 
this phase of the controversy, there developed considerable 
literature on the topic of the logical and psychological. This 
literature, based partially upon the results of child study, em- 
phasized the necessity of adapting material to child nature 
rather than to the logic of the branches. The emphasis on 
this point could easily lead some to believe that Herbartians 
were more careless about the school studies than they were in 
actual practice. Herbartians showed by convincing examples 
that a mixing and mingling of studies was a groundless fear. 
Each subject of study would preserve its boundaries. It was 
emphasized that artificial and far-fetched correlations were 
not necessary and were indeed harmful. While Herbartians 
had to admit a danger in this direction, they could assert that 
it was contrary to the spirit and best practice of Herbartian- 
ism. Some opponents maintained that the mental powers of 
the pupil would guarantee all the concentration needed, al- 
lowing the curriculum to stand as it was. Thus Mr. White 
argued, "It did not follow that facts taught separately re- 
mained isolated in the pupil's thought. The mind is endowed 
with the power of assimilation and unification" (Second Year 
Book 16). Such a view found little support among the ene- 
mies of the doctrine. 

Some opponents of the theory of concentration adopted a 
theory of co-ordination advocated by Dr. Harris, who was 
chairman of the subcommittee which wrote the report on cor- 
relation for the Committee of Fifteen. It is entirely his work 
and embodies his theory of education. Practically, it is only 
an elaboration of the report of a committee on a course of study 
made in 1876. Mention has already been made of the group 
system there advocated. If the word meant anything in this 


connection it did not mean correlation of studies, but a sort of 
philosophical correlation of the child and the world thru his 

The Herbartians, and even non-professing Herbartians, 
who were alive and in sympathy with the current of thought, 
saw that it was not concerned with the true problem of con- 
centration at all. Lukens pointed out that "The report stands 
for isolation and arranging the studies so that they can not 
possibly interfere with one another" (78 : 27). It was in- 
imical to correlation. Others saw quickly enough that the 
report was not even on the subject, but dealt rather with the se- 
lection and valuation of studies. Col. Parker declared that 
they had ignored the subject which it was intended they should 
treat. When he moved the appointment of the committee, he 
had expected them to make a study of Herbart, Ziller, Stoy 
and Rein (N. E. A. 1895 : 344). It was clearly not the sort of 
report the advocates of correlation expected. To say 
the least, it was un-Herbartian, for it gave an altogether too 
prominent place to formal studies, beside neglecting to make 
proper provision for interests and instincts. The report was 
rightly characterized as a step backwards (N. E. A. 1895 : 348). 
A golden opportunity was indeed lost. Current psychological 
investigations threw light upon the problem. A committee 
in sympathy with the new education might have summarized 
and given expression to the best of the prevailing thought, and 
at least made a starting place for new investigations, but in- 
stead, a report was offered under which the foes of the new 
views might take shelter. It was a severe blow to the normal 
development of the doctrine of concentration. Its authority 
was the greater because of Dr. Harris' commanding influence 
and because of the form in which the report appeared. It 
went broadcast as an authoritative statement of the doctrine 
of correlation. 

Centering the fire upon studies and their interrelation, 
drew the Herbartians from their position. The relation of the 
principle of concentration to the realization of the educational 
aim was not kept in the fore-front. This more than any other 
one factor was responsible for the misunderstanding of the 
doctrine, for its inadequate exposition, and for its often feeble 
execution. Sometimes, if the spirit of realizing the aim is 
brought to consciousness, the whole face of things is changed. 
It is true that a dissenting member of the committee defended 
concentration against the implications aimed at it. In an 
earlier magazine article this writer had said, "Concentration is 
primarily for the sake of character and all is centered in the 
aim." Unfortunately in the report the dissenting opinion was 
weakened by the fact that he did not put the doctrine in this 
light; hence the dissent carried little weight. 


The Herbart society gave concentration a dignified place. 
At the first meeting the seriousness of the topic was appre- 
ciated. The last sentence of a paper on concentration voiced 
this feeling in the following words: "We are only at the com- 
mencement of the investigation of this important subject ; it is 
one of the life problems which help to make teaching a science 
and a profession" (87 : 66). 

Among the friends of correlation there was by no means 
entire unanimity. Col. Parker published a volume on the 
method of concentration and exemplified it in the Normal 
School of which he was Principal. He acknowledged the in- 
spiration and guidance which come from the doctrine of con- 
centration as enunciated and applied by Ziller, Stoy, and Rein 
(91 : V). The principle of unification was based on the suppo- 
sition of universal law — thruout all phenomena whether of 
nature or man. There were no school subjects as such. The 
varied manifestations of universal law constituted the cur- 
riculum. As a matter of fact the natural sciences were made 
the central subjects of instruction, in the belief that they were 
most educative, being the most complete manifestations of 
universal law. The form studies spring naturally from the 
thought aroused by the central study. The course was open 
to criticism by Herbartians, because there was not enough 
emphasis on the things of the spirit which Herbartians must 
consider of first importance. Col. Parker's views commanded 
attention and exerted influence. 

Professor Dewey made progressive industrial activities the 
center of the curriculum and grouped the rest of the school life 
around this center: the Herbartians desired that the natural 
sciences and industrial activities exert influence over the will. 
Dewey has carried the socializing of the sciences and industries 
farther than the German Herbartians. 

