Law Five
Seven Laws for Effectual Teaching
Lesson Seven




Our survey of the teaching art has thus far involved these four 
considerations: the teacher, the learner, the language, and the
lesson. We are now to study these in action, and to observe the
conduct of the teacher and his pupil. The previous discussions have
already brought these partly into view, but as each of them has its
own law, each demands more careful consideration than has yet been
given it. In the laws of the teacher and the learner, we found
necessarily reflected the actions of both; but an actor and his part
are easily separated in thought, and each possesses aspects and
characteristics of its own. Following the natural order, the teaching
function comes first before us, and we are now to seek its law. The
law of the teacher was essentially a law of qualification; the law of
teaching is a law of function.


Thus far we have considered teaching as the communication of
knowledge or experience; more properly, we should say that this is a
RESULT of teaching. Whether by telling, demonstrating, or leading
pupils to discover for themselves, the teacher is transmitting
experience to his pupils; that is his aim and purpose, and his
teaching is conditioned by that aim. But the explanation of the work
of the teacher in terms of function is to be distinguished from the
definition in terms of purpose. The actual work of the teacher consists of the 
awakening and setting in action the mind of the
pupil, the arousing of his self-activities. As already shown,knowledge 
cannot   be passed from mind to mind like objects from one
receptacle to another, but must in every case be recognized and
rethought and relived by the receiving mind. All explanation and
exposition are useless except as they serve to excite and direct the
pupil in his own thinking. If the pupil himself does not think, there
are no results of the teaching; the words of the teacher are falling
upon deaf ears.




We are now ready to state the law of teaching:




The second clause in this law is of sufficient importance to
justify its position in the formulation of the law, although it is
negatively stated. There are cases in which it may be necessary to
disregard this caution in order to save time, or in the case of a
very weak or discouraged pupil, or sometimes when intense interest
has been aroused and there is a keen demand for information
that the teacher can give quickly and effectively, but its violation
is almost always a loss which should be compensated by a definite
gain. Considered affirmatively, this caution would read: "Make your
pupil a discoverer of truth -- make him find out for himself." The
great value of this law has been so often and so strongly stated as
to demand no further proof. No great writer on education has failed to consider it in 
some form or another; if we were seeking the educational maxim most widely 
received among good teachers, and the most extensive in its applications and
results, we should fix upon this law. It is the same fundamental truth as the one
found in such rules as the following: "Wake up your pupils' minds"; "Set the pupils
to thinking"; "Arouse the spirit of inquiry"; "Get your pupils to
work." All   these familiar maxims are different expressions of this
same law.


In discussing the principles of attention, language, and
knowledge, we have considered to some extent the operations of the
mind. We should now study these further.




We can learn without a teacher. Children learn hundreds of facts
before they ever see a school, sometimes with the aid of parents or
others, often by their own unaided efforts. In the greater part
of our acquisitions we are self-taught, and it is quite generally
conceded that knowledge is most permanent and best which is dug out
by unaided research. Everything, at the outset, must be learned by
the discoverer without an instructor, since no instructor knows it. If, then, 
we can learn without being taught, it follows that the true
function of the teacher is to create the most favorable conditions
for self-learning. Essentially the acquisition of knowledge must be
brought about by the same agencies and through the use of the same
methods, whether with or without a teacher.


What, then, is the use of schools, and what is the necessity of a
teacher? The question is pertinent, but the answer is plain.Knowledge in its natural state 
lies scattered and confused; it is connected, to be sure, in great systems, but these 
connections are laws and relations unknown to the beginner, and they are to be
learned only through ages of observation and careful study. The
school selects for its curriculum what it regards as the most useful
of the experiences of the race, organizes these, and offers them to
the pupils along with its facilities for learning.


 It offers to these
pupils leisure and quiet for study, and through its books and other
materials of education the results of other people's labors, which
may serve as charts of the territories to be explored, and as beaten
paths through the fields of knowledge. True teaching, then, is
not that which GIVES knowledge, but that which stimulates pupils to
GAIN it. One might say that he teaches BEST who teaches LEAST; or
that he teaches best whose pupils learn most without being taught
directly. But we should bear in mind that in these epigrammatic
statements two meanings of the word TEACHING are involved: one,simply telling, 
the other creating the conditions of real learning.

