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The Story of the Champions of the Round Table By Howard Pyle Characters: 39825

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02

Stimulus and Response. We have learned something about the sense organs and their functions. We have seen that it is through the sense organs that the world affects us, stimulates us. And we have said that we are stimulated in order that we may respond.

We must now inquire into the nature of our responses. We are moving, active beings. But how do we move, how do we act when stimulated? Why do we do one thing rather than another? Why do we do one thing at one time and a different thing at another time?

Before we answer these questions it will be necessary for us to get a more definite and complete idea of the nature of stimulus and response. We have already used these terms, but we must now give a more definite account of them. It was said in the preceding chapter that when a muscle contracts, it must first receive a nerve-impulse. Now, anything which starts this nerve-impulse is called the stimulus. The muscular movement which follows is, of course, the response. The nervous system forms the connection between the stimulus and response.

The stimulus which brings about a response may be very simple. Or, on the other hand, it may be very complex. If one blows upon the eyelids of a baby, the lids automatically close. The blowing is the stimulus and the closing of the lids is the response. Both stimulus and response are here very simple.

But sometimes the stimulus is more complex, not merely the simple excitation of one sense organ, but a complicated stimulation of an organ, or the simultaneous stimulation of several organs. In playing ball, the stimulus for the batter is the on-coming ball. The response is the stroke. This case is much more complex than the reflex closing of the eyelids. The ball may be pitched in many different ways and the response changes with these variations.

In piano playing, the stimulus is the notes written in their particular places on the staff. Not only must the position of the notes on the staff be taken into account, but also many other things, such as sharps and flats, and various characters which give directions as to the manner in which the music is to be played. The striking of the notes in the proper order, in the proper time, and with the proper force, is the response.

In typewriting, the stimulus is the copy, or the idea of what is to be written, and the response is the striking of the keys in the proper order. Speaking generally, we may say that the stimulus is the force or forces which excite the sense organs, and thereby, through the nervous system, bring about a muscular response.

This is the ordinary type of action, but we have already indicated a different type. In speaking of typewriting we said the stimulus might be either the copy or ideas. One can write from copy or dictation, in which the stimulus is the written or spoken word, but one can also write as one thinks of what one wishes to write. The latter is known as centrally initiated action. That is to say, the stimulus comes from within, in the brain, rather than from without.

Let us explain this kind of stimulation a little further. Suppose I am sitting in my chair reading. I finish a chapter and look at my watch. I notice that it is three o'clock, and recall that I was to meet a friend at that time. The stimulus in this case is in the brain itself; it is the nervous activity which corresponds to the idea of meeting my friend. If we disregard the distinction between mind and body, we may say that the stimulus for a response may be an idea as well as a perception, the perception arising from the immediate stimulation of a sense organ, and the idea arising from an excitation of the brain not caused by an immediate stimulation of a sense organ.

Instincts and Habits. In human action it is evident that there is always a stimulus to start the nerve-impulse which causes the action. If we make inquiry concerning the connection between the stimulus and response; if we ask how it has come about that a particular stimulus causes a particular response rather than some other possible response, we find two kinds of causes. In one case the causal connection is established through heredity; in the other, the causal connection is established during a person's lifetime through training.

A chicken, for example, hides under some cover the first time it hears the cry of a hawk; it scratches the first time its feet touch sand or gravel; it pecks the first time it sees an insect near by. An infant closes its eyes the first time it feels cold wind blow upon them; it cries the first time it feels pain; it clasps its fingers together the first time a touch is felt inside them. The child's nervous system is so organized that, in each of the cases named, the stimulus brings forth the particular, definite response. These acts do not have to be learned.

But it is quite different in typewriting and piano playing. One must learn what keys on the piano to strike in response to the various situations of the notes as written in the music. One must also learn the keys on the typewriter before he can operate a typewriter. And in the case of other habits, we find, for example, that one does not respond by saying "81" for 9 times 9; nor "13" for 6 plus 7; nor "8" for 15 minus 7; nor "8" for the square root of 64; nor "144" for the square of 12, etc., until one has learned in each case.

Some connections between stimulus and response we have through inheritance; all others are built up and established in one's lifetime, particularly in the first thirty years of one's life.

