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the State ought not to abuse its power by imposing by force
on its citizens such or such a religious Credo, such or such
a political dogma.

"Public authority cannot establish a body of doctrine
which is to be exclusively taught. No public power ought
to have the authority, or even the permission, to prevent the
development of new truths, or the teaching of theories con-
trary to its particular policy or to its momentary interests."

436. Five Grades of Instruction. — Condorcet distin-
guishes five grades of instruction : 1. Primary schools proper ;
2. Secondary schools, that is, such as we now call higher
primary schools ; 3. Institutes, or colleges of secondary in-
struction ; 4. Lycees, or institutions of higher instruction ;
5. The National Society of Sciences and Arts, which corre-
sponds to our Institute.


Two things are especially to be noted : first, Condorcet
establishes for the first time higher primary schools, and de-
mands one for each district, and in addition one for each town
of four thousand inhabitants ; then, for primary schools proper,
he takes the population as a basis for their establishment, and
requires one for each four hundred inhabitants. 1

437. Purpose and Plan of Primary Instruction. —
Condorcet has admirably defined the purpose of primary in-
struction : —

"In the primary schools there is taught that which is
necessary for each individual in order to direct his own con-
duct and to enjoy the plenitude of his own rights."

The programme comprised reading, writing, some notions
on grammar, the rules of arithmetic, simple methods of
measuring a Held and a building with exactness ; a simple
description of the productions of the country, of the processes
in agriculture and the arts ; the development of the first
moral ideas and the rules for conduct derived from them ;
finally, such of the principles of social order as can be put
within the comprehension of children.

438. The Idea of Courses for Adults. — Condorcet
was strongly impressed with the necessit}- of continuing the
instruction of the workman and of the peasant after with-
drawal from school : —

1 Public instruction as now organized in France is of three grades, as
follows: —

"Primary instruction, which gives the elements of knowledge, reading,
writing, and arithmetic. Secondary instruction, embracing the study of
the ancient languages, of rhetoric, and the tirst elements of the mathemati-
cal and physical sciences, and of philosophy. This is given in the lycees
and colleges, as well as in the smaller seminaries. Superior instruction,
designed to teach in all their completeness letters, the languages, the sci-
ences, and philosophy. This is given in the Faculties, in the College of
France, and in the larger seminaries." — Littre. (P.)


"We have observed that instruction ought not to abandon
individuals the moment the} - leave the schools ; that it ought
to embrace all ages ; that there is no period of life when it is
not useful and possible to learn, and that this supplementary
instruction is so much the more necessary as- that of infancy
has been contracted to the narrowest limits. Here is one
of the principal causes of the ignorance in which the poor
classes of society are to-day plunged ; they lacked not nearly
so much the possibility of receiving an elementary instruction
as that of preserving its advantages."

Consequently, Condorcet proposed, if not courses of in-
struction for adults, at least something very like them, —
weekly lectures, given each Sunday by the village teachers,
a kind of lay sermons.

"Each Sunday the teacher shall give a public lecture
which citizens of all ages will attend. In this arrangement
we have seen a means of giving to young people those neces-
sary parts of knowledge, which, however, did not form a part
of their primary education."

439. Professional and Technical Education. — But
Condorcet does not think his duty to the people done when
he has given them intellectual emancipation. He is very
anxious to give in addition to the sons of peasants or work-
men the means of struggling against misery, by diffusing
more and more among the masses of the people a technical
knowledge of the arts and trades. He deserves to be
counted among the adepts in professional instruction and in
industrial education. He asks that there be placed in the
schools "models of machines or of trades" ; and in all grades
of instruction, he recommends with a special solicitude the
teaching of the practical arts.

We fancy we are doing something new to-day when we
establish school museums. "Each school," says Condorcet,


•'shall have a small library, and a small cabinet in which
shall be placed some meteorological instruments or some
specimens of natural history."

