Koffka and Growth of the Mind

Wertheimer's second laboratory assistant, Kurt Koffka, left Frankfurt soon after completing the original research and spent much of the next 16 years at the University of Giessen. Koffka also took several trips to the United States between 1911 and 1927, and was largely responsible for disseminating Gestaltist thought to America. His Growth of the Mind, originally published in German, was translated and printed in English in 1924. Using Gestalt theory as a background, the book was an introduction to child psychology with a special focus on childhood learning. Koffka agreed with William Stern's hypothesis that when learning takes place, there is a melding or "convergence" of outer conditions and inner (mental) capability. He was a strong opponent of rote learning, seeing it as the death of creativity. Equally, Koffka believed that neither a reward system nor trial-and-error were the reasons that humans learn, but rather that the mind has an innate desire to learn, to experience "good Gestalt." In these ways, Koffka applied Gestalt psychology to education, and the application of Gestalt ideas has spilled over into many educational concepts, including the Montessori method of education.

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