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why the state of Christianity is so low, for all its force and
power are in the rising generation ; and if these are neg-
lected, there will be Christian churches like a garden that has
been neglected in the spring-time. ... Every da}- children
are born and are growing up, and, unfortunately, no one
cares for the poor young people, no one thinks to train them ;


they are allowed to go as they will. Was it not lamentable
to see a lad study in twenty years and more only just enough
bad Latin to enable him to become a priest, and to go to
mass? And he who attained to this was counted a very
happy being ! Right happy the mother who bore such a
child ! And he has remained all his life a poor unlettered
man. Everywhere we have seen such teachers and masters,
who knew nothing themselves and could teach nothing that
was good and useful ; the}' did not even know how to learn
and to teach. Has anything else been learned up to this
time in the high schools and in the convents except to
become asses and blockheads? ..."

130. Organization of the New Schools. — So Luther
resolves on the organization of new schools. The cost of
their maintenance he makes a charge on the public treasury ;
lie demonstrates to parents the moral obligation to have their
children instructed in them ; to the duty of conscience he
adds civil obligation ; and, finally, he gives his thought to
the means of recruiting the teaching service. " Since the
greatest evil in every place is the lack of teachers, we must
not wait till they come forward of themselves ; we must take
the trouble to educate them and prepare them." To this end
Luther keeps the best of the pupils, boys and girls, for a
longer time in school; gives them special instructors, and
opens libraries for their use. In his thought he never dis-
tinguishes women teachers from men teachers ; he wauls
schools for girls as well as for boys. Only, not to burden
parents and divert children from their daily labor, he re-
quires but little time for school duties. "You ask: Ts it
possible to get along without our children, and bring them up
like gentlemen? Is it not necessary that they work at
home? 1 reply: I by no menus approve of those schools
where a child was accustomed to pass twenty or thirty years


in studying Donatus or Alexander 1 without learning any-
thing. Another world has dawned, in which things g-
differently. My opinion is that we must send the boys to
school one or two hours a day, and have them learn a trade
at home for the rest of the time. It is desirable that these
two occupations march side by side. As it now is, children
certainly spend twice as much time in playing ball, running
the streets, and playing truant. And so the girls can
equally well devote nearly the same time to school, without
neglecting their home duties ; they lose more time than this
in over-sleeping and in dancing more than is meet."

131. Programme of Studies. — Luther gives the first
place to the teaching of religion : " Is it not reasonable that
every Christian should know the Gospel at the age of nine
or ten ? "

Then come the languages, not, as might be hoped, the
mother tongue, but the learned languages, Latin, Greek, and
Hebrew. Luther had not yet been sufficiently rid of the old
spirit to comprehend that the language of the people ought
to be the basis of universal instruction. He left to Comenius
the glory of making the final separation of the primary
school from the Latin school. But yet, Luther gave excel-
lent advice for the study of languages, which must be
learned, he said, less in the abstract rules of grammar than
in their concrete reality.

Luther recommends the mathematics, and also the study
of nature ; but he has a partiality for history and historians,

1 Names for treatises on grammar and philosophy respectively. Donatus
was a celebrated grammarian and rhetorician who taught at Rome in the
middle of the fourth century a.d.; and Alexander, a celebrated Greek com-
mentator on the writings of Aristotle, who taught the Peripatetic philoso-
phy at Athens in the end of the second and the beginning of the third cen-
turies a.d. (P.)


who are, he says, "the best people and the best teachers,"
on the condition that they do not tamper with the truth, and
that " they do not make obscure the work of God."

Of the liberal arts of the Middle Age, Luther does not
make much account. He rightly says of dialectics, that it is
no equivalent for real knowledge, and that it is simply " an
instrument by which we render to ourselves an account of
what we know."

Physical exercises are not forgotten in Luther's peda-
gogical regulations. But he attaches an especial importance
to singing. "Unless a schoolmaster know how to sing, I
think him of no account." " Music," he sa}s again, " is a
half discipline which makes men more indulgent and more

132. Progress in Methods. — At the same time that he
extends the programme of studies, Luther introduces a new
spirit into methods. He wishes more liberty and more joy
in the school.

" Solomon," he says, " is a truly royal schoolmaster. He
does not, like the monks, forbid the young to go into the
world and be happy. Eveu as Anselm said : ' A young man
turned aside from the world is like a young tree made to
grow in a vase.' The monks have imprisoned young men
like birds in their cage. It is dangerous to isolate the young.
It is necessary, on the contrary, to allow young people to
hear, see, and learn all sorts of things, while all the time
observing the restraints and the rules of honor. Enjoyment
and recreation are as necessary for children as food and
drink. The schools till now were veritable prisons and hells,
and the schoolmaster a tyrant. ... A child intimidated by
bad treatment is irresolute in all ho does. He who has trem-
bled before his parents will tremble all his life at the sound
of a leaf which rustles in the wind."


