Gabriel Compayré.

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even in our country, has regained its standing ; naj-
more, it has become the fashion. "France is becoming
addicted to pedagog}-" was a remark recently made by
one of the men who, of our clay, will have contributed
most to excite and also to direct the taste for peda-
gogical studies. 1 The words pedagogue, xiedagogy, have

1 See the Article of M. Pe'caut iu the Revue Pe'dagogique, No. 2, 1882.


encountered dangers in the history of our language.
Littre" tells us that the word pedagogue " is most often
used in a bad sense." On the other hand, we shall
see, if we consult his dictionary, that several years ago
the sense of the word pedagogy was not yet fixed,
since it is there defined as " the moral education of
children." To-day, not only in language, but in facts and
in institutions, the fate of pedagogy is settled. Of course
we must neither underrate it nor attribute to it a sovereign
and omnipotent efficiency that it does not have. We
might freely say of pedagogy what Sainte-Beuve said
of logic : The best is that which does not argue in its
own favor ; which is not enamoured of itself, but which
modestly recognizes the limits of its power. The best
is that which we make for ourselves, not that which we
learn from books.

Even with this reserve, the teaching of pedagogy is
destined to render important services to the cause of
education, and education, let us be assured, is in the
way of acquiring a fresh importance day by day. This
is due to the fact, first, that under a liberal govern-
ment, and in a republican society, it is more and
more necessary that the citizens shall be instructed and
enlightened. Liberty is a dangerous thing unless it has
instruction for a counterpoise. Moreover, we must rec-
ollect that in our day, among those occult coadjutors of
which we have spoken, and which at all times add their
action to that of education proper, some have lost their


influence, while others, so far from co-operating in this
movement, oppose it and compromise it. On the one
hand, religion has seen her influence curtailed. She is
no longer, as she once was, the tutelary power under
whose shadow the rising generations peacefully matured.
It is necessary that education, through the progress of
the reason and through the reflective development of
morality, should compensate for the waning influence of

On the other hand, social conditions, the very progress
of civil and political liberty, the growing independence
accorded the child in the family, the multiplication of
books, good and bad, all these collateral agents of educa-
tion are not always compliant and useful aids. They
would prove the accomplices of a moral decadence did
not our teachers make an effort as much more vigorous
to affect the will and the heart, as well as the mind,
in order to establish character, and thus assure the re-
cuperation of our country.


Gabriel Compayre was bora Jan. 2, 1843, at Albi, a
city of Southern France, containing about fifteen thousand
inhabitants, and the capital of the province of Tarn. His
early education was received from his father, a man of
sterling character, and the author of a book entitled, His-
torical Studies Concerning the Albigenses.

He passed from his father's care to the college of Castres,
then to the lycee of Toulouse, and finally to the lycee Louis-
le-Grand at Paris. His fellow-pupils recall with pleasure
his triumphs at these institutions of learning. His brilliant
intellectual powers, his vivid imagination, his well-stored
memory, and his unwearied industry, marked him as des-
tined to render signal services to his race.

He entered the Ecole Normale Saperieure in 1862. His
tastes led him to philosophical studies ; indeed, he had
already manifested a strong tendency to moral and intel-
lectual science. Yet his intensely practical nature could
not long remain satisfied with metaphysical subtleties where
he found no sure foot-hold. He became a warm advocate
of experimental methods, and of the Baconian philosophy.
He set himself to a study of man as he appears in society

1 Furnished by Mr. Geo. E. Gay, Principal of the Maiden High School.


and in the family ; to the analysis of his emotions and his
acts, and to the deduction, from these analyses, of those
rules which ought to preside over his conduct and his intel-
lectual and moral development.

He graduated from the normal school in 1865, and was
immediately appointed professor of philosophy at the lycee
of Pau. A lecture upon Rousseau, which he delivered here,
brought upon him the severe condemnation of the ultra-
montane party, and involved him in a controversy which
has continued to the present time.

