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Comenius And the Beginnings of Educational Reform

And the Beginnings of Educational Reform
Title: Comenius And the Beginnings of Educational Reform
Release Date: 2018-12-16
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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The Great Educators





Norwood Press
J. S. Cushing & Co.—Berwick & Smith
Norwood Mass. U.S.A.



The present volume is an effort to trace the reformmovement in education from Vives, Bacon, and Ratketo Comenius, who gave the movement its most significantforce and direction; and from him to the laterreformers,—Francke, Rousseau, Basedow, Pestalozzi,Fröbel, and Herbart. A variety of ideas, interests,and adaptations, all distinctly modern, are representedin the life-creeds of these reformers; and, in theabsence of a more satisfactory term, the progressivemovement which they represent has been styled realism,—sometimescalled the “new education.”

It has been well said that “the dead hand of spiritualancestry lays no more sacred duty on posteritythan that of realizing under happier circumstancesideas which the stress of age or the shortness of lifehas deprived of their accomplishment.” Many of thereforms represented by the realists occupy no inconsiderableplace in the platforms of modern practitionersof education; and in the belief that a historyof the movement might contribute toward the ultimatereforms which realism represents, it has seemedexpedient to focus such a survey on the life andteachings of the strongest personality and chief exponentof the movement.

The condition of education in Europe during thesixteenth century is briefly told in the opening chapviter;following are given the traces of the educationaldevelopment of Comenius in the writings of Vives,Bacon, and Ratke; three chapters are devoted to thelife of Comenius and the reforms in which he activelyparticipated; an exposition of his educational writingshas three chapters; a chapter is given to the influenceof Comenius on Francke, Rousseau, Pestalozzi, andother modern reformers; and the closing chaptersums up his permanent influence. The volume hastwo appendices,—one giving tables of dates relatingto the life and writings of Comenius, and the othera select annotated bibliography.

In the exposition of the writings of Comenius, theauthor has made liberal use of English and Germantranslations from Latin and Czech originals. In thecase of the Great didactic, the scholarly translation byMr. Keatinge has, in the main, been followed. Freetranslations of portions of this work had been madeby the author before the appearance of Mr. Keatinge’sbook; and in some instances these have beenretained. As regards the account of Comenius’ viewson the earliest education of the child, the author’sedition of the School of infancy has been followed;and in the discussion of reforms in language teaching,he is indebted to Mr. Bardeen’s edition of the Orbispictus, and to Dr. William T. Harris for the use ofthe handsome Elzevir edition of the Janua, which isthe property of the Bureau of Education.


State Normal School,
    Westfield, Mass.



European Education in the Sixteenth Century

Humanism, realism, and naturalism characterized—Devotionof the sixteenth century to the humanistic ideal—Studyof Latin eloquence—Style the chief aim—Neglectof the mother-tongue—Views of John Sturmand the Jesuits—Devotion to Cicero—Decadence ofthe later humanists—Erasmus and Melanchthon onthe enrichment of the course of study—Satires ofRabelais directed against the humanists—Protestsof Montaigne—Attitude of Ascham and Mulcaster—Transitionfrom humanism to realism

Forerunners of Comenius

Traces of the intellectual development of Comenius.Vives a realist—His early training in Spain andFrance—Educational activity in Belgium and England—Viewson the education of women—Theoryof education—Comparison of Comenius and Vives.Bacon the founder of modern realism—Views on theeducation of his day—Attacks mediævalism—Studyof nature and the inductive method—Individual differencesamong children. Ratke—Studies at Hamburgand Rostock—Visits England and becomesacquainted with the philosophy of Bacon—His planof education—Its reception by the universities atviiiJena and Giessen—Organization of the schools atGotha—Call to Sweden—Summary of Ratke’s views—Harmonyof his teachings with those of Comenius.Campanella, Andreæ, and Bateus—Their influenceon the life and teachings of Comenius

Boyhood and Early Life of Comenius: 1592–1628

Ancestry of Comenius—Attends the village school atStrasnitz—Studies Latin in the gymnasium at Prerau—Characterof the Latin schools of his day—Entersthe college at Herborn—Studies theology and philosophy—Inspiredby the teachings of Alsted—Makesthe acquaintance of the writings of Ratke—Continueshis studies at Heidelberg—Begins his career as ateacher at Prerau—Ordained as a clergyman—Installedas pastor and school superintendent at Fulneck—Persecution