We have spoken of bonds between stimulus and response, but have not explained just what can be meant by a bond. In what sense are stimulus and response bound together? A bond is a matter of greater permeability, of less resistance in one direction through the nervous system than in other directions. Nerves are conductors for nerve-currents. When a nerve-current is started in a sense organ, it passes on through the path of least resistance.

Now, some nerves are so organized and connected through inheritance as to offer small resistance. This forms a ready-made connection between stimulus and response. Muscular responses that are connected with their stimuli through inherited bonds, by inherited nerve structure, are called instincts. Those that are connected by acquired bonds are called habits. Sucking, crying, laughing, are instinctive acts. Adding, typewriting, piano playing, are habits.

The term instinct may be given to the act depending upon inherited structure, an inherited bond, or it may be given to the inherited bond itself. Similarly, the term habit may be given to an act that we have had to learn or to the bond which we ourselves establish between response and stimulus. In this book we shall usually mean by instinct an action depending upon inherited structure and by habit an act depending upon a bond established during lifetime. A good part of our early lives is spent in building up bonds between stimuli and responses. This establishing of bonds or connections is called learning.

Appearance of Inherited Tendencies. Not all of our inherited tendencies are manifested immediately after birth, nor indeed in the earliest years of childhood, but appear at different stages of the child's growth. It has already been said that a child, soon after birth, will close its eyelids when they are blown upon. The lids do not close at this time if one strikes at them, but they will do this later. The proper working of an instinct or an inherited tendency, then, depends upon the child's having reached a certain state of development.

The maturing of an instinct depends upon both age and use, that is to say, upon the age of the animal and the amount of use or exercise that the instinctive activity has had. The most important factor, however, seems to be age. While our knowledge of the dependence of an instinct upon the age of the animal is not quite so definite in the case of human instincts, the matter has been worked out in the case of chickens.

The experiment was as follows: Chickens were taken at the time of hatching, and some allowed to peck from the first, while others were kept in a dark room and not allowed to peck. When the chickens were taken out of the dark room at the end of one, two, three, and four days, it was found that in a few hours they were pecking as well as those that had been pecking from birth. It seems probable, if we may judge from our limited knowledge, that in the human child, activities are for the most part dependent upon the age of the child, and upon the state of development of the nervous system and of the organs of the body.

Significance of Inherited Tendencies. Although human nature is very complex, although human action nearly always has some element of habit in it, nevertheless, inborn tendencies are throughout life powerful factors in determining action. This will at once be apparent if we consider how greatly we are influenced by anger, jealousy, love, fear, and competition. Now we do not have to learn to be jealous, to hate, to love, to be envious, to fight, or to fear. These are emotions common to all members of the human race, and their expression is an inborn tendency. Throughout life no other influences are so powerful in determining our action as are these. So, although most of our detailed actions in life are habits which we learn or acquire, the fundamental influences which decide the course of our action are inherited tendencies.

Classification of Instincts. For convenience in treatment the instincts are grouped in classes. Those instincts most closely related to individual survival are called individualistic instincts. Those more closely related to the survival of the group are called socialistic. Those individualistic tendencies growing out of periodic changes of the environment may be called environmental instincts. Those closely related to human infancy, adapting and adjusting the child to the world in which he lives, may be called adaptive. There is still another group of inherited tendencies connected with sex and reproduction, which are not discussed in this book.

We shall give a brief discussion of the instincts falling under these various classes. It must be remembered, however, that the psychology of the instincts is indefinite and obscure. It is difficult to bring the instincts into the laboratory for accurate study. For our knowledge of the instincts we are dependent, for the most part, on general observation. We have had a few careful studies of the very earliest years of childhood. However, although from the theoretical point of view our knowledge of the instincts is incomplete, it is sufficient to be of considerable practical value.

The Individualistic Instincts. Man's civilized life has covered but a short period of time, only a few hundred or a few thousand years. His pre-civilized life doubtless covered a period of millions of years. The inborn tendencies in us are such as were developed in the long period of savage life. During all of man's life in the time before civilization, he was always in danger. He had many enemies, and most of these enemies had the advantage of him in strength and natural means of defense. Unaided by weapons, he could hardly hold his own against any of the beasts of prey. So there were developed in man by the process of natural selection many inherited responses which we group under the head of fear responses.

