from “The Seven Laws of Teaching” by John Gregory, 1884

The Laws Stated as Rules


These definitions and statements are so simple and obvious as to need no argument or proof; but their force as fundamental laws may be more clearly seen if stated as rules for teaching. Addressed to the teacher, they may read as follows:

I. Know thoroughly and familiarly the lesson you wish to teach; or, in other words, teach from a full mind and a clear understanding.

II. Gain and keep the attention and interest of the pupils upon the lesson. Refuse to teach without attention.

III. Use words understood by both teacher and pupil in the same sense—language clear and vivid alike to both.

IV. Begin with what is already well known to the pupil in the lesson or upon the subject, and proceed to the unknown by single, easy, and natural steps, letting the known explain the unknown.

V. Use the pupil’s own mind, exciting his self-activities. Keep his thoughts as much as possible ahead of your expression, making him a discoverer of truth.

VI. Require the pupil to reproduce in thought the lesson he is learning—thinking it out in its parts, proofs, connections, and applications till he can express it in his own language.

VII. Review, review, REVIEW, reproducing correctly the old, deepening its impression with new thought, correcting false views, and completing the true.




I have now finished the discussion of the Seven Laws of Teaching. If I have succeeded in my purpose, I have made to rise up and pass before the reader,

  • first, the True Teacher richly laden with the lesson he desires to communicate, inspired and inspiring by the clear vision he has caught of the truth;
  • second, the True Learner with attention fixed and interest excited, eager to enter and possess the promised land of the unknown lying before him;
  • third, the True Medium of communication between these two—a language clear, simple, and perfectly understood by both;
  • fourth, the True Lesson—the knowledge, to the pupil the unknown standing next to his known, and half revealed in its light.

These four—the actors and machinery of the drama—have also been shown in action, giving,

  • fifth, the True Teaching Process, the teacher arousing and directing the self-activities of the pupil, like a chieftain leading his soldiers into battle;
  • sixth, the True Learning Process, the pupil reproducing in thought—thinking into his own mind, step by step—first in mere outline and finally in full and finished conception—the lesson to be learned; and
  • seventh, the True Reviews, testing, correcting, completing, connecting, and fixing into permanence, power, and use the subject studied.

In all this there has been seen only the play of the great natural laws of mind and of truth effecting and governing that complex process by which a human intelligence gains possession of any branch of knowledge. The study of these laws may not make of every reader a perfect teacher; but the laws themselves, when fully observed in use, will produce their effects with the same certainty that the chemical laws generate the compounds of chemical elements, or that the laws of life produce the growth of the body.

Gregory, John M. The Seven Laws of Teaching. Counted Faithful. Kindle Edition.

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