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families. Is it possible to enforce the advantages of matu-
rity and experience more delicately than in this beautiful
language? "lie who learns of a young master is like a man
who eats green grapes, and drinks wine fresh from the
press; but he who lias a master of mature years is like a
man who eats ripe and delicious grapes, and drinks old
wine." Mildness, patience, and unselfishness were recom-
mended as the ruling virtues of the teacher. " If your
teacher and your father." says the Talmud, "have need of
your assistance, help your teacher before helping your
father, for the latter has given you only the life of this


world, while the former has secured for you the life of the
world to come." 1

13. Method and Discipline. — The child entered school
at the age of six. "If a child below the age of six is
brought to your school," says the Talmud, "you need not
receive him " ; and to indicate that after that age it is proper
to regain the lost time, the Talmud acids, " After the age of
six, receive the child, and load him like an ox." On the
contrary, other authorities of the same period, more judicious
and far-seeing, recommend moderation in tasks, and say
that it is necessary to treat ' ' the }'oung according to their
strength, and the grown-up according to theirs."

There was taught in the Jewish schools, along with reading
and writing, 2 a little of natural history, and a great deal of
geometry and astronomy. Naturally, the Bible was the first
book put in the hands of children. The master interspersed
moral lessons with the teaching of reading. He made a
special effort to secure a correct pronunciation, and multi-
plied his explanations in order to make sure of being under-
stood, repeating his comments even to the four-hundredth
time if it were necessary. It seems that the methods were
suggestive and attractive, and the discipline relatively mild.
There were but few marks of the proverbial severity of the
ancient times. "Children," says the Talmud, "should be
punished with one hand, and caressed with two." The
Christian spirit, the spirit of him who had said " suffer the

1 On similar grounds, Alexander declared that he owed more to Aristotle
his teacher, than to Philip his father. ( P.)

2 What were the methods followed in teaching reading and writing?
We are told by Renan in his Vie de Jtsus that " Jesus doubtless learned to
read and write according to the method of the East, which consists in
putting into the hands of the child a book which he repeats in concert with
his comrades till he knows it by heart."


little children to come unto me," had affected the Jews them-
selves. However, corporal punishment was tolerated to a
certain extent, but, strange to say, only for children above
the age of eleven. In case of disobedience, a pupil above
that age might be deprived of food, and even struck with a
strap of shoe-leather.

14. Exclusive and Jealous Spirit. — Some reservation
must accompany the encomiums justly due Jewish education.
With respect to the rest of the human race, the Jewish spirit
was mean, narrow, and malevolent. The Israelites of this
day have retained something of these jealous and exclusive
tendencies. At the beginning of the Christian era, the fierce
and haughty patriotism of the Jews led them to proscribe
whatever was of Gentile origin, whatever had not the
sanction of the national tradition. Nothing of Greek or
Roman culture penetrated this closed world. 1 The Jewish
doctors covered with the same contempt him who raises
ho<rs and him who teaches his son Greek science.


15. Education among the Chinese. — We have at-
tempted to throw into relief the educational practices of
two Eastern nations to which the civilization of the
West is most intimately related. A few words will suf-
fice for the other primitive societies whose histoiy is too
little known, and whose civilization is too remote from
our own, to make their plans of education anything more
than an object of curiosity.

1 This statement needs qualifying. "In nearly .'ill the families of high
rank," says the Dictionnaire de P4dagogie (l"" : Partie, Article JurFs),the
daughters spoke Greek. The Rabbins did not look with any favor upon
the study of profane philosophy; hut notwithstanding their protests, there
were many devoted readers of Plato and Aristotle. It is said that among
the pupils of the celebrated Gamaliel there were five hundred who studied
the philosophy and the literature of Greece." (P.)