Just what the various situations are that bring forth these responses has never been carefully worked out. But any situation that suddenly puts an individual in danger of losing his life brings about characteristic reactions. The most characteristic of the responses are shown in connection with circulation and respiration. Both of these processes are much interfered with. Sometimes the action is accelerated, at other times it is retarded, and in some cases the respiratory and circulatory organs are almost paralyzed. Also the small muscles of the skin are made to contract, producing the sensation of the hair standing on end. Just what the original use of all these responses was it is difficult now to work out, but doubtless each served some useful purpose.

Whether any particular situations now call forth inherited fear responses in us is not definitely established. But among lower animals there are certain definite and particular situations which do call forth fear responses. On the whole, the evidence rather favors the idea of definite fear situations among children. It seems that certain situations do invariably arouse fear responses. To be alone in the dark, to be in a strange place, to hear loud and sudden noises, to see large, strange animals coming in threatening manner, seem universally to call forth fear responses in children.

However, the whole situation must always be considered. A situation in which the father or mother is present is quite different from one in which they are both absent. But it is certain that these and other fears are closely related to the age and development of the child. In the earlier years of infancy, certain fears are not present that are present later. And it can be demonstrated that the fears that do arise as infancy passes on are natural and inherited and not the result of experience.

Few of the original causes of fear now exist. The original danger was from wild animals chiefly. Seldom are we now in such danger. But of course this has been the case for only a short time. Our bodies are the same sort of bodies that our ancestors had, therefore we are full of needless fears. During the early years of a child's life, wise treatment causes most of the fear tendencies to disappear because of disuse. On the other hand, unwise treatment may accentuate and perpetuate them, causing much misery and unhappiness. Neither the home nor the school should play upon these ancestral fears. We should not try to get a child to be good by frightening him; nor should we often use fear of pain as an incentive to get a child to do his work.

Man has always been afraid, but he has also always been a fighter. He has always had to fight for his life against the lower animals, and he has also fought his fellow man. The fighting response is connected with the emotions of anger, envy, and jealousy. A man is angered by anything that interferes with his life, with his purposes, with whatever he calls his own. We become angry if some one strikes our bodies, or attacks our beliefs, or the beliefs of our dear friends, particularly of our families. The typical responses connected with anger are such as faster heart-beat, irregular breathing, congestion of the blood in the face and head, tightening of the voluntary muscles, particularly a setting of the teeth and a clinching of the fists. These responses are preparatory to actual combat.

Anger, envy, and jealousy, and the responses growing out of them, have always played a large part in the life of man. A great part of history is a record of the fights of nations, tribes, and individuals. If the records of wars and strifes, and the acts growing out of envy and jealousy and other similar emotions should be taken out of history, there would not be much left. Much of literature and art depict those actions of man which grew out of these individualistic aspects of his nature. Competition, which is an aspect of fighting, even to the present day, continues to be one of the main factors in business and in life generally. Briefly, fighting responses growing out of man's selfishness are as old as man himself, and the inherited tendencies connected with them are among the strongest of our natures.

In the training of children, one of the most difficult tasks is to help them to get control over the fighting instinct and other selfish tendencies. These tendencies are so deeply rooted in our natures that it is hard to get control of them. In fact, the control which we do get over them is always relative. The best we can hope to do is to get control over our fighting tendencies in ordinary circumstances.

It is doubtful whether it would be good for us if the fighting spirit should disappear from the race. It puts vim and determination into the life of man. But our fighting should not be directed against our fellow man. The fighting spirit can be retained and directed against evil and other obstacles. We can learn to attack our tasks in a fighting spirit. But surely the time has come when we should cease fighting against our neighbors.

Social Tendencies. Over against our fighting tendencies we may set the socialistic tendencies. Co?perative and sympathetic actions grow out of original nature, just as truly as do the selfish acts. But the socialistic tendencies are not, in general, as strong as are the individualistic ones. What society needs is the strengthening of the socialistic tendencies by use, and a weakening of at least some of the individualistic tendencies, by control and disuse.