440. The Education op Women. — Condorcet may be
regarded as one of the most ardent apostles of the education
of women. He wishes education to be common and equal.
He is evidently wrong when he dreams of a perfect identity
of instruction for the two sexes, when he forgets the partic-
ular destination of women, and the special character of their
education. But we have found so many educators disposed
to depreciate the abilities of woman, that we are happy to
find at last one voice that exalts them, even beyond

Let us recall, however, the excellent reasons which he
gives in support of his thesis on the equality of education.
It is necessary that women should be instructed : 1 . in order
that they may be able to bring up their children, of whom
they are the natural instructors ; 2. in order that they rnay
be the worthy companions, the equals of their husbands, that
they may feel an interest in their pursuits, share in their
preoccupations, and, finally, participate in their life, such
being the condition of conjugal happiness ; 3. in order,
further, by an analogous reason, that they may not quench,
by their ignorance, that inspiration of heart and mind which
previous studies have developed in their husbands, but that
they may nourish this flame by conversation and reading in
common; 4. finally, because this is just, — because the two ,
sexes have an equal right to instruction.

441. Reservations to be made. — All is not equally
worthy of commendation in the work of Condorcet. Some
faults and some omissions mar this fine piece of political
pedagogy. The faults are, first, the exaggerated idea of lib-


erty and of equality. From Condorcet's ardors for liberty there
issues, in his plan for education, a grave error, — the idea of
making of the teaching body a sort of State within the State,
an independent authority, a fourth power, released from all
exterior authority, governing itself and administering its
own affairs, the State intervening only as treasurer to pay for
the services which it neither regulates nor supervises. The
liberal Daunou, while explaining the system of our author,
has criticised it on this point. 1 " Condorcet," he said, " the
enemy of corporations, has sanctioned one in his scheme of
national instruction ; he established, as it were, an academic
church. This is because Condorcet, the euemy of kings,
would add in the balance of public powers one counter-
balance more to that royal power whose monstrous existence,
in a free constitution, is sufficiently attested by the alarms
and fears of all the friends of liberty."

The passion for equality led Condorcet into another chimera,
— that of the absolute gratuity of instruction of all grades.

Finally, in his dreams of infinite perfectibility, Condorcet
allows himself to be carried so far away as to imagine for
man, and to expect from instruction, results that are utterly
unattainable. Instruction, according to him, ought to be so
complete " as to cause the disappearance of every inequality
which induces dependence."

442. Prejudices of the Mathematician. — From another
point of view, Condorcet was led astray by his predilection
for the sciences. He so far forgot that he was a member of
the French Acadenry as to obey only his tendencies, a little
too exclusive, as a mathematician and a member of the
Acadenry of Sciences. By a reaction, natural enough,
against those long centuries in which an abuse was made of

1 See the Rapport of Daunou presented to the National Convention, 27
Vende'miaire, year IV.


literary culture, Condorce.t is too prompt to underrate the
influence of letters in education, and to invest the sciences
with the place of honor. The reasons which he invokes to
justify his preference are not all conclusive.

i 13. Omissions. — The idea of obligatory instruction is
still wanting in the scheme we are examining. We shall be
surprised, perhaps, that Condorcet, who has so clearly pro-
claimed the necessity of universal instruction, did not think
to impose obligatory attendance, which is the only means of
establishing it. This is because the early revolutionists, in
the ardor of their enthusiasm, did not suspect the opposition
to the accomplishment of their plans that was to come from
the indifference of the greater number, and from the preju-
dices of those who, as Condorcet has eloquently said,
" thought they were obeying God while betraying their coun-
try." It seemed to them that when centres of light had
been made to glow over the whole surface of the countiy,
citizens would hasten after them, impelled by a natural
appetite, spontaneously thirsting for enlightenment. They
were deceived. These hopes, a little artless, were destined
to be disproved by facts ; and it was to triumph over the
neglect of some, and the resistance of others, that the Con-
vention, supplying one of the rare defects in Condorcet' s
plan, decreed, on several occasions, instruction " imperative
and forced," as was then said.

