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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

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

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.)?

Next: Nature Of Attention

Previous: Where Consciousness Resides

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