Socialistic tendencies show themselves in gangs and clubs formed by children and adults. It is, therefore, a common practice now to speak of the "gang" instinct. Human beings are pleased and content when with other human beings and not content, not satisfied, when alone. Of course circumstances make a difference in the desires of men, but the general original tendency is as stated.

The gang of the modern city has the following explanation: Boys like to be with other boys. Moreover, they like to be active; they want to be doing something. The city does not provide proper means for the desired activities, such as hunting, fishing, tramping, and boating. It does not provide experiences with animals, such as boys have on the farm. Much of the boy's day is spent in school in a kind of work not at all like what he would do by choice. There is not much home life. Usually there is not the proper parental control. Seldom do the parents interest themselves in planning for the activities of their children. The result is that the boys come together on the streets and form a club or gang. Through this organization the boy's nature expresses itself. Without proper guidance from older people, this expression takes a direction not good for the future character and usefulness of the boy.

The social life of children should be provided for by the school in co?peration with the home. The school or the schoolroom should constitute a social unit. The teacher with the parents should plan the social life of the children. The actual work of the school can be very much socialized. There can be much more co?peration and much more group work can be done in the school than is the case at present. And many other social activities can be organized in connection with the school and its work. Excursions, pageants, shows, picnics, and all sorts of activities should be undertaken.

The schoolhouse should be used by the community as the place for many of its social acts and performances. Almost every night, and throughout the summer as well as in the winter, the people, young and old, should meet at the school for some sort of social work or play. The Boy Scouts should be brought under the control of the school to help fulfill some of its main purposes.

Environmental Instincts. In this class there are at least two tendencies which seem to be part of the original nature of man; namely, the wandering and the collecting tendencies.

Wandering. The long life that our ancestors lived free and unrestrained in the woods has left its effect within us. One of the greatest achievements of civilization has been to overcome the inherited tendencies to roam and wander, to the extent that for the most part we live out our lives in one home, in one family, doing often but one kind of work all our lives. Originally, man had much more freedom

to come and go and do whatever he wished.

Truancies and runaways are the result of original tendencies and desires expressing themselves in spite of training, perhaps sometimes because of the lack of training. In childhood and youth these original tendencies should, to some extent, be satisfied in legitimate ways. Excursions and picnics can be planned both for work and for play. If the child's desires and needs can be satisfied in legitimate ways, then he will not have to satisfy them illegitimately. The teaching itself can be done better by following, to some extent, the lead of the child's nature. Much early education consists in learning the world. Now, most of the world is out of doors and the child must go out to find it. The teacher should make use of the natural desires of the children to wander and explore, as a means of educating them. The school work should be of such a nature that much outdoor work will need to be done.

Collecting. It is in the nature of children to seize and, if possible, carry away whatever attracts attention. This tendency is the basis of what is called the collecting instinct. If one will take a walk with a child, one can observe the operation of the collecting tendency, particularly if the walk is in the fields and woods. The child will be observed to take leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, nuts, pebbles, and in fact everything that is loose or can be gotten loose. They are taken at first aimlessly, merely because they attract attention. The original, natural response of the child toward that which attracts attention is usually to get it, get possession of it and take it along. It is easy to see why such tendencies were developed in man. In his savage state it was highly useful for him to do this. He must always have been on the lookout for things which could be used as food or as weapons. He had to do this to live. But one need not take a child to the woods to observe this tendency. One can go to the stores. Till a child is trained not to do it, he seizes and takes whatever attracts attention.

Just as the wandering tendencies can be used for the benefit of the child, so can the collecting tendencies. Not only should the children make expeditions to learn of the world, but specimens should be collected so that they can be used to form a museum at the school which will represent the surrounding locality. Geological, geographical, botanical, and zo?logical specimens should be collected. The children will learn much while making the collections, and much from the collections after they are made.

