Sunday, April 05, 2015

Goethe on How Children Learn

Just completed reading on my Kindle  Autobiography: Truth and Fiction Relating to My Life  by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe.   I'll be adding some snippets from it from time to time.  One of the things I have enjoyed about this autobiography are his opinions and observations about life from a time remote from ours.  He wrote this late in life, the early 1800's though some of it regards memories decades prior to that.   In the quote below, he discusses the nature of how children learn. Now that I have grandchildren, I've had to opportunity to be reminded of this.
From my earliest years I felt a love for the investigation of natural things. It is often regarded as an instinct of cruelty that children like at last to break, tear, and devour objects with which for a long time they have played, and which they have handled in various manners. Yet even in this way is manifested the curiosity, the desire of learning how such things hang together, how they look within. I remember, that, when a child, I pulled flowers to pieces to see how the leaves were inserted into the calyx, or even plucked birds to observe how the feathers were inserted into the wings. Children are not to be blamed for this, when even our naturalists believe they get their knowledge oftener by separation and division than by union and combination, . . . 


- Highlight Loc. 1970-75 

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