,..,,JACOTOT'S NEW SYSTEM OF UNIVERSAL INSTRUCTION. •
M JACOTOT is a Belgian, who has introduced some new ideas into education, which, it we may believe the witnesses who speak of their results in practice, threaten to produce a decided revolution in the present plans of teaching. The news of M. JACOTOT'S success
s less !en.. !ad over France, M.Boursiv, influenced partly by his own curiosity and partlycommissioned by the Societ6 des Methodes at Paris, Paid him a visit at Louvain ; and lie has recorded the informa- tion he collected in a pamphlet, which has excited considerable alien-
itfiii-lifg-rTillOrsons in France interested in the progress and happi- ness of the people. In rendering an account of this brochure, we will follow the plan of the author ; and, before entering upon the indica- tions of M. JacoTor's system which we find here, we will, as M. BOUTMY has done, describe what he saw. Like other inventors and pseudo4nventors, M. JACOTOT has not divested himself of an eccentricity which gives the less simple of mall-
kind a suspicion of charlatanism. When M. BOUTMY presented him- self from Paris before the author of the new system, M. JACOTOT told him he feared he was only actuated by idle curiosity, and exhibited some reluctance to spend his time upon an idler. Being at length assured that his visitor was one who came with the intention of propa- gatin, the system with zeal among fathers of families, the teacher ad- mitted him into his confidence, with this explanation—" Before we begin, I declare to you that I can only look upon you as a curious inquirer, and hence I only put you in the fourth rank. If a pauper, a peasant, a father of a family, were to arrive, he would take precedence of you." JACOTOT then went on to expound the foundation of his system ; and his remarks will probably suggest the reflection, that practical inventors are frequently very poor theoretical reasoners.
" For thousands of years," said he, "the teachers who have assumed the di- rection of our intelligence, appear to have laboured only to prolong our minority. I have resolved to break these ancient shackles, and to emanci- pate the human mind. I maintain, for I have an intimate conviction of its truth, that all intellects are equal : why then embarrass them with interdic- tions ? According to my principle, he who will learn, can, without the aid of
any one: he alone is ignorant who refuses to instruct himself. Poverty even is no obstacle in the way of instruction, since, according to my notions, every parent can give it himself to his children. ;You will see that such a system as this has the additional advantage of restoring men to the dignity which they have sacrificed to pretended intellectual differences. But in order to convince you, I conceive I must show you results."
M. BOUTMY, after this exordium, was conducted by M. Jacoror into various private houses ; where he heard very young children play
on the piano the most difficult compositions of the great masters, and afterwards improvise on any suggested subject, with an astonishing facility. These children were self-instructed, and had received lessons from no master; by which, we presume, is meant, no music-master- of course they had been taught some general system Of instruction. BOUTMY was then led to the institution of Mademoiselle MAR- cELLIS,—a school ; where he was much struck by the air of content and cheerfulness which animated the children. M. JACOTOT addressed the pupils, and said—" Here is a member of.the Societ6 des Methodes at Paris, who has come to collect information respectinglthe system of instruction which you follow. Show him, by the results of it, what is to be expected from it." He then required some subjects for corn
position of M. BouTMY ; and distributing them among the pupils, lie said, " You have but ten minutes." Before the expiration of a quarter of an hour, the pieces were collected and read : the originals were given to M. JACOTOT, and many of them are printed in this pamphlet, along with others which the author has received from gentlemen who have made similar visits. These specimens of rapidity of composition
and general intelligence are undoubtedlyerernarkablee they are all written in French, which, it musst be remembered, is not the vulgar
tongue of Belgium. Our opinion of them may be gathered from this : taking any 'hundred men about to pass to their Master of Arts degree at Cambridge—that is to say, a. degree implying seven years' Univer- sity standing—not five Would be found miffing, better remarks on similar subjects. The subjects selected by M. I3ouTMY were such as Controversy, Tact, Impossibility, &c. We have M. Bounty's authority for the fact that the progress of the pupils in music is equal to their pro- gress in composition. The pupils compose at first romances ; then they arrive at sonatas, symphonies, in fact at every thing that is most diffi- cult in the art. These prodigies are obtained without the slightest knowledge of the rules of composition : they are owing entirely to the reading of the best works, and the uninterrupted habit of hearing and reflecting upon them. In fact, they are said to learn the musical lan-
guage, as children in good families learn to express themselves with panty and facility. M. Bounty. found the pupils equally accomplished
in verse. They amplified his theme in a manner which put his own rhymes to shame. It happened to be the clay on which the oldest of Mademoiselle Mangano's' pupils (of nineteen months) was about to leave the institution: this young lady had composed a'valedictory piece of music and verse to her schoolfellows, her instructress, and their adopted parent, M. JAcard.r M. BOUTMY represents it as full of pathos and sensibility. When the exercises of these young ladies were finished, M. JACO- TOT addressed the author in the following speech ; whichtwe repeat for the sake of the information it contains respecting the views of the founder.