"Education could profit greatly by making large demands upon the collecting instinct. It seems clear that in their childhood is the time when children should be sent forth to the fields and woods, to study what they find there and to gather specimens. The children can form naturalists' clubs for the purpose of studying the natural environment. Such study should embrace rocks, soils, plants, leaves, flowers, fruits, and specimens of the wood of the various trees. Birds and insects can be studied and collected. The work of such a club would have a twofold value. (1) The study and collecting acquaint the child with his natural environment, and in doing it, afford a sphere for the activity of many aspects of his nature. They take him out of doors and give an opportunity for exploring every nook and corner of the natural environment. The collecting can often be done in such a way as to appeal to the group instincts. For example, the club could hold meetings for exhibiting and studying the specimens, and sometimes the actual collecting could be done in groups. (2) The specimens collected should be put into the school museum, and the aim of this museum should be to represent completely the local environment, the natural and physical environment, and also the industrial, civil, and social environment. The museum should be completely illustrative of the child's natural, physical, and social surroundings. The museum would therefore be educative in its making, and when it is made, it would have immense value to the community, not only to the children but to all the people. In this museum, of course, should be found the minerals, rocks, soils, insects,-particularly those of economic importance,-birds, and also specimens of the wild animals of the locality. If proper appeal is made to the natural desire of the children, this instinct would soon be made of service in producing a very valuable collection. The school museum in which these specimens are placed should also include other classes of specimens. There should be specimens showing industrial evolution, the stages of manufacture of raw material, specimens of local historical interest, pictures, documents, books. The museum should be made of such a nature that parents would go there nearly as often as the children. The school should be for the instruction of all the people of the community. It should be the experiment station, the library, the debating club, the art gallery for the whole community."[2]

[2] Pyle's Outlines of Educational Psychology, pp. 84–86.

Imitation. One of the fundamental original traits of human nature is the tendency to imitate. Imitation is not instinctive in the strict meaning of the word. Seeing a certain act performed does not, apart from training and experience, serve as a stimulus to make a child perform a similar act. Hearing a certain sound does not serve as a stimulus for the production of the same sound. Nevertheless, there is in the human child a tendency or desire to do what it sees others doing.

A few hours spent in observing children ought to convince any one of the universality and of the strength of this tendency. As our experience becomes organized, the idea of an act usually serves as the stimulus to call it forth. However, this is not because the idea of an act, of necessity, always produces the act. It is merely a matter of the stimulus and the response becoming connected in that way as the result of experience. Our meaning is that an act can be touched off or prompted by any stimulus. Our nervous organization makes this possible. The particular stimulus that calls forth a particular response depends upon how we have been trained, how we have learned. In most cases our acts are coupled up with the ideas of the acts. We learn them that way.

In early life particularly, the connection between stimulus and response is very close. When a child gets the idea of an act, he immediately performs the act, if he knows how. Now, seeing another perform an act brings the act clearly into the child's consciousness, and he proceeds to perform it. But the act must be one which the child already knows how to perform, otherwise his performance of it will be faulty and incomplete. If he has never performed the particular act, seeing another perform the act sets him to trying to do it and he may soon learn it. If he successfully performs an act when he sees it done by another, the act must be one which he already knows how to perform, and for whose performance the idea has already served as a stimulus. Now if imitation were instinctive in the strict sense, one could perform the act for the first time merely from seeing another do it, without any previous experience or learning. It is doubtful whether there are any such inherited connections. It is, however, true that human beings are of such a nature that, particularly in early life, they like to do and want to do what they see others doing. This is one of the most important aspects of human nature, as we shall see.

Function and Importance of Imitation in Life. Natural selection has developed few aspects of human nature so important for survival as the tendency to imitate, for this tendency quickly leads to a successful adjustment of the child to the world in which he lives. Adult men and women are successfully adjusted to their environment. Their adjustment might be better, but it is good enough to keep them alive for a time. Now, if children do as they see their parents doing, they will reach a satisfactory adjustment. We may, therefore, say that the tendency to imitate serves to adjust the child to his environment. It is for this reason that imitation has been called an adaptive instinct. It would perhaps be better to say merely that the tendency to imitate is part of the original equipment of man.

Imitation is distinctively a human trait. While it occurs in lower animals it is probably not an important factor in adjusting them to their environment. But in the human race it is one of the chief factors in adjustment to environment. Imitation is one of the main factors in education. Usually the quickest way to teach a child to do a thing is to show him how.