China has been civilized from time immemorial, and at
every period of her long history she has preserved her
national characteristics. For more than three thousand
3'ears an absolute uniformity has characterized this immo-
bile people. Everything is regulated by tradition. Edu-
cation is mechanical and formal. The preoccupation of
teachers is to cause their pupils to acquire a mechanical
ability, a regular and sure routine. They care more for
appearances, for a decorous manner of conduct, than for
a searching and profound morality. Life is but a cere-
monial, minutely determined and punctually followed.
There is no liberty, no glow of spontaneity. Their art
is characterized by conventional refinement and by a
prettiness that seems mean ; there is nothing of the grand
and imposing. By their formalism, the Chinese educa-
tors are the Jesuits of the East.

1G. Lao-tsze and Khung-tsze. — Towards the sixth cen-
tury b.c. two reformers appeared in China, Lao-tsze and
Khung-tsze. The first represents the spirit of emancipa-
tion, of progress, of the pursuit of the ideal, of protest
against routine. lie failed. The second, on the contrary,
who became celebrated under the name of Confucius, and
to whom tradition ascribes more than three thousand
personal disciples, secured the triumph of his ideas of
practical, utilitarian morality, founded upon the authority
of the State and that of the family, as well as upon the
interest of the individual.

A quotation from Lao-tsze will prove that human
thought, in the sixth century B.C., had reached a high
mark in China : —

" Certain bad rulers would have us believe that the
heart and the spirit of man should be left empty, but


that instead his stomach should be filled ; that his bones
should be strengthened rather than the power of his will;
that we should always desire to have the people remain
in a state of ignorance, for then their demands would
he few. It is difficult, they say, to govern a people that
are too wise.

"These doctrines are directly opposed to what is due
to humanity. Those in authority should come to the aid
of the people by means of oral and written instruction;
so far from oppressing them and treating them as slaves,
they should do them good in every possible way."

In other words, it is by enlightening the people, and
by an honest devotion to their interests, that one be-
comes worthy to govern them.

If the Chinese have not fully profited by these wise and
exalted counsels, it appears that at least they have at-
tempted to make instruction general. line, a Chinese
missionary, boldly declares that China is the country of
all countries where primary instruction is most widely dif-
fused. To the same effect, a German writer affirms that
in China there is not a village so miserable, nor a ham-
let so unpretending, as not to be provided with a school
of some kind. 1 In a country of tradition, like China,
we can infer what once existed from what exists to-day.
But that instruction which is so widely diffused is wholly
superficial and tends merely to an exterior culture. As
Dittes says, the educational method of the Chinese con-
sists, not in developing, but in communicating. 2

1 For a scries of interesting documents on the actual state of education
in China, consult the article Chine, in Buisson's Dictionnaire de Ptd-

2 Dittes, op. fit., p. :;i2.


17. Education among the Othek Nations of the
East. — Of all the oriental nations, Egypt is the one in
which intellectual culture seems to have reached the high-
est point, but only among men of a privileged class.
Here, as in India, the priestly class monopolized the
learning of the clay ; it jealously guarded the depository
of mysterious knowledge which it communicated only to
the kings. The common people, divided into working
classes, which were destined from father to son to the
same social status, learned scarcely more than was nec-
essary in order to practise their hereditary trades and
to be initiated into the religious beliefs.

In the more military but less theocratic nation, the
Persian, efforts were made in favor of a general edu-
cation. The religious dualism which distinguished Ormuzd,
the principle of good, from Ahriman, the principle of
evil, and which promised the victory to the former, made
it the duty of each man to contribute to this final vic-
tory by devoting himself to a life of virtue. Hence arose
noble efforts to attain physical and moral perfection. The
education of the Persians in temperance and frugality has
excited the admiration of certain Greek writers, especially
Xeuophou, and there will be found in his Cyropcedia a thrill-
ing picture of the brave and noble manners of the ancient
Persians. 1