In 1868, having been made a fellow of the University, he
was sent to the lycee of Poitiers. At this place he mani-
fested his sympathy for the common people by a course of
lectures to workmen on moral subjects. About this time
he received honorable mention from the Academy for an
eloquent eulogy upon Rousseau, in which he carefully por-
trayed the influence of Rousseau upon the government of
his country and upon methods of school instruction, giving
him full credit for the reform in both.

From this time forward Compayr^'s life has been filled
with labors and with honors. In addition to his pro-
fessional duties and philosophical writings, he has made
careful study of the social and political questions of his

Promoted from one post of honor to another, on the
14th of July, 1880, he was appointed Chevalier of the
Legion of Honor.

In 1874 he presented his theme for his doctor's degree
upon the Philosophy of David Hume, a work of the highest


philosophical thought and language, which received a prize
from the Academy.

Between 1874 and 1880 his lectures were largely devoted
to the subjects most closely connected with modern thought.
A Study of Darwinism, The Psychology of a Child, Educa-
tional Principles, are subjects that indicate the sweep of
his investigations. The brilliancy of his style, the liber-
ality of his opinions, and the extent of his learning have
exposed him to bitter attacks from those who envy his
powers and disbelieve his doctrines ; yet his popularity has
continually increased, and the young professor has become
a great power in the party of the republic, to whose cause
he early devoted himself.

The works which he published during this period were
numerous. He translated with great care, adding valua-
ble matter of his own : Bain's Inductive and Deductive
Logic, Huxley's Hume, His Life and Philosophy, and
Locke's Thoughts on Education. His most considerable
work is his History of the Doctrine of Education in France
since the Sixteenth Century, a work of two volumes, pub-
lished in 1879, which reached its fourth edition in France
in 1883, has been translated entire into German, and
from which numerous extracts have been made for the
educational journals of England and America. If we add
to these labors his work upon the Revue Philosojyhique,
and the Dictionnaire de Pidagogie, we shall understand
why he was called to Paris in 1881, by the Minister of
Public Instruction, to aid in founding the prole Xomude
Superieure des Institutrices, de Fonlenay-aux-JRoses. He


successfully arranged the course of instruction for this
school. In the same year he assisted in the organization
of a new school at Sevres, which prepares young teachers
for the course of instruction in the normal schools.

In 1880 he published his Manual of Civil and Moral
Instruction, in two courses, or parts. This book has had
a remarkable career. In less than three 3-ears more than
three hundred thousand copies of the first part, and over
five hundred thousand of the second part, were sold.

In 1882, in conjunction with a friend, M. A. Delplan,
an author of merit, he published his Civil and Moral Lec-
tures. In 1883 he published a Course of Civil Instruction
for normal schools.

Compayre" entered political life in 1881, having been
elected deputy froru the arrondissement of Lavaur in Tarn.
He occupies a distinguished position among the men of
to-day ; his character, his talents, his popularity, and his
devotion to the cause of civil and intellectual freedom,
give him the assurance of a place no less important among
the men of the future.

In his personal appearance Compayre* combines the
scholar and the man of the world. His dark hair, parted
in the middle, is combed back from a forehead very high
and very broad. His eye is bright and piercing, and his
face, clean shaven except upon the upper lip, bears the
impress of both his ingenuousness and his indomitable







1 . Preliminary Considerations. — A German historian of
philosophy begins his work by asking this question: " Was
Adam a philosopher?" In the same way certain historians
of pedagogy begin by learned researches upon the education
of savages. AVe shall not carry our investigations so far
back. Doubtless from the day when a human family began
its existence, from the day when' a father and a mother began
to love their children, education had an existence. But there
is very little practical interest in studying these obscure be-
ginnings of pedagogy. It is a matter of erudition and curi-


osity. 1 Besides the difficulty of gathering up the faint traces
of primitive education, there would be but little profit in
painfully following the slow gropings of primeval man. In
truth, the history of pedagogy dates but from the period
relatively recent, when human thought, in the matter of edu-
cation, substituted reflection for instinct, art for blind nature.
So we shall hasten to begin the study of pedagogy among
the classical peoples, the Greeks and the Romans, after hav-
ing thrown a rapid glance over some Eastern nations consid-
ered either in their birthplace and remote origin, or in their
more recent development.