Career as an Educational Reformer: 1628–1656

Flight to Poland—Appointed director of the gymnasiumat Lissa—Reforms introduced—Literary projects—Needof a patron—Call to England—Friendship withHartlib—Interest of the English Parliament—Discontentwith existing educational institutions—Lewisde Geer, his Dutch patron—Call to Sweden—Interviewwith Oxenstiern—Located at Elbing—Reformof the Swedish schools—Return to Poland—Consecrationas senior bishop—Consequences ofthe treaty of Westphalia—Ecclesiastical ministrations—Callto Hungary—Reform of the schools at Saros-Patak—Planof a pansophic school—Return to Lissa—Thecity burned—Flight of Comenius from Poland

Closing Years: 1656–1670

Flight to Amsterdam—Reception by Lawrence de Geer—Religiousfreedom in Holland—Publication of thecomplete edition of his writings—Other educationalactivities—The “one thing needful”—Death atAmsterdam and burial at Naärden—Family historyof Comenius—Alleged call to the presidency of HarvardCollege—Portraits—Personal characteristics

Philosophy of Education

The Great didactic—Conditions under which produced—Aimof the book—Purpose of education—Man’scraving for knowledge—Youth the time for training—Privateinstruction undesirable—Education forgirls as well as boys—Uniform methods. Educationaccording to nature—How nature teaches—Selectionand adaptation of materials—Organization of pupilsinto classes—Correlation of studies. Methods ofinstruction—Science—Arts—Language—Morals—Religion.Types of educational institutions—Themother’s school—School of the mother-tongue—Latinschool—University. School discipline—Characterand purpose of discipline—Corporal punishmentonly in cases of moral perversity

Earliest Education of the Child

School of infancy—Circumstances under which written—Viewof childhood—Conception of infant education.Physical training—Care of the body—Thexchild’s natural nurse—Food—Sleep—Play and exercise.Mental training—Studies which furnish thesymbols of thought—Nature study—Geography—History—Householdeconomy—Stories and fables—Principleof activity—Drawing—Arithmetic—Geometry—Music—Language—Poetry.Moral and religious training—Examples—Instruction—Discipline—Somevirtues to be taught—Character offormal religious instruction

Study of Language

Dominance of Latin in the seventeenth century—Methodsof study characterized by Comenius. The Janua—Purposeand plan—Its success. Atrium and Vestibulum—Theirrelation to the Janua. The Orbispictus—Its popularity—Use of pictures. Methodusnovissima—Principles of language teaching—Functionof examples—Place of oral and written languagein education

Influence of Comenius on Modern Educators

Francke—Early educational undertakings—The institutionat Halle—Character of the Pædagogium—Impulsegiven to modern education. Rousseau—Thechild the centre of educational schemes—Sensetraining fundamental—Order and method of natureto be followed. Basedow—Protests against traditionalmethods—Influenced by the Émile—Hiseducational writings—The Philanthropinum. Pestalozzi—Lovethe key-note of his system—Domesticeducation—Education of all classes and sexes—Thestudy of nature—Impulse given to the study ofgeography. Fröbel—His relations to Comenius andxiPestalozzi—Educational value of play and principleof self-activity—Women as factors in education.Herbart—Assimilation of sense-experience—Trainingin character—Doctrine of interest

Permanent Influence of Comenius

General neglect of Comenius during the eighteenth century—Causes—Intrenchmentof humanism—Summaryof the permanent reforms of Comenius—Revivedinterest in his teachings—National Comenian pedagogicallibrary at Leipzig—The Comenius Society—Reviewspublished for the dissemination of the doctrinesof Comenius—Conquest of his ideas

I. Table of Dates173
II. Select Bibliography175




Humanism, realism, and naturalism characterized—Devotion ofthe sixteenth century to the humanistic ideal—Study of Latineloquence—Style the chief aim—Neglect of the mother-tongue—Viewsof John Sturm and the Jesuits—Devotion to Cicero—Decadenceof the later humanists—Erasmus and Melanchthonon the enrichment of the course of study—Satires of Rabelaisdirected against the humanists—Protests of Montaigne—Attitudeof Ascham and Mulcaster—Transition from humanism torealism.