1 On a recent occasion Archdeacon Farrar referred to Persian edu-
cation as follows : " We boast of our educational ideal. Is it nearly
as high in some essentials as that even of some ancient and heathen
nations long centuries before Christ came? The ancient Persians were
worshippers of fire and of the sun ; most of their children would have
beeu probably unable to pass .the most elementary examination in
physiology, but assuredly the Persian ideal might be worthy of our
study. At the age of fourteen — the age when we turn our children
adrift from school, and do nothing more for them — the Persians gave


On the whole, the history of pedagogy among the people of
the East offers us but few examples to follow. That which,
in different degrees, characterizes primitive education is that
it is the privilege of certain classes ; that woman is most gen-
erally excluded from its benefits ; that in respect of the com-
mon people it is scarcely more than the question of an
apprenticeship to a trade, or of the art of war, or of a
preparation for the future life ; that no appeal is made to
the free energy of individuals, but that the great masses of
the people in antiquity have generally lived under the har-
assing oppression of religious conceptions, of fixed tradi-
tions, and of political despotism.

[18. Analytical Summary. — Speaking generally, the edu-
cation of the primitive nations of the East had the following
characteristics : —

1 . It was administered by the hieratic class. This was
due to the fact that the priests were the only men of learn-
ing, and consequently the only men who could teach.

2. The knowledge communicated was in the main relig-
ions, ethical, and prudential, and the final purpose of instruc-
tion was good conduct.

3. As the matter of instruction was knowledge bearing
the sanction of authority, the learner was debarred from free
inquiry, and the general tendency was towards immobility.

4. As the knowledge of the day was embodied in lan-
guage, the process of learning consisted in the interpretation
of speech, and so involved a large and constant use of the

their young nobles the four best masters whom tiny could find to
teach their boys wisdom, justice, temperance, and courage wisdom
including worship, justice including the duly of unswerving truthful-
ness through lite, temperance including mastery over sensual tempta-
tions, courage including a free mind opposed t<> all things coupled
with guilt." (P.)


memory ; and this literal memorizing of the principles and
rules of conduct promoted stability of character.

5. As the purpose of instruction was guidance, there was
no appearance of the conception that one main purpose of
education is discipline or culture.

G. The conception of education as a means of national
regeneration had a distinct appearance among the Jews ; and
among this people we find one form of compulsion, — the
obligation placed on towns to support schools.

7. In Persia, the State appears for the first time as a dis-
tinct agency in promoting education.

8-. In China, from time immemorial, scholarship has been
made the condition for obtaining places in the civil service,
and in consequence education has been made subordinate to

9. Save to a limited extent among the Jews, woman was
debarred from the privileges of education.

10. In the main, education was administered so as to
perpetuate class distinctions. There was no appearance of
the conception that education is a universal right and a
universal good.]



greek pedagogy; athenian and spartan education j the schools
of athens ; schools of grammar; schools of gymnastics; the
palestra; schools of music; the schools of rhetoric and of
philosophy; SOCRATES and the socratic method ; SOCRATIC


19. Greek Pedagogy. — Upon that privileged soil of
Greece, in that brilliant Athens abounding in artists, poets,
historians, and philosophers, in that rude Sparta celebrated
for its discipline and manly virtues, education was rather the
spontaneous fruit of nature, the natural product of diverse
manners, characters, and races, than the premeditated result
of a reflective movement of the human will. Greece, how-
ever, had its pedagogy, because it had its legislators and its
philosophers, the first directing education in its practical
details, the second making theoretical inquiries into the
essential principles underlying the development of the human


soul. In respect of education, as of everything else, the
higher spiritual life of modern nations has been developed
under the influence of Grecian antiquity. 1

