I wrote this series one year ago at A Healer’s Geste, and am reposting the series here on Wednesdays at my new home on the internet. How we teach our children is part of how we interact with and love our children, and make this life together work.
John Milton Gregory defines education as “embrac[ing] all the steps and processes by which an infant is gradually transformed into a full-grown and intelligent man.” There are two facets of this transformation: development of capacities and acquisition of experience. An important part of the latter is “furnishing the child with the heritage of the race.”
The result to be sought is a full-grown physical, intellectual, and moral manhood, with such resources as are necessary to make life useful and happy and as will enable the individual to go on learning from all the activities of life.
Toward this end, Milton offers seven statements about the learning process so that by understanding what and how learning happens, we can more successfully guide our students into such full-grown manhood.
One statement from the book that I think summarizes his view well was this: “The work of education, contrary to the common understanding, is much more the work of the pupil than of the teacher.”
Preface: What is Teaching?
The Seven Laws & Their Rules
Like all the great laws of nature, these laws of teaching seem clear and obvious; but like other fundamental truths, their simplicity is more apparent than real. Each law varies in its application with varying minds and persons, although remaining constant in itself. […] These laws and rules apply to the teaching of all subjects in all grades, since they are the fundamental conditions on which ideas may pass from one mind to another.
- Law of the Teacher — The teacher must know that which he would teach. Therefore, teach from a full mind and a clear understanding.
- Law of the Learner — A learner is one who attends with interest to the lesson. Therefore, gain and keep the attention and interest of your students; do not teach without attention.
- Law of the Language — The language used as a medium between teacher and learner must be common to both. Therefore, use words understood in the same way by the pupils and yourself and use clear and vivid language.
- Law of the Lesson — The unknown must be explained by means of the known. Therefore, begin with what is already well known and familiar to the student and proceed by easy, natural steps into the unknown.
- Law of the Teaching Process — Teaching is arousing the pupil to use his own mind to master the thought or art. Therefore, stimulate the student’s own mind to attend, placing him in the attitude of discoverer and anticipator.
- Law of the Learning Process — Learning is reproducing in one’s own mind the truth to be grasped. Therefore, require the pupil to reproduce in thought the lesson he is learning, expressing it in his own language.
- Law of Review — The test and proof of teaching is reviewing, rethinking, reproducing, and applying the material that has been taught. Therefore, review, review, review, reproducing the old, deepening its impression with new thought, linking it with added meanings, finding new applications, correcting false views, and completing true views.