Samples of Instructional Design: 17th-18th Centuries


Locke's Instructional Design

Locke on Education, 1692

Rousseau's Instructional Design

Emile, 1762

On the history of instructional design Do you wish to get an idea of public education? Read Plato's Republic. Those who merely judge books by their titles take this for a treatise on politics, but it is the finest treatise on education ever written. I will merely state that since the beginning of time there has been a continual outcry against the established practice without anyone suggesting how to propose a better one.
The role of the educator But of all the ways whereby children are to be instructed, and their manners formed, the plainest, easiest, and most efficacious, is, to set before their eyes the examples of those things you would have them do, or avoid; which, when they are pointed out to them, in the practice of persons within their knowledge, with some reflections on their beauty and unbecomingness, are of more force to draw or deter their imitation, than any discourses which can be made to them.

Life is the trade I want to teach him. Leaving my hands I grant you he will be neither a magistrate, a soldier, nor a priest; he will be first of all a man. All that a man ought to be he will learn as quickly as another.

Without the study of books, such a memory as the child may possess is not left idle. All that he sees and hears makes an impression on him, and he remembers it. He keeps a record in himself of the actions and discourses of men; and everything that surrounds him is the book from which, without thinking about it, he continually enriches his memory while waiting until his judgment is able to profit by it. It is in the choice of these objects, the care of presenting ceaselessly those that he can know and of hiding from him those that he ought to ignore that constitutes the true art of cultivating in him this first faculty; and it is through it that one must try to form for him a store of knowledge that will serve his education throughout his youth and his conduct at all times.

Practice This method of teaching children by a repeated practice, and the same action done over and over again, under the eye and direction of the tutor, 'till they have got the habit of doing it well, and not by relying on rules trusted to their memories, has so many advantages, which way soever we consider it, that I cannot but wonder (if ill customs could be wondered at in any thing) how it could possibly be so much neglected. At length, after some months' practice, and the correction of his errors, I so trained his power of judging at sight that I had only to place an imaginary cake on any distant object and his glance was nearly as accurate as the surveyor's chain.
Moral foundation 'Tis virtue then, direct virtue, which is the hard and valuable part to be aim'd at in education, and not a forward pertness, or any little arts of shifting. All other considerations and accomplishments should give way and be postpon'd to this. One must be familiar with the particular genius of the child in order to know what moral regime is best for him.
Modeling That he that will have his son have a respect for him and his orders, must himself have a great reverence for his son. Maxima debetur pueris reverentia. You must do nothing before him, which you would not have him imitate. Remember that before daring to undertake forming a man one must be a man himself. One must find within oneself the example that one must propose.
Timeliness He that loves reading, writing, musick, &c. finds yet in himself certain seasons wherein those things have no relish to him; and if at that time he forces himself to it, he only pothers and wearies himself to no purpose. So it is with children. Since you cannot prevent the child learning by what he sees outside himself, restrict your own efforts to impressing those examples on his mind in the form best suited for him.
Teacher qualifications To form a young gentleman as he should be, 'tis fit his governor should himself be well-bred, understanding the ways of carriage and measures of civility in all the variety of persons, times, and places; and keep his pupil, as much as his age requires, constantly to the observation of them. This is an art not lo be learnt nor taught by books. Nothing can give it but good company and observation join'd together. Young teacher, I am preaching a difficult art, which is to control without precepts and to do everything without doing anything at all. This art is, I agree, beyond your years, it is not calculated to display your talents nor to make your value known to fathers; but it is the way to succeed.
Content "The studies which he sets him upon, are but as it were the exercises of his faculties, and employment of his time, to keep him from sauntering and idleness, to teach him application, and accustom him to take pains, and to give him some little taste of what his own industry must perfect. For who expects, that under a tutor a young gentleman should be an accomplish'd critick, orator, or logician? go to the bottom of metaphysicks, natural philosophy, or mathematicks? or be a master in history or chronology? though something of each of these is to be taught him... The pedagogues who make a great display of the teaching they give their pupils are paid to say just the opposite; yet their actions show that they think just as I do. For what do they teach? Words, more words, and still more words. Among the various sciences they boast of teaching their scholars, they take good care never to choose those which might be really useful to them. For then they would be compelled to deal with the science of things and would fail utterly. The sciences they choose are those we seem to know when we know their technical terms -- heraldry, geography, chronology, languages, etc. -- studies so remote from man, and even more remote from the child, that it is a wonder if he can ever make any use of any part of them.
Critical thinking Reason, if consulted with, would advise, that their children's time should be spent in acquiring what might be useful to them when they come to be men, rather than to have their heads stuff'd with a deal of trash, a great part whereof they usually never do ('tis certain they never need to) think on again as long as they live: and so much of it as does stick by them they are only the worse for. To reason with children was Locke's chief maxim. It is even more in vogue today. Its success however does not seem to me strong enough to give it credit; for me I see nothing more stupid that these children with whom people reasoned so much. Of all man's faculties, reason, which is, so to speak, the one composed of all the others, is the one that develops with the most difficulty and the latest, and yet you want to use it to develop the earlier ones! The culmination of a good education is to make a man reasonable, and you claim to raise a child with reason! You begin at the wrong end; you make the end the means. If children understood reason they would not need education.
Initial conditions Seek out somebody that may know how discreetly to frame his manners: place him in hands where you may, as much as possible, secure his innocence, cherish and nurse up the good, and gently correct and weed out any bad inclinations, and settle in him good habits. This is the main point, and this being provided for, learning may be had into the bargain... When we are in no hurry to teach there is no hurry to demand, and we can take our time so as to demand nothing except under fitting conditions. Then the child is training himself, in so far as he is not being spoiled.
Learning through play I have therefore thought, that if play-things were fitted to this purpose, as they are usually to none, contrivances might be made to teach children to read, whilst they thought they were only playing. People make a great fuss about discovering the best way to teach children to read. They invent "bureaux"_ and cards, they turn the nursery into a printer's shop. Locke would have them taught to read by means of dice. Is not that a well-found invention. What a pity! A means more sure than all of those and which one will never forget is simply the desire to learn. Give the child this desire, and you can forget your "bureaux" and your dice -- any method will will be good for him.

I think their memories should be employ'd, but not in learning by rote whole pages out of books, which, the lesson being once said, and that task over, are delivered up again to oblivion and neglected for ever.

To conclude this part, which concerns a young gentleman's studies, his tutor should remember, that his business is not so much to teach him all that is knowable, as to raise in him a love and esteem of knowledge; and to put him in the right way of knowing and improving himself when he has a mind to it.

Do not give your pupil any kind of verbal lessons; he should receive them only through experience.

To exercise their attention, only tell them things which it is clearly to their present interest that they should understand thoroughly; above all be brief, never say a word more than is necessary. But neither let your speech be obscure nor equivocal.

Current state of education I do not consider our ridiculous colleges as public institutions. Nor do I count the education of society, for this education, facing two ways at once, achieves nothing. It is only fit to turn out double men, always seeming to relate everything to others while actually relating nothing to anyone but themselves. What is to be thought, therefore, of that cruel education which sacrifices the present to an uncertain future, that burdens a child with all sorts of restrictions, and begins by making him miserable in order to prepare him for some far-off happiness he may never enjoy? Even if I considered such an education wise in its aims, how could I view without indignation those poor creatures subjected to an intolerable yoke and condemned like galley-slaves to endless tasks with no certainty of any rewards? The age of gaity is spent in tears, punishments, threats, and slavery.

Lisa M. Lane 2008