Extract from Michael Mitchell's translation

Arthur Brühlmeier Head, Heart and Hand — Education in the Spirit of Pestalozzi

A good teacher is a master builder carefully erecting the edifice stone by stone. He knows that first of all you need the foundations, then the walls, last of all the roof. The bigger the house is to be, the stronger the foundations that are needed. In this he is observing one of Pestalozzi's key principles: the principle of building up without leaving any gaps, what we might call the principle of coherence.

And in this a teacher always bears both the children and the subject in mind. The children's faculties and the skills that derive from them should be developed in an uninterrupted sequence and in a way that is psychologically appropriate. And the subject matter is to be divided up in a way that accords with both the material and the children's psychology, then worked through step by step.

This is all so obvious that I am almost embarrassed to talk about it. I do so nevertheless since masses of pupils fail in the higher classes because the have not understood elementary steps at the lower level and have not acquired fundamental skills. Many of them can still hear the teacher saying, ‘I can't wait for you, I've a whole class to teach and have to get on.’

Despite that, the rule is: only continue when the pupils have properly acquired the things they need in order to understand later units; only continue once they have securely mastered the simpler skills on which more complex ones are based. The principles that lead to success are: progress from the easy to the difficult, from the simple to the complex, from the concrete to the abstract, from the near to the far-off (where ‘near’ can also mean ‘psychologically near’). That is the psychologically correct way of proceeding. This principle of coherence is valid for all three areas: intellectual (head), emotional/ moral (heart) and practical (hand). If all the new material grows organically from the foundation of what has previously been learnt, then the teaching will be in accord with the pupils' nature.