On still another point, Condorcet remained inferior to his
successors ; in his report there was no mention made of the
organization of normal schools. In this grave and funda-
mental question of the education of the teaching body,
Condorcet contented himself with a provisional expedient,
which consisted in entrusting to the professors of the grade
immediately higher the care of preparing teachers for the
grade lower.


444. Final Conclusion. — But even with these reserva-
tions, the work of Condorcet deserves scarcely anything but
praise. We have commended its new and exalted concep-
tions. Its beautiful and exact arrangement and its masterly
style also deserve praise. Condorcet's periods are symmetri-
cal in their fullness, and the expression is precise and vigor-
ous. Doubtless there is some monotony and some frigidity
in that style so concise and strong. But at intervals there
are outbursts of passion. The man whom his contempora-
ries compared to "an enraged lamb," or to a "volcano
covered with snow," is painted to the life in his writings.
His Rapport is like a beautiful and finished statue of marble,
cold to the touch, but upon which the hand might feel beat-
ing in places a vein warm with life.

[445. Analytical Summary. — 1. The more important
lessons to be derived from this study are the following : the
necessity of making instruction universal and of having it
administered by the State ; the need of making instruction
obligatory, and, in certain grades, gratuitous ; the value of
intellectual culture as a moral safeguard.

2. The right of the State to self-preservation carries with
it the right to ordain the establishment of schools for giving
a certain kind and degree of instruction. This constitutes
the first form of compulsion.

3. When there is not a voluntary and general attendance
on the schools ordained by the State, it may avail itself of
the supplementary right to make attendance obligatory.
This constitutes the second form of compulsion.

4. Gratuity is the logical sequence to compulsion. If the
State may require all children to partake of a certain degree
of instruction, it must make such instruction free.

5. Should instruction that is above the compulsory grade
be free? This depends on the question whether the State


needs a certain amount of the higher culture, and whether
this required amount will be secured at the pupils' own ex-
pense. Monsieur Compayre decides, as against Condorcet
(paragraph 411), that the higher grades of instruction
should not he gratuitous. In this country the prevailing
theory is that the higher education should be endowed by
the State.

G. The relation of instruction to morality has never been
more justly and pointedly stated than in paragraph 433.
This is not only good sense but sound philosophy.]



the convention ; successive measures ; the bill of lanthenas j
the bill of romme ; the national holidays j elementary
books; decree of may 30, 1793 j lakanal (1762-1845); daunou
(1761-1840) j the bill of lakanal, sieves, and daunou ; lepelle-
tier saint-fargeau (1760-1793) ; his scheme of education (july
13, 1793) j lepelletier and condorcet ; compulsory education
in boarding-schools; the child belongs to the republic;
school occupations; absolute gratuity; the eights of the
family j saint-just j the romme law j the bouquier law j the
lakanal law; educational methods; elementary books;
geography ; letters and sciences ; the foundation of normal
schools; the normal school of paris; central schools ; their
defects; positive and practical spirit; great foundations
of the convention j the law of october 27, 1795 j insufficiency
of daunou's scheme ; analytical summary.

446. The Convention. — The Constituent Assembly and
the Legislative Assembly had done nothing more than to
prepare reports and projected decrees, without either dis-
cussing them or bringing them to a vote. The Convention
went so far as to vote, but it did not have the time to exe-
cute the resolutions, contradictory and incoherent, which it
was forced to adopt, one after another, by the fluctuation
of political currents.

447. Successive Measures. — Nothing definite in the
way of execution issued from the enthusiastic passion which
the Convention exhibited for the organization of primary
instruction. First there was a triumph of modern ideas in


the bill of Lanthenas, the first article of which was adopted
December 12, 1792 ; and they appeared again in the bill of
Sieves, Dannou, and Lakanal, presented June 26, 1793,
and defeated after an exciting discussion. But the influence
of the Girondists was succeeded by the domination of the
Montagnards 1 whose dictatorial and violent spirit is indi-
cated: 1. in the bill of Lepelletier, adopted through the
support of Robespierre, August 13, 1793; 2. in the bill
projected and presented by Romme in behalf of the commis-
sion of public instruction, October 20, 1793, and passed on
the following day ; 3. and lastly in the bill of Bouquier,
which, presented December 19, 1793, became the decree of
December 26. The reaction which followed resulted in the
legislative acts by which the Convention finished its
educational work. The bill of Sieyes, Daunou, and Laka-
nal was reconsidered, and November 17, 1793, it was substi-
tuted for the bill of Bouquier. Finally, when the constitution
of 1794 was substituted for the constitution of 1793, a new
law of public instruction was passed on the report of Daunou,
October 27, 1795, and it is this law which presided over
the organization of schools under the Director}- .