Dr. DeGarmo favored a group system of studies consisting of 
three groups, historical, natural science, and economic. The 
latter may be considered a response to the increasing social and 
economic consciousness. "Now these groups," he tells us, 
"are the cores of unification with constant cross-relations" 
(19 : 243). It is an adaptation and extension of the Stoy- 
Frick interpretation, hence it is Herbartian in spirit and 
ought not to be confused with the co-ordination theory of 
Harris. DeGarmo also accepted from the Ziller-Rein wing 
the scheme of having fairy tales and Robinson Crusoe the basis 
of the first two years, a practice violently rejected by Stoy. 
The McMurrys and Van Liew have kept closest to the Ziller- 
Rein view. They do not, however, accept the extreme Ziller. 
proposition (83 : 51). They take practically the same position 
as Professor Rein in giving the central place to history and 
literature. When this is said, it does not mean that all other 


subjects lose their identity. There is no proposal to derive 
the subject-matter of one study from that of another. 

All Herbartians admit that a large responsibility for cor- 
relation must rest upon the teacher, but it is not Herbartian to 
rely upon that alone. Economy of effort demands also a cor- 
relation of subjects. 

The discussion of the topic fell in the period when there 
was a great deal of faith in the deliverances of child study. 
Many looked to that study for a solution of the problem of cor- 
relation. So it was quite a common thing to advocate making 
the child the center. Let the school activities, then, be cor- 
related about the child's instincts, interests and life. Her- 
bartians could grant the validity of much of this contention, 
but, as we shall see under the topic of Culture Epochs, Her- 
bartians insist upon objective standards in addition to the sub- 
jective standards which child study provides. The theory of 
making the child the center breaks down in the presence. of the 
question fundamental to Herbartian education, namely, what 
ought a child to become? 

Apperception is an important instrument in the solution 
of the correlation problem. Its use in this connection is ob- 

Correlation is still a problem, tho there are signs of fruitful 
progress, particularly in this fact that studies are made for the 
children. Not the least hopeful sign is that elementary text- 
book writers are shaping their books more toward the psycholo- 
gy of the developing child and less with the idea of being sci- 

There is no question but that since the introduction of the 
doctrine, teaching is far different from what prevailed when 
isolation was theory and blind practice. One prominent 
sign of such a change is the way form studies are made in- 
creasingly subordinate to content studies. In practice, iso- 
lation has given way completely to some form or other of cor- 

Just what the American theory of correlation is would be 
hard to say. Negatively the view is partly defined by the use 
of correlation rather than concentration or co-ordination, for 
the theory is not in any extreme form such as Ziller is com- 
monly represented as advocating. Neither does co-ordination 
express the present temper of the American mind. It were 
better if that word were kept for the view of Dr. Harris. 
De Garmo also uses this term as we have seen. Correlation 
best expresses the middle course which is the one taken. The 
views of Dewey, De Garmo, Parker, and McMurry are well 
known among educators, and there is no question but that 
they all exert an influence in the curricula which are m.ade 
from year to year. In fact, they have doubtless influenced 


and tempered the opinions of each other. The activity of all 
is in the direction of correlation. The American view is just 
what it is, because of the contribution of each individual. 
There is a larger place given to industrial activities as cor- 
relating agencies than would have been true if it had not been 
for Dewey and his followers, while the McMurrys have kept 
the correlating power of the historical and literary subjects in 
a place of prominence, and an impetus for science and nature 
study as correlating studies has come from Parker. It is to be 
noted that credit is not given these men in this connection for 
showing the worth of the various subjects, but for showing 
their correlating value. Child study, which kept before the 
educators' eyes the growing personality of the child, has pre- 
vented any thinker from abstractly following a chain of 
thought to absurd lengths. DeGarmo contributed an assured 
recognition of the worth of all the content studies. 

Of the original German schools, the representatives of 
Ziller-Rein exert a greater influence in elementary education 
than the Stoy-Frick, with a leaning toward these latter, 
Professor De Garmo has transferred his attention more and 
more to secondary education. In it some group system is 
used entirely. It suggests that perhaps the principle of cor- 
relation is different in elementary and secondary education. 
It may be that there is no conflict between the two views, that 
each is valid in its own field. A sort of philosophical and 
rational co-ordination may be expected with older pupils in 
the secondary and higher schools, but not with the younger in 
the elementary schools. The logic of events points that way 
in Germany, where the Stoy-Frick interpretation exerts the 
most influence in higher education, and the Ziller-Rein in ele- 
mentary. Professor Rein has remarked that concentration 
growls more difficult in advancing grades. At least in prac- 
tice, American education shows a tendency to the view that 
elementary and secondary education need different principles 
of correlation. The solution of a long-standing conflict seems 
to lie in the direction indicated. 

On the one hand, it may be said that the doctrine has 
suffered loss from the fact that it had not a place in so com- 
pletely an organized system as that of Germany, especially 
because the aim has so often been lost sight of. Of course, this 
is the least tangible part, and it is not surprising that it is 
hardest to hold. On the other hand, there has been a rich and 
varied development. In neither country is there unanimity 
except in the spirit of the doctrine. If the following state- 
ment of Parker is true, it is not surprising that unanimity has 
not been reached. He wrote, "The doctrine of concentration 
is itself a science of education that will absorb the attention of 
thoughtful teachers for centuries" (91 : V). 




