Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi
In the late 1700's, Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, a Swiss educational reformer, put Rousseau's theories into practice and thus he became the first applied educational psychologist. Pestalozzi believed that thought began with sensation and that teaching should use the senses. Theorizing that children should study the objects in their natural environment, Pestalozzi developed a so-called “object lesson” that involved exercises in learning form, number, and language. Pupils determined and traced an object's form, counted objects, and named them. Students progressed from these lessons to exercises in drawing, writing, adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, and reading.
Pestalozzi employed the following principles in teaching (viewed as correct even today):
- Begin with the concrete object before introducing abstract concepts
- Begin with the immediate environment before dealing with what is distant and remote
- begin with easy exercises or activities before introducing complex ones
- Always proceed gradually, cumulatively, and slowly
Pestalozzi's theories laid the groundwork for modern elementary education. He stressed the individuality of the child and the necessity for teachers to be taught how to develop rather than to try to implant knowledge. In time, his ideas influenced the elementary school systems of the Western world, particularly in the area of teacher training.