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Those Juniors, Part 12: Matters of the Mind, # 1

by Eric B. Hare

Last week: In order to effectually keep the attention, a teacher or instructor at times may use attention traps—things that will keep the interest. Classroom management is an art: and absolutely necessary to avoid outbursts and deflected attention.

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old he will not depart from it.”1 The word “train” indicates that character building is not the work of an hour or a day but a continued, sustained process. While this is true, however, we must not overlook the influence of a single word or act.

“Great is the responsibility of those who take upon themselves the guidance of a human soul. The true father and mother count theirs a trust from which they can never be wholly released. The life of the child, from his earliest to his latest day, feels the power of that tie which binds him to the parent’s heart; the acts, the words, the very look of the parent, continue to mold the child for good or for evil. The teacher shares this responsibility, and he needs constantly to realize its sacredness, and to keep in view the purpose of his work. . . . The work he is doing day by day will exert upon his pupils, and through them upon others, an influence that will not cease to extend and strengthen until time shall end. The fruits of his work he must meet in that great day when every word and deed shall be brought in review before God.”2

In the great judgment day we shall each be judged, not by what we know, but by what we are. What we know and learn, however, decides what we are. Says Solomon, “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”3 The purpose of this chapter is, therefore, to demonstrate the process of thought and the structure of the idea which is the substance of thought.

There are five avenues to the mind:
1. Sight.
2. Hearing.
3. Smell.
4. Taste.
5. Feeling.

Over these avenues come impressions which the mind can understand, classify, and combine. Any single impression coming over any one avenue is called a percept. Several percepts combine to form a concept. The comparison of concepts, noting their similarities and their dissimilarities, results in a judgment. The weighing of judgments and the arriving at new judgments is the process of reasoning. So the natural steps in the thinking process are:
1. Percept.
2. Concept.
3. Judgment.
4. Reasoning.

To illustrate: Perhaps the earliest percepts that come into an infant’s mind are the feelings of “satisfaction,” “warmth,” “comfort,” and “security” in its mother’s arms. Later the percept of the mother’s “smile” is added, and little by little the wonderful concept of “mother” is formed.
Notice how the concept includes and embodies all the percepts and in a sense is the shorthand of them. Similarly the concepts of sister, aunt, father, brother, and uncle are formed. Then, following the natural thinking process, these concepts are compared. Their similarities and their dissimilarities are noted. Mother, sister, and aunt have many things in common. Father, brother, and uncle have many things in common. This comparison results in a judgment, and mother, sister, and aunt are called “women,” while father, brother, and uncle are called “men.”

By the same process various four-legged moving creatures have been compared, and the judgments of cats, dogs, and horses have been formed. Then follows a weighing of these judgments: men, women, cats, dogs, horses. The difference of their habits of eating, living, and speaking are noted; yet the similarity of their physiology must be considered. New judgments are formed: “people” and “animals.” This is the process of reasoning, and the mind goes on and on comparing still more judgments and forming new conclusions. People, animals, fish, fowl, insects, trees, flowers, gold, marble, are compared and weighed. The new judgments of animal kingdom, vegetable kingdom, and mineral kingdom are formed.

In one sense words can be considered as percepts, sentences as concepts, and paragraphs as judgments. And when Isaiah wrote, “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little,”4 he was but voicing the natural thinking process, the natural learning process of the mind.

Let us take another example:

PERCEPT                   We learn that God formed man out of dust and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and he became a
CONCEPT                  living soul. David tells us that when the breath is taken from the body, the thoughts perish. We now compare these concepts and find the addition of the percepts gives us a living soul, the subtraction makes the soul vanish. So we form the
JUDGMENT              judgment that the soul cannot exist apart from the body. Similarly we can add line upon line and precept upon precept, and compare scripture with scripture until we form judgments on the resurrection, the new earth, baptism, etc.
REASONING            The mind then weighs these judgments—I desire life eternal. Resurrection depends on belief in Christ. I must show my love to Christ by obedience. I must have my past sins forgiven, etc.—until we make a new judgment or decision and conclude,

NEW JUDGMENT    I must, therefore, accept Christ and be baptized. 

This natural thinking process is the foundation upon which the suggested lesson outline, dealt with in a succeeding chapter, is built.

Let us now study the two great principles of teaching: “deduction” and “induction.” These terms will be referred to frequently in the succeeding chapters, and we will need to understand them thoroughly.

Deduction may appear the easiest way to teach, but it results in the least learning. It takes less preparation on the part of the teacher and produces less thinking on the part of the pupil. It consists in giving the pupil the rule ready made and then supplying him with examples. It passes from the general to the particular. We can remember it by the symbol of a funnel, because it is the pouring-in method, the lecture method, the preaching method. It has its place, of course, in large classes and groups. It is useful in classifying the results of discovery.

Induction, on the other hand, may seem to be a difficult way to teach, but it results in much learning. It takes much more preparation on the part of the teacher and produces far more thinking on the part of the pupil. It supplies the examples, then seeks the rule. It passes from the particular to the general. We can remember it by the symbol of a corkscrew, because it is the drawing out method. It is the method of discovery, and the lessons thus learned are remembered, because the pupil has done the thinking, the discovering, and the stating of the rule.

(Next week: “Matters of the Mind, Part 2.”)

1. Prov. 22:6.
2. Ellen White, Education, pp. 280, 281.
3. Prov. 23:7.
4. Isa. 28:10.

Copyright © 1973 by Eric B. Hare. Used by permission.

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