To the problem of the right sequence of studies, which has 
confronted every constructive educational thinker, the Her- 
bartians found an answer in the theory of culture epochs. 
Whether this theory be accepted or rejected, the educator 
necessarily deals with the substance of the problem. If the 
development of the child is by periods, it follows that the solu- 
tion of the best educative material for the various stages of de- 
velopment is a question of utmost importance. An attempt 
to keep the problem chiefly before our minds and to trace the 
influence of the idea may carry the discussion beyond the 
limits one might naturally expect to mark the confines of the 
term "culture epochs." The other ways of answering the 
same question must necessarily be considered, for they in- 
fluenced the attitude of thinkers toward this Herbartian doc- 
trine and determined to what extent the theory might be ac- 

When the culture epochs theory is considered, one must 
remember that it is the Ziller-Rein interpretation which 
Americans have in mind, an interpretation which Stoy, 
Waitz, and some other Herbartians bitterly opposed, but the 
Ziller conception has been completely identified as Her- 
bartian in American discussions. It is worth noting, then, 
that American criticism of the theory has its counterpart in 
Europe even among Herbartians. 

The chief educational characteristics of the doctrine as 
introduced into America may be very briefly summarized as 
follows: there are well marked periods in the civil and re- 
ligious history of the nation and race. Industrially, too, there 
are marked periods which fit in with the preceding. O. W. 
Beyer contributed to Herbartian pedagogy the notion that 
education must attach a like significance to the industrial 
epochs, hunting, pastoral, agriculture, handicraft, and manu- 
facturing (97 : 45-48) . Further, a study of children reveals a 
series of periods in which there are characteristic reactions 
which show they are living on a more or less similar plane. 
At this point the claim is made that the individual passes thru 
all the epochs that the race does, from savagery to civilization. 
The ideal course of study consists of just those things which 
aroused an abiding interest in the race at its successive stages 
of advancement. The pupils will acquire the same interests 
and thus rise from one level of interests to another, until at 
length the interests are acquired which this civilization mani- 
fests. The German Herbartians relied chiefly upon the liter- 
ary materials which represent those planes and upon the his- 


tory of the people at these different levels. In the case of re- 
ligious interests, Hebrew history and literature was the basis of 
instruction, except in the last year in which Luther and the 
catechism was the year's work, in Rein's course. The ma- 
terials for the profane series — except the first two years of 
school — where in the first year fairy stories constituted the 
course, in the second year Robinson Crusoe, — were found in 
the life of the German people. Robinson and the fairy stories 
were thought to represent the most childlike period of the race. 
In a word, it is the duty of the educator to lead the "pupil from 
the beginnings of our culture to an understanding of the 
present" (97 :48). 

The theory has the closest relation to the theory of apper- 
ception, for the pupil is to live in each period, and what is there 
acquired will then form the apperceptive basis for acquiring 
the next. The present can not be reached at once, because the 
apperceptions fail. In fact, a deductive way of reasoning from 
this point led Herbart and Ziller to the theory of culture 
epochs, as Vaihinger has pointed out (97 : 49) . 

The American critic generally has in mind an extreme 
form of the Ziller interpretation, but also confuses with it con- 
cepts which might more properly be considered under the head 
of a "theory of recapitulation." One critic does admit that 
there is a slight distinction betw^een the two theories (7 : 37) . 
It is probably a fact that the American view of culture epochs 
has been modified by the recapitulation theory, but the true 
status of the culture epochs theory can be understood best by 
keeping the prominent points of view of the two theories quite 
distinct from one another. Of course, both agree in the funda- 
mental notion of parallelism between race and individual de- 
velopment. The distinction lies chiefly in the outlook the one 
or the other affords. The recapitulation theory is primarily 
biological, and emphasizes chiefly the correspondence in the 
reactions of the individual with the reactions of animals and 
men at the different stages of development. It rests, then, 
first on the science of biology, especially embryology. The 
culture epochs theory, as the word culture indicates, draws our 
attention primarily to a parallelism between the stages of de- 
velopment in the race and in the individual. To repeat the 
definition given in the first pages of this chapter, the child 
passes fhru the same stages from infancy to manhood that the 
race passed thru from savagery to civilization. It rests on so- 
ciology, authropology, and the history of civiHzation. Bi- 
ology can furnish it with arguments only by analogy. 

The topic of culture epochs did not at first meet with the 
serious consideration shown some other Herbartian principles. 
It was on the program of the first meeting of the Herbart So- 
ciety, but, owing to the fact that it did not receive the attention 


which Herbartians thought its importance warranted, papers 
were again prepared on this topic for the second meeting. 

The opponents of the theory in the early periods of the 
discussion made their attack on two grounds : first, that its ad- 
vocates regarded it as a finahty, and second, that they as- 
sumed that there were no Hmits to the paralleHsm. The 
Herbartians assured educators that they held neither of these 
views, and that they did not intend to carry it to such absurd 
lengths as the opponents represented for the sake of holding 
the theory up to ridicule (110 : 130). 

However, the objectors continued to rely upon the breaks 
in the chain of biological development which could only show 
that the proof was imperfect. They were fond of quoting 
Marshall to the effect that entire chapters of the history were 
lost, that some pages were misplaced and others blurred so as 
to be illegible, and that still others were but spurious addi- 
tions (7 : 38) . The premises here are that most of the facts in 
support of the theory are derived from biology and embry- 
ology. Of course, the Herbartian notion rested primarily up- 
on the belief in an orderly development of society. The re- 
search of biologists can do little more than furnish a back- 
ground for the Herbartian culture epochs theory. Such ar- 
guments could do no more than make Herbartians cautious 
about asserting too much for their theory. 

