Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/442

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one transition, the careers of the two men are foreshadowed and will be widely apart.

To observe this native inequality is important in predestining the child to this or that line of special training. For the actual work of teaching, it is of more consequence to note the ways and means of quickening and increasing the discriminating aptitude. Bearing in mind the fact that until a difference is felt between two things intelligence has not yet made the first step, the teacher is bound to consider the circumstances or conditions favorable and unfavorable to the exercise.

1. It is not peculiar to discrimination, but is common to every mental function, to lay down, as a first condition, mental vigor, freshness, and wakefulness. In a low state of the mental forces, in languor, or drowsiness, differences cannot be felt. That the mind should be alive, awake, in full force and exercise, is necessary for every kind of mental work. The teacher needs to quicken the mental alertness by artificial means, when there is a dormancy of mere indolence. He has to waken the pupil from the state significantly named indifference, the state where differing impressions fail to be recognized as distinct.

2. The mind may be fresh and alive, but its energies may be taking the wrong direction. There is a well-known antithesis or opposition between the emotional and the intellectual activities, leading to a certain incompatibility of the two. Under emotional excitement the intellectual energies are enfeebled in amount, and enslaved to the reigning emotion. It is in the quieter states of mind that discrimination, in common with other intellectual powers, works to advantage. I will afterward discuss more minutely the very delicate matter of the management of the various emotions in the work of teaching.

3. It must not be forgotten that intellectual exercises are in themselves essentially insipid, unattractive, indifferent. As exertion, they impart a certain small degree of the delight that always attends the healthy action of an exuberant faculty; but this supposes their later developments, and is not a marked peculiarity in the child's commencing career. The first circumstance that gives an interest to discrimination is pleasurable or painful stimulus. Something must hang on a difference before the mind is made energetically awake to it. A thoroughly disinterested difference is not an object of attention to any one.

The transitions from cold to hot, dark to light, strain to relief, hunger to repletion, silence to sound, are all more or less interesting, and all more or less impressive. But then they are vehement and sensational. It is necessary, in order to the furnishing of the intelligence, that smaller and less sensational transitions should be felt; the intellectual nature is characterized by requiring the least amount of emotional flash in order to impress a difference. A loud and furious