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teaching to all men of all the subjects of human concern.
. . . The purpose of the people's school shall be that all
children of both sexes, from the tenth to the twelfth or the
thirteenth .year, may be instructed in that knowledge which
is useful during the whole of life."

This was an admirable definition of the purpose of the
primary school. A thing not less remarkable is that Come-
nius establishes an elementary school in each village : —

"There should be a maternal school in each f arnily ; an
elementary school in each district ; a gymnasium in each
city ; an academy in each kingdom, or even in each consid-
erable province."


140. Elementary Initiation into All the Studies. —
One of the most novel and most original ideas of the great
Slavic educator is the wish that, from the earliest years of
his life, the child may acquire some elementary notions of all
the sciences that he is to stud}' at a later period. From the
cradle, the gaze of the infant, guided by the mother, should
be directed to all the objects that surround him, so that his
growing powers of reflection will be brought into play in
working on these sense intuitions. "Thus, from the mo-
ment he begins to speak, the child comes to know himself, and,
by his daily experience, certain general and abstract expres-
sions ; he comes to comprehend the meaning of the words
something, nothing, thus, othertvise, where, similar, different ;
and what are generalizations and the categories expressed by
these words but the rudiments of metaphysics ? In the do-
main of physics, the infant can learn to know water, earth,
air, fire, rain, snow, etc., as well as the names and uses of the
parts of his body, or at least of the external members and
organs. He will take his first lesson in optics in learning to
distinguish light, darkness, and the different colors; and in
astronomy, in noticing the sun, the moon, and the stars, and
in observing that these heavenly bodies rise and set even-
day. In geography, according to the place where he lives,
he will be shown a mountain, a valley, a plain, a river, a
village, a hamlet, a city, etc. In chronology, he will be
taught what an hour is, a day, a week, a year, summer, win-
ter, yesterday, the da}' before yesterday, to-morrow, the day
after to-morrow, etc. History, such as his age will allow him
to conceive, will consist in recalling what has recently passed,
in taking account of it, and in noting the part that this one or
that has taken in such or such an affair. Arithmetic, geom-
etry, statistics, mechanics, will not remain strangers to him.
lie will acquire the elements of these sciences in distinguishing


the difference between little and much, in learning to count up
to ten, in observing that three is more than two ; that one
added to three makes four ; in learning the sense of the
words great and small, long and short, icicle and narrow,
heavy and light; in drawing lines, curves, circles, etc. ; in
seeing goods measured with a yard-stick ; in weighing an
object in a balance ; in tiding to make something or to take it
to pieces, as all children love to do.

" In this impulse to construct and destroy, there is but the
effort of the little intelligence to succeed in making or build-
ing something for himself ; so that, instead of opposing the
child in this, he should be encouraged and guided."

" The grammar of the first period will consist in learning
to pronounce the mother tongue correctly. The child may
receive elementary notions even of politics, in observing
that certain persons assemble at the city hall, and that they
are called councillors ; and that among these persons there
is one called nmyor, etc. " l

141. The People's School. — Divided into six classes,
the people's school should prepare the child either for active
life or for the higher courses. Comenius sends here not
only the sons of peasants and workmen, but the sons of the
middle class or of the nobility, who will afterwards enter
the Latin school. In other terms , the stucly of Latin is
postponed till the age of twelve ; and up to that period all
children must receive a thorough primary education, which
will comprise, with the mother tongue, arithmetic, geometry,
singing, the salient facts of history, the elements of the nat-
ural sciences, and religion. The latest reforms in secondary
instruction, which, only within a very late period, have post-

iBuisson's Dktionnaire de Ptdugoyie, Article Comenius.


poned the study of Latin till the sixth year, 1 and which till
then keep the pupil upon the subjects of primary instruction,
— what are they but the distant echo of the thought of Come-
nius? Let it be noted, too, that the plan of Comenius gave
to its primary school a complete encyclopaedic course of
instruction, which was sufficient for its own ends, but which,
while remaining elementary, was a whole, and not a begin-
ning. 2

Surely, the programme of studies devised by Comenius
did not fail in point of insufficiency ; we may be allowed, on
the contrary, 'to pronounce it too extended, too crowded,
conformed rather to the generous dreams of an innovator than
to a prudent appreciation of what is practically possible ;
and we need not be astonished that, to lighten in part the
heavy burden that is imposed on the teacher, Comenius had
the notion of dividing the school into sections which assist-
ants, chosen from among the best pupils, should instruct
under the supervision of the master.

