Popular Science Monthly/Volume 29/October 1886/Some Outlines from the History of Education II
|SOME OUTLINES FROM THE HISTORY OF EDUCATION.|
By W. R. BENEDICT,
PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY AND LOGIC IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI.
WE may define history as the narration of events in their causal relations. Nowhere does this definition find more instructive application than in the evolution of education. We see here, and with unmistakable plainness, the effect of distinctive contributions from the sides of our common nature. The stages in the history of education are natural growths; each movement in the unfolding was a necessity. Our present paper will consider many facts which, by themselves, would appear so unnatural, so out of relation to modern thought and feeling, that we could but gaze upon them in wonder. Not one of these manifestations, however, but is rooted in the inborn constitution of our fellows. To recognize this is to sympathize with the past—that is, to understand it, wherein also, and wherein alone, we realize the present. The history of education from the early Christian centuries throughout the middle-age period is the expression of a one-sided development starting from a misunderstood Christianity. The new religion was contra-natural, contra-earthly; its training was for heaven. Though some may claim that this teaching did not lie fairly in the authoritative records of the Church, there was much in these records to favor it, and much more still in the situation of the first Christians. Persecution would force attention from things temporal to things eternal. The present would be but a trial, a testing. This misinterpretation was laid upon the early Christians even as it seems to be laid upon many unfortunate souls to-day. Those for whom life is a ceaseless curse need such power as may well be said to come from on high to place the blame where it belongs, on broken law and wasted opportunity. The gospel of a heaven on earth, of a heaven in and by law, of a heaven in and by the present right life, is not even now fully come, though we give thanks for its presence here and there.
My former paper called attention to the following points: the early relations of Christian education with heathen education, the gradual extension of Christianity and the shaping of all instruction for a religious life, Arabian culture, the character of middle-age education as unnatural, contra-earthly. We shall now look directly at this middle-acre training. Where did the teachers of the middle ages teach? In the cloister schools, the cathedral schools, and the parochial schools. These parochial or common schools never amounted to much, because the masses of the people had little interest in knowledge. Still, at a comparatively early time the popes established the parochial schools by the side of the parish church. Charlemagne ordered that the children should be instructed in reading, singing, reckoning, some grammar and writing; and a council held at Mainz, before the middle of the ninth century, required that the children should be sent either to the cloister schools or to those of the parish, that they might learn the Creed and the Lord's Prayer in their own language. The cloister schools are classed as those of the Benedictines, Dominicans, and Franciscans. The first Benedictine monastery was founded at Monte Casino, in the kingdom of Naples, about 5-29, by St. Benedict himself. This order increased so wonderfully and became so powerful that it may be said to have been the chief means for the spread of learning throughout the West from the sixth to the twelfth century. At first the regulations of St. Benedict were for those only who had set themselves apart to the service of the Church. But, with the increase of the reputation of the order, it became necessary to provide instruction for those scholars who were not devoting themselves to the monkish life. In keeping with this demand, the cloister schools were established: there were also so called nunneries of this order, the first at Bischofsheim, in France, being widely celebrated. These cloister schools for girls did the work of elementary schools, and concerned themselves especially with household duties. The supreme importance of this Benedictine order ceased in the twelfth century. Then the Dominicans and Franciscans took up the work, and, though they did not accomplish so much as the other orders, their results were marked in providing better school-books. They taught mostly the Lord's Prayer, church melodies, and Latin.
A word as to the origin of the cathedral schools. While the Benedictine order was becoming powerful, the parochial schools suffered greatly from the ignorance and incapacity of the parish priests. This disturbed Chrodegang (Bishop of Metz, 742) so greatly that he took the priests who were connected with his own cathedral and bound them together in a cloister-like seclusion for the instruction of the youth according to the Benedictine rules. Their life was ordered by strictest regulations, their duties were accurately written down for them, and their chief instruction consisted of the Holy Scriptures and song. The life in these cathedral schools was a modified monkish life—the good work they did for education is justly said to be this, that they made it freer, bringing it out of the cloisters and more into general view.
