Psychological Tendency of Herbart:
It has been very well recognized that Herbart is the father of educational psychology. It was he who lent colour to the outline of educational psychology given out by Pestalozzi. Let us examine the situation.
Conditions Before Herbart: It will be useful to study the situations that prevailed before Herbart in the field of education. Before Herbart, it was considered that the study of the soul or heart does not come within the purview of the study of Psychology. Consciousness was the field of study of Psychology. The basis of consciousness is the ideas. With the association of ideas, Psychology develops.
The principle of the development of the faculties of mind, on the basis of association of ideas, had been rejected. Knowledge, Feeling and Willing was considered to be the parts of the mental faculties.
Psychology was heading towards experimentations. In other words, Psychology was becoming more and more laboratory minded.
Psychology of Herbart: It was Herbart who laid greater stress on Psychology in the field of education. He laid emphasis on the fact that education and its content material can be improved only on the basis of psychology. He was the first man to determine the principles of education on the basis of Ethics and drew up the method of education while taking into full consideration the importance of Psychology. He had studied the psychological development of children through experiments and developed them with the help of study. He had also accepted that Knowing, Feeling and Willing are the three departments of the mind. He had also said that their functions are also different but they also contain the elements of each other. We do not find them pure and complete in themselves. In fact, he accepted that the psychological process is the same. These three departments are simply the three stages of that process. He has himself said that “the soul has no innate tendencies nor faculties. It is the error indeed to look upon the human soul as an aggregate of all sorts of faculties”.
He with his views contradicted the principles of the faculties, psychology and laid down the principles of a unit. It was due to his thinking that it was realized that child’s mind is a unit and his development can take place only through psychology.
Herbart has also said that the formation of the mind takes place with the experiences of the outside world. He does not accept the existence of natural feelings and tendencies. He also discarded the belief that certain ideas or feelings are existent in the mind from before. According to him, it is completely blank. If any faculty is present there, it is that of coordinating the ideas and establishing the association of ideas. These ideas in themselves are not uniform. They differ and even contradict each other. All of them try to pervade the consciousness and establish their predominance over there. Herbart laid down that the real elements of consciousness are the ideas they try to establish co-relation or connection with the mind as well as the environment. This thinking led to the Principle of Apperception. Herbart has himself said, “Apperception or assimilation takes place through previously acquired presentation and their union with new elements”.
This view is termed as “proceeding from known to unknown” by Pestalozzi and has been termed as “mental assimilation”.