From the Archives: The Great Didactic
Comenius’s masterwork on education set forth his method for setting up schools and detailed how they should be run. In this chapter he begins to present one theory of instruction based on nature, after showing what’s wrong with the education of his day. We include here his third, sixth and seventh principles.
“Let the main object of this, our Didactic, be as follows: to seek and to find a method of instruction, by wich teachers may teach less, but learners may learn more; by which schools may be the scene of less noise, aversion, and useless labour, but of more leisure, enjoyment, and solid progress; and through which the Christian community may have less darkness, perplexity, and dissention, but on the other hand more light, orderliness, peace, and rest.”* [* from The Great Didactic, Chapter 3 “This Life Is but a Prepartion for Eternity”]
The Principles of Conciseness and Rapidity in Teaching
21. Nature develops everything from beginnings, which, though insignificant in appearance, possess great potential strength.
For instance, the matter out of which a bird is to be formed consists of a few drops, which are contained in a shell, that they may be easily warmed and hatched. But these few drops contain the whole bird potentially, since, later on, the body of the chicken is formed from the vital principle which is concentrated in them.
22. Imitation.—In the same way a tree, no matter how large it may be, is potentially contained in the kernel of its fruit or in the shoot at the end of one of its branches. If one or the other of these be placed in the earth, a whole tree will be produced by the inner force that it contains.
23. Terrible Deviation.—In direct opposition to this Principle a terrible mistake ...