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studies in rhetoric. To sum up in a word, Rollin follows the
tradition of the Jansenists, and not that of the Company of

266. Christianity of Rollin. — Rollin, though perse-
cuted for his Jansenist tendencies, was a fervent Christian.
"A Roman probity" did not suffice for him; he desired a
Christian virtue. Consequently, he requires that religious
instruction should form a part of every lesson. A regulation
which dates from his rectorship required that the scholar in
each class should learn and recite each day one or more
maxims drawn from the Holy Scriptures. This custom has
been maintained to this day. Rollin knew, moreover, that


the best means of inspiring piety is to preach by example,
and to be pious one's self : —

" To make true Christians, — this is the end and purpose of
the education of children ; all the rest but fulfills the pur-
pose of means. . . . When a teacher has received this spirit,
there is nothing more to say to him. . . ."

The religious spirit of Rollin comes to view on each page
of his book : —

"It remains for me," he says, in concluding his preface,
" to pray God, in whose hands we all are, we and our dis-
courses, to deign to bless my good intentions."

2G7. Interior Discipline of the Colleges. — The part
of the Treatise on Studies which has preserved the most
interest, and which will be studied with the most profit, is
certainly that which treats of the interior government of
schools and colleges. Here, though he does not completely
divest himself of his method of borrowings, and references
to the authority of others, and though he is especially under
the influence of Locke, whose wise advice on rewards and
punishments he reproduces almost verbatim, Rollin Tnakes
use of a long personal experience. We have charged him
with not knowing the little child. On the other hand, he
knows exactly what scholars a little older are, — children
from ten to sixteen years old. And he not only knows
them, but he loves them tenderly. He gives them this testi-
mony, which affection alone can explain, that he has always
found them reasonable.

268. Enumeration of the Questions treated by Rol-
lin. — To give an idea of this part of the Treatise, the best
way is to reproduce the titles of the thirteen articles com-
posing the chapter entitled General Counsels on the Educa-
tion of the Young: —


I. What end should be proposed in education ? II. How-
to study the character of children in order to become able to
instruct them properly. III. How at once to gain authority
over children. IV. How to become loved and feared.
V. Punishments: 1. Difficulties and dangers in punish-
ments ; 2. Rules to be observed in punishments. VI. Rep-
rimands : 1. Occasion for reprimanding; 2. Time for
making the reprimand ; 3. Manner of reprimanding. VII.
Reasoning; with children. Stimulating- them with the sense
of honor. Making use of commendation, rewards, and
caresses. VIII. How to train children to be truthful.
IX. How to train children to politeness, to cleanliness, and
to exactness. X. How to make study attractive. XI. How
to give rest and recreation to children. XII. How to train
the young to goodness by instruction and example. XIII.
Piety, religion, zeal for the salvation of children.

269. Public Education. — Rollin does not definitely ex-
press himself on the superiority of public education. He
does not dare give formal advice to parents ; but he brings
forward the advantages of the common life of colleges with
so much force, that it is very evident that he prefers it to
a private education. Let it be noted, besides, that he
accepts on his own account " the capital maxim of the
ancients, that children belong more to the State than to
their parents."

270. The Rod. — In the matter of discipline, Rollin
leans rather to the side of mildness. However, he does not
dare pronounce himself absolutely against the use of the rod.
That which in particular causes him to hesitate, which gives
him scruples, which prevents him from expressing a censure
which is at the bottom of his heart, but which never rises to
his lips, is that there are certain texts of the Bible whose


interpretation is favorable to the use of the rod. It is inter-
esting to notice how, in a strait between his sentiments as a
docile Christian and his instincts towards mildness, the good
and timid Rollin tries to find a less rigorous meaning in the
sacred text, and to convince himself that the Bible does not
say what it seems to say. After many hesitations, he finally
comes to the conclusion that corporal chastisements are per-
mitted, but that they are not to be employed save in ex-
treme and desperate cases ; and this is also the conclusion
of Locke.