What did the young people study in the middle-age schools? First and most essential was religion; after that, the following: grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic; music, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy. The first three of these were called the trivium (as suggested, probably, because in Rome it was customary to give elementary instruction in some public place where three or more roads came together). The four other studies were called the quadrivium. In North Africa the trivium and quadrivium came together for the first time and formed what was known as the seven liberal arts; seven, being a sacred number, gave great value to this circle of study. Any one making the least pretension to education must pass through the trivium; the quadrivium was for those who had finished the first course and desired further training.
We inquire as to the meaning of these seven studies of the middle ages:
Grammar.—This consisted of instruction in the Latin language. First, the scholar learned to pronounce, then he mastered the quantity of the syllables, the forms of the declensions and conjugations; then he took up some productions of the easier Latin writers; and, finally, went on to the more difficult prose authors and poets. After this, he learned accent, the number of feet in the verse, analogy, etymology, and foreign words. Then the Latin author was explained critically; every verse was taken to pieces and looked at grammatically, meterically, and historically. (They had rules for the position of the mouth in pronunciation.) Greek was, after some time, introduced into the Western schools and taught in the same general manner as the Latin. Hebrew was seldom an object of study. The modern languages were not taught.
Dialectic.—This represented philosophy in general. In the lower schools it was a mere collection of phrases. The boy learned the categories, the moods and figures of the syllogism and practiced definitions and disputations. There was a partial translation of Plato's "Timæus," which prevailed to the thirteenth century. In the higher schools, especially from the tenth to the twelfth century, religion was taught in connection with philosophy, and this latter study was in every way made to defend the faith.
Rhetoric.—This was taught, at first, according to Quintilian and Cicero; later the text-books of Capella and Bede took their place; in the tenth century Quintilian became again the leader. The rules of rhetoric were applied to sermon-writing, and the first treatise on this subject was composed about the year 1300.
Music.—This study received special attention. Ambrose of Milan originated the church songs, and Charlemagne summoned teachers of song from Rome, and laid great stress upon musical training. Instruction in this department was based upon the text-books of Boethius, and the notes were marked by the letters of the alphabet until Benedict of Pomposa and Guido of Arezzo (1030) introduced the system of lines. The marking of the notes according to their continuance and length was devised in the fourteenth century by Johns of Myris, while before this the higher and lower notes were expressed by ascending and lowering lines.
Arithmetic.—This was next to music in importance as an object of study. To express numbers the hands and feet were used. The left hand upon the breast signified 10,000 and both hands 100,000. In business and housekeeping accounts a reckoning-board was used. This was a table upon which upright parallel lines were cut, that represented values of units, tens, hundreds, etc. These lines were filled with stones to express numbers: thus, for 4,576 we should have on the first line at the right, six stones, then seven, and so on.
Geometry.—This was taught in the higher and lower schools after selections from Euclid. Lines, figures, and solids were defined, and chief examples of them given. There was generally associated with this study a kind of geography, and it is said that the cloister of St. Gallen had a map as early as the seventh century.
Astronomy.—This study, which had been pursued long before among the Greeks, and which was a principal concern with the Arabians, received no attention in the Western Church until Charlemagne had some correspondence with Rabanus respecting it. The schools used an Englishman's book, called the Book of the Spheres. As is well known, astronomy was very closely bound up with astrology, of which there was a professorship in the University of Bologna. In the lower schools all instruction in astronomy was confined to the reckoning of the Easter feasts and the Church calendar.
We have thus outlined the principal objects of pursuit during the middle ages. History had no place in the course of study. Jurisprudence, as it came from Rome, did receive, in some places, special attention from the priestly orders. At York it took the place of dialectic and was studied for the cultivation of the judgment. Physics and chemistry were pursued secretly, if at all, and the former degenerated into magic, the latter into alchemy.
Possibly this review of the middle-age studies may have obscured the leading idea with which we started, and by which the entire period is characterized—that is, the idea of religion.
The following words from a leader in middle-age education will show the grasp of the Church upon all the training of the time:
"Grammar discloses the art of explaining the old poets and writers; at the same time it gives ability to read and write without mistake. By grammar alone we understand the figures and unaccustomed modes of speech of the Sacred Scriptures and seize the true meaning of the divine words.