2. The Pedagogy of the Hindoos. — It would not be
worth our while to enter into details respecting a civilization
so different from our own as that of the Hindoos. But we
should not forget that we are in part the descendants of that
people, and that we belong to the same ethnic group, and
that the European languages are derived from theirs.

3. Political Caste and Religious Pantheism. — The
spirit of caste, from the social point of view, and pantheism,
from the religious point of view, are the characteristics of
Hindoo society. The Indian castes constituted hereditary

1 A knowledge of the mental and moral condition of savages serves the
invaluable purpose of showing what education has accomplished for the
human race. There would he much less grumbling at the tax-gatherer if
men could clearly conceive the condition of societies where no taxes are
levied. To know what education has actually done we need to know the
condition of societies unaffected by systematic education. Such a book as
Lubbock's Origin of Civilization is a helpful introduction to the history of
education. Whoever reads such a book carefully will be confronted with
this problem: How is it that intellectual inertness, amounting almost to
stupidity, is frequently the concomitant of an acute and persistent sense-
training? Besides, savage tribes are historical illustrations of what has
been produced on a large scale by " following Nature." (P.)


classes where social rank and special vocation were deter-
mined, not by free choice, but by the accident of birth. The
consequence of this was an endless routine, with no care
either for the individuality, or the personal talents, or the
inclination of children, and without the possibility of rising
by personal effort above one's rank in life. 1 On the other
hand, religious ideas came to restrict, within the limits where
it was already imprisoned, the activity of the young Hindoo.
God is everywhere present ; he manifests himself in all the
phenomena of heaven and earth, in the sun and in the stars,
in the Himalayas and in the Ganges ; he penetrates and ani-
mates everything ; the things of sense are but the changing
and ephemeral vestments of the unchangeable being. " With
this pantheistic conception of the world and of life, the
thought and the will of the Hindoo perished in the mystic
contemplation of the soul. To become master of one's in-
clinations ; to abandon every terrestrial thought ; after this
life to lose one's identity, and to be annihilated by absorp-
tion in the divine nature ; to prepare one's self b}' macera-
tions and expiations for complete submersion in the original
principle of all being, — this is the highest wisdom, the true
happiness of the Hindoo, the ideal of all serious education." 2

1 There is an argument for caste in the modern fiction of a " beautiful
economy of Nature," which plants human beings in society as it does trees
in the earth, and thus makes education consist in tin; action of environment
upon man and in the reaction of man upon his environment. To support
existence, man needs certain endowments; but the force of circumstances
creates these very endowments. One man is predestined to be a Red
Indian, another a Bushman, and still another an accountant; and in each
case the function of education is to adapt the man to the place where
Nature has fixed him. This modern justification of caste is adroitly
worked out by Mr. Spencer in the first chapter of his Education. (1\)

2 Dittes, Hisloirc del' Education et <!• I' instruction, translated byRedolfi,
1880, p. 38.


4. Effects on Education. — It is easy to predict what
education would become under the weight of these double
chains, social and religious. While the ideal in our modern
societies is more and more to enfranchise the individual, and
to create for him personal freedom and self-consciousness,
the effort of the Hindoo Brahmins consisted above all in
crushing out all spontaneity, in abolishing individual predi-
lections, by preaching the doctrine of absolute self-renuncia-
tion, of voluntary abasement, and of contempt for life.
Man was thus born doubly a slave, — by his social condition,
which predestinated him to the routine apprenticeship of his
ancestral caste, and by his mysterious dependence on the
divine being who absorbed in himself all real activity, and
left to human beings ouby the deceptive and frail appearance
of it.