20. Athenian and Spartan Education. — In the specta-
cle presented to us by ancient Greece, the first fact that
strikes us by its contrast with the immobility and unity of
the primitive societies of the East, is a freer unfolding of the
human faculties, and consequently a diversity in tendencies
and manners. Doubtless, in the Greek republics, the indi-
vidual is always subordinate to the State. Even in Athens,
little regard is paid to the essential dignity of the human
person. But the Athenian State differs profoundly from the
Spartan, and consequently the individual life is differently
understood and differentlv directed in these two great cities.
At Athens, while not neglecting the body, the chief preoccu-
pation is the training of the mind ; intellectual culture is
pushed to an extreme, even to over-refinement ; there is
such a taste for fine speaking that it develops an abuse of
language and reasoning which merits the disreputable name
of sophistry. At Sparta, mind is sacrificed to body ; physi-
cal strength and military skill are the qualities most desired ;
the sole care is the training of athletes and soldiers. Sobriety
and courage are the results of this one-sided education, but
so are ignorance and brutality. Montaigne has thrown into
relief, not without some partiality for Sparta, these two con-
trasted plans of education.

"Men went to the other cities of Greece," he says, "to
find rhetoricians, painters, and musicians, but to Lacedae-
mon for legislators, magistrates, and captains ; at Athens
fine speaking was taught ; but here, brave acting ; there, one

1 Upon this subject consult the excellent study of Alexander Martin, en-
titled Lcs Doctrines Pedacjogiqucs des Grecs. Paris, 1881.


learned to unravel a sophistical argument and to abate the
imposture of insidiously twisted words ; here, to extricate
one's self from the enticements of pleasure and to overcome
the menaces of fortune and death by a manly courage. The
Athenians busied themselves with words, but the Spartans
with tilings ; with the former, there was a continual activity of
the tongue ; with the latter, a continual activity of the soul." 1
The last remark is not just. The daily exercises of the
young Spartans, — jumping, running, wrestling, playing with
lances and at quoits, — could not be regarded as intellectual
occupations. On the other hand, in learning to talk, the
young Athenians learned also to feel and to think.

21. The Schools of Athens. — The Athenian legislator,
Solon, had placed physical and intellectual training upon the
same footing. Children, he said, ought, above everything
else, to learn " to swim and to read." It seems that the
education of the body was the chief preoccupation of the
Athenian republic. While the organization of schools for
grammar and music was left to private enterprise, the State
took a part in the direction of the gymnasia. The director
of the gymnasium, or the gymnasiareh, was elected each
year by the assembly of the people. Nevertheless, Athenian
education became more and more a course in literary train-
ing, especially towards the sixth century B.C.

The Athenian child remained in the charge of a nurse and
an attendant up to his sixth or seventh year. At the age of
seven, a pedagogue, that is, a "conductor of children,"
usually a slave, was charged with the oversight of the child.
Conducted by his pedagogue, the pupil attended by turns the
school for grammar, the palestra? or school for gymnastics,

1 Montaigne, Essais, I. i. chap. xxiv.

2 The palestra was tin' school of gymnastics for children; the gym-
nasium was sot apart for adults and grown men.


and the school for music. The grammarian, who sometimes
gave his lessons in the open air, in the streets and on the
public squares, taught reading, writing, and mythology-
Homer was the boy's reading-book. Instruction in gymnas-
tics was given in connection with instruction in grammar.
It was begun in the palestra and continued in the gymnasium.
Instruction in music succeeded the training in grammar and
gymnastics. The music-master, or citharist, first taught his
pupils to sing, and then to play upon the stringed instru-
ments, the lyre and the cithara. We know what value the
Athenians attributed to music. Plato and Aristotle agree in
thinking that the rhythm and harmony of music inspire the
soul with the love of order, with harmonionsness, regularity,
and a soothing of the passions. We must recollect, more-
over, that music held a large place in the actual life of the
Greeks. The laws were promulgated in song. It was neces-
sary to sing in order to fulfil one's religious duties. It was
held that the education of Themistocles had been neglected
because he had not learned music. "We must regard the
Greeks," says Montesquieu, "■ as a race of athletes and
fighters. Now those exercises, so proper to make men hardy
and fierce, had need of being tempered by others which could
soften the manners. Music, which affected the soul through
the organs of the body, was exactby adapted to this purpose." 1

