Tag Archives: Comenius

Comenius post #3

Here’s one more take on Comenius, posted as a newsletter on ct.com:

Christian History Corner: A Protestant Bishop Speaks Out on the Stakes of Public Education
Why concerned parents should read the 17th-century Moravian educational reformer Jan Amos Comenius.
By Chris Armstrong | posted 08/30/2002

This summer, dissatisfaction over America’s education system has been in the news. James Dobson has repeated his public appeal to parents to pull their kids out of public school, and the idea of vouchers has continued to run its political and legislative gauntlets. No one has expressed the stakes involved in schooling our kids more vividly than Jan Amos Comenius, a 17th-century Protestant bishop and the man universally recognized as the “Father of Modern Education.”

Comenius, a member of the persecuted Unity of the Brethren—precursor of the Moravian church—saw the schools of his day as “slaughterhouses of the mind,” places made dull by rote memorization and frightening by draconian discipline.

But he didn’t just talk. He did something. Even as he and his Protestant sect ran for their lives—exiled from their homeland as a result of the Thirty Years War—he launched his lifelong efforts at educational reform. Continue reading

Comenius post #2

In today’s public-school classrooms, boys and girls learn together with others of their age and ability. They are given pictures and hands-on materials to connect abstract concepts with the observable world around them. Their teachers address them as whole people–not just brains for the memorization and regurgitation of facts.

But elementary education did not always look like this. Schoolchildren of today, though they do not know it, owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Jan Amos Comenius (1592-1670), a Moravian bishop often called “the Father of Modern Education.”

A brilliant young man whose own experience of elementary schooling was anything but happy, Comenius called the schools his age had inherited from the medieval period “slaughterhouses of the mind.” He was appalled by their oppressive strictness, their stress on abstract concepts unrooted in sense or experience, and their indifference to the moral and spiritual development of their young charges. And he set out to do something about it. Continue reading

Educators and friends of children’s education, take note! Did you know the father of modern education was also an evangelical leader?

Feels like time for a couple of John Amos Comenius (Jan Komensky) posts today. It’s amazing that Protestants don’t know about this guy. He was quite literally the father of modern education. And he was the leader of a small pietistic church in the lineage of pre-Protestant reformer Jan Hus. He was all about heart religion . . . AND liberal education. First I’ll post my entry on Comenius for the forthcoming Zondervan Dictionary of Spirituality. Then a brief newsletter from my days at Christian History & Biography, which will give you a bit more of the flavor of the man.

Comenius, John Amos (1592 – 1670). Pietistic educational reformer. He is known today as “the father of modern education.” He was an educator, writer, ecumenist, and from 1632 to the end of his life, bishop of an old pietistic evangelical communion called the Unitas Fratrum or “Unity of the Brethren,” with roots among the followers of Jan Hus. He lived through the religious strife of the Thirty Years War (1618 – 1648), in which some members of his Brethren church (forebears of today’s Moravian Church) were slaughtered and the rest exiled from their homelands of Bohemia and Moravia. His allegory The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart, treasured as a jewel of Czech culture, tells of a young pilgrim traveling through the world, seeking truth. He discovers the sinfulness shot through every vocation (his portrayal of the academic world is particularly incisive) and every walk of life (evangelicals will squirm at his negative portrayal of family life). Near despair, the pilgrim finally discovers the “paradise” of heart-devotion to Jesus Christ in the company of the redeemed—portrayed as a small, ragged remnant. Comenius dedicated his life to ecumenical brotherhood and international peace. To those ends he pioneered a truly liberal mode of public schooling grounded in Baconian empiricism and biblical morality, aided by the innovation of illustrated textbooks, and accessible equally to boys and girls (a radical idea at the time). An Enlightenment man, Comenius worked throughout his life on a Christian “pansophy”—that is, an encyclopedic summary of all knowledge. His vision of an international “College of Light” helped inspire the founding of the British Royal Society.

Scot McKnight Comenius discussion and Great Didactic link

Over at his popular Jesus Creed blog, Scot McKnight has been leading a chapter-by-chapter discussion on my Patron Saints for Postmoderns. Thanks Scot!

Today’s chapter for discussion is the one on the “father of modern education,” Moravian bishop John Amos Comenius. A commenter posted a link to Comenius’s Great Didactic, which I didn’t know was online in full-text form. Sweet! You can access it here.