These quotations will suffice to make appreciated the large
and liberal spirit of Luther, and the range of his thought as
an educator. No one has more extolled the office of the
teacher, of which he said, when comparing it to preaching,
it is the work of all others the noblest, the most useful, and
the best; " and yet," he added, "I do not know which of
these two professions is the better."

Do not let ourselves imagine, however, that Luther at once
exercised a decisive influence on the current education of his
day. A few schools were founded, called writing schools ;
but the Thirty Years' War, and other events, interrupted the
movement of which Luther has the honor of having been the

133. The States General of Orleans (1560). — While
in Germany, under the impulse of Luther, primary schools
began to be established, France remained in the background.
Let us note, however, the desires expressed by the States
General of Orleans, in 15G0 : —

" May it please the king," it was said in the memorial of
the nobility, " to levy a contribution upon the church reve-
nues for the reasonable support of teachers and men of
learning in every city and village, for the instruction of
the needy youth of the country ; and let all parents be
required, under penalty of a fine, to send their children
to school, and let them be constrained to observe this law by
the lords and the ordinary magistrates."

It was demanded, in addition, that public lectures be
given on the Sacred Scriptures in intelligible language, that is,
in the mother tongue. But these demands, so earnest and
democratic, of the Protestant nobility of sixteenth century
France, were not regarded. With the fall of Protestantism,
the cause of primary instruction in France was doomed to a
long eclipse. The nobles of the seventeenth and eighteenth


centuries did not think of petitioning again for the education
of the people, and Diderot could truthfully say of them :
" The nobility complain of the farm laborers who know how
to read. Perhaps the chief grievance of the nobility reduces
itself to this : that a peasant who knows how to read is more
difficult to oppress than another."

134. Ratich (1571-1635).— In the first half of the
seventeenth century, Ratich, a German, and Comenius, a
Slave, were, with very different degrees of merit, the heirs
of the educational thought of Luther.

With something of the charlatan and the demagogue,
Ratich devoted his life to propagating a novel art of teaching,
which he called didactics, and to which he attributed marvels.
He pretended, by his method of languages, to teach Hebrew,
Greek, and Latin, in six months. But nevertheless, out of
many strange performances and lofty promises, there issue
some thoughts of practical value. The first merit of Ratich
was to give the mother tongue, the German language, the
precedence over the ancient languages. An English educa-
tional writer, Mr. R. H. Quick, in his Essays on Educational
Reformers (1874), has thus summed up the essential princi-
ples of the pedagogy of Ratich : 1 . Everything should be
taught in its own time and order, and according to the natural
method, in passing from the more easy to the more difficult.
2. Only one thing should be learned at a time. " We do not
cook at the same time in one pot, soup, meat, fish, milk, and
vegetables." 3. The same thing should be repeated several
times. 4. By means of these frequent repetitions, the pupil
will have nothing to learn by heart. 5. All school-books
should be written on the same plan. 6. The thing as a whole
should be made known before the thing in its details, and
the sequence should be from the general to the special.
7. In every case we should proceed by induction and experi-


ment. Ratich especially means by this that we must make
an end of mere authority, and of the testimony of the
ancients, and must appeal to individual reason. 8. Finally,
everything should be learned without coercion. Coercion and
the rod are contrary to nature, and disgust the young with
study. The human understanding learns with pleasure all
that it ought to retain. It does not seem that Ratich knew
how to draw from these principles, which, by the way, are
not true save under certain corrections, all the happy results
that are contained in them. He left to Comenius the glory
of applying the new spirit to actual practice.

135. Comenius (1592-1671). — For a long time unknown
and unappreciated, Comenius has finally received from our
contemporaries the admiration that is due him. Michelet
speaks of him with enthusiasm as "that rare genius, that
gentle, fertile, universal scholar"; 1 and he calls him the
first evangelist of modern pedagogy, Pestalozzi being the
second. It is easy to justify this appreciation. The char-
acter of Comenius equals his intelligence. Through a thou-
sand obstacles he devoted his long life to the work of popular
instruction. With a generous ardor he consecrated himself
to infancy. He wrote twenty works and taught in twenty
cities. Moreover, he was the first to form a definite concep-
tion of what the elementary studies should be. He deter-
mined, nearly three hundred years ago, with an exactness
that leaves nothing to be desired, the division of the dif-
ferent grades of instruction. He exactly defined some of
the essential laws of the art of teaching. He applied to
pedagogy, with remarkable insight, the principles of modern
logic. Finally, as Michelet has said, he was the Galileo, we
would rather say, the Bacon, of modern education.