As a matter of fact, caution was shown. Van Liew and 
other Americans objected to drawing lines so closely as did 
Ziller, who went too far in attempting to ascribe these stages 
even approximately to definite years (109 : 95). They saw in 
Rein a leader who allowed larger liberty. They agreed that 
certainly no exact parallelism has been proved ; but practically 
all felt there was a general correspondence. 

Baldwin has called attention to short cuts in recapitula- 
tion. This principle naturally emphasizes in a new way a 
limitation insisted upon by Herbartians, namely, that "mis- 
taken and circuitous routes are not to be repeated (97 : 52). 
Another principle of practical importance in tempering the 
application of the theory is arrest of development. Dr. 
Harris has shown how excessive exercise in any one stage may 
cause arrest of development at that level. 

Some other factors outside of Herbartianism may be men- 
tioned as contributing to the theory of culture epochs, either in 
confirmation or modification. In confirmation, there was a 
growing faith in the essentially evolutionary nature of the edu- 
cational process that education is attained thru a series of ad- 
justments. There was a continuation of thought along the 
line which we may say Herbert Spencer opened up. The 
Clark University type of child study has been especially clever 
in its interpretation of the behavior of children thru an appeal 


to race parallelism, either established or fancied. It has been 
more in the nature of a contribution to the recapitulation 
phase of the culture epochs theory, and has emphasized chiefly 
the periods of individual development. 

The evolution of society has received increasing attention. 
The growing science of anthropology has thrown much light up- 
on the process of racial development, and has furnished new 
data for the continuation of the inductive study of the stages of 
development. It has emphasized the fact that, at certain 
points in the historical development, there are certain de- 
finite bodies of experience. This experience is the resultant of 
the inventiveness of the people in meeting the industrial, social, 
religious, and aesthetic conditions which surround them. A 
new educational interest has been given to all this by studies 
under the head of social heredity or social imitation, by 
Tarde, Baldwin, and others. As the tendency of child study 
was in the direction that emphasizes individual development, 
so this last sort of study emphasizes the objective products of 
social evolution. The terms "social inheritance" and ''imita- 
tion," used by these writers, imply that to the children all this 
inheritance shall belong. It is for them to acquire. Butler 
has presented this view of the matter in the address on "The 
Meaning of Education." Dr. Harris most emphatically in- 
sisted upon the educational importance of the heritage of 
civilization, and advocated the view that the present is only 
properly appreciated in the light of the past. These views, in 
fact, have become relatively common notions, and undoubted- 
ly fortify the culture epochs theory at certain points, especially 
in emphasizing the educational importance of the products of 
culture which child study alone neglects. At one point, the 
Clark school helped the advocates of a culture epochs theory 
against those who would teach the present in its complexity, 
by insisting that if any of the activities peculiar to a period of 
development were neglected in hastening on to the exercise of a 
higher, all succeeding stages would suffer. So Herbartians 
found new justifications for using material with children, 
which cannot be shown to have a practical use for adults. 

With influences at work from these two, namely, from 
child study with its light on individual development and from 
anthropology and sociology with somewhat less clear light on 
racial development, it is not strange that there was uncer- 
tainty as to whether the sequence was in the child or in the 
race. Since child study was exerting so much influence, it is 
not surprising that there was a marked tendency to find the 
standard of sequence in the child, C. A. McMurry, in 1896, 
was willing to accept Dr. Dewey's statement that the standard 
educationally is the sequence in the child (85). At that time, 
too, there was a marked tendency to accept the Dewey inter- 


pretation, that activities which were dominant at the culture 
periods, rather than the ideas, should occupy the major atten- 
tion of the child (29) . If these two conceptions were followed 
without regard to other factors, a logical conclusion would be 
to educate the child on its own products, to let it write its own 
stories and make its own culture materials. Of course, the 
impetus from orthodox Herbartianism and some other factors 
already mentioned, was too great to permit such lengths being 
reached in theory or practice. Herbartians, knowing too well 
from actual evidence that the cultural products do have a hold 
upon children and result in the very activities desired by Dr. 
Dewey, were not ready like him to minimize the importance of 
the cultural products. The ideas are more suggestive than any 
blind contact with nature or things (85 : 105). Sociological 
studies grew in importance and the Herbartians turned back to 
a more conservative position. The conviction gained ground 
that the psychical development of the child can furnish no final 
criterion of the subject to be taught. Whether the selective 
principle is called culture epochs or social tradition the Her- 
bartian must cling tenaciously to the essentialness of the ac- 
quirements of the race. In 1903 F. M. McMurry wrote, "The 
nature of the child shall not control the selection of subject 
matter. The nature of the child is the second factor in in- 
fluence" (Second Year Book for the Scientific Study of Educa- 
tion : 47, 49) . It must be said, tho, that the activities peculiar 
to the stages which Beyer pointed out, are given a larger place 
than in German Herbartianism. A great deal of influence has 
come from Dewey's work in this direction, but the status re- 
mains about as just given. 

Some have refused all allegiance to the theory because it 
can not be demonstrated, but others act as tho they would say, 
"Granted it is not a demonstrable fact, it is nevertheless a 
workable theory." As a matter of fact, it disputes honor with 
the doctrine of interest and apperception for influence in the 
practical changes which have come over our course of study. 
C. A. McMurry was the first to make application to courses. 
The Americans had before them the research of Professor Rein, 
but common sense changes were made to fit American condi- 

If one would measure its influence, he has only to compare 
the studies in the first two or three grades after the advent of 
Herbartianism with what pupils of the same age studied in the 
preceding period. Stories, fairy tales, Robinson Crusoe, or a 
poem like Hiawatha took the place of much of the reading and 
spelling lessons of the old school. It was a happy thought, de- 
veloped especially by C. A. McMurry, to continue with pioneer 
stories of the child's own community, followed by colonial 
history, finishing with our national history in the last year. 


