We are told that it was Jean Jacques Rousseau who first entirely severed education and learning. In his Emile, published in 1762, he advocated a more natural and less pedantic method of training and developing the physical, mental, and moral faculties of the young. The work produced an astounding effect on its appearance, and has largely influenced the educational methods throughout Europe.
Not so long afterwards, in 1801, Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, permeated with the atmosphere following the French Revolution, gave to the world his views on education in his work How Gertrude Teaches her Children. The essence of his belief being that "sense-impression is " the foundation of instruction," he counselled the development of all the faculties in preference to the mere acquisition of words. "Words alone," said he, "cannot " give us a knowledge of things; they are only useful " for giving expression to what we have in our own "minds." Consequently, he believed in imparting instruction by a direct appeal to the senses and the understanding so as to call forth all the powers, selecting the subjects of study so that each step should progressively assist the pupil's advancement. He contended that observation was the method by which knowledge was principally gained, and that the perceptive faculties (intuition) were developed by observation. Even in his own time his ideas were awarded a recognition of their value; in fact, he had the honour of being specially visited by Prince de Talleyrand and Madame de Stael.
In the early part of the present century another reformer, Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel, arose to influence all future educational methods. As with Rousseau, Froebel held that each age belonged to itself, and that the perfection of the later stage could only be attained through perfection of the earlier. So, too, while Pestalozzi upheld that the faculties were developed by exercise, Froebel went farther, and added that the function of education was to develop the faculties by arousing voluntary activity, in this way becoming, according to Michelet, the greatest of educational reformers. Froebel was convinced that man was primarily a doer, indeed, even a creator, and that he learnt only through "self-activity." In action, moreover, there was not alone the mere physical exercise, but also the actual unfolding and strengthening of the mental powers. To Froebel, indeed, belongs the honour of originating the Kindergarten system, which is making such progress at the present time; and more than this, it may be said that while it is employed only in the earlier stages of education, yet his principles are beginning to make themselves felt throughout the entire system of education.
As a matter of fact, what is known in Sweden and in Finland as sloyd, or manual instruction, may be regarded as a continuation of the Kindergarten system. Through the exertions of Uno Cygnaeus the whole of the national system of education in Finland was reorganized, and manual work was first made a part of the regular instruction in the common schools. In Sweden, likewise, the same principles have been introduced chiefly by Herr Otto Salomon, the director of the great. sloyd seminarum at Naas. Sloyd work is used in the schools in a disciplinary way as an integral part of general education; the children, generally boys, are employed for a certain number of hours a week in making articles of common household use. It is maintained that work of this kind is specially invaluable in supplementing the ordinary school education of the three R's. It fulfils the injunction "to put the whole boy to school;" it develops faculties which would otherwise lie dormant, while at the same time it trains the eye and does away with clumsy fingers.