1 Michelet, Nosfils, p. 175 et seq.


136. Baconian Inspiration. — The special aims of peda-
gogy are essentially related to the general aims of science.
All progress in science has its corresponding effects on edu-
cation. When an innovator has modified the laws for the
discovery of truth, other innovators appear, who modify, in
their turn, the rules for instruction. To a new logic almost
necessarily corresponds a new pedagogy.

Now Bacon, at the opening of the seventeenth century,
had opened unknown routes to scientific investigation. For
the abstract processes of thought, for the barren comparison
of propositions and words, in which the whole art of the
syllogism consisted, the author of the Novum Organum had
substituted the concrete study of reality, the living and
fruitful observation of nature. The mechanism of deduc-
tive reasoning was replaced by the slow and patient inter-
pretation of facts. It no longer answered to analyze with
docile spirit principles that were assumed, right or wrong, as
absolute truths ; nor to become expert in handling the syllo-
gism, which, like a mill running dry, often produced but
little flour. It was now necessary to open the eyes to the
contemplation of the universe, and by sense intuition, by
observation, by experiment, and by induction, to penetrate
its secrets, and determine its laws. It was necessary to
ascend, step by step, from the knowledge of the simplest
things to the discovery of the most general laws ; and,
finally, to demand of nature herself to reveal all that the
human intelligence, in its solitary meditations, is powerless
to discover.

Looking at this subject more closely, this revolution in
science, so important from the point of view of speculative
inquiry, and destined to change the aspect of the sciences,
also contained in itself a revolution in education. For this
purpose, all that was needed was to apply to the develop-


ment of the intelligence and to the communication of knowl-
edge the rules proposed by Bacon for the investigation of
truth. The laws of scientific induction might become the
laws for the education of the soul. No more setting out
with abstract principles, imposed by authority ; but facts
intuitively apprehended, gathered by observation and veri-
fied by experiment ; the order of nature faithfully followed ;
a cautious progression from the simplest and most elemen-
tary ideas to the most difficult and most complex truths ;
the knowledge of things instead of an analysis of words, —
such was to be the character of the new system of instruc-
tion. In other terms, it was possible to make the child fol-
low, in order to lead him to know and to comprehend the
capitalized truths that constitute the basis of elementary
instruction, the same method that Bacon recommended to
scholars for the discovery of unknown truths. 1

It is this conversion, or, as we might say, this translation,
of the maxims of the Baconian logic into pedagogical rules,
that Comenius attempted, and this is why he has been called
" the father of the intuitive method." He was nourished,
intellectually, by the reading of Bacon, whom he resembles,
not only in his ideas, but also in his figurative and often
allegorical language. Even the title of one of his books,
Didactica Magna, recalls the title of Bacon's Instauratio

1 This is, perhaps, the earliest appearance of the conception that learn-
ing should be a process of discovery or of re-discovery. Condillac (1715-
1780) has elaborated this idea in the introduction to his Grammaire, and
Spencer (Education, p. 1'22) makes it a fundamental law of teaching. If
this assumed principle were to be rigorously applied, as, fortunately, it
cannot be, progress in human knowledge would be impossible. Mr. Bain's
comment on this doctrine (Education as a Science, p. 94) is as follows:
" This bold fiction is sometimes put forward as one of the regular arts of
the teacher ; but I should prefer to consider it as an extraordinary device,
admissible only on special occasions." (P.)


137. The Life of Comenius. — To know Comenius and
the part he played in the seventeenth century, to appreciate
this grand educational character, it would be necessary to
begin by relating his life; his misfortunes; his journeys to
England, where Parliament invoked his aid ; to Sweden,
where the Chancellor Oxenstiern employed him to write
manuals of instruction ; especially his relentless industry, his
courage through exile, and the long persecutions he suffered
as a member of the sect of dissenters, the Moravian Breth-
ren ; and the schools he founded at Fulneck, in Bohemia, at
Lissa and at Patak, in Poland. But it would require too
much of our space to follow in its incidents and catastro-
phes that troubled life, which, in its sudden trials, as in the
firmness that supported them, recalls the life of Pestalozzi. 1

138. His Principal Works. — Comenius wrote a large
number of books in Latin, in German, and in Czech ; but
of these only a few are worthy to engage the attention of
the educator. In his other works he allows himself to go off
on philosophic excursions, and to indulge in mystic reveries,
led by his ardor to find what he called pansophia, wisdom or
universal knowledge. In this wilderness of publications
destined to oblivion, we shall notice only three works, which

