John Comenius was a Moravian teacher, educator, bishop, and writer in the seventeenth century. He is considered the father of modern education because he advocated universal education in his book The Great Didactic (Laurie, 36). Comenius authored over forty works, and he introduced pictorial textbooks, gradual learning of comprehensive concepts, equal opportunities for poor children and women, and practical, universal education.
Comenius revolutionized education in three ways: school systems, educational theories, and educational methods. First, Comenius outlined the school system prominently used in America today: kindergarten, elementary school, secondary school, college, and university. Secondly, he created a general theory of education around the idea of education according to nature whereby children learned at a natural pace from simple concepts to challenging theories (Schwarz & Martin, 46). Thirdly, he wrote a series of textbooks on educational methods and teaching subject matter. His work included applications for and illustrations of how to teach children. He wanted children to learn in their native language with hands-on activities (Schwarz & Martin, 49).
Comenius is rightly called the father of modern education because of the wealth of reforms he advocated for public education. One educator remarked that even Christians should appreciate Comenius’ contributions, “especially his desire to make educational experiences developmental, holistic, experiential, natural, and enjoyable and his commitment to opening up these educational experiences to everyone” (Schwarz & Martin, 56). However, another critic stated that Comenius falsely believed that “men could be manufactured” by social regeneration in the schools (Laurie, 216). People still debate the question of applying Comenius’ ideas to modern schools.
Comenius has some exceptional ideas that have been implemented by modern education. Children should learn on a gradual level based on what they can comprehend and remember. Education should be taught in the primary language if possible, which is a leading argument for multiculturalism in America today. Comenius’ theories are interrelated with Christian education since he was a Christian educator himself, but he still advocated for a “public” Christian education. This raises the issue of open-enrollment versus closed-enrollment, a topic of much debate among Christians today.
– Amelia Lloyd-Jones
Laurie, S. (1972). John Amos Comenius: bishop of the Moravians. New York, NY: Burt Franklin Reprints.
Schwarz, G., & Martin, J. (2012). Comenius: dead white guy for twenty-first century education. Christian Scholar’s Review, 42(1), 43-56.