In my reading I am moving back and forth between two books, William James Talks with Teachers on Psychology, and Klemm's book on European Schools in the 19th century. Both make mention of Herbart and his principles of education.
“Any object not interesting in itself may become interesting through becoming associated with an object in which an interest already exists. The two associated objects grow, as it were, together: the interesting portion sheds its quality over the whole; and thus things not interesting in their own right borrow an interest which becomes as real and as strong as that of any natively interesting thing. The odd circumstance is that the borrowing does not impoverish the source, the objects taken together being more interesting, perhaps, than the originally interesting portion was by itself.The following is from Richard Lewis Klemm:
This is one of the most striking proofs of the range of application of the principle of association of ideas in psychology. An idea will infect another with its own emotional interest when they have become both associated together into any sort of a mental total. As there is no limit to the various associations into which an interesting idea may enter, one sees in how many ways an interest may be derived.
You will understand this abstract statement easily if I take the most frequent of concrete examples,—the interest which things borrow from their connection with our own personal welfare. The most natively interesting “principle of association of ideas in psychology. An idea will infect another with its own emotional interest when they have become both associated together into any sort of a mental total. As there is no limit to the various associations into which an interesting idea may enter, one sees in how many ways an interest may be derived. ...This is the psychological meaning of the Herbartian principle of 'preparation' for each lesson, and of correlating the new with the old. It is the psychological meaning of that whole method of concentration in studies of which you have been recently hearing so much. When the geography and English and history and arithmetic simultaneously make cross-references to one another, you get an interesting set of processes all along the line.” - William James. Talks To Teachers On Psychology; And To Students On Some Of Life's Ideals.
There are two ways of smoothing a board — the hand-plane and the planing-machine. I should trust my dexterity in handicraft to make use of a hand-plane, but I should hesitate to use the planing-machine with its destructive cutter-heads that make three thousand to four thousand revolutions a minute. I should hesitate to risk the board as little as my fingers to that most efficient and useful device. It is even so with the Herbartian practice. It is most intricate, yet withal so wonderfully simple that one can not but stand in mute astonishment when seeing it applied. The essential idea underlying the practice is this: Every thing taught during a day, a week, a month, a year, should all be organically connected. In the center of all stands a "Gesinnungs-Stoff" (a matter appealing to the heart and interest). - Richard Lewis Klemm, European Schools: Or, What I Saw in the Schools of Germany, France, Austria, and Switzerland, 1888Klemm proceeded to describe an example of what modern educators would call integrated thematic instruction, in which a single research project would include content meeting learning needs in a variety of subject areas.
Make, fix, create, and encourage others to do so.