1 It may not be generally known that Comenius was once solicited to
become the President of Harvard College. The following is a quotation
from Vol. II., p. II, of Cotton Mather's Magnalia : "That brave old man,
Johannes Amos Commenius, the fame of whose worth hath been trumpetted
as far as more than three languages (whereof every one is indebted unto
his Janua) could carry it, was indeed agreed withal, by our Mr. Winthrop
in his travels through the low countries, to come over into New England,
and illuminate this Colledge and country, in the quality of a President,
which was now become vacant. But the solicitations of the Swedish Am-
bassador diverting him another way, that incomparable Moravian became
not an American." This was on the resignation of President Dunster, in
1654, (P.)


contain the general principles of the pedagog}' of Comenius,
and the applications which he has made of his method : —

1. The Didactica Magna, the Gfreat Didactics (written in
Czech at about 1630, and rewritten in Latin at about
1640). In this work Comenius sets forth his principles,
his general theories on education, and also his peculiar
views on the practical organization of schools. It is to be
regretted that a French translation has not } T et popularized
this important book, that would be worthy a place beside the
Thoughts of Locke and the Emile of Rousseau. 1

2. The Janua lingua/rum reserata, the Gate of Tongues
Unlocked (1631). In the thought of the author, this was
a new method of learning the languages. Comenius, led
astray on this point by his religious prejudices, wished to
banish the Latin authors from the schools, "for the pur-
pose," he said, " of reforming studies in the true spirit of
Christianity." Consequently, in order to replace the clas-
sical authors, which he repudiated for this further reason,
that the reading of them is too difficult, and to make a child
study them "is to wish to push out into the vast ocean a
tiny bark that should be allowed only to sport on a little
lake," he had formed the idea of composing a collection of
phrases distributed into a hundred chapters. These phrases,
to the number of a thousand, at first very simple, and of a
single member, then longer and more complicated, were
formed of two thousand words, chosen from among the most
common and the most useful. Moreover, the hundred chapters
of the Janua taught the child, in succession and in a methodi-
cal order, all the things in the universe, — the elements, the
metals, the stars, the animals, the organs of the body, the arts

1 The most complete account ever written of Comenius and his writings
is, "John Amos Comenius," by S. S. Laurie (Boston: 1885). It is an in-
valuable contribution to the philosophy and the history of education. (P.)

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and trades, etc., etc. In other terms, the Janua linguarum
is a nomenclature of ideas and words designed to fix the atten-
tion of the child upon everything he ought to know of the
world. Divested of the Latin text that accompanies it, the
Janua is a first reading-book, very defective doubtless, but
it gives proof cf a determined effort to adapt to the intelli-
gence of the child the knowledge that he ought to acquire.

3. The Orbis sensualium pictus, the Illustrated World of
Sensible Objects., the most popular of the author's works
(1G58). It is the Janua linguarum accompanied with pic-
tures, in lieu of real objects, representing to the child the
things that he hears spoken of, as fast as he learns their
names. The Orbis pictus, the first practical application of
the intuitive method, had an extraordinary success, and has
served as a model for the innumerable illustrated books
which for three centuries have invaded the schools.

139. The Four Grades of Instruction. — We must not
require a man of the seventeenth century to abjure Latin
studies. Comenius prizes them highly ; but at least he is
wise enough to put them in their place, and does not con-
found them, as Luther did, with elementary studies.

Nothing could be more exact, more clearly cut, than the
scholastic organization proposed by Comenius. "We shall
find in it what the experience of three centuries has finally
sanctioned and established, the distribution of schools into
these grades, — infant schools, primary schools, secondary
schools, and higher schools.

The first grade of instruction is the maternal school, the
school by the mother's knee, materni gremii, as Comenius
calls it. The mother is the first teacher. Up to the age of
six the child is taught by her; he is initiated by her into
those 1 tranches of knowledge that he will pursue in the pri-
mary school.


The second grade is the elementary public school. All the
children, girls and boys, enter here at six, and leave at
twelve. The characteristic of this school is that the instruc-
tion there given is in the mother tongue, and this is why
Corneuius calls it the "common" school, vernacula, a term
given by the Romans to the language of the people.

The third grade is represented by the Latin school or gym-
nasium. Thither are sent the children from twelve to
eighteen years of age for whom has been reserved a more
complete instruction, such as we would now call secondary

Finally, to the fourth grade correspond the academies, that
is, institutions of higher instruction, opened to young men
from eighteen to twenty-four years of age.

The child, if he is able, will traverse these four grades in
succession ; but, in the thought of Corneuius, the studies
should be so arranged in the elementary schools, that in
leaving them, the pupil shall have a general education which
makes it unnecessary for him to go farther, if his condition
in life does not destine him to pursue the courses of the Latin

"We pursue," says Corneuius, " a general education, the

Online LibraryGabriel CompayréThe history of pedagogy → online text (page 11 of 48)