“Education in Europe,” says Oscar Browning,1“has passed through three phases, which may convenientlybe called humanism, realism, and naturalism.The first is grounded upon the study of language, andespecially of the two dead languages, Greek and Latin.The second is based upon the study of things insteadof words, the education of the mind through the eyeand the hand. Closely connected with this is thestudy of those things which may be of direct influenceupon and direct importance to life. The third isnot in the first instance study at all. It is an attempt2to build up the whole nature of man,—to educate firsthis body, then his character, and lastly his mind.”

The sixteenth century was wedded to the humanisticideal of education. Without regard for thediversity of avocations, classical culture was held tobe the safest and best training for the manifold dutiesof life. Aristotle’s Politics was considered the wisestutterance on the direction of affairs of state; Cæsar’sCommentaries the safest guides to military eminence;the practical Stoicism of the Latin authors the mostinfallible basis for ethics and the regulation of conduct;and as for agriculture, had not Virgil writtena treatise on that subject? It was clear in the mindsof the sixteenth-century humanists that classical culturefurnished the best preparation, alike for theologiansand artisans.

To accomplish this purpose, as soon as the childwas considered sufficiently matured for linguistic discipline,and this varied from the sixth to the ninthyears, he was initiated into the mysteries of Latineloquence. His preliminary training consisted in averbal study of the Latin grammar for purposes ofprecision in speech and successful imitation; but, asthe grammar was printed in Latin, with its hundredsof incomprehensible rules and exceptions, all of whichhad to be “learned by heart,” the way of the younglearner was, indeed, a thorny one. True, the classicalauthors were later read, but chiefly for the purposeof gleaning from them choice phrases to be used inthe construction of Latin sentences, or for purposesof disputations in dialectics. Logic and history weregiven most subordinate places in the course of study,the former merely that it might give greater precision3in writing and speaking, and the latter that it mightfurnish illustrations in rhetorical exercises.

This conception of education was almost universallyheld in the sixteenth century, by Protestants likeTrotzendorf and Sturm, as well as by Catholics likeAquaviva and the members of the Society of Jesus.Nor was it confined to elementary and secondaryeducation; for, as Professor Paulsen2 has shown, theconquest of European universities by the humanistswas complete by the second decade of the sixteenthcentury. The statutes of most of the universities atthis time make the speaking of the Latin compulsory.That at Ingolstadt reads: “A master in a bursaryshall induce to the continual use of Latin by verbalexhortations and by his own example; and shall alsoappoint those who shall mark such as speak the vulgartongue and shall receive from them an irremissiblepenalty.” Again: “That the students in their academicalexercises may learn by the habit of speakingLatin to speak and express themselves better, thefaculty ordains that no person placed by the facultyupon a common or other bursary shall dare to speakGerman. Any one heard by one of the overseers tospeak German shall pay one kreutzer.” There grewout of this prohibition a widespread system of spying.The spies reported to the university authorities onsuch students (vulgarisantes they were called) whopersisted in speaking in the mother-tongue. In spite,however, of statutes, spies, fines, and floggings, the4boys in the sixteenth century spoke little Latin whenthey were alone by themselves. Cordier,3 writing in1530, says, “Our boys always chatter French withtheir companions; or if they try to talk Latin, cannotkeep it up.”

The old ecclesiastical Latin of the Middle Ages hadbeen superseded by the classical Latin of the Romanpoets, and all the energies of the educational institutionswere thrown into the acquisition and practice ofLatin eloquence. The classics were read for thephrases that might be culled for use in the constructionof Latin sentences; these, with disputations,declamations, and Latin plays, were the order of thecentury. Since education consisted in the acquisitionof a graceful and elegant style, the young learner,from the first, applied himself to the grammaticalstudy of Latin authors, regarding solely the languageof the classics, and taking subject-matter into accountonly when this was necessary to understand the words.

There was no study of the mother-tongue preliminaryto the study of the classics. Children began atonce the study of the Latin grammar, and they had towrite Latin verses before they had been exercised incompositions, in the vernacular, or, for that matter,before they had been trained to express their thoughtsin Latin prose. And still more remarkable, as OscarBrowning points out, “the

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