 That teacher is a sympathizing guide whose knowledge of the
subjects to be studied enables him properly to direct the efforts of
the pupil, to save him from a waste of time and strength, from
needless difficulties. But no aid of school or teacher can change the
operations of the mind, or take from the pupil his need of knowing for himself. 
The eye must do its own seeing, the ear its own hearing,and the mind 
its own thinking,   however much may be done to furnish
objects of sights, sounds for the ear and stimuli for the
intelligence. The innate capacities of the child produce the growth
of body or mind. "If childhood is educated according to the measure
of its powers," said Saint Augustine, "they will continually grow and
increase; while if forced beyond their strength, they decrease
instead of increasing." 


The sooner the teacher abandons the notion
that he can make his pupils intelligent by hard work upon their
passive receptivity, the sooner he will become a good teacher
and obtain the art, as Socrates said, of assisting the mind to shape
and put forth its own conceptions. It was to his skill in this that
the great Athenian owed his power and greatness among his
contemporaries, and it was this that gave him his place as one of the
foremost of the great teachers of mankind. It is the "forcing
process" in teaching which separates parrot
like and perfunctory LEARNING from KNOWING. A boy, having expressed 
surprise at the shape of the earth when he was shown a globe, was asked: 
"Did you not learn that in school?" He replied: "Yes. I learned it, but I never knew


The great aims of education are to acquire knowledge and ideals, and to develop 
abilities and skills. Our law derives its significance
from both of these aims. The pupil must know for himself, or his
knowledge will be knowledge in name only. The very effort required in
the act of thus learning and knowing may do much to increase the
capacity to learn. The pupil who is taught without doing any studying
for himself will be like one who is fed without being given any
exercise: he will lose both his appetite and his strength.

Confidence in our own powers is an essential condition of their
successful use. This confidence can be gained only by self-prompted,voluntary,
and independent use of these capacities. We learn
to walk, not by seeing others walk, but by walking. The same is true
of mental abilities.


The self-activities or mental powers do not set themselves at
work without some motive or stimulus to put them in action. In early
life external stimuli are stronger, and in riper years the internal
excitements are the ones to which we respond more readily. To the young
child the objects of sense -- bright colors, live animals, and things
in motion -- are most attractive and exciting. Later in life, the
inner facts of thought and feeling are more engaging. The child's
mental life has in it an excess of sensation; the mental life of the
adult has more reflection.


But whatever the stimulus, the processes of cognition are largely
the same. There is the comparison of the new with the old, the
alternating analysis and synthesis of parts, wholes, classes, causes,
and effects; the action of memory and imagination, the use of
judgment and reason, and the effects upon thought of tastes and 
prejudices as   they have been concerned with the previous knowledge
and experience of the learner. If thinking does not take place, the
teacher has applied the stimuli in vain. He perhaps will wonder that
his pupils do not understand, and will very likely consider them
stupid and incompetent, or at least lazy. Unfortunately the stupidity
is sometimes on the other side, and its sins against this law
of teaching in assuming that the teacher can MAKE the pupil learn by
dint of vigorous telling, or teaching as he calls it, whereas true
teaching only brings to bear on the pupil's mind certain natural
stimuli or excitants. If some of these fail, he must find others, and
not rest until he attains the desired result and sees the activity of
the child at work upon the lesson.


Comenius said, over two hundred years ago, "Most teachers sow
plants instead of seeds; instead of proceeding from the simplest
principles they introduce the pupil at once into a chaos of books and
miscellaneous studies." The figure of the seed is a good one, and is
much older than Comenius. The greatest of teachers said: "The seed is
the word." The true teacher stirs the ground and sows the seed. It is
the work of the soil, through its own forces, to develop the growth
and ripen the grain. [-1- Johann Amos Comenius (1592-1671) was a
Moravian clergyman, whose efforts to reform school practices have
given him an enduring place in the history of education.]


The difference between the pupil who works for himself and the
one who works only when he is driven is too obvious to need
explanation. The one is a free agent, the other is a machine. The
former is attracted by his work, and, prompted by his interest, he
works on until he meets some overwhelming difficulty or reaches the
end of his task. The latter moves only when he is urged. He
sees what is shown him, he hears what he is told, advances when his
teacher leads, and stops just where and when the teacher stops. The
one moves by his own activities, and the other by borrowed impulse. The former
is a   mountain stream fed by living springs, the latter a ditch filled from a pump 
worked by anothers hand.




