THE LAW OF
REVIEW AND APPLICATION
Let us suppose the process of teaching to be completed. The teacher
and the pupils have met and have done their work together.Language
freighted with ideas and aided with illustrations has been spoken and
understood. Knowledge has been thought into the minds of the pupils,
and it lies there in greater or less completeness, to feed
thought, to guide and modify conduct, and to form character.What more
is needed? The teacher's work seems ended. But difficult work yet
remains, perhaps the most difficult. All that has been accomplished
lies hidden in the minds of the pupils, and lies there as a potency
rather than as a possession. What process shall fix into active habits
the thought-potentiates which have been evolved? What influence shall
mold into permanent ideals the conceptions that have been gained? It
is for this final and finishing work that our seventh and last law
provides. This law of the confirmation and ripening of results, may be
expressed as follows:
THE COMPLETION, TEST AND CONFIRMATION OF THE
WORK OF TEACHING MUST BE MADE BY REVIEW AND APPLICATION.
statement of this law seeks to include the chief aims of the review:
(1) to perfect knowledge,
(2) to confirm knowledge, and
(3)to render this knowledge ready and useful. These three aims, though distinct in idea, are so connected in fact as to be secured by the same process. It would be difficult to overstate the value and importance of this law of review. No time in teaching is spent more profitably than that spent in reviewing. Other things being equal,the ablest and most successful teacher is the one who secures from his pupils the most frequent, thorough, and interesting reviews.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE
A review is more than a repetition. A machine may repeat
a process, but only an intelligent agent can review it. The
repetition done by a machine is a second movement precisely like the
first; are petition by the mind is the rethinking of a thought. It
is necessarily a review. It is more: it involves fresh conceptions
and new associations, and brings an increase of facility and power.
Reviews are of different grades of completeness and thoroughness,from
the mere repetition of the words of lessons, or a rapid glance thrown
back to some fact or phrase, to the most careful resurvey of the whole
field -- the occupancy in full force of the ground of which the first
study was only a reconnaissance. The simplest reviews are mostly
repetitions; the final and complete reviews should be thorough
restudies of the lessons.
A partial review may embrace a single
lesson, or it may include a single topic of the subject -- the
development of a single fact or principle, the recall of some event,
or of some difficult point or question. The complete review may be a
cursory reviewing of the whole field in a few general questions, or it
may be a full and final reconsideration of the whole ground. Each kind
of review has its place and use. We shall see in our discussion that
no teaching can be complete without the review, made either under the
teacher's direction, or voluntarily by the pupil himself.
lesson or a fresh topic never reveals all of itself at first. It
distracts the attention and its novelties may dazzle the mind. When we
enter a strange house we do not know where to look for its several
rooms, and the attention is drawn to a few of the more singular
and conspicuous pieces of furniture or articles of decoration. We must
return again and again, and resurvey the scene with eyes grown
familiar to the place, before the whole plan of the building and the
uses of all the rooms and their furniture will stand clearly revealed.
So one must return again and again to a lesson if he would see all
there is in it, and come to a true and vivid understanding of its
meaning. We have all noticed how much we find that is new and
interesting in reading again some old and familiar volume.
the best-studied book, we are often surprised to find fresh truths and
new meanings in passages which we had read perhaps again and again. It
is the ripest student of Shakespeare who finds the most freshness in
the works of the great dramatist. The familiar eye discovers in any
great masterpiece of art or literature touches of power and beauty
which the casual observer cannot see. So a true review always adds
something to the knowledge of the student who makes it.
is this true of the Bible, of which the latest study is the richest
and most interesting. Nothing more surprises or delights us in the
great preachers than the new meanings they discover in old and
familiar texts -- meanings which clearly are there, but which we had
not found in our own reading. Sometimes these meanings are hidden in a
word, and need perhaps only the right emphasis to reveal
them;sometimes they lie close by the path and appear by some
side light thrown skillfully upon them by the text. Repetition with
varying emphasis often may bring to light these hidden meanings.
one occasion at least, the Great Teacher resorted to this power of
repetition, when three times in succession He asked Peter
the question, "Lovest thou me?" The heart of the disciple
burned under this powerful iteration, and with memory and
conscience quickened he appealed to the Master to witness to the truth
of his questioned love.