142. Site of the School. — One is not a complete
educator save on the condition of providing for the exterior
and material organization of the school, as well as for its
moral administration. In this respect, Comenius is still
deserving of our encomiums. He requires a yard for recre-

1 In the French Lyce'es and Colleges the grades are named as follows, be-
ginning with the lowest: " ninth, eighth, seventh, sixth, fifth, fourth, third,
second, rhetoric, philosophy, preparatory mathematics, elementary mathe-
matics, special mathematics." Latin was formerly begun in an earlier

2 The public school of the European type may be represented by a scries
of (">) pyramids, the second higher than the first, and the third higher than
the second, each independent and complete in itself: while the public school
of the American type is represented by a single pyramid in three sections.
While in an English, French, or German town, public education is admin-
istered in three separate establishments, in an American town there is a
single graded school that fuMUs the same functions. (P.)


ation, and demands that the school-house have a gay and
cheerful aspect. The question had been discussed before
him by Vives (1492-1540).

"There should be chosen," says the Spanish educator,
"a healthful situation, so that the pupils may not one day
have to take their flight, dispersed by the fear of an epi-
demic. Firm health is necessary to those who would heartily
and profitably apply themselves to the study of the sciences.
And the place selected should be isolated from the crowd,
and especially at a distance from occupations that are
noisy, such as those of smiths, stone-masons, machinists,
wheelwrights, and weavers. However, I would not have the
situation too cheerful and attractive, lest it might suggest to
the scholars the taking of too frequent walks."

But these considerations that do honor to Vives and to
Comenius, were scarcely in harmony with the resources then
at the disposal of the friends of instruction. There was
scarcely occasion seriously to consider how school-houses
should be constructed and situated, at a period when the
most often there were no school-houses existing. " In win-
ter," says Platter, "we slept in the school-room, and in
summer in the open air." *

143. Sense Intuitions. — If Comenius has traced with a
master hand the general organization of the primary school,
he has no less merit in the matter of methods.

When thev recommend the observation of sensible things
as the first intellectual exercise, modern educators do but
repeat what Comenius said three centuries ago.

" In the place of dead books, why should we not open the
living Look of nature? . . . To instruct the young is not to
beat into them by repetition a mass of words, phrases, sen-
flatter, a Swiss teacher of the sixteenth century (1499-1582).


tences, aud opinions gathered ont of authors ; but it is to
open their understanding through things. . . .

" The foundation of all knowledge consists in correctly rep-
resenting sensible objects to our senses, so that they can be
comprehended with facility. I hold that this is the basis of all
our other activities, since we could neither act nor speak wisely
unless we adequately comprehended what we were to do and
say. Now it is certain that there is nothing in the under-
standing that was not first in the senses, and, consequently,
it is to lay the foundation of all wisdom, of all eloquence,
and of all good and prudent conduct, carefully to train the
senses to note with accurac}' the differences between natural
objects ; and as this point, important as it is, is ordinarily
neglected in the schools of to-day, and as objects are pro-
posed to scholars that they do not understand because they
have not been properly represented to their senses or to their
imagination, it is for this reason, on the one hand, that the
toil of teaching, and on the other, that the pain of learning,
have become so burdensome and so unfruitful. . . .

"We must offer to the }'Ouug, not the shadows of things,
but the things themselves, which impress the senses and
the imagination. Instruction should commence with a real
observation of things, and not with a verbal description of

We see that Comenius accepts the doctrine of Bacon,
even to his absolute sensationalism. In his pre-occupation
with the importance of instruction through the senses, he
goes so far as to ignore that other source of knowledge and
intuitions, the inner consciousness.