"Prosody, also, one should not neglect, because in the Psalms there are many kinds of verses; for this reason the fluent reading of heathen poets and frequent practice in poetry are not to be disregarded. But the old poets must first be very carefully purified, that nothing remain in them which has reference to love and love ceremonies, or to the heathen deities. Rhetoric, which gives the different classes and chief parts of speech, together with the accompanying rules, is important for such young persons only as have nothing more serious to attend to, and it must be learned only out of the holy fathers. Dialectic, on the other hand, is the queen of all the arts and sciences. In her dwells reason. Philosophy alone can furnish knowledge and wisdom; she alone declares what and whence we are, she alone teaches us our destination, through her alone we learn to know the good and the evil. How necessary she is for the priestly man, that he may contend with and overcome the unbeliever! Arithmetic is important because of the secrets which are contained in numbers, and Scripture requires arithmetic to be learned, in that the Holy Word speaks of numbers and measures. Geometry is necessary because, in Scripture, at the building of Noah's Ark and Solomon's Temple, circles of all kinds appear.
"Music and astronomy are necessary for divine service, which, without music, could not be conducted worthily and impressively, and without astronomy could not be held on set and appointed days."
We have now, in our outline, reached that period to which history gives the name Reformation. Up to this time, young men were studying their trivium and quadrivium in the cloister schools and cathedral schools. Scholastic philosophy had turned the activities of reason into unqualified support of the doctrines of religion. "New things seem now to take place upon the face of the earth. Copernicus discovers the sun-system, Columbus beholds another side of this great world, Magellan marks out the true form of the earth, Bacon applies his intellect to the formation of science." As we thus abruptly state these things, and as we consider their immense influence upon later history, it seems as though they came like new creations, suddenly thrust in upon the world's life, disconnected with all that preceded them, having no natural causes in the antecedent ages. It is the delightful task of history to present a development, to show the connections, be they ever so hidden, between the changing phenomena of human life. We may rest assured that not one among these startling events which make up the Reformation era is without its natural causes in the preceding times. Our task, however, is to follow education amid the changes that are taking place. Since religion was at the bottom of everything when the middle ages were closing, it follows, necessarily, that any radical reformation would appear first of all and most powerfully in religion. We know that the conflict which Luther brought to the daylight was a religious conflict, and we also realize that education could not be reached except through religion, as this was the supreme power controlling all the activities of men. Let us say, then, that the Church was divided into Catholic and Protestant. How was education affected by this division? Not so remarkably or beneficially as many would have expected. Luther, and those who worked with him, understood the power of education and wrote much upon the subject, yet they could not establish education rightly, and for a very plain reason. They needed help from the schools, they needed a training for their special teachings. The time was a time for self-defense. Therefore, after the Reformation had well set in, and after the reformers had established schools of all grades for their own children, we see no change in education except that it was made to support the Protestant religion in addition to the older faith. It was religion still with which education was vitally connected, and the reformers made no advance beyond the old scholastic system. When, therefore, we look at education after the Reformation was a fact, we find it still in the complete control of religion. We see two churches instead of one, and all the development or change that education could experience must be in the line of these church organizations.
In the Catholic Church education passed under the control of that wonderful order, the Jesuits. The Society of Jesus was a reformation within the Catholic Church, and the order exercised enormous influence. It reached directly into school and family, and made its teachings profoundly felt. These schools of the Jesuits taught, in addition to the ancient languages, mathematics, history, natural philosophy, and paid special attention to good conduct and bodily exercise. The instruction was conducted by most perfect mechanism, the memory was inordinately developed, and obedience absolute. This system served the Church; and no better scholars, according to this standard, could be found than those who came from the institutes of the Jesuits.
The first condition for education is freedom—a freedom limited by nothing except the individual conscience and the rights of our fellow-men. Therefore any educational system established solely for the benefit of a special party or creed can have value for those persons only who, of choice, belong to the party, and of choice accept the creed. We have seen that middle-age training was exclusively a contra-earthly training. We have seen, also, that education was not allowed the necessary freedom by the reformers. Their liberty of conscience, as all know, was but slavery compared with the later and fuller realization. Our present point of outlook is the wide-spread attention given to the subject of education. The thing to be done is to sever education from its constrained, unnatural relation to the Church. During the last years of Luther's life (1546), this work was commenced by the two Germans Trotzendorf and Sturm. Most noticeable here is the unconsciousness of these men as to the significance of their undertaking. John Sturm was born at Schleiden in 1507. In 1537 he came to Strasburg, organized the gymnasium here, and remained as its rector from 1538 to 1583. It is said that the schools established by Sturm and under the direction of his teachers numbered many thousand students, among them pupils from Portugal, Poland, and England.
