Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER III: INSTRUCTION (CULTURE) - Kant on Education (über Pädagogik)
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CHAPTER III: INSTRUCTION (CULTURE) - Immanuel Kant, Kant on Education (über Pädagogik) 
Kant on Education (Ueber Paedagogik), trans. Annette Churton, introduction by C.A. Foley Rhys Davids (Boston: D.C. Heath and Co., 1900).
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In physical training artificial aids should, as far as possible, be dispensed with
58.The positive part of physical education is culture. It is this which distinguishes man from the animals. Culture consists chiefly in the exercise of the mental faculties. Parents, then, should give their children opportunities for such exercise. The first and most important rule is that all artificial aids should, as far as possible, be dispensed with. Thus in early childhood leading-strings and go-carts should be discarded, and the child allowed to crawl about on the ground till he learns to go by himself—he will then walk more steadily. For the use of tools is the ruin of natural quickness. Thus we want a cord to measure a certain distance, though we might as well measure it by the eye; or a clock to tell the time, when we might do this by the position of the sun; or a compass to find our way in a forest, when we might instead be guided by the position of the sun by day, of the stars by night. Indeed, we might even say that instead of needing a boat we might swim across the water. The celebrated Franklin wondered why everyone didn’t learn to swim, since swimming is so pleasant and so useful. He also suggested an easy way by which to teach oneself to swim:—Standing in a brook with the water up to your neck, you drop an egg into the water, and then try to reach it. In bending forward to do this you will be carried off your feet, and, in order to prevent the water getting into your mouth, you will throw your head back. You are now in the proper position for swimming, and have only to strike out with the arms to find yourself actually swimming.
What has to be done is to see that natural ability is cultivated. Sometimes instruction is necessary; sometimes the child’s mind is inventive enough, or he invents tools for himself.
Physical exercises should be such as will develop strength and skill, quickness and self-confidence
59. What should be observed in physical education, with respect to the training of the body, relates either to the use of voluntary movements or to the organs of sense. As to the first of these, what is wanted is that the child should always help himself. For this, both strength and skill, quickness and self-confidence, are necessary, so as to be able, for instance, to go along narrow paths, or to climb steep places with an abyss before one’s eye, or to cross a slender plank. If a man cannot do this, he is not entirely what he might be.
Since the Philanthropinon1 of Dessau set the example, many attempts of this kind have been made with children in other institutions. It is wonderful to read how the Swiss accustom themselves from early childhood to climb mountains, how readily they venture along the narrowest paths with perfect confidence, and leap over chasms, having first measured the distance with the eye, lest it should prove to be beyond their powers.
Most people, however, fear some imaginary danger of falling, and this fear actually paralyses their limbs, so that for them such a proceeding would be really fraught with danger. This fear generally grows with age, and is chiefly found in those men who work much with their heads. For children to make such attempts is not really very dangerous; they are much lighter in proportion to their strength than grown-up people, and for this reason do not fall so heavily. Besides this, their bones are not so inflexible and brittle as they become with age. Children often put their strength to the proof of their own accord. We often see them climbing, for instance, for no particular reason. Running is a healthy exercise and strengthens the body. Jumping, lifting weights, carrying, slinging, throwing towards a mark, wrestling, running races, and all such exercises are good. Dancing, so far as it is of an elaborate kind, is not so well suited to actual childhood.
To exercise the senses certain games should be encouraged which will further this object
60. Exercises in throwing, whether it be throwing a distance or hitting a mark, have the additional advantage of exercising the senses, especially the eyesight. Games with balls are among the best for children, as they necessitate healthy running.
Generally speaking, those games are the best which unite the development of skill with the exercise of the senses—for example, those that exercise the eyesight in correctly judging distance, size and proportion, in finding the position of places in different regions by means of the sun, &c. All these are good training. Of great advantage also is local imagination, by which we mean the capability1 of recalling the exact position of places where we have seen certain things—as, for example, when we are able to find our way out of a forest by having noticed the trees we have passed. In the same way the memoria localis,2 by which we recall, not only in what book we have read a certain thing, but in what part of the book. Thus the musician has the keys before his mind’s eye, and does not need to have the actual instrument before him while he composes. It is very useful also to cultivate the ear of children, so that they may know whether a sound comes from far or near, from this side or that.
Different games and their uses
61. The children’s game of ‘blindman’s buff’ was already known among the Greeks, who called it μυΐνδα. Generally speaking, children’s games are the same everywhere; those which are found in Germany being also found in France and England, and so on. They have their principle in a certain instinct common to all children. In ‘blindman’s buff,’ for instance, there is the desire to know how they would help themselves were they deprived of one of their senses.
Spinning tops is a singular game. Such games as these furnish matter for further reflection to grown-up men, and occasionally lead even to important discoveries. Thus Segner has written a treatise on the top; and the top has furnished an English sea-captain with material for inventing a mirror, by means of which the height of the stars may be measured from a ship.
Children are fond of noisy instruments, such as trumpets, drums, and the like; but these are objectionable, since they become a nuisance to others. It would be less objectionable, however, were children to learn how to cut a reed so as to play on it.
Swinging is also a healthy exercise, as well for grown-up people as for children. Children, however, should be watched, lest they swing too fast.
Kite-flying is also an unobjectionable game. It calls forth skill, the flight of the kite depending on its being in a certain position relatively to the wind.
By games the child learns endurance, maintains his natural cheerfulness, and gains in candour
62. For the sake of these games the boy will deny himself in his other wants, and thus train himself unconsciously for other and greater privations. Further, he will accustom himself to constant occupation; nevertheless for that very reason these games must not be mere games, but games having some end and object. For the more a child’s body is strengthened and hardened in this way, the more surely will he be saved from the ruinous consequences of over-indulgence. Gymnastics also are intended merely to direct Nature; hence we must not aim at artificial grace.
On social training
Discipline must precede instruction. Here, however, in training the bodies of children we must also take care to fit them for society. Rousseau says: ‘You will never get an able man, unless you have a street urchin first.’ A lively boy will sooner become a good man than a conceited and priggish lad.
A child must learn to be neither troublesome nor insinuating in company. He must be confident at the invitation of others without being obtrusive, and frank without being impertinent. As a means to this end all we have to do is not to spoil the child’s nature, either by giving him such ideas of good behaviour as will only serve to make him timid and shy, or, on the other hand, by suggesting to him a wish to assert himself. Nothing is more ridiculous than precocious good behaviour and priggish self-conceit in a child. In this last instance we must let the child see his weakness all the more, but at the same time we must not overpower him with a sense of our own superiority and power; so that, though the child may develop his own individuality, he should do so only as a member of society—in a world which must, it is true, be large enough for him, but also for others. Toby in ‘Tristram Shandy’ says to a fly which has been annoying him for some time, and which he at last puts out of the window, ‘Go away, tiresome creature; the world is large enough for us both.’ We may each of us take these words for our motto. We need not be troublesome to one another; the world is large enough for all of us.
[1 ]This refers to the Philanthropist schools founded in Germany in and after 1774, of which the above-mentioned was the first.—(Tr.)
[1 ]Rink and Schubert read: ‘pleasure.’—(Tr.)
[2 ]Memory for places.