144. Simplification of Grammatical Study. — The first
result of the experimental method applied to instruction, is
to simplify grammar and to relieve it from the abuse of ab-


stract rules. " Children," says Comenius, " need examples
and things which they can see, and not abstract rules."

And in the Preface of the Janua linguamm, he dwells
upon the faults of the old method employed for the study
of languages.

' ' It is a thing self-evident, that the true and proper way of
teaching languages has not been recognized in the schools
up to the present time. The most of those who devoted
themselves to the study of letters grew old in the study of
words, and upwards of ten years was spent in the study of
Latin alone ; indeed, they even spent their whole life in the
study, with a very slow and very trifling profit, which did not
pay for the trouble devoted to it." 1 It is by use and by read-
ing that Comenius would abolish the abuse of rules. Rules
ought to intervene only to aid use and give it surety. The
pupil will thus learn language, either in speaking, or in read-
ing a book like the Orbis Pictus, in which he will find at the
same time all the words of which the language itself is com-
posed, and examples of all the constructions of its syntax.

145. Necessity of Drill and Practice. — Another
essential point in the new method, is the importance at-
tributed by Comenius to practical exercises : "Artisans," he
said, " understand this matter perfectly well. Not one of
them will give an apprentice a theoretical course on his trade.
He is allowed to notice what is done b}- his master, and then
the tool is put in his hands : it is in smiting that one becomes
a smith." 2

1 For this quotation, as for all those which we borrow from the preface
of the Janua linguarum, a French edition of which (in three languages:
Latin, German, and French) appeared in 1643, we copy from the authentic

2 There is a misleading fallacy in all such illustrations. What analogy is
there between the" learning of history or geology and the learning of a trade


It is no longer the thing to repeat mechanically a lesson
learned by heart. There must be a gradual habituation to
action, to productive work, to personal effort.

146. General Bearing of the Work of Comenius. —
How many other new and judicious ideas we shall have to
gather from Comenius ! The methods which we would be
tempted to consider as wholly recent, his imagination had
already suggested to him. For example, preceding the Orbis
Pictus, we find an alphabet, where to each letter corresponds
the cry of an animal, or else a sound familiar to the child.
Is not this already the very essence of the phononimic pro-
cesses l brought into fashion in these last years ? But what •
is of more consequence with Comenius than a few happy dis-
coveries in practical pedagogy, is the general inspiration of
his work. He gives to education a psychological basis in
demanding that the faculties shall be developed in their natu-
ral order : first, the senses, the memory, the imagination, and
lastly the judgment and the reason. He is mindful of physi-
cal exercises, of technical and practical instruction, without
forgetting that in the primary schools, which he calls the
"siudios of humanity," there must be trained, not only strong
and skilful artisans, but virtuous and religious men, imbued
with the principles of order and justice. If he has stepped
from theology to pedagogy, and if he permits himself some-
times to be borne along by his artless bursts of mysticism, at
least he does not forget the necessities of the real condition,

like carpentry? Should a physician and a blacksmith he educated on the
same plan? In every case knowledge should precede practice; and the
liberal arts are best learned by first learning their correlative sciences. (P.)
1 " A process of instruction which consists in placing beside the elements
of human speech thirty-three onomatopoetic gestures, which recall to the
sight the same ideas that the sounds and the articulations of the voice recall
to the ear." — Grossklin. (P.)


and of the present life of men. " The child," he says, " shall
learn only what is to be useful to him in this life or in the
other." Finally, he does not allow himself to be absorbed in
the minute details of school management. He has higher
views, — he is working for the regeneration of humanit}'.
Like Leibnitz, he would freely say: "Give me for a few
years the direction of education, and I agree to transform the
world ! "

[147. Analytical Summary. — 1. Decisive changes in
human opinion, political, religious, or scientific, involve cor-
responding changes in the purposes and methods of educa-

2. The Reformation was a breaking with authority in mat-
ters of religion, as the Baconian philosophy was a breaking
with authority in matters of science ; and their joint effect on
education was to subject matters of opinion, belief, and
knowledge to the individual reason, experience, and observa-

3. In holding each human being responsible for his own
salvation, the Reformation made it necessary for every one
to read, and the logical consequence of this was to make
instruction universal ; and as schools were multiplied, the
number of teachers must be increased, and their grade of
competence raised.