In the elementary schools of Athens, at least at the first,
the current discipline was severe. Aristophanes, bewailing
the degeneracy of his time, recalls in these terms the good
order that reigned in the olden school: 2 —

" I will relate what was the ancient education in the happy
time when I taught (it is Justice who speaks) and when
modesty was the rule. Then the boys came out of each

1 Montesquieu, Esprit des lois, I. iv. chap. yiii.

2 Aristophanes, Clouds.


street with bare heads and feet, and, regardless of rain and
snow, went together in the most perfect order towards the
school for music. There they were seated quietly and
modestly. They were not permitted to cross their legs, and
the}- learned some good songs. The master sang the song
for them slowly and with gravity. If some one took a notion
to sing with soft and studied inflections, he was severely

22. The Schools of Rhetoric and Philosophy. —
Grammar, gymnastics, and music proper, represented the
elementary instruction of the young Athenian. But this
instruction was reserved for citizens in easy circumstances.
The poor, according to the intentions of Solon, were to
learn only reading, swimming, and a trade. The privilege
of instruction became still more exclusive in the case of the
schools of rhetoric and philosophy frequented by those of
adult years.

It would be beside our purpose to speak in this place of
the courses in literature, or to make known the methods of
those teachers of rhetoric who taught eloquence to all who
presented themselves for instruction, either in the public
squares or in the gymnasia. The sophists, those itinerant
philosophers who went from city to city offering courses at
high rates of tuition, and teaching the art of speaking on
every subject, and of making a plea for error and injustice
just as skilfully as for justice and truth, at the same time
made illustrious and disgraceful the teaching of eloquence. 1
The philosophers were more worthy of their task. Socrates,

1 The reputation of the sophists lias been considerably raised by Mr.
Grote (History of Greece, vol. VI11.). For an entertaining acconnt of a
sophist of a later age, see Pliny's /<< tters, Melmoth*s translation, Book II.,
Letter in. Sec also Blackie's Four Phases of Morals, and Ferrier's Greek
Philosophy. (P.)


Plato, and Aristotle were illustrious professors of ethics.
Socrates had no regular school, but he grouped about him
distinguished young men and initiated them into learning
and virtue. The Academy of Plato and the Lyceum of Aris-
totle were great schools of philosophy, real private univer-
sities, each directed by a single man. The teaching given
in these schools has traversed the ages, and has been pre-
served in imperishable books. Moreover, those illustrious
spirits of Greece have transmitted to us either methods or
general ideas which the history of pedagogy should reverently
collect, as the first serious efforts of human reflection on the
art of education.

23. Socrates : the Socratic Method. — Socrates spent
his life in teaching, and in teaching according to an original
method, which has preserved his name. He had the genius
of interrogation. To question all whom he met, either at the
gymnasium or in the streets ; to question the sophists in order
to convince them of their errors and to confound their
arrogance, and presumptuous young men in order to teach
them the truth of which they were ignorant ; to question
great and small, statesmen and masons, now Pericles and
now a shopkeeper ; to question always and everywhere in
order to compel every one to form clear ideas ; such was the
constant occupation and passion of his life. When he
allowed himself to dream of the future life, he said smilingly
that he hoped to continue in the Elysian Fields the habits of
the Athenian Agora, and still to interrogate the shades of
the mighty dead. With Socrates, conversation became an
art, and the dialogue a method. He scarcely ever employed
the didactic form, or that of direct teaching. He addressed
himself to his interlocutor, urged him to set forth his ideas,
harassed him with questions often somewhat subtile, skil-
fully led him to recognize the truth which he himself had in


mind, or the rather permitted him to go off on a false route
in order finally to discover to him his error and to sport with
his confusion ; and all this with an art of wonderful analysis,
with a subtilty of reasoning pushed almost to an extreme,

Online LibraryGabriel CompayréThe history of pedagogy → online text (page 3 of 48)