The central thing in all right education was, according to Sturm, the Latin language. Unlike Melanchthon, he wished Latin to be studied for its own sake, not for the Church. "He would secure for the German youth the same culture which distinguished the youths of Greece and Rome." Education is passing from the control of the Church to the control of Greece and Rome. This exchange was an advantage, though it was by no means the liberty which maketh free indeed. For centuries boys were to study Greek and Latin nolens volens, up, down, and all around. Here is the origin, the natural origin, of that supremacy of the classics in education which, inevitable and serviceable for many years, seeks in vain to maintain itself forever. We shall appreciate Sturm's system best by looking at the plan of his schools, which, fortunately, has been preserved.
"For the first seven years the mother shall bring up the child. At the seventh year the boy is brought to school. The school-training lasts nine years. Then begins the freer method, such as hearing lectures and practicing disputations. Of the nine classes which the scholar must pass through in nine years, seven classes and seven years are set apart for the mastery of the extra pure Latin speech, two classes and two years to the acquisition of elegancies. Subsequently a tenth class was added; in this lowest class the basis was laid. Here the children learned the form and pronunciation of the letters, then reading, which can be better gained by Latin declensions and conjugations than by the catechism. In the ninth class the pupils were perfected in declension and conjugation, and grappled with the irregular verbs. At the same time a multitude of Latin words representing common objects were learned, and each pupil daily received a number of special words to be committed to memory. In the eighth class the first thing to be considered was that the boy forgot nothing of what he had learned in the preceding classes. Those who entered this class must be able to parse all leading words and adverbs. This they learned more through practice than in any scientific manner, as the Roman and Greek boys exercised themselves in speech before the grammar was given them. In this eighth class the separate declensions and conjugations were distinguished and marked by examples which the scholars could take from the words already learned. Then Cicero's letters were to be translated with sole reference to the grammar. Some practice in style appears for the first time during the last months of the year; there were oral exercises in the formation of new Latin phrases, and the transposition of those already assigned.
"The seventh class takes special care that nothing is forgotten; then Latin syntax is dealt with in simple rules—these rules are explained by Ciceronian examples. Each day Cicero's letters are read, for in this class they must read much in order to gain much. The themes for practice in style are selected from that which the pupil has learned in this or the preceding classes, thus making these themes a refreshment of the memory. The teacher must help his pupils orally and by writing on the blackboard. On Sunday the German catechism is translated into classical Latin.
"Since the preservation of what is learned is no less an art than learning anew, the sixth class must not forget anything. Longer letters of Cicero are now translated into German, and different letters are given to companies of ten. In like manner various poetical pieces are assigned to different pupils; the Andria of Terence and the first poetical volume are read. In connection with writing, the pupils are compelled to pay special attention to the minute development of their style. Saturday evenings and Sundays they continue translation of the catechism; some letters of Jerome are read, and Greek is commenced. From the fifth class onward the scholars are made acquainted with the less-known words and their objects. Metrical composition is studied, and in the later months of the year this is joined with some practical exercises. Then mythology is taken up; Cicero's Lælius and Virgil's Eclogues are read. In Greek the pupils learn to name the virtues and vices and habits of men; they write them down carefully in their dictionary. Style must be further developed, and at the same time something oratorical is read, which has been retranslated into Latin. Saturday evenings and Sundays the shorter letters of Paul are studied.