" Sir, you came here on the part of the Societe des Mel-lodes at Paris, to learn the system of Universal Instruction. You are now acquainted with the intellectual exercises of our method, and the results of these exercises. Re- turn and inform your fellow-members of what you have witnessed ; and if any of them still retains any doubt of the equality of intellectual gifts, tell him, from me, that I will make it a pleasure to dissipate them. Let Your So- ciety also advertise the Academy of the new phenomena, of the extraordinary fact, of which you have been an eye witness. " I beg, on behalf of the poor, that France will communicate to England, to Germany, to all the world, the blessing of intellectual emancipation. The fathers of poor families will bless you, Sir, when I shall tell them that they owe to you the poWer of instructing their children themselves, according to the principle of the equal intellectual powers of men.
" ' You have had a proof of this assertion : these are my reasons—we are all, in point of fact, incapable of contending with these children, though by our natural intelligence we are all made capable of it. Should any learned man of Paris believe himself equal to the task, more than either you or I arc, of entering the lists with them, inform him that we are ready to meet him. " However, spread our opinion : it is the basis of intellectual emancipa- tion, the results of which are regarded as beyond the powers of children. Publish boldly that you have proved that the intellectual powers of children are equal to those of academicians. Fear nothing. I promise to receive him who shall undertake to deny it, and I will dowy best to complete the conver- sion which you have so generously commenced for the good of humanity.' "
We may observe how strangely the founder of the Universal system confounds the dogma of the equality of intellectual powers in men, with his system of acquiring education,—two things which are as wholly distinct as the comparative fertility of two fields and the systems of plain and drill husbandry. An emancipator of intellect ought also to be somewhat more careful of the morality of his pupils, than to tell them before all the world, that, infants as they are, there is not an Academician of them all that is to be compared with them. They are likely to make as great a progress in conceit as in composition. From Louvain M. BOUTMY went to Antwerp, where M. de CEPRES presides over an institution of Universal Instruction, and who as well as the founder has published several works on the subject. So far the descriptive part of M. BOUTMY'S pamphlet—we now collie to the didactic portion; which, we are surprised to observe, is wholly confined to the teaching of the vernacular tongue.
The leading idea of this branch of instruction is an excellent one, and which 11.7°e are not inclined to think the worse of, that it has fre- quently occurred to ourselves. It consists in dismissing grammar, spelling-book, copy-book, theme-boolweading-book, in short every elementary work, and confining the pupil to one single classical work as his text-book for everything. M. J..acoror, in French, takes Te- lemachus: he reads the first syllables to an infant ; he points out the letters which they contain ; he makes the child repeat them ; he then goes on to the next syllables, new acquisitions are made, the old ones are continually repeated : the child is taught thus gradually to read. Writing is taught by giving the words already acquired to be copied ; and the deviations from the standard, after being compared and pointed out by the child itself, corrected by itself. The book is so repeated by the system, and so many ways are taken to impress it on the memory and to insure its impression, that the child ends by knowing all be does know by heart. When composition is commenced, it begins by way of paraphrase on known passages : every word, and the use of it, is verified on the authority of the original; and even the phrases and the force of different expressions are similarly proved. In short, the text- book becomes a complete arsenal of words, thoughts, images, and rea- soning; the whole of which is rendered facile and simple by one single secret—no part is permitted to be passed in such a way as to escape the memory: constant use renders a word, phrase, or fact, capable of being instantly produced without an effort. Thus, a child learns to read, to spell, to write, acquires grammar, a store of phrase, a habit of reasoning, a treasure of ideas, in fact the power of thought and the power of expressing thought.
This method is simple, but we are conscious that it requires more space to develope it in such a way as to be generally intelligible. Such persons as wish for more satisfactory information, we must refer to M. BourMY's publication.* We are ourselves convinced of the effi- cacy of this plan to produce wonders in the teaching, of languages both ancient and modern ; but as regards mimic and other branches of education, neither having met with ample information, nor having seen any instances of the success of the new system, we must be con- tent to wait a time for the hour of conviction.
. The pamphlet is closed by a correspondence between the Due de LEVIS and M. JACOTOT. The Duke and Academician, in a style of con- siderable felicity, objurgates with the founder of a system likely to prove of incalculable utility, upon his mixing up with his practice a disputable theory respecting the equality of human intelligence. We are far from considering the Due de LEVIS so convincing as he would have us suppose on the abstract question ; nevertheless lie is perfectly right in his object. M. JACOTOT, like all bad reasoners at fault, is a little angry, and throws away his advantage in favour of the ducal Academician. We should not be surprised if JACOTOT sets more store by his dogma than by all the prospects of extended benevolence to which his system fairly opens : such are the aberrations of that in- tellect which he considers equal in all.
* Consithirations sur les Resultats Importans qu'obticnt en Belgique le Nouveau Mode d'Education, inventii par H. Jacotot. Par R. Boutmy, R c. Paris, cites Ponce, Rue Th&i,e, No. d. At Ponce's are also to be obtained the work of the founder himself on his system, as well as several other publications on the subject.