In this confusion, this chaos of bills and counter-bills, it is
difficult to establish any clew that is wholly trustworthy.
We shall restrict ourselves to noting the points that seem
essential. 2

Impatient to finish its business, the committee on public

1 A term applied to the most pronounced revolutionists of the Convention
and of the National Assembly.

2 It is impossible, within the limits prescribed by the character and plan
of this work, to enter into detail and enumerate all the decrees and counter-
decrees of the Convention on the subject of public instruction. To see
clearly into this chaos and this confusion, it is necessary to read the
excellent article of Monsieur Guillauinu in the Dictionnaire de Pidagoc/ie,
article Convention.


instruction, which the Convention had appointed October 2,
1792, decided to put aside, for the present, the other branches
of public instruction, and proposed for immediate action
only the organization of primary schools, by taking, as a
point of departure, the bill which Condorcet had presented
to the Legislative Assembby. The report of Lanthenas and
a proposed decree were within a few weeks the results of
these deliberations ; but in all its parts this result is scarcely
more than the reproduction of Condorcet' s work, and presents
nothing original. Let us note, however, the idea of as-
sociating the pupil with his teacher in the work of instruc-
tion : —

"Teachers will call to their aid the pupils whose intelligence
shall have made the most rapid progress ; and they will thus
be able, very easily, to give to four classes of pupils, in the
same session, all the attention needed for their progress.
At the same time, the efforts made by the most competent
to teach what they know to their schoolmates, will be much
more instructive to themselves than the lessons they receive
from their masters."

Further, let us notice title III. of the proposed decree
relative to the measures to be taken in order to make obli-
gatory the use of the French language, and to abolish the
patois, or particular idioms. The minimum salary of men
teachers was fixed at six hundred francs. The appointment
of teachers was entrusted to the heads of families, who were
to elect one from a list prepared by a " commission of edu-
cated persons" appointed by the Councils-General of the
communes and the Directories of departments.

448. The Bill of Lanthenas. — The discussion of the bill
of Lanthenas began on December 12, 1792, but only article
first was carried, and the bill itself did not become a law.


On December 20, another member of the Convention,
Romme, mathematician, deputy from Puy-de-DOme, read
a new report on public instruction.

449. The Bill of Romme. — The bill of Lanthenas
aimed at only the first grade of instruction, but the report of
Romme embraced the four grades of instruction, and was
but little more than a reproduction of Condorcet's work.
But no legislative measure followed the reading of his bill,
and up to the 30th of May, 1793, there is scarcely anything
to be noted, as the educational work of the Convention, save
the bill of Rabaud Saint-Etienne on public festivals, and the
report of Arbogast on elementary books.

450. National Holidays. — It is difficult to form an
idea of the importance which the men of this period attributed
to the educational influence of national holidays. At vari-
ance on so many points, they all agree in thinking that the
French people could be instructed and regenerated simply
by establishing popular solemnities.

"It is a kind of institution," said Robespierre, "which
ought to be considered as an essential part of public educa-
tion, — I mean national holida}'s."

Daunou also persisted in considering national holidays as
the most certain and the most comprehensive means of pub-
lic instruction. The decree passed at his request established
seven national holidays : that of the foundation of the
Republic, of young men, of husbands, of thanksgiving, of
agriculture, of liberty, of old men.

