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language teaching, there was religious instruc-
tion, and training in arithmetic and singing.

The teacher of the first grade was to form the lan-
guage of the pupils by means of conversation exercises
and the repetition of selected Scriptural passages. To
prepare for the reading lessons, the pupils were taught
the alphabet. The resemblance of the shapes of the let-
ters to familiar forms was pointed out when the teacher
printed the letters on the board. The children were re-
quired to copy them. All this tended to fix the forms
rapidly and definitely on the mind. It showed that
Ratich had at least some of the true teaching instinct.
After the alphabet was learned, the teacher formed sylla-
bles, pronouncing them as he wrote them.

The first reading book was Genesis. The teacher first
read the whole book to the pupils. He read each chap-
Readingand ter twice ovcr in immediate succession. As
Grammar. he read, the pupils followed in their books
with eyes and fingers. After the whole book had thus
been read by the teacher, he again read the first chapter.
Immediately after, the pupils read it, each taking about
four lines. When they stuck, he gave them the correct

They used the same book in the study of grammar.
The teacher first selected a lesson in the grammar text,
read and explained it to the pupils. Then they read it.
After that the teacher took a portion of Genesis and read
until he came to a word or phrase to which the gram-
mar lesson applied. He stopped and showed all the


applications and gave the declensions and conjugations.
The reading and applications were afterwards repeated
by the pupils.

The first book in Latin was not a grammar. It was
not even a Latin book, but a translation of Terence.
This was read over several times. Then the teacher
translated the play word for word, repeating each half-
hour's reading. The next time over, the teacher read
and translated one-half hour and the pupils ^^y^

repeated the exercise the next. So they TeacWng.
worked on to the end of the play. Then the pupils
began in the beginning and read and translated the play
themselves, the teacher only correcting. ■

The method of teaching Latin grammar was the same
as for the German. After the pupils had read Terence,
they and the teacher read the lessons in the Latin gram-
mar and applied them to Terence. It is clear that this
experimenter came near to discovering a sensible method
of teaching grammar.

Ratich no doubt thought that by taking the pupils over
the course indicated above they would naturally catch the
spirit of the work and learn enough elements to enable
them to become skilful in reading, grammar, and Latin,
and that the principles he had formulated would thus
be realized. He failed to see that the long-continued
series of recitations by the teachers to the silent and
watchful pupils was for the latter a very
unnatural proceeding and tended to smother
all the spirit of investigation that might be in them.
The work thus violated whatever was sound in his prin-
ciples. Aside from a few features in the reading and


grammar exercises, it was a long-drawn duplicate of
what was done in schools generally, — the teacher worked
out the lessons and the pupils remembered what they
could of the teachers recitations. The other schools
had the advantage in that the teacher's recitation periods
in them were shorter and the pupil's repetitions more

After the failure of the Kothen experiment, Oxenstiem,

the great Swedish minister, sought an interview with

Ratich in the hope of employing him to reform the school

work of Sweden. As Oxenstiem afterwards told Co-

menius, Ratich answered his questions by

Ratich's End. i . . , . , i , ,

placmg m his hands a quarto volume con-
taining an account of his methods. The minister was
convinced of their impracticable character and refused to
adopt them. Ratich never again got an opportunity to
repeat his experiment, and died in 1635, a disappointed

Among the men of the seventeenth century active

in educational reform, the figure of Comenius towers

pre-eminent. He was born in Comna, Moravia, in 1591.

The sixteenth century contributed much to

John Amos

Comenius. the Uplift of humanity, and it almost seemed
i59i-i6a. ^g -^ ^YiQ spirit of all that was most exalted
in it had entered the soul of Comenius at his birth to be
carried by him into the next. Yet the story of his life
is a sad one, and its pathos is all the greater because the
deepest of his sorrows were the sorrows of his whole

Comenius was left an orphan early in life. His educa-
tion was sadly neglected until he was well grown. He


belonged to a religious organization known as the Mora-
vian, or Bohemian, Brethren. At the age of twenty-four
he was ordained a minister in it. He had scarcely been
settled in a pastorate at Fulneck with his young wife and
a little child when a vigorous effort was made to sup-
press the Brethren. The Spaniards plundered Fulneck
in 1621. Comenius lost his whole library and nearly
everything else he possessed. Soon after, he was bereft
of wife and child.