4. The conception that ignorance is an evil, 'and a constant
menace to spiritual and temporal safety, led to the idea of
compulsory school-attendance.

5. In the recoil from the intuitions of the intellect sanc-
tioned by Socrates, to the intuitions of the senses sanctioned
by Bacon, education passed from an extreme dependence on
reflection and reason, to an extreme dependence on sense and
observation ; so that inference has been thrown into dis-


credit, and the verdict of the senses has been made the test
of knowledge.

6. In adapting the conception of universal education to
the social conditions of his time, Comenius was led to a gra-
dation of schools that underlies all modern systems of public




the teaching congregations ; jesuits and jansenists ; founda-
tion of the society of jesus (1540) ; different judgments
on the. educational merits of the jesuits; authorities to
consult; primary instruction neglected; classical studies;
latin and the humanities j neglect of history, of philoso-
phy, and of the sciences in general j discipline; emula-
tion encouraged ; official disciplinarian ; general spirit
of the pedagogy of the jesuits; the oratorians j the
little schools; study, of the french language j new system
of spelling; THE MASTERS and the BOOKS OF port royal;


148. The Teaching Congregations. 1 — Up to the French
Revolution, up to the day when the conception of a public
and national education was embodied in the legislative acts

1 Religious congregations, as known in France, are associations of per-
sons who, consecrating themselves to the service of God, make a vow to
live in common under the same rule. Many of these congregations devote
themselves to the work of teaching, and these are of two classes, the
authorized and the unauthorized. For example, the "Brethren of the
Christian Schools," founded by La Salle, is an authorized, and the " Society
of Jesus" an unauthorized, congregation. From statistics published in
1878, it appears that there were then in France, 24 congregations of men
authorized to teach, and controlling 3096 establishments; and 528 similar
congregations of women, controlling 16,478 establishments. At the same
, time there were 85 unauthorized congregations of men, and 260 unauthorized
congregations of women, devoted to teaching. (P.)


of our assembled rulers, education remained almost exclu-
sively an affair of the Church. The universities themselves
were dependent in part on religious authority. But especially
the great congregations assumed a monopoly of the work of
teaching:, the direction and control of which the State had
not yet claimed for her right.

Primary instruction, it is true, scarcely entered at first into
the settled plans of the religious orders. The only exception
to this statement that can properly be made, is the congrega-
tion of the Christian Doctrine, which a humble priest, Caesar
de Bus, founded at Avignon iu 1592, the avowed purpose of
which was the religious education of the children of the com-
pany.' But, on the other hand, secondary instruction pro-
voked the greatest educational event of the sixteenth century,
the foundiug of the company of Jesus, and this movement
was continued and extended in the seventeenth century,
either in the colleges of the Jesuits, ever growing in number,
or in other rival congregations.

149. Jesuits and Jansenists. — Among the religious
orders that have consecrated their efforts to the work of
teaching, the first place must be assigned to the Jesuits and
the Jansenists. Different in their statutes, their organiza-
tion, and their destinies, these two congregations are still
more different in their spirit. They represent, in fact, two
opposite, and, as it were, contrary phases of human nature
and of the Christian spirit. For the Jesuits, education is
reduced to a superficial culture of the brilliant faculties of
the intelligence ; while the Jansenists, on the contrary, aspire
to develop the solid faculties, the judgment, and the reason.