But the repetitions of a review are not
made the same hour. They are spread over days and weeks, and hence a
new element is brought into play. The lapse of time changes the point
of view. At every review we survey the lesson from a new standpoint.
Its facts rise in a new order and are seen in new relations. Truths
that were overshadowed in the first study now come forth into the
light. When one climbs a mountain, from each successive outlook the
eye visits again the same landscape, but the position of the observer
is always changed. The features of the landscape are seen in
different perspective, and each successive view is larger, more
comprehensive,and more complete than its predecessor.
The human mind does not achieve its victories by a single effort.There is a sort of mental incubation as a result of which some splendid discovery oftentimes springs forth. The physiologists call it unconscious cerebration, by which they mean that the brain itself goes on working unknown to us. It is an easier explanation that the ever growing mind reaches constantly new positions, and obtains new
light by which a new truth becomes visible. Some fresh experience or newly acquired idea serves as a key to the old lesson,and what was dark in the first study is made clear and bright in the review.
The old saying, "Beware of the man of one book," has this in it,that his repeated readings of his one book give him a mastery of the subject which makes him a dangerous antagonist in his chosen field.He shows the power conferred by frequent reviews.
Frequent repetitions are valuable to correct memorization and ready recall. Memory depends upon the association of ideas -- the idea in mind recalling the ideas with which it has been linked by some past association. Each review establishes new associations,while at the same time it familiarizes and strengthens the old. The lesson that is studied but once is likely learned only to be forgotten. That which is thoroughly and repeatedly reviewed is woven into the very fabric of our thoughts, and becomes a part of our equipment of knowledge. Not what a pupil has once learned and recited, but what he permanently remembers and uses is the correct measure of his achievement.
Not merely to know, but to have knowledge for use -- to possess it fully, like money for daily expenditures, or tools and materials for daily work -- such is the aim of true study. This readiness of knowledge cannot be gained by a single study. Frequent and thorough reviews can alone give this firm hold and free handling of the truth. There is a skill in scholarship as well as in handicraft,and this skill in both cases depends upon habits; and habit is the child of repetition.
The plastic power of truth in shaping conduct and molding character belongs only to the truths which have become familiar by repetitions. Not the scamper of a passing child but the repeated tread of coming and going feet beats for us the paths of our daily life. If we would have any great truth sustain and control us, we must return to it so often that it will at last rise up in mind as a dictate of conscience, and pour its steady light upon every act and purpose with which it is concerned.
The well known influence of maxims and proverbs comes from the readiness with which they are remembered and recalled, and the power which they gather by repetition. The Scriptural texts which most influence us are those that have become familiar in use, and which arise in mind as occasions demand.
From all this it will be seen that the review is not simply an added excellence in teaching which may be dispensed with if time is lacking; it is one of the essential conditions of all true teaching.Not to review is to leave the work half done. The law of review rests upon the laws of mind. The review may not always be made formally and with clear design, but no successful teaching was ever done in which the review in some form, either by direction of the teacher or by the private impulse of the learner, did not take place
-- the revisiting and repetition of the lesson that had been learned.The "line upon line and precept upon precept" rule of the Bible is are cognition of this truth.
The processes of review must necessarily vary with the subject of study, and also with the age and advancement of the pupils. With very young pupils the review can be little more than simple repetition;with older pupils, the review will be a thoughtful restudy of the ground to gain deeper understanding.
A principle in mathematics may be reviewed with fresh applications and problems. A scientific principle may be fixed by the study or analysis of a fresh specimen, or by additional facts in support of the same principle. A chapter in history may be restudied with fresh questions calling for a fresh view, or by comparing it with the new statements of another author. A scriptural truth will be reviewed by a new application to the heart and conscience or to the judgment of the duties and events of the life.
In the Bible more than in any other book are reviews needful and valuable. Not only does the Bible most require and most repay repeated study, but most of all ought Bible knowledge to be familiar to us. Its words and precepts should rest clear and precise in the thought as the dictates of duty.