The action of the mind is limited practically to the field of its
acquired knowledge. The individual who knows nothing cannot think,for he has nothing to 
think about. In comparing, imagining, judging,and reasoning, and in applying knowledge to plan, criticize, or execute one's own thoughts, the mind must necessarily work upon the
material in its possession. Hence the power of any object or fact as
a mental stimulus depends in each case upon the number of related
objects or facts which the individual already knows. A botanist will
be aroused to the keenest interest by the discovery of a hitherto
unknown plant, but will perhaps care little or nothing for a new
stone or a new star. The physician eagerly studies new diseases, the
lawyer recent decisions, the farmer new crops, and the mechanic new


The infant knows little, and his interest is brief and slight;the adult knows
many things, and his interests are deeper, wider, and
more persistent. Thoughtfulness deepens and grows more intense
with the increase of knowledge. The student of mathematics who has
worked long and diligently in his field never finds it dry or
tiresome; the wisest student of the Bible finds in its pages the
greatest delight. All these illustrations show the principles which
underlie our law and prove its value.


The two chief springs of interest through which the mind can be
aroused are the love of knowledge for its own sake, that is, its
cultural value, and the desire for knowledge to be used as a tool in
solving problems or obtaining other knowledge. In the former are
mingled the satisfaction of the native curiosity which craves to know
the real nature and causes of the phenomena around us, the solution
of the questionings which often trouble the mind, the relief from
apprehensions which ignorance feels in the presence of nature's
mysteries, the sense of power and liberty which knowledge often
brings, the feeling of elevation which each new increment of
knowledge gives, and the "rejoicing in the truth" because of its own
beauty and sublimity, or its moral charm and sweetness, its appeals
to our taste for wit and humor, and for the wonderful. All these
enter separately or together into the intellectual appetite to which
the various forms of knowledge appeal, and which give to reading and
study their greatest attraction. Each affords an avenue
through which the mind can be reached and roused by the skillful


It is evident that this manifold mental appetite must vary in
character and intensity with the tastes and attainments of the
pupils. Some love nature and her sciences of observation and
experiment; others love mathematics and delight in its problems;still others 
prefer the languages and literature, and others history
and the sciences which deal with the powers, deeds, and destinies of
man. Each special preference grows by being fostered, and becomes
absorbing as its acquisitions become great. The great masteries and
achievements in arts, literature, and science have come from these
innate tastes, and in all these "the child is father of the man."In each pupil lies 
the germ of such tastes -- the springs of
such powers -- awaiting the art of the teacher to water 
the germs and set the springs in motion.


The respect for knowledge because of its value as a tool includes
the desire for education as a means of livelihood or as a source of
better social standing; the felt or anticipated need of some special
skill or ability as an artist, lawyer, writer, or some other brain
worker; as well as study for the purpose of winning rewards or
avoiding punishments. This indirect desire for learning varies with
the character and aims of the pupils, but does not increase

with attainment unless it ripens, as it may, into the true love of
knowledge above described. Its strength depends upon the nature and
magnitude of the need which impels the study. The activities aroused
for such study go to a self-imposed task and are not very likely to
continue their work after the task is done. The rewards and
punishments used in school to promote the studying of lessons have
just this force and no more. They inspire no generous activity which
works for the love of the work and which does not pause when the
assigned lesson has been covered. Witness the spirit that pervades
every school so taught and so managed. On the other hand, if the true
uses of knowledge are constantly pointed out by the teacher and
recognized by the child, the time may well come when respect for
knowledge because it is useful becomes a real love of knowledge for
its own sake.




Our discussion thus far has taken for granted the intimate and
indissoluble connection between the intellect and the feelings, the
inseparable union of thought and feeling. To think without feeling
would be thinking with a total indifference to the object of thought,which would be 
absurd; and to feel without thinking would be almost
impossible. As most of the objects of thought are objects also of
desire or dislike, and therefore objects of choice, it follows that
all important action of the intellect has a moral side. This, again,is an assumption 
that we have made throughout our discussion.The love of knowledge for itself or for its 
uses is in reality moral,as it implies moral affections and purposes of good or evil. All
motives of study have a moral character or connection, in their early
steps; hence no education or teaching can be absolutely divorced
from morals. The affections come to school with the intellect.