5. Buddhist Reform. — The Buddhist reform, which so
profoundly affected Brahmanism at about the sixth century
B.C., did not sensibly modify, from the educational point of
view, the ideas of the Hindoos. Buddha also taught that
the cause of evil resides in the passions of men, and that in
order to attain moral peace, there is no other means to be
employed than that of self-abnegation and of the renounce-
ment of everything selfish and personal.

G. Conversation of Buddha and Purna. — One of the
traditions which permit us the better to appreciate the origi-
nal character, at once affecting and ingenuous, of Indian
thought, is the conversation of Buddha with his disciple
Purna about a journey the latter was going to undertake to
the barbarians for the purpose of teaching them the new
religion : —

" They are men," said Buddha, " who are fiery in temper,
passionate, cruel, furious, insolent. If they openly address


you iii words which are malicious and coarse, and become
angry with you, what will you think?"

"If they address me to my face in coarse and insolent
terms, this is what I shall think : they are certainly good
men who openly address me in malicious terms, but they will
neither strike me with their hands nor stone me."

"But should they strike you with their hands and stone
you, what will you think?"

" I shall think that they are good men, gentle men, who
strike me with their hands and stone me, but do not beat me
with a club nor with a sword."

" But if they boat you with a club and with a sword?"

" They are good men, gentle men, who beat me with a
club and with a sword, but they do not completely kill me."

" But if they were really to kill you? "

" They are good men, gentle men, who deliver me with so
iittle pain from this body encumbered with defilements."

"Very good, Puma! You may live in the country of
those barbarians. Go, Puma ! Being liberated, liberate ;
being consoled, console ; having reached Nirvana thus made
perfect, cause others to go there." 1

Whatever there is to admire in such a strange system of
morals should not blind us to the vices which resulted from
its practical consequences : such as the abuse of passive
resignation, the complete absence of the idea of right and of
justice, and no active virtues.

7. Effects ox Education. — Little is known of the
actual statt' of educational practice among the Hindoos. It
may be said, however, that the Brahmins, the priests, had
the exclusive charge of education. Woman, in absolute
subjection to man, had no share whatever in instruction.

iBurncraf, Introduction a I'histoire du Bouddhisme, p. 252.


As to boys, it seems that in India there were always
schools for their benefit; schools which were held in the
open country under the shade of trees, or, in case of bad
weather, under sheds. Mutual instruction has been prac-
tised in India from the remotest antiquity ; it is from here,
in fact, that Andrew Bell, at the close of the eighteenth
century, borrowed the idea of this mode of instruction.
Exercises in writing were performed first upon the sand with
a stick, then upon palm leaves with an iron style, and
finally upon the dry leaves of the plane-tree with ink. In
discipline there was a resort to corporal punishment; besides
the rod the teacher employed other original means of correc-
tion ; for example, he threw cold water on the offender.
The teacher, moreover, was treated with a religious respect ;
the child must respect him as he would Buddha himself.

The higher studies were reserved for the priestly class,
who, long before the Christian era, successfully cultivated
rhetoric and logic, astronomy and the mathematics.

8. Education among the Iskaelites. — "If ever a peo-
ple has demonstrated the power of education, it is the people
of Israel." 1 In fact, what a singular spectacle is offered us
by that people, which, dispossessed of its own country for
eighteen hundred years, has been dispersed among the
nations without losing its identity, and has maintained its
existence without a country, without a government, and
without a ruler, preserving with perennial energy its habits,
its manners, and its faith ! Without losing sight of the part
of that extraordinary vitality of the Jewish people, which is
due to the natural endowments of the race, its tenacity of
temperament, and its wonderful activity of intelligence, it is
just to attribute another part of it to the sound education,

i Dittes, p. 49.


at once religious and national, which the ancient Hebrews
have transmitted by tradition to their descendants.