271. Punishments in General. — But how many wise
counsels on punishments, and on the precautions that must
be taken when we punish or reprimand ! One should refrain
from punishing a child at the moment he commits his fault,
because this might then exasperate him and provoke him to
new breaches of duty. Let the master be cool when he
punishes, and avoid the anger which discredits his authority.
The whole of this excellent code of scholastic discipline might
be quoted with profit. Rollin is reason and good sense itself
when he guides and instructs the teacher as to his relations
with the pupil. Doubtless the most of these precepts are not
new ; but when they come from the mouth of Rollin, there
is something added to them which I cannot describe, but
which gives to the most threadbare advice the authority of
personal experience.

•21-2. Conclusion. — We shall not dwell on the other
precepts of Rollin. The text must be consulted for his
reflections on plays, recreations, the means of making study
attractive, and on the necessity of appealing to the child's
reason betimes, and of explaining to him why one does this
or that. In this last part of the Treatise on Studies there is
a complete infant psychology which is lacking neither in


keenness nor in penetration. In particular, there is a code
of moral discipline which cannot be too highly commended
to educators, and to all those who desire, in the words of
Rollin, "to train at once the heart and the mind" of the
young. Rollin has worked for virtue even more than for
science. His works are less literary productions than works
on morals, and the author himself is the perfect expression
of what can be clone for the education of the young by the
Christian spirit allied to the university spirit.

[273. An alytical Summary. — 1. The characteristic fact
disclosed by this study is the very slow rate at which prog-
ress in education takes place. There is also an enforce-
ment of the lesson which has reappeared from time to time,
that education follows in the wake of new and general
movements in human thought.

2. A more specific fact is the extreme conservatism of
universities, or the tenacity with which they hold to tradi-
tions. The question is suggested whether, after all, the
conservative habit of the university does not best befit its
judicial functions.

3. In the elbowing of the classics by history and French,
we see the rise of innovations which have become embodied
in the modern university.

4. A new factor in the higher education is the interven-
tion of the State, as opposed to the historical domination of
the Church. In the reform of the University of Paris the
State became an educator.

5. There is evidence of some progress in the historical
struggle towards the conception that woman has equal
rights with man in the benefits of education.]



state of primary instruction in the seventeenth century j
demia and the infant schools of lyons; claude jolv,
director of the primary schools of paris; the book of
the parish school; la salle (1651-1719) and the christian
schools; life and character of la salle j ascetic ten-
dencies; foundation of the institute of the brethren
(1684); the idea of normal schools j the idea of gratuitous
and compulsory instruction j professional instruction j
conduct of the christian schools ; successive editions |
abuse of school regulations ; division of the conduct ;
interior organization of the schools ; simultaneous in-
struction ; what was learned in the christian schools j
method of teaching ; the christian civility ; corporal
chastisements; reprimands; penances; the ferule; the
rod ; rewards ; mutual espionage j general conclusion ;
analytical summary.

274. The State of Primary Instruction in the Seven-
tki.mii Century. — It does not form a part of our plan to
follow from day to day the small increments of progress and
the slow development of the primary schools of France ;
but we must confine ourselves to the essential facts and to
the important dates.

The Catholic Church, in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries, did not altogether renounce her interest in popu-
lar instruction. She took measures, without doubt, to evan-
gelize the poor people, and sometimes " even to teach them


how to read and write." Nevertheless, up to the organiza-
tion of the Christian schools, by La Salle, no serious effort
was made. Some religious foundations establish gratuitous
schools in many places, — charily schools, — but no compre-
hensive purpose directs these establishments. Conflicts of
prerogative among certain independent colleagues, as that
between the writing-masters and the masters of the infant
schools placed under the direct authority of the precentor, or
among the rectors and the tutors (ecoldtres), that is, the
assistants of the bishops charged with the supervision of the
schools, — such dissensions came still further to defeat the
good intentions of individuals, and to embarrass the feeble
movement that was exerted in favor of popular instruction.
For example, towards 1680, the writing-masters attempted
to prevent the masters of the primary schools a from giving
writing lessons, at least, from giving their pupils any copies
except monosyllables ; and a decree of Parliament is neces-
sary to re-establish the liberty — and then under certain
restrictions — of teaching to write.