1 The congregation of the Doctrinaries founded at a later period estab-
lishments of secondary instruction. Maine de Biran, Laromiguiere, and
Lakanal were pupils of the Doctrinaries.


In the colleges of the Jesuits, rhetoric is held in honor ;
while in the Little Schools of Port Royal, it is rather logic
and the exercise of thought. The shrewd disciples of Loyola
adapt themselves to the times, and are full of compassion for
human weakness ; the solitaries of Port Royal are exacting
of others and of themselves. In their suppleness and cheer-
ful optimism, the Jesuits are almost the Epicureans of Chris-
tianity ; with their austere and somewhat sombre doctrine,
the Jansenists would rather be the Stoics. The Jesuits and
the Jansenists, those great rivals of the seventeenth century,
are still face to face as enemies at the present moment.
While the inspiration of the Jesuits tries to maintain the old
worn-out exercises, like Latin verse, and the abuse of the
memory, the spirit of the Jansenists animates and inspires
the reformers, who, in the teaching of the classics, break
with tradition and routine, to substitute for exercises aimed
at elegance, and for a superficial instruction, studies of a
greater solidity and an education that is more complete.

The merit of institutions ought not always to be measured
by their apparent success. The colleges of the Jesuits, dur-
ing three centuries, have had a countless number of pupils ;
the Little Schools of Port Royal did not live twenty years,
and during their short existence they enrolled at most only
some hundreds of pupils. And yet the methods of the
Jansenists have survived the ruin of their colleges and the
dispersion of the teachers who had applied them. Although
the Jesuits have not ceased to rule in appearance, it is the
Jansenists who triumph in reality, and who to-day control
the secondary instruction of France.

150. Foundation of the Society of Jesus. — In organiz-
ing the Society of Jesus, Ignatius Loyola, that compound of
the mystic and the man of the world, purposed to establish,


not an order devoted to monastic contemplation, but a real
fighting corps, a Catholic army, whose double purpose was to
conquer new provinces to the faith through missions, and to
preserve the old through the control of education. Solemnly
consecrated by the Pope Paul III., in 1540, the congregation
had a rapid growth. As early as the middle of the sixteenth
century, it had several colleges in France, particularly those
of Billom, Mauriac, Rodez, Tournon, and Pamiers. In 1561
it secured a footing in Paris, notwithstanding the resistance
of the Parliament, of the university, and of the bishops them-
selves. A hundred years later it counted nearly fourteen
thousand pupils in the province of Paris alone. The college
of Clermont, in 1651, enrolled more than two thousand young
men. The middle and higher classes assured to the colleges
of the society an ever-increasing membership. At the end
of the seventeenth century, the Jesuits could inscribe on the
roll of honor of their classes a hundred illustrious names,
among others, those of Cond6 and Luxembourg, Fleshier and
Boss net, Lamoignon and Siguier, Descartes, Corneille, and
Moliere. In 1710 they controlled six hundred and twelve
colleges and a large number of universities. They were the
real masters of education, and they maintained this educational
supremacy till the end of the eighteenth century.

151. Different Judgments on the Educational Merits
of the Jesuits. — Voltaire said of these teachers: "The
Fathers taught me nothing but Latin and nonsense." But
from the seventeenth century, opinions arc divided, and the
encomiums of Bacon and Descartes must be offset by the
severe judgment of Leibnitz. "In the matter of educa-
tion," says this great philosopher, " the Jesuits have remained
below mediocrity." 1 Directly to the contrary, Bacon had

1 Ltihnitii ()f i ". Geneva), 17GS, Tome VI. p. 65.


written: "As to whatever relates to the instruction of the
young, we must consult the schools of the Jesuits, for there
can be nothing that is better done." J

152. Authorities to Consult. — The Jesuits have never
written anything on the principles and objects of education.
We must not demand of them an exposition of general
views, or a confession of their educational faith. But to
make amends, they have drawn up with precision, with
almost infinite attention to details, the rules and regulations

Online LibraryGabriel CompayréThe history of pedagogy → online text (page 12 of 48)