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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XXIII. Education

§ 11. Christopher Dock

Of the other colonial schoolmasters who contributed to literature the German pedagogue of Pennsylvania, Christopher Dock, has left the most substantial literary product. Besides a text or treatise he wrote an elaborate set of rules, one hundred in number, which portray in great detail the conduct of schools of the time, but which after all reveal merely transplanted European customs. Methods were extremely practical; although they indicate considerable empirical knowledge of human nature they show no scientific or philosophical knowledge of education. “When he can say his A B C’s and point out each letter with his index finger, he is put into the A, b, abs. When he reaches this class his father owes him a penny and his mother must fry him two eggs for his diligence.” One of the most fundamental of modern educational principles is indeed recognized: “Different children need different treatment.” But how typical of the times is the interpretation, for he goes on to say: “That is because the wickedness of youth exhibits itself in so many ways.” This most elaborate of colonial pedagogical works is similar in form and purpose to the numerous books on behaviour produced in all European countries during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but it has little of the penetration or urbanity and none of the literary grace of Castiglione or of Chesterfield, or of the good Bishop de la Casa.