"Christian instruction was neglected, not to say dishon-
ored," is the statement of contemporaries. The children
who attended the schools of the poor were subjected to pub-
lic contempt. They were obliged to wear on their caps a
distinctive badge. In brief, far from progressing, primary
instruction was rather in a state of decadence.

275. Demi a and the Primary Schools of Lyons. —
Among the progressive men who struggled against this
unhappy state of affairs, and who tried to develop the
Catholic schools, we must mention, before La Salle, D£mia,

1 Petites e'coles. This is the term commonly applied to primary schools
at this period. By the Jansenists this term was used in a more distinctive
sense, and for this reason I have translated it "Little Schools" in Chap.
VII. (P.)


a priest of Lyons, who, iu 1G66, founded the Congregation
of the Brethren of Saint Charles, for the instruction of poor
children. The Institute of La Salle was not organized till
eighteen years later, in 1684. In 1GG8, having addressed
to the provosts of the merchants of the city of Lyons a
warm appeal, his Proposals for the establishment of Christian
schools for the instruction of the poor, Demia obtained an
annual grant of two hundred livres. In 1G75 he was
charged by "express command" of the archbishop of
Lyons " with the management and direction of the schools
of that city and diocese," and drew up a body of school
regulations which was quoted as a model. 1 For the method
of "teaching to read, of learning the catechism, of cor-
recting children, and similar things," Demia conformed to
the book known as the Parish School (Ecole p>ciroissiale) , of
which we shall presently say a word. He took it upon him-
self to proceed " to the examination of the religion, the
ability, and the good morals, of the persons who proposed
to teach school." But, what was of greater moment, he
established, for preparing and training them, a sort of semi-

A few quotations will give an idea of D^mia's zeal in the
establishment of Christian schools.

"This establishment is of such importance and of so
great utility, that there is nothing in our political organiza-
tion which is more worthy of the care and the watchfulness
of the magistrates, since on it depend our peace and public
tranquillity. The poor, not having the means of educating
their children, leave them in ignorance of their obligations.
. . . Thus we see, with keen displeasure, that such an edu-
cation of the children of the poor is totally neglected,
although it is the most important interesl of the State, of

1 See the Lectures jye'dagogiques. Hachette, 1883, p. 420.


which they comprise the largest part; and, although it is
quite as necessary, and even more so, to maintain public
schools for them, as to support colleges for the children of
families in good circumstances. . . ."

276. Claude Joly. — In 1G76, Claude Joly, precentor of
Notre Dame, " collator, director, and judge of the primary
schools of the city, the suburbs, and the outskirts of Paris,"
published his Christian and Moral Counsels for the Instruction
of Children. There is but little to gather from this work,
where the author is so forgetful of elementary instruction as
to speak only of secondary instruction and of the educa-
tion of princes. What most concerns Claude Joly is to put
in force the regulations which forbid the association of boys
and girls in the schools. The separation of the sexes was
for a long time an absolute principle in France. D£mia, in
article nine of his regulations, restores the ordinance of the
archbishop of Lyons, "which forbids school-masters to
admit girls, and school-mistresses to admit boys." Rollin
was of the same opinion. Claude Joly, in the 'capacity of
chief precentor, bluntly claimed his sovereign rights in the
matter of primary instruction : —

"We shall contest the power claimed by the rectors of
Paris to control the schools, under the name and pretext of
charity, without the permission of the chief precentor, to
whom alone belongs this power. To him, also, belongs the
right of nomination to the schools of the religious and secu-
lar communities. We shall disclose, besides, the attempts
of writers to interfere with the teaching of orthography,
which belongs only to good grammarians, that is, to the
masters of the little schools."

We see to what petty questions of prerogative was sacri-
ficed, in the seventeenth century, the great cause of popular
instruction .