9. Education, Religious and National, during the
Primitive Period. — The c-hief characteristic of the educa-
tion of the Hebrews in the earliest period of their history is
that it was essentially domestic. During the whole Biblical
period there is no trace of public schools, at least for young
children. Family life is the origin of that primitive society
where the notion of the state is almost unknown, and where
God is the real king.

The child was to become the faithful servant of Jehovah.
To this end it was not needful that he should be learned.
It was only necessary that he should learn through language
and the instructive example of his parents the moral precepts
and the religious beliefs of the nation. It has been very
justly said 1 that " among all nations the direction impressed
on education depends on the idea which they form of the
perfect man. Among the Romans it is the brave soldier,
inured to fatigue, and readily yielding to discipline ; among
the Athenians it is the man who unites in himself the happy
harmony of moral and physical perfection ; among the
Hebrews the perfect man is the pious, virtuous man, who is
capable of attaining the ideal traced by God himself in these
terms : ' Ye shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am
holy ! ' " 2

The discipline was harsh, as is proved by many passages
in the Bible : " He that spareth his rod, hateth his son," say
the Proverbs; '-but he that loveth him chasteneth him
betimes." 3 " Withhold not correction from the child, for if

1 L'ddvcation et V 'instruction chezles anciens .tint's, by J. Simon, Paris,
1879, p. 1<>.

2 Levit. xix. 2. 3 Prow xiii. 24.


thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt
beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell." 1
And still more significant: " Chasten thy son while there is
hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying." 2

Only boys, it seems, learned to read and write. As to
girls, they were taught to spin, to weave, to prepare food for
the table, to superintend the work of the household, and
also to sing and to dance.

In a word, intellectual culture was but an incident in the
primitive education of the Hebrews ; the great thing, in their
eyes, was moral and religious instruction, and education in
love of country. Fathers taught their children the nation's
history, and the great events that had marked the destiny
of the people of God. That series of events celebrated
by the great feasts which were often renewed, -and in which
the children participated, served at once to fill their hearts
with gratitude to God and with love for their country.

10. Progress of Popular Instruction. — It is not easy
to conceive to what extent the zeal for instruction was devel-
oped among the ancient Jews in the years that followed the
advent of Christianity. From being domestic, as it had been
up to that time, Jewish education became public. Besides,
it was no longer sufficient to indoctrinate children with good
principles and wholesome moral habits ; they must also be
instructed. From the first centuries of the Christian era,
the Israelites approached our modern ideal, with respect to
making education obligatory and universal. Like every
brave nation that has been vanquished, whose energy has
survived defeat, like the Prussians after Jena, or the
French after 1870, the Jews sought to defend themselves
against the effects of conquest by a great intellectual effort,

i Prov. xxiii. 13, 14. 2 Prov. xix. 18.


and to regain their lost ground by the development of popu-
lar instruction.

11. Organization of Schools. - In the year G4, the
high priest, Joshua Ben Gamala, imposed on each town,
under pain of excommunication, the obligation to support a
school. If the town is cut in two by a river, and there is
no means of transit by a safe bridge, a school must be estab-
lished on each side. Even to-dav we are far from having
realized, as regards the number of schools and of teachers,
this rule stated in the Talmud: If the number of children
does not exceed twenty-five, the school shall be conducted
by a single teacher ; for more than twenty -five, the town
shall employ an assistant ; if the number exceeds forty,
there shall be two masters.

12. Respect for Teachers. — In that ancient time, what
an exalted and noble conception men had of teachers.
" those true guardians of the city " ! Even then, how exact-
ing were the requirements made of them! But, on the other
hand, how they were esteemed and respected ! The Rabbins
required that the schoolmaster should be married; they
mistrusted teachers who were not at the same time heads of

Online LibraryGabriel CompayréThe history of pedagogy → online text (page 2 of 48)