For a time he found refuge from the religious persecu-
tion in the mountains of Bohemia. In 1628 there was
issued a decree that all people who did not confess the
Catholic faith must leave the country. In the midst of
a severe winter thirty thousand families left Bohemia.
With many other exiles he then sought refuge in Poland.
He made his home in Lissa, and here, when he was an
old man, another great misfortune came upon him. The
Brethren had incurred the anger of the Poles, and the
latter burned the city. In the conflagration Comenius
lost his whole library again and nearly all his manu-
scripts. The loss of the latter well-nigh broke his heart,
for in the course of his busy life he had written more
than a hundred works.

At Lissa, Comenius was elected bishop of his church.
He continued in the office until the day of his death.
In fact, he was the last bishop of the old offices and
brotherhood. When he passed away, most Labors.

of its scattered members connected themselves with Re-
formed and Lutheran churches. It was not, however,
as minister or bishop that he did his greatest work, it
was as teacher and writer of pedagogical works. Before


he entered the ministry he had taught at Preirau, in
Moravia. He also taught at Fulneck and in the gymna-
sium at Lissa. For a number of years he was rector of
the gymnasium.

However much his education had been neglected early
in life, he made up for it in later years with his untiring
industry. He made himself familiar with all the peda-
gogical theories of his own and ancient times, and put
himself in touch by correspondence and otherwise with
the progressive educators of his day. He was most
deeply influenced by the work of Ratich, Bacon, and a
Spanish educator named Vives. When, after a time, he
began to write on educational subjects, he had back
of what he said considerable practical experience and
a full knowledge of what had been said and done by

He was the first man to write a treatise that covered
the whole field of education in a scientific manner and
was imbued with a genuine modern spirit. For the in-
telligent reader of to-day almost every page has some
surprise because of the way in which it presents and
discusses questions that now occupy the attention of
educators as being vital and revolutionary.

Comenius called his great work Didactica Magna. In
a letter to a friend he tells why he chose the title. His
The Didactica explanation shoAvs plainly the broad differ-
Magna. eucc bctwecn the aims of modern education

and those which characterized the educational activity
of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. " For I had
undertaken," he says, "not a didactic of painting or
drawing, nor of grammar, logic, or any other part of


learning, but of life, and for this reason I called it the
great didactic."

Many parts of the book now sound strange. It be-
gins with a benediction for all who are responsible for
the proper rearing of children. The treatise has its
setting in a theological discussion of the moral and intel-
lectual condition of man, his relation to lower existences,
to his fellow-men, to eternity, and to God, This is the
logical basis of the work, which takes many of its noblest
features, too, from the special religious faith which Co-
menius professed.

The technical name of the Moravian organization was
" Unitas Fratrum," — Unity of the Brethren. The revived
church for a time formed communal societies, ^nity of the
In the old Moravian cemeteries in America Brethren,
men, women, and children, white and Indian, are buried
side by side with reference to sex and maturity, but irre-
spective of family, wealth, or social position. The tomb-
stones are all alike, except in size, and are laid flat on
the graves so one cannot tower above the others or vie
with them in ornamentation because of family pride.
Side by side, one great family, they await the resurrection
day, preaching in the solemn, simple unity of their burial
the doctrine which they had learned from the Great
Teacher, the brotherhood of the race.

