Clearly the culture wars, whose early volleys ripped through the heated air of Tennessee summer during the infamous 1925 Scopes Trial, continue to bombard us in this 21st-century summer.
The Texas school board is rewriting American history, and the hackles, ire, and bile of journalists are rising to the occasion. Even rumors of corporate malfeasance on the part of BP haven’t elicited the sort of apocalyptic rhetoric you’ll find in the second of the two recent responses to “the Texas schoolbook massacre” here and here.
Are the critics overreaching themselves, or are we really experiencing the Armageddon of Reason?
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
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