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simplified, and dictionaries too.
Hence his graded grammars and dictionaries, that the time spent over Latin might be shorter, and progress more pleasant for the pupil. “If so much time is to be spent on language alone,” he says, “when is the boy to know about things? when will he learn philosophy, when religion, and so forth? He will continue his life in preparing for life.” Again, all was to be graduated, and adapted to the boy's age.
8. As to school discipline, Comenius was far ahead of his own time, and even of ours. The seeds of knowledge, of virtue, and of piety were, to begin with, already in the child. Only wise culture was needed to make them spring into life and grow to maturity, just as with plants. Coercion was thus entirely out of place; method superseded it, although he admitted that corporal chastisement was sometimes necessary for moral offences.
Omnia sponte fluant : absit violentia rebus. 9. As to the education of girls, Comenius was not only more thoroughgoing than Vives and Erasmus, but two hundred and fifty years in advance of other men. I take Professor Masson's translation of Comenius's utterance on this subject':
“Nor, to say something particularly on this subject, can any sufficient reason be given why the weaker sex should be wholly shut out from liberal studies, whether in the native tongue or in Latin. For equally are they God's image ; equally are they partakers of grace, and of the kingdom to come ; equally are they furnished with minds agile and capable of wisdom, yea, often beyond our sex; equally to them is there
a possibility of attaining high distinction, inasmuch as they have often been employed by God Himself for the government builc peoples, the bestowing of wholesome counsels on kings and an org res, the science of medicine, and other things useful to the the mett.
race, nay, even the prophetical office, and the rattling
1 Life of Milton.
reprimand of priests and bishops. Why, then, should we admit them to the alphabet, but afterwards debar them from books? Do we fear their rashness? The more we occupy their thoughts, the less room will there be in them for waywardness, which springs generally from vacuity of mind."
Now it is an easy matter to pick holes in Comenius, whether we regard him as a mystic theologian, a pansophic philosopher, an enthusiastic humanitarian, or an educational reformer. I leave this task to those who care to do it. Assuredly no schoolboy in Europe or America, who understands the nature of the old bishop's work, would do it, even if he had the intellectual power; and this, perhaps, is the highest tribute to the services which Comenius rendered. I confine myself to pointing out the defects which lapse of time and the accumulation of experience have taught us to be defects; for it is the logic of events that teaches us the wisdom we call
The Baconian dictum, “Knowledge is power,” is false, or, at least, fallacious. Power lies in ideas and ideals, and a vigorous intelligence behind them. This, Comenius, and with him modern sensationalists, did not see. The mind is not built up by universal knowledge, but by its own native energy and activity in using a little well. Discipline of mind is of more importance than the stocking of mind with multifarious knowledges. “Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.” We can now scarcely understand that men should seriously maintain that we could form men by knowledge; but it was an earnest conviction. "The mind is the man and the knowledge of the mind. A man is but what he knoweth,” says Bacon. This being so, the conception of the school as an officina humanitatis is a logical enough consequence.
Further, the pansophic basis in elementary education is to be advocated only in a restricted sense. Children begin with close and narrow interests and widen as they grow older.
Literature, which, as artistic expression, includes art, is the most potent of all instruments in the hands of the educator, whether we have regard to intellectual growth, or to the moral and religious life. Comenius, however, had not the remotest conception of the aesthetic and literary, and in this respect is like Locke. His own Latin prose is hard and poor and negligent. So far, he is certainly an anti-humanist. But he is not an anti-humanist in his conception of the ends of education as moral and religious ends, but only in the narrower meaning of Humanism that characterized the first period of the Renaissance, when art and literary form were all in all. grew up in the latter half of the second humanistic period, when textual criticism and erudition prevailed, and when men's minds were too much agitated by the success of the Catholic reaction to find time to pick phrases and polish lines. The second epoch, even—that of Scaliger, Casaubon, and Buchanan -was already passing away.
Further, his Janua as a book for learning Latin, is, it must be confessed, a failure.
Finally, Comenius had no psychology to speak of, and thus he was compelled to rely on the frail support of analogy for the grounding of his principles.
Neither in his philosophy nor his erudition was Comenius profound. Joseph Scaliger and Casaubon, of the immediately preceding generation, would have had none of him: Spinoza, writing his Ethica round the street-corner while Comenius was carrying his cumbrous works through the press, would have smiled at his too energetic faith. The theologians, so much in evidence in the beginning of the seventeenth century, would have deplored his vagueness and want of dogmatic system. But, in truth, he was a better theologian than any of them-Swiss Calvinist, Roman Jesuit, or Dutch Arminian; while his moral enthusiasm and educational insight almost raised him to the rank of genius. The present and the future so engrossed him that he had no time to overweight his mind by accumulating the written records of the past. He lived at a time when men of intellect were divided into two classes, those who looked back and those who looked forward; he was essentially a modern, and at once put his hand to the work that was most urgent in the interests of Europe, viz. an irenicon, scientific organization, and education.
And yet, whatever his shortcomings, Comenius remains for us the most earnest and simple-hearted worker for the education of the people, and the most penetrating writer on method whom the world has ever seen-in fact, the founder of method. The more we study the subject of education in connexion with the various influences at work in the beginning of the seventeenth century, whether we take its large national, or narrower scholastic, aspects, the more clearly do we see that the simple-minded, much-enduring, and self-denying Moravian bishop, so long forgotten, stands out as a prominent figure even in general European history, and as quite the most eminent in the history of European education. He is still a living influence, and a power that will remain.
When we read the record of his days, we are amazed at the persistency of his self-imposed labours in the midst of uncertain fortunes : of him it may be truly said that he “linked month with month in long-drawn chain of knitted purport."
“I thank God," he said, after a toilsome and disappointing pilgrimage of fourscore years, "that I have been a man of aspirations.” But it is not as a man of aspirations alone that we honour him to-day, but as a man who laboured for us as few men have laboured; who, in all the chances and changes of his troubled life, was a unique and touching example of the Christian graces of faith, hope, and love, and who has bequeathed to us, as the solid fruit of his aspirations, the Great Didactica possession which the educational world, at least, “ will not willingly let die.”
NOTE.—There can be no doubt that Mulcaster (died 1611 ?) anticipated much of both Ratke and Comenius, but there is no
evidence that he was known to them. Mr Quick says in his Educational Biographies, “The latest advances in pedagogy have established : (1) That the end and aim of education is to develop the faculties of mind and body. (2) That all teaching processes should be carefully adapted to the mental constitution of the learner. (3) That the first stage of learning is of universal importance, and requires a very high degree of skill in the teacher. (4) That the brain of children, especially clever children, should not be subjected to pressure.
(5) That childhood should not be spent in learning foreign languages, but that its language should be the mothertongue, and its exercises should include handiwork, especially drawing. (6) That girls' education should be cared for no less than boys. (7) That the only hope of improving our schools lies in the training of teachers." These were all advocated by Mulcaster.