In this Unitas Fratrum lies the key to what belongs
very particularly to Comenius in his theory of elementary
education. According to it, all children,

'^ ' ' Theory of

girls and boys, poor and rich, are to attend Elementary
the elementary school, working out the Education.
problems of school life together and receiving the same



training for the future. "I desire," he said, "a general
culture for all who are born human beings unto every-
thing that is human. They must, therefore, be educated
together, as far as this is possible, in order that they may
mutually inspire, animate, and stimulate one another.
I intend that they be educated to all virtues, especially
to moderation, harmony, and willingness to perform
mutual service. They must, therefore, not be separated
too early, and the opportunity must not be given to a
certain number to regard themselves with complacency
and others with contempt." In Europe, where the
popular elementary schools are separated from the sec-
ondary schools along social lines, this ideal has not yet
been realized. That has been done in America alone,
and, in the best portions of the country, in a grander
way than Comenius himself could anticipate.

Comenius regarded educational activity as ending with
the twenty-fourth year. He divided this time into four
Educational perfods of six years each. The first period
Periods. he assigned to the mother school ; the sec-

ond, to the elementary school, mother-tongue school he
called it ; the third, to the Latin school, or gymnasium ;
and the fourth, to the university.

The mother school was the home school. Under the
special care of the mother the children were to learn the
correct use of their language, the free and accurate use
of the senses, the elements of religion, and correct
morals. The mother was thus to lay the fqundation for
all the future knowledge and development of the children.

The course of the elementary school outlined, in the •
Didactica included reading and writing the mother-


tongue, drawing, arithmetic, including practical measure-
ments, the catechism, singing, civil government, history,
and geography.

The gymnasial course embraced grammar, arithmetic,
geometry, astronomy, physics, geography, music, rhetoric,
logic, and ethics.

The university was to offer special advanced courses
in all departments of learning.

He almost exactly anticipated the present elementary
and secondary courses of the public schools in the
United States.

The general aims of these courses of training and
instruction are set forth in the author's noble, definition

of a school. "I call that a school perfectly General Aims

fulfilling its mission which is a place for the of Education.
building up of a genuine manhood, where the spirit of
the learner is baptized into the glory of knowledge and
wisdom, quick to understand all things secret and re-
vealed, where the emotions of the soul are brought into
full harmony with all the virtues, the heart so won by
the love of God and filled with it, that it is possible for
all who are intrusted to the school to be led into true
wisdom, to become accustomed even here on earth to
lead a heaven-like life." In his own analysis, the pupil
is to become intelligent, moral, and pious, and these
qualities are to have their setting in a body rendered
healthy and vigorous by all approved forms of physical
training. The intelligence is to be developed by teaching
the pupil to know himself and all things in his environ-
ment necessary to a useful life.

Comenius adopted Ratich's proposition, " Everything


in the order of Nature," but with far deeper insight into
its meaning. The study and other work of the school,
Natural the Didactica teaches, is to be made pleasant.

Development rpj^^ pupils are to leam nothing and do
Correlation. nothing whicli is not demanded by their
native powers and possibilities and in conformity with
the practical requirements of their environment. All is
to be carefully graded in harmony with the progressive
steps in their development. Besides this careful correla-
tion of work with the unfolding powers of life, all the
different elements of school work are to be properly
correlated with one another, so that things which belong
together are studied together.

Instruction is to proceed from the general to the
particular, from the easy to the difficult. As nearly as
possible, understanding is to condition what shall be
committed to memory. That only is to be taught which
prepares for the best use of life.

The work of the school is to be fundamentally realistic
and, in a broad sense, practical. " People must be taught
Keaiism of the ^^ S^^ theu" knowledge, as far as possible, not
ixdactica. from books, but from earth and sky, from
oaks and beeches." When it is not possible to study
the things themselves, then the most realistic representa-
tions are to be employed, as skeletons, models of mus-
cles and vital organs in physiology, and pictures in
many studies. In the elementary course no foreign
tongue is to be allowed to interfere with the attainment
of that sense knowledge which is the basis of all true

The principle of correlation is to be apphed to forms


of expression. Whatsoever the pupil learns that shall
he also express. The mouth and the hand are to be
trained to keep pace with the understanding. Theory of
The word and the thing are to be bound Expression.
together. Written exercises are to be numerous, and
express the pupil's growing knowledge. All training in
style is to be connected with the effort to express what
is learned.