"In the fourth class the scholar hears as much as possible, interprets, memorizes, and recites, but nothing that goes beyond his power. Select letters and compositions from Horace are read, then everything learned in the preceding classes is repeated. Saturday evenings and Sundays the pupil himself gives simple paraphrased explanations of Paul's letters. In the third class they retain what has been learned and enlarge upon it. The ornaments of rhetoricians, such as tropes and figures, are explained and illustrated. In Greek the better orations of Demosthenes are read, then the first book of the Iliad, followed by exercises in style. Some parts of the Greek orations are translated into Latin, or the Latin into Greek. The odes of Pindar and Horace are set to ether metre; many poems are made and many letters written. The comedies of Plautus and Terence are brought out, and the boys compete with the higher classes. In the second class the boys are obliged to interpret Latin and Greek orators literally, so that the teacher simply calls attention to the relation of the oratorical and political usage, and requires the pupils to enter in their day-books all remarkable portions of the author. The same thing is done with the Latin writers, and these are compared with the Greek. Dialectic, the instrument of the truth, is now put into the pupil's hands; at first only the critical part, later the figurative, then rhetoric, which must always be at the side of the scholar. The Olynthiac and Philippic orations of Demosthenes are read in their bearing upon rhetoric, and the pupils are allowed to make their own selections. There are daily style exercises, and with them some short declamations which are written down by the scholars and then learned verbatim. On Sunday the Epistle to the Romans is read and learned, and repeated verbatim by all. The first class continues rhetoric and dialectic. The citation of dialectic and rhetorical rules must be proved out of Demosthenes and Cicero. Homer and Virgil are read further, and Thucydides is translated into writing; no week passes without providing some plays. The Epistles of Paul are explained by the pupils, and selected portions are enlarged upon according to rhetorical rules."
These schools of Sturm contained no history, no geography, no natural history, no physics, no elementary instruction in the German language. Arithmetic was taught only in the second class; some few sentences from the first book of Euclid and the elements of astronomy were learned in the first class. The motto was Ciceronian Latin. The problem was to turn a boy into an automatic Latin machine, capable of clicking out Ciceronian sentences. Education approximated ideal perfection in proportion as it reproduced the Latin speech. Sturm, doing education great service, did it also serious harm. Ciceronian Latin— this was the phrase that, like a curse, blighted the harmonious development of thousands of youth; the phrase that has carried over into our times such excessive zeal for the classics as has materially assisted to produce the present reaction. In saying this, we pronounce no opinion for or against the continuance of classical training in the college course of study. What may be said on that subject in these papers will appear elsewhere; our present purpose is to show historically the natural, necessary origin of that supremacy of Greek and Latin which many would maintain at all hazard.
The reformers did a great work, both directly and indirectly, for education. They failed to the extent that their idea of man was faulty. They did not understand the liberty which they proclaimed, yet they caused to be brought to light a most important problem, viz., the separation of religion, as dogma, from education—a separation which must take place before there can be any true union. Here was the indirect influence of the Reformation; its direct bearing upon education is found in the fact that this subject now became special matter for thought and endeavor. The Jesuits and the Lutherans systematized education as thoroughly as could be done in the interests of a dogmatic theology. We have seen the beginnings of the reaction. The schools of Sturm taught Latin and Greek for Latin and Greek's sake—not for Church or party. Here was the first step, right, indeed, for its time; a most serious misstep, however, for the remote future. A way had been opened for thought; and where thought begins there will be change; where thought continues there will be progress. Now men are directly at work to improve the methods of education. We have reached the time of individual and conscious effort.
We are concerned rather with general movements than with men, and for this reason shall refer to leading educators only so far as may be necessary to illustrate the evolution of our subject. Wolfgang Ratich was born at Wilster, in Holstein, October 18, 1571. In Holland he determined to appear as a reformer of the entire method of teaching the languages. His estimation of himself and what he could accomplish was altogether incredible: "I will give to my Fatherland and to all Christendom a remarkable service, and I will bestow upon them a most inexpressible advantage. Inside of eight or ten days I will disclose, in a strictly confidential manner, my method of languages. I will make known what amount in every language can be scientifically taught, learned, and spread abroad in one half year, as well by the old as the young, as well by women as children; and this, too, completely not piece-wise." Ratich was, as these words show, very much of a charlatan; still, he gained the attention of many influential men—among them Prince Ludwig and the Duke of Saxe-Weimar—and extraordinary efforts were made to reform the schools and methods of instruction. We need not dwell upon the miserable failure of this undertaking, as far as respects any established instruction. The school, which was opened June 21, 1619, received the censure of the school inspectors on July 28th of the same year, and in October the reformer was cast into prison. Among the ideas generally accredited to Ratich as his own, the following are significant: "Education is a common, thorough-going work, and no one is to be shut out from it; every one must, at least, be capable of reading and writing. The young may be instructed in only one language or study at the same time; before this has been learned, they may not take up another. Everything must proceed according to the order of Nature, who, in all her arrangements, is wont to advance from the simpler and lower to the larger and higher. All subjects must be proceeded with in a twofold manner: first, they must be seized in outline or abbreviation; afterward, they should be comprehended and taught with more complete instruction." This brief account of Ratich furnishes clear evidence that attention was now given to education in remarkable degree. It shows the presence of new and true principles in the educational question, as witness the last quotations. Further, this account strikingly confirms our statements in the first paper, where the distinction was drawn between a scientific treatment of education and an enunciation of educational principles.