Through imitation we acquire our language, manners, and customs. Ideals, beliefs, prejudices, attitudes, we take on through imitation. The tendency to imitate others coupled with the desire to be thought well of by others is one of the most powerful factors in producing conformity. They are the whips which keep us within the bounds of custom and conventionality. The tendency to imitate is so strong that its results are almost as certain as are those of inherited tendencies. It is almost as certain that a child will be like his parents in speech, manners, customs, superstitions, etc., as it is that he will be like them in form of body. He not only walks and talks and acts like his parents, but he thinks as they do. We, therefore, have the term social heredity, meaning the taking on of all sorts of social habits and ideals through imitation.

The part that imitation plays in the education of a child may be learned by going to a country home and noting how the boy learns to do all the many things about the farm by imitating his father, and how the girl learns to do all the housework by imitating her mother. Imitation is the basis of much of the play of children, in that their play consists in large part of doing what they see older people doing. This imitative play gives them skill and is a large factor in preparing for the work of life.

Dramatization. Dramatization is an aspect of imitation, and is a means of making ideas more real than they would otherwise be. There is nothing that leads us so close to reality as action. We never completely know an act till we have done it. Dramatization is a matter of carrying an idea out into action. Ideas give to action its greatest fullness of meaning.

Dramatic representation should, therefore, have a prominent place in the schools, particularly in the lower grades. If the child is allowed to mimic the characters in the reading lesson, the meaning of the lesson becomes fuller. Later on in the school course, dramatic representation of the characters in literature and history is a means of getting a better conception of these characters. In geography, the study of the manners and customs and occupations of foreign peoples can be much facilitated through dramatic representation. Children naturally have the dramatic tendency; it is one aspect of the tendency to imitate. We have only to encourage it and make use of it throughout the school course.

Imitation in Ideals. Imitation is of importance not only in acquiring the actions of life but also in getting our ideals. Habits of thinking are no less an aspect of our lives than are habits of acting. Our attitudes, our prejudices, our beliefs, our moral, religious, and political ideals are in large measure copied from people about us. The family and social atmosphere in which one lives is a mold in which one's mind is formed and shaped. We cannot escape the influence of this atmosphere if we would. One takes on a belief that his father has, one clings to this belief and interprets the world in the light of it. This belief becomes a part of one's nature. It is a mental habit, a way of looking at the world. It is as much a part of one as red hair or big feet or a crooked nose. Probably no other influence has so much to do with making us what we are as social beings as the influence of imitation.

Play. Play is usually considered to be a part of the original equipment of man. It is essentially an expression of the ripening instincts of children, and not a specific instinct itself. It is rather a sort of make-believe activity of all the instincts. Kittens and dogs may be seen in play to mimic fighting. They bite and chew each other as in real fighting, but still they are not fighting.

As the structures and organs of children mature, they demand activity. This early activity is called play. It has several characteristics. The main one is that it is pleasurable. Play activity is pleasurable in itself. We do not play that we may get something else which we like, as is the case with the activity which we call work. Play is an end in itself. It is not a means to get something else which is intrinsically valuable.

One of the chief values of play comes from its activity aspect. We are essentially motor beings. We grow and develop only through exercise. In early life we do not have to exert ourselves to get a living. Play is nature's means of giving our organs the exercise which they must have to bring them to maturity. Play is an expression of the universal tendency to action in early life. Without play, the child would not develop, would not become a normal human being.

All day long the child is ceaselessly active. The value of this activity can hardly be overestimated. It not only leads to healthy growth, but is a means through which the child learns himself and the world. Everything that the child sees excites him to react to it or upon it. He gets possession of it. He bites it. He pounds it. He throws it. In this way he learns the properties of things and the characteristics of forces. Through play and imitation, in a very few years the child comes to a successful adjustment in his world.

Play and imitation are the great avenues of activity in early life. Even in later life, we seldom accomplish anything great or worth while until the thing becomes play to us, until we throw our whole being into it as we do in play, until it is an expression of ourselves as play is in our childhood. The proper use of play gives us the solution of many of the problems of early education.

