chapter  11
14 Pages

JOHANN FRIEDRICH HERBART (1776-1841)

The Herbartians provided one of the first theories of education that enabled the merchant classes to justify philosophically and psychologically educational reforms in line with their economic and political aspirations' (D-

Any brief account of Herbart's work is bound to be an oversimplification; he was a pioneer psychologist as well as a philosopher and educator. But if Herbart was a philosopher he failed to achieve fame in this particular area of his interests; and he himself maintained that he was an experimenter whose chief work on education (Science of Education) owed as much to his carefully organized experiments and observations as it did to his theoretical ideas or philosophy. It was this pragmatic approach in the work of Herbart, and of his followers, that made it particularly useful and adaptable as an instrument and technique of indoctrination; but as Wynne is careful to point out, in the long run such a system is self-stultifying. The fixation of ideas and patterns, to which 'Herbartianism' lent itself, failed to deepen or extend human experience. Yet Herbart's approach and the crystallization of his 'Formal Steps' by his over-zealous followers were destined to affect teaching method, and the preparation of lesson notes, down to our own time.