We now, and for the first time, meet an avowed attempt to treat education philosophically—that is, to apply ideas concerning man's nature to his education. This attempt was made by, born at Comnia, in Moravia, 1592. Comenius was every way great-minded, and had it thoroughly in him to teach. All philosophy has been and will continue to be distinguished by two fundamentally opposed methods. For our present purpose, we may characterize these methods by the terms intuitive and experimental. According to the first method, man, in his spiritual nature, contains the truth—is the truth. The idea, the reason, is alone permanent and real. According to the second method, man is dependent on an external world for the origin, continuance, and verification of all his knowledge. As related through the senses to nature, man is capable of reasoning and of correcting his conclusions. He brings no knowledge with him into the world. He is a power, or series of powers, to be awakened through the senses. It was the mission of Comenius to apply this inductive, experimental method to education.
For him, therefore, there was but one procedure in education, viz., development of the natural capacities. Education was an unfolding, not of original knowledge but of original powers, and this by such means as the senses furnished. A moment's reflection shows that his method directly antagonizes middle-age, Lutheran, and Calvinistic orthodoxy. The point of antagonism is the doctrine of man's condition as produced by the fall. Original sin had made man through and through bad, good for—nothing; how, then, could any educational system which proceeded upon no other plan than the development of man's capacities be other than false, disastrous, condemnable? Comenius saw clearly this opposition between his fundamental principle and orthodoxy, and endeavored to meet the difficulty by saying that man's fall did not utterly destroy his original powers, but weakened them, leaving it possible to secure a beneficial development. This reconciliation was no reconciliation, and the fault lay in the nature of the case, not in Comenius; all adjustment between these opposing views is impossible.
The words of Comenius, respecting the education of woman, are of special significance, and this alike from their time and their character. He said: "There is no reason why woman should be excluded from culture, either from that which comes through the Latin language or through the native tongue. Women also are images of the Godhead, and possess spiritual receptivity and capacity for training, often more than we—they too are often summoned to great work. Why should we let them come to the alphabet and then cast them away from books? Do we fear superficiality? But, the more thoughts a person gains, the less room is there for superficiality which always comes from spiritual emptiness." When we ask how Comenius dealt with education, we are to remember that he proceeded according to a philosophy of the matter. He had something to say about man before giving rules for his training. He consciously adopted that principle which we have affirmed to be essential, viz., that the idea man has of himself must determine his education. Comenius had an idea of man, and made it the guiding principle in his system. Man, so he maintained, lives a threefold life, a vegetative, an animal, and a rational or spiritual life. He has a threefold home—the mother, the earth, the heaven. By birth he enters his second home, by death and resurrection his third and eternal home. In the first we receive simply life with its movements and senses, in the second we gain life and the senses with rationality, in the third we reach the fulfillment of all things. That first life is a preparation for the second, the second a preparation for the third, the third is without end. Compare this understanding of man with the middle-age teaching. Here man is incarcerated in a body and dungeoned on the earth; for Comenius, man is provided with an organism and placed at school for the unfolding of his nature in an endless progress. According to the one view, man is to cast away his body as a thing accursed; according to the other, he is to use it as an instrument unto life.