451. Elementary Books. — An important point in the
pedagogy of the Revolution was the attention given to the
composition of elementary books. On several occasions
the Convention put up for competition these modest works
intended to aid parents or teachers in their task. It was one


of the happiest thoughts of that period to desire that there
should be placed in the hands of parents simple methods and
well-arranged books which might teach them how to bring up
their children. The difficulty of this kind of composition
was understood, and so application was made to the most
distinguished writers. Bernardin de Saint Pierre was em-
ployed to edit the Elements of Morality.

December 24, 1792, Arbogast had submitted to the Con-
vention a proposed decree in which it was said : —

"It is only the superior men in a science, or in an art,
those who have sounded all its depths, and have carried it to
its farthest limits, who are capable of composing such ele-
mentary treatises as are desirable."

452. Decree of May 30, 1793. — The first decree of the
Convention relative to primary schools was passed May 30,
1793. But this laconic law contained nothing very new.
Besides, it was forgotten in the storm which on the next
day, May 31, swept away the Girondists, and gave to the
Montagnards the political supremacy.

453. Lakanal (1762-1845). — After the revolution of
May 31, among the men who, in the committee on public in-
struction and in the assembly itself, were occupied with the
educational organization of France, we must assign the first
place to Lakanal and Daunou. On June 26, 1793, three
days after the adoption of the new constitution, Lakanal
brought to the tribune the bill which he had drawn up in
conjunction with Daunou and Sieves.

Lakanal is one of the purest and most remarkable charac-
ters of the French Revolution. 1 " Lakanal," said Marat, to
whom some one had denounced him, "works too much to

1 See a recent sketch, Lakanal, by Paul Legendre (Paris, 1882), with a
Preface by Paul Bert.


have the time to conspire." Industrious and thoughtful,
after having taught philosophy with the "Doctrinaires," of
whom he was the pupil, he became the first, after Condorcet,
of the educators of the Revolution. " His appearance," says
Paul Bert, " has always particularly attracted ine. It unites
gentleness with force, energy with serenity. We feel that
this austere citizen has never known any other passion than
that of well-doing, and has neither desired nor obtained any
other reward than that of having done his duty. He despises
violence of language, and hates that of acts ; and so we do
not find him, under the Empire, a baron like Jean-Bon Saint
Andre, a minister like Fouch6, or a senator like a whole herd."

454. Daunou (1761-1840). — At an early period in his
life, Daunou had taught philosophy in the colleges of the
Oratorians, of whom he was a member. In 1789 he pub-
lished in the Journal EncyclopSdique, a plan of national
education which was approved by the Oratory, and which
he presented to the Constituent Assembly in 1790. In the
Convention he took an active part in the work of the com-
mittee on public instruction, and assisted in the preparation
of Lakanal's first bill. In the same year he published an
Essay on Public Instruction. In the Council of the Five
Hundred he was appointed to make a report on the organiza-
tion of special schools. Under the Empire he accepted the
management of the national archives. Under the Restora-
tion he was appointed professor of history in the College of
France. Finally, after 1830, we find him once more in the
Chamber of Deputies, giving proof of unusual energy and
vitality, and presenting in opposition to the minister of pub-
lic instruction, de Montalivet, a counter-bill, the principal
aim of which was to lodge with the municipal authorities the
administration of schools, a power which the government
wished to leave in the hands of the inspectors.


455. The Bill of Lakanal, Sieves, and Daunou. —

These are the principal provisions of this bill : a school for
each thousand inhabitants ; separate schools for girls and
boys ; the election of teachers entrusted to a board of in-
spectors composed of three members, and located at the gov-
ernment centre of each district ; the general organization of
methods, regulations, and school regime placed in the hands
of a central commission sitting with the Corps Legislatif,
and placed under its authority ; an education which embraces
the whole man, at once intellectual, physical, moral, and in-
dustrial ; the first lessons in reading given to boys as to girls
by a woman teacher; arithmetic, geometr}-, physics, and
morals included in the programme of instruction ; visits to
hospitals, prisons, and workshops ; finally, liberty granted to

Online LibraryGabriel CompayréThe history of pedagogy → online text (page 31 of 48)