In this analysis of the culture epochs in our history, he showed 
how Americans could be original in application and be true to 
the spirit. One of the opponents of the theory admitted that 
the practices were good, altho the reasons for them were bad. 
Many granted the changes were good from an educational 
standpoint. It seems to be the spirit of American Herbartian- 
ism to put the chief reliance for a proof of the theories upon the 
way they work in practice. 

The theory of culture epochs probably finds less formal ac- 
ceptance than any other Herbartian doctrine. It is seldom 
spoken of under that name, and yet there is a belief in some- 
thing of real influence in our educational theory and practice, 
which is the American counterpart of the German theory of 
culture epochs. Perhaps a more indefinite phrase like "theory 
of parallelism" fits the temper better. It has been the object 
to summarize the substance of such a doctrine and show what 
it is as a resultant of several forces. It can not be narrowly 
defined. Its vagueness of statement is one of the ways in 
which it differs from the German form of the theory. It is a 
synthesis which does justice to the historic and generic spirit, 
on the one hand, as exemplified by Harris, and the spirit of in- 
dividualism and election of studies (interest), as exemplified 
by Eliot, on the other hand. We may put this same synthesis 
in another form and say that justice is done those who maintain 
that the choice of studies is determined by the demands of the 
civilization into which the child is born, and those who be- 
lieve with President Hall and other child psychologists who say 
the curriculum can only be settled by a study of childhood and 
youth (78 : 29). It takes a judicial position toward the re- 
searches of child study, the new interpretations of primitive so- 
ciety and institutional history, and the teachings brought from 

None maintain that the theory of parallelism has the final 
word on the question of sequence of studies. It carries far less 
authority than the theory of culture epochs does in the Ziller- 
Rein school, altho rich in suggestiveness. It is serviceable to 
other principles to which Americans attach more authority. 
It is suggestive, for example, in showing what will most likely 
be interesting, what interests can most easily be acquired, and 
which of them ought to be acquired. It is suggestive of ma- 
terial suitable to the mental ability and apperceptive powers of 
children at varying ages, and prevents the use of these prin- 
ciples in an absolute way. It guides the products and ac- 
tivities of lower levels and assures a consideration of them in 
the course of study. E. E. Brown expressed a notion similar 
to this by saying it gave dignity to the earlier periods of in- 
struction (8 : 81). This is by no means a negligible factor, 
when we appreciate the influence among us of such ideas as 


social heredity and spiritual inheritance. It is nothing 
against the principle in hand, that it takes a relatively subor- 
dinate place. Probably the greatest reason that the doctrine 
of culture epochs has fallen into discredit is that its opponents 
represented it as purporting to be a final selective principle. 
This was aggravated by the fact that Herbartians themselves 
lost sight of its being a means and not an end. It is too com- 
mon to discuss the question without enough reference to the 
aim of instruction. It is in harmony with the spirit of Her- 
bartianism that the aim alone is an end, and that the principle 
of parallelism is a means. 




Logically, in the Herbartian system, the treatment of 
method follows the other topics, but in America the doctrine 
of formal steps was the first to have systematic treatment. 
The American teacher was best prepared for instruction in 
method, since it had been for a generation and more the chief 
subject in his pedagogy. The educational journals were de- 
voted, for the most part, to the presentation and discussion of 
methods and devices. 

DeGarmoinhis "Essentials of Method," 1889, was the first 
to present to American readers the doctrine of the formal 
steps of the recitation as developed by German Herbartians. 
It was at the same time the first work of any extent bearing on 
Herbartian pedagogics, written by an American. DeGarmo 
drew from the German sources. Professor Rein and Dr. O. 
Frick. In general five formal steps were recognized: prepar- 
ation, presentation, association, condensation, and application, 
as given by Professor Rein. The first two are steps in the one 
stage of gaining facts; the next two are likewise steps in the 
formulation and statement of the general notion. So the most 
essential feature of Herbartianism is the recognition of three 
stages as being necessary to correct method. De Garmo recog- 
nizes and calls them by various names. On the title page of 
the book, these three words are found : observation, generaliz- 
ation, application. Later he defines them more closely as, 
first, the apperception of new facts; second, transition from in- 
dividual to general notions ; third, the application of these gen- 
eral truths to concrete facts. Under the first head are in- 
cluded preparation of the child's mind and presentation of 
matter of instruction. 

The process of mind in the second stage is called induc- 
tion, and includes comparison of the data which have been se- 
cured by apperception and the formulation of the general 
truth, followed by the application of the general truths. It is 
seen how closely the analysis of the Germans is followed. 

The German Herbartians recognized two forms of presen-. 
tation, that of mere telling by the teacher, and that of helping 
the child to discover and anticipate the details. In the latter 
case facts and general truths are developed by conversation ; 
hence it is called the unfolding or developing presentation. 
This method is far better adapted to call out the self-activity 
of the pupil. The text of "The Essentials of Method" only 
hinted at this form of presentation (15 : 96), but the practical 
illustrations of lessons afforded good examples of its use. 
Besides, in treating the second stage under the name of indue- 


tion, the second method is brought into the foreground. Al- 
tho these forms are spoken of chiefly in connection with the 
step of presentation, still the spirit of one or the other will per- 
vade all the first four steps. 