277. The Book of the Parish School. — Under the
title, The Parish School, or the Manner of Properly Instruct-
ing the Children in the Little Schools, a priest of the diocese
of Paris had written, in 1G55, a school manual, often re-
printed, 1 which became the general standard of the schools
during the years that followed, and which gives an exact
idea of what was narrow and poorly defined in the primary
instruction of that period.

The author of the Parish School does not have a high
opinion of the office of the teacher, which he regards as an
employment without lustre, without pleasure, and ivithout
interest. He does not expect great results from instruction,
of which he is pleased to say, that it is not completely useless.
It is true that instruction is reduced to a very few things, —
reading, writing, and counting. To this the author adds
religion and politeness.

Let us observe in particular, that the programme of the
parish school also comprises the principles of the Latin lan-
guage. The primary school of that period was still con-
founded with the college of secondary instruction ; the
ancient languages and rhetoric were taught in it. In the
catalogue of the master's books, drawn up by the author of
the Parish School, we find a Greek grammar. In the classes,
the reading of Latin precedes the reading of French.

Some good advice in practical pedagogy might be extracted
from the first part of the work, especially on the duties of a
school-master, on the power of example, and on the necessity
of knowing the disposition of pupils. But how many art-
less assertions and mischievous precepts, in that school code
of the city'of Paris, in the near presence of the grand cen-
tury ! The Parish School complains that the scholars eat
too much bread : —

1 We have before us the edition of 1722.


" The children of Paris, as a rule, eat a great deal of
bread. This food stupefies the mind, and very often makes
them, at the age of nine or ten, incapable of learning.
Omnis repletio mala, panis vero pessima." A serious mat-
ter is that espionage is not only authorized, but is encouraged
and organized : —

"The master will select two of the most reliable and
intelligent to be on the lookout for the disorders and the
improprieties of the school and the church. They shall
write the names of the offenders, and of those guilty of
improprieties, on pieces of paper or on tablets, to be given
to the master. These officers shall be called observers.


278. La Salle (1651-1719) and the Christian Schools.
— The reading of the Parish School prepares us the better
to comprehend the work of La Salle. If one were in any
degree tempted to depreciate the Institute of the Brethren
of the Christian Schools, it would suffice, to counteract this
disposition, to contrast the reforms of La Salle, however
insufficient they may be, with the real state of the schools of
that period. To be equitably judged, human institutions
ought to be replaced in their setting and in their environ-
ment. It is easy to-day to formulate charges against the
pedagogy of the Brethren of the Christian Schools. But
considered in their time, and compared with what existed,
or rather with what did not exist, the establishments of La
Salle deserve the esteem and the gratitude of the friends of
instruction. They represent the first systematic effort of the
Catholic Church to organize popular instruction. What the
Jesuits did in the matter of secondary instruction, with im-
mense resources and for pupils who paid them for their
efforts, La Salle attempted in primary instruction, through
a thousand obstacles and for pupils who did not pay.


279. Life and Character op La Salle. — We shall have
to criticise in the most of its principles and in many details
of its practice, the educational institute of La Salle. But
that which merits an admiration without reserve is the
professional zeal of the founder of the order, the daunt-
less spirit of improvement which he displayed in the
organization of his schools, and in the recruitment of
his teachers ; it is also his tenacious zeal which was dis-
couraged neither by the jealous opposition of corporations,
the writing-masters for example, nor by the inexplicable
opposition of the clergy ; and, finally, it is the indefatiga-
ble devotion of a beautiful life consecrated to the cause of
instruction, which was a long series of efforts and sacrifices.

At an early hour, La Salle had given proofs of the energy
of his character. Weak and sickly, he was obliged to
struggle against the infirmities of his constitution. To
overcome sleep, and to prolong his studious vigils, he
sometimes kneeled on sharp stones, and sometimes he placed
in front of him, upon his study-table, a board fitted with
iron points, against which his head would strike as soon as
fatigue made him doze and he leaned forward. Canon of
the chapter of Reims in 1607, ordained priest in 1678, he
resigned his prebendship in 1683, and, voluntarily making
himself poor, in order to approach those whose souls he
would save, he renounced his whole patrimony, to the great-
disgust of his friends, who treated him as a madman.

