Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Problems In Observation and Introspection


One should always keep in mind that psychology is essentially a laboratory science, and not a text-book subject. The laboratory material is to be found in ourselves and in those about us. While the text should be thoroughly mastered, its statements should always be verified by reference to one's own experience, and observation of others. Especially should prospective teachers constantly correlate the lessons of the book with the observation of children at work in the school. The problems suggested for observation and introspection will, if mastered, do much to render practical and helpful the truths of psychology.

1. Think of your home as you last left it. Can you see vividly just how it looked, the color of the paint on the outside, with the familiar form of the roof and all; can you recall the perfume in some old drawer, the taste of a favorite dish, the sound of a familiar voice in farewell?

2. What illustrations have you observed where the mental content of the moment seemed chiefly thinking (knowledge process); chiefly emotion (feeling process); chiefly choosing, or self-compulsion (willing process)?

3. When you say that you remember a circumstance that occurred yesterday, how do you remember it? That is, do you see in your mind things just as they were, and hear again sounds which occurred, or feel again movements which you performed? Do you experience once more the emotions you then felt?

4. What forms of expression most commonly reveal thought; what reveal emotions? (i.e., can you tell what a child is thinking about by the expression on his face? Can you tell whether he is angry, frightened, sorry, by his face? Is speech as necessary in expressing feeling as in expressing thought?)

5. Try occasionally during the next twenty-four hours to turn quickly about mentally and see whether you can observe your thinking, feeling, or willing in the very act of taking place.

6. What becomes of our mind or consciousness while we are asleep? How are we able to wake up at a certain hour previously determined? Can a person have absolutely nothing in his mind?

7. Have you noticed any children especially adept in expression? Have you noticed any very backward? If so, in what form of expression in each case?

8. Have you observed any instances of expression which you were at a loss to interpret (remember that "expression" includes every form of physical action, voice, speech, face, form, hand, etc.)?