The use of the word induction is suggestive of a point at 
which the Herbartian doctrine found support in current 
English and American thought. The triumphs of modern 
science and the inductive method which it used had become 
familiar to many teachers and to a large percentage of the 
people. Herbert Spencer had eloquently championed the 
notion that children should learn by making their own in- 
vestigations and by drawing their own inferences. 

It was the part of wisdom for Herbartians to ally them- 
selves with current thought which might be helpful to the intro- 
duction and spread of the doctrine of formal steps. "Is it sci- 
entific?" is the measuring stick applied to all new notions in 
this generation, replacing this question, "Is it logical?" of 
former generations. The friends of the formal steps asserted 
the agreement with scientific procedure, pointing out the 
parallelism between the steps in scientific procedure as for- 
mulated by Huxley and the formal steps in learning (81 : 289). 

When the McMurrys published the "Method of the Recita- 
tion," they formally combined the two forces, in that the book 
was based upon the principles of teaching expounded by 
Herbart, Ziller, and Rein (81 Int. VIII) and also upon the 
"inductive-deductive thought movement in acquiring and us- 
ing knowledge" (81 : Int. VII). The spirit of the inductive 
method received a larger place in this book than in the "Es- 
sentials of Method." 

The induction of science can well be considered an im- 
portant factor in the acceptance and development of the doc- 
trine of formal steps in America, and is in a measure respons- 
ible for the fact that the developmental method receives ade- 
quate treatment. 

Thus, the formal steps became very popular with a great 
number of teachers, who found the method quite usable, altho 
they might know nothing of other Herbartian doctrines. Of 
course, it followed naturally that some teachers, untrained in 
the use of the formal steps, would overdo and bring discredit 
upon this as upon any other doctrine. It was in the develop- 
mental phase of instruction, under the name of the inductive 
method, where the rage for a time was greatest and where dis- 
crediting practice was most common. Inductive text -books 
were written in large numbers. Induction was a word to 
charm with. Teachers failed more often than they succeeded 
with it, because it was a tool in the use of which they had no 
special training. In many schools teachers could be found 
wasting valuable time in pursuing a senseless guessing game or 


beating around the bush trying to get the pupil to discover a 
fact or idea. 

How much of the rage for the inductive method was due 
to the Herbartians, and how much to the natural scientists and 
especially Herbert Spencer, is difficult to say. It is probable 
that the momentum came from the latter, and that the former 
crystallized into definite and practical form the vague general- 
izations on method by the scientists. The two forces worked 
together, but the scientists, rather than the Herbartians, had to 
bear the criticisms for the failures. Certainly much of the 
failure was due to the partial grasp of the problem. They 
knew how to reach general conclusions, but they left them 
swaying in the air, for the fifth step was not enough in evidence. 
Herbartians emphasized more and more that teachers should 
be cautious in the use of the developmental method, since not 
every teacher is fitted to use it successfully. Further, 
there are limitations in its use because it is not everything that 
can be developed. 

The Herbartians had to defend the formal steps from va- 
rious criticisms. The earlier ones were directed against the 
supposed effects of the use of the method upon the teacher and 
pupil, in making the teacher a dry formalist and taking away 
the pupils' power of self-activity. The later criticisms have 
been directed toward the question of the truth and universal 
validity of the theory. It was urged by some that the doc- 
trine of formal steps would have a mechanizing effect upon in- 
struction. There is no question but that there were individual 
teachers against whom such a charge might be brought; but 
the charge is without ground when brought against the doc- 
trine as developed in America. The receptivity of Herbar- 
tians to the discoveries in child-study was an assurance that 
there would be no dead mechanical use of the formal steps. 
From the outset, the American Herbartians recognized the 
need of using the formal steps subject to the powers, limita- 
tions, and interests of the child at its varying stages of de- 
velopment (15 : 76). 

The assertion that the formal steps are universal processes 
met with objections from several quarters. The feeling that 
the doctrine was not completely adequate may be considered 
partially a consequence of the new psychological basis Ameri- 
can Herbartians have accepted. If the positions with refer- 
ence to such questions as the emotions and will are different, it 
would be natural to look for a correspondingly new method ; or, 
at least, one ought not to be surprised if faith in the old method 
is somewhat shaken. There has been a feeling that the formal 
steps apply very well, so long as it is a question of acquiring 
knowledge; but that, in subjects where skill or an emotional 
response is aimed at, they are not in place (111 : 193). The 


English Herbartian, Findley, gives expression to such views 
(41 : 335). Some of the factors which hinder modifications in 
the direction of Findley' s suggestions may be mentioned. The 
most economical method in acquiring skill is a question for ex- 
perimental pedagogy. At present, an experimental attack has 
only commenced. Herbartians can join in the experimental 
investigations with as good a spirit as other educators, and it is 
quite certain American Herbartians will welcome the results of 
all such researches in special method. 

As to the suggestion that the method does not apply in 
the case of the emotions, it is to be said that the same psy- 
chology which is responsible for the change in view as to the 
origin of the emotions has also spread the belief that to arouse 
the emotions without their discharge in action is pernicious. 
Giving the right direction to the activity is a matter of judg- 
ment and intellect. If we do not produce the unstable charac- 
ter of which we are warned, the intellectual must have the 
leading place: hence the methods appropriate to the ac- 
quisition of truth must be given the place of first importance. 
As in so many cases, the new psychology bolsters up the Her- 
bartian practice. 

