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Developing Mental Power
by
George Malcolm Stratton

[Childhood Education, 1922]

OUTLINE

I. IS THE MIND A GYMNASIUM OR A TOOL-CHEST?

Importance of knowing the general character of mind

Controversy as to the nature of mind and its training

One view: the discipline of a few general faculties

Some scientific evidences which undermine this view

Another view: the training of countless independent operations

The educational consequences of this doctrine

II. DEFECTS IN THE RIVAL ACCOUNTS

The errors of the mental disciplinarians

a. Mental powers are not simple and uniform

b. The deep forces behind intellection are neglected

c. Powers are infinitely varied and actual knowledge is important

Errors in the current doctrine of "contents"

a. The mind is active and selective

b. Practice effects are not rigidly confined

c. The complex and varied nature of our particular responses

III. THE INTERPLAY OF MIND AND BODY

The mind is an organized unit with distinguishable parts

The mind is vitally connected with the body

a. Whatever influences the body influences the mind

b. Muscular expression and mental effectiveness

c. The instance of left-handedness

The body is also vitally influenced by the mind

a. Some concrete illustrations

IV. INFLUENCES WITHIN INTELLIGENCE

Particular and general ideas in educative knowledge

Wide and superior powers gained through trained habits of mind

Imparted ability is a better measure of education than recollection

V. EMOTION AND MENTAL ENERGY

The emotional life as an underlying source of energy

The effect of violent disturbances of the emotions

The influence of ordinary emotional tones

Environment clearly influences power to learn

Emotions make strong transfers and associations

The mind, though particularized in ability, is whole and fluid

VI. THE ORGANIZATION OF IMPULSES AND WILL

The impulses and will as neglected opportunity

Two extreme types of mental organization

a. Various impulses acting with considerable independence

b. Various impulses subordinated to a ruling passion

A third and wholesome type of organized mind

The care and organization of instincts requires emphasis

Changes in emotional reorganization may be gradual and calm or sudden and marked

VII. THE CARE OF THE EMOTIONS

Emotions are of two kinds

a. The sthenic [sic] emotions are for long and steady use

b. The asthenic emotions [abnormal physical weakness or lack of energy] have only a limited and short use

The dominant emotions of childhood depend in part on bodily condition

Example and imitation have a profound effect on feeling

Other special means of giving an undertone of joy to work.

Pleasing order in externals will assist

The irresponsible enjoyment of fine things is of value

Imagination and courtesy as aids

The fine arts should be prized for the pupil

Worthy emotions must be made into lasting sentiments

VIII. INSTINCTS WILD AND TAME

Making the great natural forces beneficent is will-training

The passion for having and collecting things

Ambition or the desire to win admiration

Self-abasement and pugnacity

The sex impulse

Personal attachments

Education must penetrate beyond usual schooling and intelligence

IX. EXERCISES FOR THE WILL

The three features of a trained will.

a. Vigor, steadiness, and tightness of aim

The great value of steadiness of will

Steadiness of will means power to do the irksome

The prejudice against change of decision

Steadiness of will must anticipate interruptions

Will depends upon habits of muscular action and feeling

A trained will aims at the right thing

Desired qualities of will gained through graded exercises

Practice in suitable forethought

Developing the trait of persistence

A will fully trained constitutes character

Education demands the talent of creative artists

X. ESTABLISHING GOVERNMENT IN THE MIND

Education looks to the total organization of the person

It seeks a fuller cooperation of existing powers through their modification

The child must be educated as a whole, not piecemeal

There is no special virtue in doing what is intrinsically useless

The different sides of schooling require interconnecting

The danger of specialists in giving needed special training

Minds are more important than subjects

A trained taste, a strengthened sense of duty and reverence

The true relation between mind and the teacher

[ end ]

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