280. Ascetic Tendencies. — But it is not a disinterested
love of the people, it is not the thought of their moral regen-
eration, and of their intellectual progress, which animated
and sustained the efforts of La Salle. His purpose was
:it)Ove all else religious. Tie pushed devotion even to asceti-
cism. Tn his childhood, while he still lived at home, he


came to have a sense of unrest in the parlors of his mother ;
and one evening, as his biographers relate, while those about
him were engaged in music, or were talking on worldly mat-
ters, he threw himself into the arms of one of his aunts, and
said to her, "Madam, relate to me the life of one of the
saints." He himself was a saint, though the Church did not
think him worthy of this venerable title. In his youth he
passed whole nights in prayer, and slept on boards. All his
life he was severe to himself and also to others, considering
abstinence and privations as the regimen of the Christian.
His adversaries, at different times, imputed this to him as a
crime. He was represented as a hardened man, pushing his
ascetic requirements to the extreme of cruelty. To appease
their anger, he removed penances and bodily inflictions from
his institution, but he maintained them for himself, and con-
tinued his life of voluntary suffering. Heroic virtues, it may
be ; but it may be added also, an unfortunate disposition
for a teacher of children. We distrust, in advance, a system
of teaching whose beginning was so sad, whose founder
inclosed his life within so narrow an horizon, and which, at
first, was illuminated by no rays of gladness and good

281. Foundations of the Institute. — The Institute of
the Brethren was founded in 1684, but it was not sanctioned
by pontifical authority and royal power till forty years later,
in 1724.

We shall not recite at full length the vicissitudes of the
first years of the Institute. We simply state that La Salle
inaugurated his work by offering hospitality in his own house
to several poor teachers. In 1679 he opened at Reims a
school for boys. In 1684 he imposed on his disciples vows
of stability and obedience, and prescribed their costume. In
1688 he went to Paris in order to found schools there, and


it was here in particular, as he himself says, that "he saw
himself persecuted by the men from whom he expected help."
In spite of all these difficulties his enterprise prospered, and
when he died, in 1720, the Institute of the Brethren already
counted a large number of establishments for primary in-

282. The Idea of Normal Schools. — We know how
the teaching force was then recruited. In Paris, if we may
believe Pourchot, the chief precentor, Claude Joly, was
obliged to employ, for the direction of schools, old-clothes-
men, innkeepers, cooks, masons, wig-makers, puppet-
players — the list might be continued. In 1G82 Marie
Moreau, a teacher, was sent b}' Bossuet to keep the school
at Fert6-Gaucher. The rector of the place, in his capacity
as tutor (ecoldtre) , wishing to ascertain her competence,
subjected her to an examination, of which the following is
an account : —

"1. lie asked her if she could read, and she replied that
she read passably well, but not well enough to teach.

" 2. He gave her a pen to mend, and she declared that
she could not do it.

"3. He handed her a Latin book and requested her to
read it, but she was prevented from making the attempt by
sister Rem}', who had just prevented her from exhibiting her
writing." 1

Ignorance, and often moral unfitness, was the general
character of Hie teachers of that period. They often entered
upon their duties without the least preparation. La Salle
had too great an anxiety for the good condition of his schools
to accept improvised teachers. So in 1G85 he opened at
Reims, under the name of Seminary for Schoolmasters, a

1 Ilistoire d'une tfcole gratuite, par V. Plessier, p. 15.


real normal school, in which teachers were to be trained for
the rural districts. Only Demia had preceded him in this
work. Later he founded an establishment of the same kind
in Paris, and — a thing worthy of note — he annexed to this
normal school a primary school, in which the teaching was
done by the students in training under the direction of an

Online LibraryGabriel CompayréThe history of pedagogy → online text (page 21 of 48)