In this connection we may note an impress the new psy- 
chology has left upon method. There is a growing conviction 
that the application, the fifth step, should come in some ob- 
vious form of activity and doing, which activity shall serve 
as the starting point of another thought movement. The 
action has confronted the child with a new and unsolved prob- 
lem, and his realization of this problem leads into a new lesson 
in which the solution is sought. Professor De Garmo makes 
this annotation in the translation of Herbart's "Outlines of 
Doctrine:" "The fact that doing is antecedent to our interest in 
knowledge or feeling, is fully recognized by all Herbartians in 
the theory of method" (59 : 77). This is an advanced posi- 
tion, and the facts in educational literature and practice do not 
indicate that it has been widely grasped in its largest signifi- 
cance. Perhaps the largest force in favor of the old interpreta- 
tion has been the widespread use and influence of the McMurry 
texts on special method. In them the view is consist antly 
maintained that the formal steps are universal in their appli- 
cation, because they are capable of great variety in adjust- 
ment to the needs of different studies. On this question of 
universality, about all one can say is that it is in an unsettled 

Beside the definite criticisms already mentioned, there 
have been objections of a general nature directed against the 
method. It is quite common to find statements that American 
teaching owes much to the formal steps, but that they are in 
need of revision. As a rule, one looks in vain for a definite sug- 


gestion, as to how they should be revised. However, these 
critics have not been without influence in dampening the ardor 
of Herbartian enthusiasts and putting the whole doctrine in an 
unfavorable light. In general, the introduction of the new 
thought gave a healthy tone to method and led away from 
catchy devices. At the same time, nothing is put in the way of 
investigation and experimentation looking forward to the most 
economical way of presentation and generalization. 

In summarizing, we may note that child study and scientific 
education were factors in the development of the doctrine of 
formal steps in America, and that, as a consequence, some 
limitations and qualifications of the steps have been accepted. 
The best writers accept the doctrine of the inductive de- 
velopment method of Herbart with those relatively few 
qualifications and with precautions as to its use. The opinion 
of Professor Smith may be quoted in conclusion: "The influ- 
ence of such writers as DeGarmo and the McMurrys in America, 
opening up the German, and particularly the Herbartian, 
views of the bases of method or the basis of education, has 
given a great impetus to teaching in America." 




In 19C1 the Herbart Society dropped the word Herbart from 
its name and has since been known as "The National Society 
for the Scientific Study of Education." It is a suggestive 
point of departure for drawing a conclusion as to Herbartian- 
ism in America. In no wise does the change of name mean 
that Herbart has been abandoned, but rather it may be 
thought of as the last of the suggestive parallels between 
Herbart in Germany and Herbart in America. Just as 
German Herbartians talk of scientific pedagogy, so Americans 
even tho they be Herbartians, prefer the advantages which 
come from research under the name of scientific education. 
It does not hinder one from believing that Herbart has been 
the largest contributor to that science. The publications of 
the society indicate no attempt at any new grounding of the 
science. This fact is really a tacit admission that the peda- 
gogy worked out on Herbartian lines is the best expression of 
the fundamental principles of a science of education. If the 
followers in Germany are right in using the name "scientific 
pedagogy," the corollary inevitably follows that the peda- 
gogy will unfold with the progress of scientific discovery. 
Americans have, then, such a precedent. 

A glimpse has been taken at the state of pedagogy in the 
eighties. The several chapters following have been taken up 
with describing the changes that came over American peda- 
gogy as a result of the discussion of the different Herbartian 
principles. It is not necessary to call further attention to the 
details of the complete transformation which resulted in edu- 
cational thought. That has been done in connection with the 
various doctrines. 

However, if one were to look for a statement of American 
Herbartian pedagogy in a systematic form, his search would 
be in vain. There is a sense in which there are as many 
pedagogies as there are thinkers. The variation comes from 
the fact that pedagogy shares in the nature of philosophy as 
well as of science. If we could get a good view of one of these 
American minds, we would come upon a characteristic which 
differentiates an American educational thinker from the 
German. Everyone must be impressed with the relatively 
chaotic and unsystematic presentation of American writers. 
The fact that they do not trouble themselves about the articu- 
lations of the various parts, by no means indicates that their 
minds are equally unsystematic : they possess the pedagogy in 
its spirit, altho the power of accurately expressing their 
thoughts and impressions seems to a degree to be lacking. 


This appears to be an Anglo-Saxon characteristic. Just as the 
English constitution on the surface is apparently contradictory 
and has a bewildering mass of checks and counter checks, 
while yet the spirit of it is followed generation after gener- 
ation, so in the matter of pedagogy the American is not satis- 
fied with saying he believes in a certain statement of principle, 
going on then to articulate with it a closely related principle, 
and so on until he has a systematic pedagogy. The truth is he 
believes always with qualifications, but a systematic peda- 
gogy can not be made of qualifications. It must accept defi- 
nitions once and for all. To the American the definition does 
not contain all the truth, and it contains a little which is not 
truth. All this is said in spite of the fact that nowhere, cer- 
tainly not in Germany, have Herbartian principles been car- 
ried to such absurd lengths as in America. Perhaps just be- 
cause of the absurdities in practice, the thinkers who try to see 
all sides are timid. Certainly, no one has had the courage to 
write two large volumes on systematic pedagogy. They are 
satisfied with presenting the different chapters and letting the 
reader systematize for himself. In a word, the American 
product lacks the finish and symmetry that comes from the more 
rigid presentation in Germany. It is possible that the 
German has that characteristic because he is often saturated 
with the metaphysics. 