When foreign languages like Latin are studied, they are
to be learned by reading and use, rather than by gram-
matical rule. The language learning is to keep step with
the growth of intelligence and the knowledge of things.

Practical arts are to be learned by doing, as singing by
singing, writing by writing. The learner must be trained
to the right use of the material employed, must be skil-
fully guided, and have abundant practice. Rules are to
be subordinated to examples, and are to guide practice.
They must be few, short, and clear, and necessary to
the direction of the work.

Comenius, as Pestalozzi also did after him, applied
this principle to religious and moral training. He, of
course, advised the teaching of principles and rules, but
thought the main dependence is to be placed on kind
and tactful guidance to moral conduct. Piety is to be
developed by teaching the Bible, the visible works of
God as the revelation of his glory, and by habituating
children to prayer and self-measurement.

The Didactica supplements the theory of teaching with
an intelligent and sympathetic analysis of the principles
and methods of discipline in harmony with the rest of
the work.


The weakest part of the educational theory presented
in the Didaotica is the exaggerated value set upon know-
The Pansophic '^^^ ^^^ things. It recurs every now and then.
Scheme. Comenius thought that a man's development

completes itself in a knowledge of the essentials of all
forms of existence and of every human occupation. In
accord with this thought, he planned a scheme for the
publication of a work summing up in itself the whole
range of knowledge. To make the work possible, he
desired to secure the founding of an institution in which
all departments of knowledge might be taught and
worked up, and thus prepared for publication.

This pansophic, all-knowledge, scheme brought him
into touch with a man in England named Hartlib, a
friend of John Milton's. He, with a number of others,
had a similar scheme. It had been suggested to them,
possibly also to Comenius, by Bacon's New Atlantis.
For a time they entertained hopes that Parliament would
furnish the money to establish such an institution.
Comenius was to be its head. He was summoned to
appear before Parliament and present the details of the
scheme, but trouble in Scotland and a war with Ireland
diverted the attention of Parliament, and the scheme

The great reputation of Comenius during his life, and
possibly his greatest usefulness, was due neither to the
Didadica nor to the pansophic scheme. It arose from
the text-books which he wrote in harmony with his

The first of these text-books to attract special atten-
tion was the Janua Linguarum Reserata., — " The Gate of


Tongues Unlocked." It was published while he was
teaching at Lissa and before the Bidactica had appeared.
It immediately made him more famous than The Janua
perhaps any other teacher has ever been made Linguarum.
by a single text-book. The Janua was suggested to him
by the work of an Irish Jesuit named Batty, who had
written short treatises introducing all the words of the
Latin language. In adopting the suggestion, Comenius
was influenced by three of his own leading ideas : the
idea of teaching men all things, of adapting the language
to the understanding, and of turning the attention to the
things themselves. He described in the book all forms
of occupations, and set forth the elements of all the
sciences in Latin and German side by side. The state-
ments were made very simple in the beginning, more
difficult towards the end. The treatises were arranged
under one hundred heads, and contained eight thousand
words used in a thousand sentences. It had the serious
mistake of using each word only once.

The book was soon translated into ten or a dozen
European languages, and into Turkish and Arabic besides.

It was largely the reputation produced by this book
that caused Comenius to be called to England. It also
brought him an invitation from Oxenstiem to reform
the school work of Sweden. That was the position for
ivhich Ratich had been considered. Comenius under-
took the commission. During its prosecution, a period
of four years, he resided at Elbing, Prussia, under the
patronage of a wealthy and generous Dutch merchant
named De Geer. The principal fruit of his labor was
the Latest Method of Teaching Language.