Play has two functions in the school: (1) Motor play is necessary to growth, development, and health. The constant activity of the child is what brings about healthy growth.

In the country it is not difficult for children to get plenty of the proper kind of exercise, but in the larger cities it is difficult. Nevertheless, opportunity for play should be provided for every child, no matter what the trouble or expense, for without play children cannot become normal human beings. Everywhere parents and teachers should plan for the play life of the children.

(2) In the primary grades play can have a large place in the actual work of the school. The early work of education is to a large extent getting the tools of knowledge and thought and work-reading, spelling, writing, correct speech, correct writing, the elementary processes of arithmetic, etc. In many ways play can be used in acquiring these tools.

One aspect of play particularly should have a large place in education; namely, the manipulative tendencies of children. This is essentially play. Children wish to handle and manipulate everything that attracts their attention. They wish to tear it to pieces and to put it together. This is nature's way of teaching, and by it children learn the properties and structures of things. They thereby learn what things do and what can be done with them. Teachers and parents should foster these manipulative tendencies and use them for the child's good. These tendencies are an aspect of curiosity. We want to know. We are unhappy as long as a thing is before us which we do not understand, which has some mystery about it. Nature has developed these tendencies in us, for without a knowledge of our surroundings we could not live. The child therefore has in his nature the basis of his education. We have but to know this nature and wisely use and manipulate it to achieve the child's education.

Summary. Instincts are inherited tendencies to specific actions. They fall under the heads: individualistic, socialistic, environmental, adaptive, sexual or mating instincts. These inherited tendencies are to a large extent the foundation on which we build education. The educational problem is to control and guide them, suppressing some, fostering others. In everything we undertake for a child we must take into account these instincts.


Make a study of the instincts of several animals, such as dogs, cats, chickens. Make a list showing the stimuli and the inherited responses.

Make a study of the instincts of a baby. See how many inherited responses you can observe. The simpler inherited responses are known as reflexes. The closing of the eyelids mentioned in the text is an example. How many such reflexes can you find in a child?

Make a special study of the fears of very young children. How many definite situations can you find which excite fear responses in all children? Each member of the class can make a list of his own fears. It may then be seen whether any fears are common to all members of the class and whether there are any sex differences.

Similarly, make a study of anger and fighting. What situations invariably arouse the fighting response? In what definite, inherited ways is anger shown? Do your studies and observations convince you that the fighting instinct and other inherited responses concerned with individual survival are among the strongest of inherited tendencies? Can the fighting instinct be eliminated from the human race? Is it desirable to eliminate it?

Make a study of children's collections. Take one of the grades and find what collections the children have made. What different objects are collected?

Outline a plan for using the collecting instinct in various school studies.

With the help of the principal of the school make a study of some specific cases of truancy. What does your finding show?

Make a study of play by watching children of various ages play. Make a list of the games that are universal for infancy, those for childhood, and those for youth. (Consult Johnson's Plays and Games.)

What are the two main functions of play in education? Why should we play after we are mature?

Study imitation in very young children. Do this by watching the spontaneous play of children under six. What evidences of imitation do you find?

Outline the things we learn by imitation. What is your opinion of the place which imitation has in our education?

Make a study of imitation as a factor in the lives of grown people. Consider styles, fashions, manners, customs, beliefs, prejudices, religious ideas, etc.

On the whole, is imitation a good thing or a bad thing?

Make a plan of the various ways in which dramatization can be profitably used in the schools.

Make a study of your own ideals. What ideals do you have? Where did you get them? What ideals did you get from your parents? What from books? What from teachers? What from friends?

Show that throughout life inherited tendencies are the fundamental bases from which our actions proceed, on which our lives are erected.

Make a complete outline of the chapter.


Colvin and Bagley: Human Behavior, Chapters III, VIII, IX, and X.

Kirkpatrick: Fundamentals of Child Study, Chapters IV–XIII.

Münsterberg: Psychology, General and Applied, pp. 184–187.

Pillsbury: Essentials of Psychology, Chapter X.

Pyle: The Outlines of Educational Psychology, Chapters IV–IX.

Titchener: A Beginner's Psychology, Chapter VIII.

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