 This moral consciousness finds its fuller sphere in the
recognized domain of duty -- the higher realm of the 
affections and the other moral qualities. 
From these come the highest and strongest
incentives to study and also the clearest understanding. The teacher
should constantly address the moral nature and stimulate moral
sentiments, if he wishes to achieve the greatest measure of success.

This moral teaching was the chief merit of the work of
Pestalozzi, and it is the leading characteristic of the work of all
great teachers. Love of country, love of one's fellows, aspirations
for a noble and useful life, love for truth -- these are all motives
to which appeal should be made. If these motives are lacking in
pupils, the teacher must build them up.




It follows from all this that only when the mental powers work
freely and in their own way can the product be sure or permanent. No
one can know exactly what any mind contains, or how it performs, save as that mind
imperfectly reveals it by words or acts,or as we conceive it by reflecting upon our own conscious experience.

Just as the digestive organs must do their own work, masticating and
digesting whatever food they receive, selecting, secreting,assimilating, and so 
building bone, muscle, nerve, and all the
various tissues and organs of the body, so, too, in the last resort,the mind
must perform its function, without external aid, building,as it can, concepts, 
faith, purposes, and all forms of intelligence
and character. As Milton expressed it:The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.


If the fact of the mind's autocracy is thus emphasized, it is not
for the purpose of belittling the work of the teacher, but only to
show more clearly the law which gives to that work all its force and
dignity. It is the teacher's mission to stand at the spiritual
gateways of his pupil's mind, serving as a herald of science, a guide
through nature, to summon the minds to their work, to place before
them the facts to be observed and studied, and to guide them into the
right paths to be followed. It is his by sympathy, by example, and by
every means of influence -- by objects for the senses, by facts for
the intelligence -- to excite the mind of the pupils, to stimulate
their thoughts.


The cautionary clause of our law which forbids giving too much
help to pupils will be needless to the teacher who clearly
sees his proper work. Like a skillful engineer who knows the power of
his engine,   he chooses to stand and watch the play of the splendid
machine and marvel at the ease and vigor of its movements. It is only
the unskilled teacher who prefers to hear his own voice in endless
talk rather than to watch and direct the course of the thoughts of
his pupils.


There is no disagreement between this law and the first and
third, which so strongly insist upon the teacher's knowledge of the
subject. Without full and accurate knowledge of the subject that the
pupil is to learn through his self-active efforts, the teacher
certainly cannot guide, direct, and test the process of learning. One
may as well say that a general need know nothing of a battlefield
because he is not to do the actual fighting, as that a teacher may
get on with inadequate knowledge because the pupils must do the
studying. As we have said, there are exceptions to the rule that the
pupil should be told nothing that he can discover for himself. There
are some occasions when the teacher may, for a few moments, become a
lecturer and, from his own more extensive experience, give his pupils
broader, richer, and clearer views of the field of their work. But in
such cases he must take care not to substitute mere telling for true
teaching, and thus encourage passive listening where he needs to call
for earnest work.

The most important stimuli used by nature to stir the minds of
men have already been noted. They might all be described as the
silent but ceaseless questions which the world and the universe are
always addressing to man. The eternal questions of childhood are
really the echoes of these greater questions. The object or the event
that excites no question will provoke no thought. Questioning is not,therefore, 
merely one of the devices of teaching, it is really the
whole of teaching. It is the excitation of the self-activities to
their work of discovering truth. Nature always teaches thus. But it
does not follow that every question should be in the interrogative
form. The strongest and clearest affirmation may have all the effect
of the interrogation, if the mind so receives it. An explanation maybe so given 
as to raise new questions while it answers old ones.


The explanation that settles everything and ends all questions, usually ends all 
thinking also. After a truth is clearly understood,or a fact or principle established,
there still remain its consequences, applications, and uses. Each fact and truth thoroughly
studied leads to other facts which renew the questioning and demand
fresh investigation. The alert and scientific mind is one that never
ceases to ask questions and seek answers. The scientific spirit is
the spirit of tireless inquiry and research. The present time, so far
excelling the past in the development of its arts and
sciences, is the time of great questions.


As with the world, so with the child. His education begins as
soon as he begins to ask questions. It is only when the questioning
spirit has been fully awakened, and the habit of raising questions
has been largely developed, that the teaching process may embody the
lecture plan. The truth asks its own questions as soon as the mind is
sufficiently awake. The falling apple had the question of gravitation
in it for the mind of Newton; and the boiling teakettle propounded to
Watt the problem of a steam engine.




