« PreviousContinue »
FERDINAND KINDERMANN, whose great services to popular education from 1771 to 1801, in Bohemia, were recognized by the Empress Theresa in conferring on him the title of Von Schulstein (school stone), and nominating him, in 1779, Bishop of Leitmeritz, was born in 1740 at Koenigswalde, near Schluckenau, and educated at the University of Prague. While a student he heard lectures on the Art of Education by Prof. Seibt, which so impressed him that when he became pastor of a church at Kaplitz, in South Bohemia, he included the education of youth and the improvement of schools in his clerical duties; and there was no more pressing demand on the paternal care of the church and the government throughout the whole of this province, which had been swept by ravages of the Thirty Years' War, and rent by relentless religious dissensions and persecutions. At the close of the Seven Years' War it was estimated that not one in twenty of the children in Bohemia were in school of any kind, or were in villages where the facilities of school organization existed. The condition of the schools was deplorable. Kindermann, in speaking of the schools of his parish at Kaplitz, in 1771, writes : The children, big and little, old and young, were assembled in the schoolroom—without regulation--passing in and out without reference to the wishes of the teacher-some eating their bread, and others complaining that they had none--a few reciting, some learning their lessons, and all doing in their own way what each thought best—the schoolmaster incapable of stopping the hubbub, and creating order out of the confusion. The methods of instruction were purely mechanicalconfined to the repetition of words without meaning for the intellect, or emotion for the heart. The whole of the religious instruction was the literal repetition of the answers dictated to the questions of the Catechism.'
To fit himself for his work of school reform, Kindermann resorted to Sagan, and put himself under the training of Felbiger; and on his return, he writes my first day was spent in the parish school, and the second with the teacher and class of pupils in my own room, instructing now the teacher how to teach, and then the scholars how to learn a lesson in the Catechism.' Within a month the pupils learned the whole Catechism understandingly, which formerly occupied the whole year, without any thorough understanding of the words committed to memory. His work prospered, and the school soon became the teachers and the pupils delight, and the admiration of parents and the community. Its fame went abroad into the other villages, and his methods were followed by other teachers, till it became a normal school, under his direction and that of his curate, Simon Kudler, in whose heart he had kindled a similar zeal. In his whole movement he was guided by great discretion and unostentatious industry—avoiding all promises and all display, in which he differed from Felbiger, who was more demonstrative and exacting-making much of outward organization, mechanical methods and illustrations, and frequent exhibitions of results. While Kindermann pushed his improved methods into every study, he carefully drew attention only to his penmanship, which people generally could appreciate, and to the vocal music, which parents were delighted to have their children excel in. His better methods in every study gradually became the habits not only of his own village schools, but of a wide circle of schools whose teachers resorted to Kaplitz for information and training.
When Maria Theresa, in 1774, had decided on a general reorganization of the popular schools, and called Felbiger as director to the central Normal Institute for Teachers in Vienna, she placed Kindermann at the head of a School Commission for Bohemia, and Professor of Pedagogy in the Gymnasium of Minor Prague; subsequently he was made director of the training course in the Real School at Prague, founded by Amand Schindler, in 1776. Kindermann opened his course by an oration on the influence of the Lower Schools on Public Life and Education generally. In a circular entitled Incentives to the Public Examinations of the Scholars in the Imperial Normal School of Little Prague,' he gave publicity to the school ordinances of Maria Theresa, and included an account of all the important improvements introduced into different parts of Bohemia, drawn from the reports of district inspectors, school directors, and official examiners.
As early as 1777 Kindermann had sent out five hundred teachers trained in his new methods, into as many schools, situated in cities, on the domains of the nobility, and in connection with religious establishments—each of which became a model for the schools of a still wider section, and the center of direct influence on the people.
One peculiarity of the training system of Kindermann was the
organic anion of mental activity and the industrial element in both the vormal and the popular school. Not only were teachers familiarized with practical subjects and with methods which dealt with realities instead of words, and called for the frequent use of the blackboard and visible illustrations, but they were trained to some handicraft with the special object of communicating the same to the children of peasants, whose habits of industry had been broken up by continuous military service, and the destruction of harvests by moving troops and armies. The value of habits of diligence, perseverance, neatness and thrift was constantly inculcated and demonstrated practically. Pupil teachers were taught at Kaplitz and Prague how to occupy a portion of their own time, and that of their older pupils, in and out of school hours in such in-door industries as knitting, sewing, wool-carding and spinning, and out-door work as kitchen gardening, tree culture, and raising silk-worms. And the reasons assigned by Kindermann for this now curriculum was to protect society against beggary, vice, and crime, and promote the welfare of the peasant class.
That his efforts in this direction were followed by the happiest results, the increased prosperity of the peasant classes in Bohemia, and the speedy adoption, in some form, of the industrial feature of his plan in other states is ample proof.
