Friday, June 5, 2009

Preparing for School, Attitude--Comenius

Comenius was a leading pedagogue in Europe during the 1600s. Dubbed the "teacher of the nations," Comenius is considered the father of modern education (at least any good that he would claim) and promoted universal education (not to be confused with compulsory education). This two part series includes thoughtful ideas for preparing young children (around age six to seven) for any godly schooling. Part two includes dedication and prayer.

School of Infancy

Chapter XII.

How parents ought to prepare their children for school.

"Parents, therefore, ought not to hand over their children inconsiderately for instruction in the schools, but they themselves seriously reflect what is suitable to be done in this matter...

"2. Parents act imprudently, who, with no preparation, lead their children to schools as calves to market, or flocks to the herd. Afterwards the schoolmaster becomes harassed with them, and will punish them as he thinks fit...parents or domestics incautiously declaim in the presence of children respecting scholastic punishments and the severity of preceptors, and that they will no longer be allowed to play, and the like, by saying, "I will send you to school," "you shall be made gentle," "they will beat you with rods," "only wait a little," etc. By this means occasion is supplied them not for gentleness, but for greater ferocity, despair, and slavish fear towards parents and preceptors."

"3. Therefore prudent and pious parents, tutors and guardians, should act in this matter as follows: First, as the time for sending children to school draws near, they should endeavour to inspire them with pleasure...Their father or mother may also promise them a very beautiful dress, an elegant cap, a polished tablet, a book, and the like ; or they may occasionally shew those things which they have ready for them. They ought not, however, to give them until the proper time, but only promise that they will give them, so as to increase their desire more and more; saying to them, such words as these: " Come, my dear child, pray diligently that the time may soon come; be pious and obedient, etc."

"4. It will also be beneficial to tell them how excellent a thing it is to frequent schools and acquire learning, for such become great men,Provosts,Doctors, Preachers of the Divine word, Senators, &c.; all of them excellent men, celebrated, rich, and wise, whom the rest of mankind are necessarily bound to honour; likewise, that it is better and more becoming to attend school than to drone away in idleness at home, or run about the streets, or learn any grovelling habits, &c.; moreover, that learning is not labour, but that amusement with books and a pen, is sweeter than honey, and that of this amusement children may have a foretaste."

"5. Parents, moreover, should endeavour to incite in their children confidence and love towards their future preceptor, and this may be done in various ways; for instance, making mention of him as amiable, calling him father's friend, mother's friend, or good neighbour; and generally praising up his learning, wisdom, kindness, and benignity: that he is a distinguished man, knows many things, and yet is kind to children and loves them; and though it be true, that some are punished by him, yet that these are only such as are disobedient and wicked, and deserve to be punished by everybody ; but that he never chastises obedient children; besides which that he shews children every thing, how to write, how to say by heart, etc...the father or mother should send occasionally some little present to the schoolmaster by the child, either alone or with a servant, when the preceptor, if he is mindful of his duty, will speak kindly to the child, shewing him something he may not have seen before..."


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