We have seen that from the outset the metaphysical basis 
was neglected in America. The American is satisfied and has 
faith in experience. Dr. Harris once said, "I am glad that our 
friends are pushing the Herbartian pedagogy, but when they 
reject the Herbartian philosophy they do not put anything 
in its place." All that one can say in reply is that Herbartian- 
ism grew up in America in a philosophical atmosphere made 
chiefly by such men as James and Dewey. The doctrine of 
pragmatism has been in the air. It preaches usefulness and 
workableness as a test and proof of a theory. It teaches that 
ideas are always directed toward activity and that mental life 
is teleological. To an article by Pierce in the Popular Science 
Monthly in 1875, is credited the beginning of the movement. 
It is particularly in the writings of William James that prag- 
matism has exerted a wide influence. It appears, if not under 
that name, at least prominently in his "Talks to Teachers." 
Here the pragmatic method finds application to educational 
thinking. Now, either pragmatism has taught Herbartians 
how to get along without a philosophy, or if pragmatism be a 
philosophy, then it is the unconscious basis of American peda- 

The remark about American Herbartianism developing 
in an atmosphere of pragmatism is suggestive. We arrive at 
something more tangible when we call to mind the great ac- 


tivity in psychology, especially child and experimental, in 
America. This activity has eclipsed the philosophical. The 
American Herbartians put their trust in psychology. "On 
these few large points in psychology, e. g. apperception and in- 
duction, pedagogy rests" (Fourth year Book 115). The 
Herbartian educational principles have had a new grounding 
in psychology. The American philosophy which most in- 
fluenced Herbartians, encouraged a neglect of any metaphysi- 
cal basis. All the doctrines — interest, apperception, con- 
centration — have profited from the investigations in psycholo- 
gy and child study. Feelings, instinct and will have been 
given a larger place, relative to the intellect, than Herbart 
ever dreamed of. One of the staunchest of Herbartians, 
Professor Frank McMurry, says, "The Froebehan view of 
psychology is better, and this, back of the Herbartian peda- 
gogy, makes the child a greater factor" (Fourth Year 
Book 114). The active productive elements have been em- 
phasized. It may be said that German Herbartianism ap- 
pears intellectualistic, but that in America it is voluntaristic. 
In fact, the psychological basis is entirely new, tho without 
doing violence to fundamental pedagogical doctrines. New 
discoveries and new truths have been read into the inherited 
system. There is no better authority for the privilege than 
Herbart's own words in speaking of Schwartz's Pedagogy. 
"When in an earnest writer full of heat and intellect we seem 
to miss something, it is competent for him to reply that if we 
will only let his work act upon us a longer time, if we will read 
ourselves into it, if we will use it anew and repeatedly on a va- 
riety of occasions, much will be found in it that is not set down 
in so many words" (55 :287) . 

It is worth while to have a framework into which one may 
read new truths. The product after this process may con- 
tinue to bear the old name. This elasticity of Herbartianism 
has saved it from destruction. Its elasticity is what makes it a 
good educational creed. While, on the one hand, we are not 
bound to an outgrown shell, on the other, we have a scheme in 
which to see the educational problem as a whole. To have 
kept the whole process of education before the mind of the 
teacher, has been an inestimable service to the cause of edu- 
cation. Seeing every act of teaching in relation to the whole 
educational process, is the only means by which teaching is 
kept from becoming drudgery. American Herbartianism has 
shared in, and also contributed to, a tendency in educational 
thinking away from the formulation of rules of procedure to 
the formulation of large principles and to a point of view over- 
looking the whole field (O'Shea, Education as Adjustment 

All the facts in the course of American Herbartianism 


have emphasized the free position taken by the adherents, and 
in no sense whatever can the charge be substantiated that the 
Herbartians have been servile followers. No other members 
have been more alert in appreciating and making use of the 
researches of investigators in child study, experimental peda- 
gogy, psychology, and the social sciences. The advice of Col. 
Parker has been followed: "Don't be followers of Herbart: be 
followers of his spirit" (N. E. A. 1895:549). It is greatly to 
the credit of the followers that, without being ambitious for 
originality — and they have not lacked in it — they have been 
willing to turn the results of their research and investigations 
to the credit of the great founder. 

Even if there were no followers, the service of Herbart 
would still be unmistakable. The stimulation to thought has 
been immeasurable to all, whether Herbartian or not. Few 
have escaped his influence. Moreover, it furnished the themes 
and outlines for thinking for several of the most fruitful 
years, until those principles became common property, for 
Herbartianism can be recognized in many who have never 
studied Herbart, but have caught it thru imitation of those 
working near them. What President Butler said of the Com- 
mittee of Ten and of the doctrine of correlation may be ex- 
tended much farther. The vast majority who have a theory 
have Herbartianism or an Herbartian foundation to it. 
Much of the educational thought today is conducted in terms 
•©f interest, apperception, correlation, culture epochs, circle of 
.thought, — terms all but unknown in their present sense in the 
eighties. If Herbartians had done no more than to introduce 
these terms and to stimulate thought about them, it would 
be the greatest service done in a generation. 


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: :• 


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>* 'c