Like our other laws, this one also suggests some practical rules
for teaching.


(1) Adapt lessons and assignments to the ages and attainments
of the pupils. Very young children will be interested more in
whatever appeals to the senses, and especially in activities; the
more mature will be attracted to reasoning and to reflective

(2) Select lessons which relate to the environment and needs
of the pupils.

(3) Consider carefully the subject and the lesson to be
taught, and find its point of contact with the lives of your pupils.

(4) Excite the pupil's interest in the lesson when it is assigned, by some question or by some statement which will awaken inquiry. Hint that something worth knowing is to be found out if the lesson is thoroughly studied, and then be sure later to ask for the truth to be discovered.

(5) Place yourself frequently in the position of a pupil among your
pupils, and join in the search for some fact or principle.

(6) Repress your impatience which cannot wait for the pupil
to explain himself, and which tends to take his words out of his
mouth. He will resent it, and will feel that he could have answered
had you given him time.

(7) In all class exercises aim to excite constantly fresh
interest and activity. Share questions for the pupils to investigate
out of class. The lesson that does not culminate in fresh questions
ends wrong.

(8) Observe each pupil to see that his mind is not wandering
so as to forbid its activities being bent to the lesson in hand.

(9) Count it your chief duty to awaken the minds of your
pupils, and do not rest until each child shows his mental activity by
asking questions.

(10) Repress the desire to tell all you know or think about
the lesson or subject; if you tell something by way of illustration
or explanation, let it start a fresh question.

(11) Give the pupil time to think, after you are sure that
his mind is actively at work, and encourage him to ask questions when

(12) Do not answer too promptly the questions asked, but
restate them, to give them greater force and breadth, and often
answer with new questions to secure deeper thought.

(13) Teach pupils to ask What? Why? and How? -- the nature,cause, and method of every fact or principle taught them; also Where? When? By Whom? and What of it? -- the place, 
time, actors, and consequences of events.

(14) Recitations should not exhaust a subject, but leave
additional work to stimulate the thought and the efforts of the




Many a teacher neglecting these rules kills all interest in his
class, and wonders how he did it.

(1) The chief and almost constant violation of this law of
teaching is the attempt to force lessons by simply telling. "I have
told you ten times, and yet you don't know!" exclaims a teacher of
this sort, who is unable to remember that knowing comes by thinking,
not by being told.

(2) It is another mistake to complain of memory for not
keeping what it never held. If facts or principles are to be
remembered, the attention must be concentrated upon them at the time,and
there must be a conscious effort to remember.

(3) A third violation of the law comes from the haste with
which teachers require prompt and rapid recitations in the very words
of the book; and, if a question is asked in class, to refuse the
pupils time to think. If the pupil hesitates and stops for
lack of thought, or in apparent lack of memory, the fault lies in
yesterday's teaching which shows its fruit today; but if it comes
from the slowness of the pupil's thinking, or from the real
difficulty of the subject, then time should be given for additional
thought; and, if the recitation period will not permit it, let the
answer hold over until the next time.


It is to this hurried and unthinking lesson-saying that we owe
the superficial and impractical character of so much of our teaching.
Instead of learning thoroughly the material of our lessons, we
endeavor to learn them only so as to recite them promptly. If faults
of this character are prevalent in our day schools, how much more
serious are they in the Sunday schools? If the lessons of the Sunday
schools are to carry over into the lives of the pupils by purifying
and exalting their thoughts and making them wise in the religious
beliefs taught them, the instruction must not be mere telling, but
must be accompanied by the better methods used in the regular


How different are the results when this great law of teaching is
properly followed! The stimulated self-activities operate in the
correct manner, and the classroom is transformed under their power
into a busy laboratory. The pupils become thinkers -- discoverers. They 
master great truths, and apply them to the great questions of
life. They invade new fields of knowledge. The teacher merely
leads the march. Their reconnaissance becomes a conquest. Skill and
power grow with their exercise. Through this process, the students
find out what their minds are for, and become students of life. 

Answer the questions below.  If you miss a question, go back and study that portion of the class and then retake the test.  Once you have received a 100% you may proceed to the next class.  You DO NOT have to submit this test for grading.  Only the final test will be submitted.