The further history of his work is absorbed in the general history of educational reform in the Austrian Empire. He lived a quiet though active life, preferring to work unostentatiously in smaller circles than to win fame as a great reformer—and his published works, besides those already named, are · Report on the School at Kaplitz,' Thoughts on the means of disseminating the Religious Instruction of the Improved Common Schools among Adults, with two prize themes : One for an instructive text-book for the people, and one for a condensed Explanation of Religious Customs and Ceremonies.'
The honors bestowed upon him by his sovereign show the estimation in which bis services were held, and at the same time prove the spirit with which Maria Theresa undertook the work of reform. Shortly after his removal from Kaplitz to Prague, he was made Dean of the Collegiate Church of All Saints and given the Abbey of Petur, in Hungary, in commendam, and at the same time raised to the Equestrian rank with the title of Von Schulstein. In 1779 he was made Provost of the Church of Maria Schein, near Teplitz, and nominated Bishop of Leitmeritz, which dignity he held at the time of his death in 1801.
GERARD VAN SWEITEN. In the reforms in the Austrian High School, inaugurated by Maria Theresa, Gerard Van Sweiten took an active part. This eminent physician was born in Leyden in 1700, and after pursuing his preliminary studies at Louvain, he returned to his native city. Here it was his good fortune to attract the attention of Boerhaave, who became his friend and patron. His love of study was unbounded, and his application so great as to threaten his health, until the good counsels of his distinguished teacher restrained his ardor. Besides a profound and systematic study of his own profession, he found time to push his acquirements in other fields, and when he attained his doctor's degree at the age of twenty-five, he was regarded as one of the savans of Europe. He began a course of lectures at the University of Leyden which were attended by unprecedented numbers. His success, however, did not fail to excite jealousy; and after a time bis enemies made the fact of his being a Catholic a pretext for his removal. He devoted himself at once to his ‘Commentaries on the Aphorisms of Boerhaave,' the chief literary work by which he is known, until the Empress Maria Theresa invited him to Vienna, where, in 1745, he became first physician to the Empress, and a baron of the empire.
He immediately distinguished himself by his activity in his new field. He reformed the study of medicine at the University, and lectured himself until new and more important duties forced him to desist, but not until he had seen his place worthily filled. It was at his instigation that the clinical school was established which was the model of the now famous schools in France and the north of Germany, and it was also owing to him that the Empress rebuilt the University. He was also Imperial Librarian and DirectorGeneral of Medical Affairs in Austria, and in 1760 became a member of the State Board of Studies, in which he was associated with Migazzi, Archbishop of Vienna.
As Imperial Librarian he was instrumental in making the library accessible to every one.
A senseless rule had been inforced which forbade any one from making notes of what they read there. He not only abolished this, but offered every facility to those who wished to avail themselves of the great treasures contained in the library by arranging and cataloguing its contents.
As a member of the Board of Studies, he was influential in introducing into the University lectures on experimental physics, and in developing realistic studies, especially those which related to agriculture and commerce in special schools at Prague and Vienna.
Thomas JEFFERSON, who began and closed his public life with efforts to improve the system and institutions of education of his native State, and who wished to be remembered by posterity as the Father of the University of Virginia, was born April 2, 1743, at Shadwell, in Goochland (after 1744 Albemarle) County, not far from the conical elevation which afterward became his own residence under the name of Monticello (Little Mountain). His ancestors on the father's side were Welsh, emigrating among the first settlers of Virginia from the neighborhood of Snowdon, and on his mother's side, from the Scotch family of the Randolphs. His parents belonged to the middle class of Virginia families—the father being a resolute man, of gigantic stature, but of limited education, who, by force of character, was the foremost man in his district, and whose rule of life was, “Never ask another to do for you what you can do for yourself.' He died at the age of fifty, having done what his means and the situation of the country enabled him to do to start his children on a higher plane of education than he had traveled; and for his son Thomas his dying directions were, that he should receive a thorough classical training. This son, when five years old, had been placed at the English school at Tuckahoe, where the father resided at the time; and on the return of the family to Shadwell, he went to the school of Mr. Douglas, a Scotch clergyman, who taught him the rudiments of Latin, Greek, and French. On the death of his father, at the age of nine years, he was removed to the family school of the Rev. James Maury, at the base of Peter's Mountain, fourteen miles from Shadwell. In his rambles over the mountain, with his dog and gun, and under the genial, encouraging instruction of an elegant classical scholar and zealous teacher,f the young student spent two or three years in the rapid and vigorous development of his mind and body.
In 1760, in his seventeenth year, Jefferson entered the junior
• We shall follow, in this brief sketch, the early chapters of Randall's exhaustive Life in 3 vols. See Barnard's Educational Biography. Vol. I. James Muury. Edition, 1876.