In 1650 he accepted a commission to reform the
schools of Transylvania. He took up his residence at
Patak, where he established schools. He remained there
four years. In this time, among many works, he pro-
duced his greatest and most useful text-book, the Orbis
Piotus, — " The World Illustrated." It was an improved
.pj^g edition of the Janua, with the addition of

Orbis Pictus. pictures to illustrate the text. Everything
in the pictures that was named in the Latin and vernacu-
lar texts had a number attached to it which was also
attached to the proper words in the texts. Thus the
pictures served to explain the text. This was the
first illustrated school-book ever published, the fore-
runner of all the beautifully illustrated readers and
other school-books of to-day. It was a decided step
forward in realism. The book had an enormous cir-
culation. The Didactica marked a revolution in educa-
tional theory ; this wrought a revolution in educational

After Lissa was plundered by the Poles, in 1665, Co-
menius wandered for some months in Germany. He
was offered an asylum in Amsterdam by Laurence De
Geer, the son of his former patron. There his life came
to a peaceful end in 1671. In his seventy-seventh year
he wrote his last work, his confession. In this occur
Last Days of thcse bcautiful words, which enable us to
comenius. look iuto the mau's innermost soul: "To
Christ, my eternal love, I give unending thanks, because
he has placed such love for his lambs in my heart and
so blessed me that I could accomplish for them what I
have. I hope and confidently expect from my God that


my reforms will be realized when the winter of the
Church is past, the rains have ceased, and the flowers
blossom forth in the land,"

Contemporaneous with Comenius, John Milton, the
author of Paradise Lost, placed himself on the side of
the innovators. His experience as an ambitious and in-
dustrious student and private tutor together with his zeal
in the cause of humanity gave him deep interest in edu-
cation. He expressed his views on the subject in a
tractate on education addressed to Samuel Hartlib, the
friend of Comenius.

He adopted four propositions as fundamental, — Edu-
cation must be realistic ; Language must be taught as a
means of expression ; Intellectual effort must be made
pleasant by grading work in harmony with the pupil's
developing powers ; There must be thorough physical

His views are the more interesting from the fact that
he was one of the most accomplished classical scholars
of his time.

In attempted accord with his principles he outlined a
course of studies. It was as ponderous as his genius,
and largely impossible. He himself said of it that " it
was not a bow for every man to shoot in that counts
himself a teacher." A number of the methods he pro-
posed were equally impracticable for a school.

Milton's tractate seems to have had little practical in-
fluence, but the case was different with his distinguished
countryman, John Locke. His work is interesting if for
no other reason than that he, with Montaigne, did much
to mould the ideas of Rousseau.


Locke had special preparation for the educational
work which he wrote. He was educated for the pro-
fession of medicine, chiefly with reference to his own
John Locke, health, which was feeble. He also made a
1G32-1704. particular study of the limitations and capa-
bilities of the mind, the results of which he published in
An Essay on the Human Understanding. He was for a
time tutor to the son of the Earl of Shaftesbury, and to
his son after him. The influence of all these experiences
can be traced in his pedagogical treatise entitled Some
Thoughts concerning Education. He undoubtedly owed
much, too, to Montaigne. His general theory is in close
accord with Montaigne's, and many passages in his work
bear close resemblance to passages in the essays of the
French author.

A person turning from the perusal of the JDidactica of
Comenius to the Thoughts on Education is at once struck
by the different temper of the latter. Comenius looked
upon education as a means for uplifting the race, and
the Bidactica was written in a broadly humane spirit.
Locke was a gentleman, in the sense in which the term
is used in England. His intercourse and sympathies
were with upper-class Englishmen, though he was a
liberal-minded man. He wrote only concerning the
training of a young English gentleman for his accepted
position in life, and in a dispassionate and practical

"A sound mind in a sound body is a short but
full description of a happy state in this world," is the
first sentence in Locke's book. It is the key to the
whole work,. It begins with a comprehensive series of


suggestions for the preservation of health. Rules are
laid down with respect to food, drink, clothing, rest, and
medicine. Plain food is to be used in moder- Locke's

ate quantities, and strong drink very seldom Health Rules.
or never. Locke zealously advocated a hardening pro-
cess, rather light clothing in winter, and thin, leaky shoes,

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Online LibraryEllwood Leitheiser KempHistory of education → online text (page 13 of 23)