Any exercise may serve as a review which recalls the material to be reviewed. One of the best and most practical forms of review is the calling up of any fact or truth learned and applying it to some use. Nothing so fixes it in the memory or gives such a grasp of it to the understanding. Thus the multiplication table may be learned by orderly repetitions of its successive factors and products, but its frequent review and use in daily computations alone give us that perfect mastery of it which makes it come without call. So in that largest, most wonderful, and most perfect acquisition of the human mind -- the thousands of wholly artificial word-signs and idioms of the mother tongue -- nothing but the ceaseless repetitions and reviews of daily use could so in-bed them in the memory and so work them into the recesses of the mind that they come with the ideas that they symbolize and keep pace with the swift movements of thought itself, as if a natural part of the thinking process.
The ready skill of artisans and professional men in recalling instantaneously the principles and processes of their arts or professions is the product of the countless repetitions of daily practice. This kind of review is available in all cases where the pupil can be called upon to apply the material learned to the solution of common problems, the conduct of any process, or the performance of any series of acts. The art of the teacher, in this work, lies in the stating of questions which shall properly make use of the material to be reviewed.
The use of handwork in review ought by no means to be neglected.The hand is itself a capable teacher, and few reviews are more effective than those which are aided by the hand. Witness the power and value of laboratory work, now so common in all scientific study.
The request for the pupils to bring lists of persons, objects,places, etc., mentioned in the lessons, for tabular statements off acts or events, for maps, plans, or drawings of places or things, or for short written statements or answers, will be of valuable assistance in reviewing.
PRACTICAL RULES FOR TEACHERS
Among the many practical rules for review, the following are some of the most useful:
(1) Consider reviews as always in order.
(2) Have set times for review. At the beginning of each period review briefly the preceding lesson.
(3) At the close of each lesson, glance backward at the ground which has been covered. Almost every good lesson closes with a summary. It is well to have the pupils know that any one of them maybe called upon to summarize the lesson at the close of the class period.
(4) After five or six lessons, or at the close of a topic,take a review from the beginning. The best teachers give about one-third of each period to purpose of review. Thus they make haste slowly but progress surely.
(5) Whenever a reference to former lessons can profitably be made, the opportunity thus afforded to bring old knowledge into fresh light should be seized.
(6) All new lessons should be made to bring into review and application the material of former lessons.
(7) Make the first review as soon as practicable after the lesson is first learned.
(8) In order to make reviews easily and rapidly, the teacher should hold in mind the material that has been learned, in large units or blocks, ready for instant use. He is thus able to begin at any time an impromptu review in any part of the field. The pupils,seeing that the teacher thinks it worth while to remember and recall what has been studied, will desire to do the same, and will be ambitious to be ready to meet his questions.
(9) New questions on old lessons, new illustrations for old texts, new proof for old statements, new applications of old truths,will often send the pupil back with fresh interest to his old material, thus affording a profitable review.
(10) The final review, which should never be omitted, should be searching, comprehensive, and masterful, grouping the different
topics of the subject as on a map, and aiding the pupil to a familiar mastery of the material which he has learned.
(11) FIND AS MANY APPLICATIONS AS POSSIBLE. Every thoughtful application involves a useful and effective review.
(12) Do not forget the value of handwork in review.
(13) Do not forget the value of handwork on the material of previous lessons. Let this be done frequently; the pupils will soon learn to come to their classes with questions ready to ask, and with ready answers for other questions.
VIOLATIONS AND MISTAKES
The common and almost constant violations of this law of teaching are well known to every one. But the disastrous violations are known only to those who have considered thoughtfully the inadequate and stinted outcomes of much of our laborious and costly teaching. The lack of proper review is not by any means the sole cause of failure;however, a wider and more thorough use of the principle of review would go far to remedy the evils from other causes. We pour water into broken cisterns; good reviews might not at once increase the quantity of water which goes in, but they would stop the leaks.
(1) The first violation of the law is the total neglect of review. This is the folly of the utterly poor teacher.
(2) The second is the wholly inadequate review. This is the fault of the hurried and impatient teacher who is often more concerned with getting through the work of the term or semester than making the work the pupils' own.
(3) The third mistake is that of delaying all review work until the end of the semester or term, when, the material of the course being largely forgotten, the review amounts to little more than a poor relearning, with little interest and less value.
(4) The fourth error is that of making the review merely a process of lifeless and colorless repetition of questions and answers and often the very questions and answers which were originally used.
This is a review in name only.
The law of review in its full force and philosophy requires that there shall be fresh vision -- a clear rethinking and reusing of the material which has been learned, which shall be related to the first study as the finishing touches of the artist to his first sketches.