Careful study of the writings of Comenius can not fail to impress one with the naturalness, that is, the truth of his method. From beginning to end his thought is an attempt to follow Nature, and this not after the impossible manner of Rousseau's "Émile," but by a patient scrutiny of natural processes everywhere appearing. Man is one with Nature, and, as so, Nature will show him how to educate himself—not, will educate him—a distinction that requires full emphasis. In illustration of what has here been said, I translate a few passages from the works of Comenius:
"The order of instruction must be learned from Nature. Hence it follows that education has, first of all, to set forth and keep firm hold of the fundamental principles for the preservation of life, that the necessary time may be given to a course of instruction. We must guard the body from disease and deadly accident, because it is the only temporal residence of the soul, and because it is the instrument of the rational spirit. (Italics are the present writer's.)
"Nature waits, in all her undertakings, for the suitable time. So must we seize the right time for the discipline of the mind, and must carry out this discipline progressively. Training should begin in childhood, the spring-time of life; it should be prosecuted in the morning hours, the spring-time of the day; and that only should be learned which is adapted to the capacity of apprehension." This simple sentence, had it been able to prevail from the time at which it was written, would have prevented the blank horror on many a youthful countenance as it faced the statement that "a noun and participle are put into the ablative called absolute to denote the time, cause, manner, means, the concomitant of an action, or the condition on which it depends."
To return to Comenius: "Nature first prepares the material, then gives it a form. The architect follows the same principle: he brings together all that is necessary for the building, and then works his material. Corresponding to this, we must have at hand in the schools all needful books and every appliance. We must cultivate the understanding before the languages. We must teach no language from grammar but from its writers, and we must allow the experimental sciences to precede the organic.
"Nature begins every one of her works from within. The bird proceeds from within outward. The tree draws its nourishment through the pores of the inner part; it grows from within. Likewise in education this requirement stands fast: first help to gain an insight into the things, then cultivate the memory.
"Nature begins all her works with the most universal and ends with the particular. When she builds a bird, she draws through the warmed mass a film, that an outline of the entire bird may arise. Then and for the first time she shapes each particular portion. The architect imitates this method. First he makes the tracing, then lays the foundation. The painter does the same. He does not at first paint a complete ear, but makes an outline of the countenance and then paints it in. Accordingly, the youth who give themselves to study must, in the very first part of their training, lay the groundwork of a universal culture. The objects of pursuit must be so ordered that the later studies will not appear to bring anything new, but simply the development of that which has been given into its distinguishing features. Every language, science, and art, must begin with the most simple rudiments, in order that the idea of the whole may arise; then follow the rules.
"Nature makes no leap, but advances step by step. The bird first tries her wings on the nest, after that from branch to branch, later from tree to tree, at last freely through the air. Corresponding to this the studies must be brought into an order, that the earlier may serve as introductions to the later, may mark out a pathway. The one who is to be instructed must see himself learn. Therefore everything should be conducted according to its immovable principles. Nothing should be taught on simple authority; everything must be subjected to the test of the senses and the proof of reason. It is a golden rule of life—represent everything to the senses; that which can be seen to the sight, that which can be heard to the hearing, and that which can be felt to the touch. The beginning of knowledge necessarily proceeds from the senses. The truth and certainty of knowledge depend upon the testimony of the senses. Eye-sight stands for proof."
Any reflection upon these words of Comenius makes it clear that his system proceeds from a sound view of human nature and of the task of education. The philosophical ideas originated elsewhere, as in England and France, were applied by Comenius to education. He did this work in no servile way, but fearlessly and well.
It is possible that we are in danger of drawing wrong conclusions with respect to the amount and extent of improvement thus far actually effected in education. Considering only the true principles set forth by the reformers Ratich and Comenius, and remembering also how frequently these men were summoned to amend the school systems, we might naturally conclude that the work was done; we might believe that education had been rescued from its paralysis in the Church and its mechanism under Sturm. Nothing, however, could be more wide of the mark than such a conclusion. The law of progress is here a little and there a little. Though Sturm and Ratich and Comenius and Bacon and Montaigne and Locke had spoken and spoken truth, the truth prevailed not; could not prevail until there was added to its simple articulation in language the irresistible force of events; until scientific discovery, pervading and bettering society, made men heed the manner and course of Nature.
We need to hold clearly in mind the exact work to be done. It was to secure for man as man a freedom for development limited by nothing save an enlightened conscience and the rights of his fellows. Representative men had begun this work. The masses of the people, however, went on their way as of old, and another unlooked-for step was to be taken before the right path appeared.