Page images
PDF
EPUB

VIII. VALENTINE FRIEDLAND TROTZENDORF.

[Translated for the American Journal of Education, from the German of Karl von Raumer.]

VALENTINE TROTZENDORF was the son of a farmer, Bernard Friedland by name, who lived in the village of Trotzendorf, near Gorlitz. He assumed the surname Trotzendorf, in remembrance of the place of his birth.

Born in 1490, he was seven years younger than Luther, and seven older than Melancthon. The monks induced his father to send him in 1506 to the school at Gorlitz; but he soon took him away, to help him at his work in the field. His mother, who greatly desired to see him a priest or a monk, persuaded the village pastor to instruct him in writing and reading. And after two years' time be went back to the Gorlitz school. At his departure, his mother exhorted him to be true to the duties of the school; and in after life he considered himself bound by this exhortation, as if it were his mother's vow, to assume the office of teacher.

When in 1513 Trotzendorf's father died of the plague, he sold his paternal inheritance and moved to Leipzic, where, during two years he perfected himself in Latin under Peter Mosellanus, and learned Greek from Richard Crocus. In 1516 he became a teacher in the Gorlitz school; here his fellow teachers as well as the scholars learned from him, and even the Rector took lessons in Greek from him.

Luther's appearance induced him, in 1518 to surrender his post as teacher, and to go to Wittenburg, where he remained for five years. Here he took lessons in Hebrew from a converted Jew, named Adrian. And he here formed a most intimate acquaintance with Melancthon, for whom throughout his life he continued to testify the greatest respect.

In the year 1523, Helmrich, a university friend of Trotzendorf's, was chosen Rector of the Goldberg school, and through his influence Trotzendorf was invited to become his colleague. And when in the following year, Helmrich obtained another post, Trotzendorf was made Rector in his stead. Affairs of church--the reformatory discussion of Dr. J. Hess at Breslau, in which Trotzendorf took an active part, and Schwenkfeld's evil influence in Liegnitz, against which he made a vigorous defense-would appear at that time to have stood in the way of an active prosecution of his legitimate calling.

In the year 1527 he was called to Liegnitz to a Professorship in a new university, which institution was then rather an unformed project than a perfect organization ; but he left the place in 1529 and returned to Wittenburg. And now in a short time the Goldberg school was completely broken up; but at the pressing solicitation of Helmrich, who had risen to be Mayor of Goldberg, Trotzendorf, in 1531, resumed the post of Rector threre, which office he filled with honor and dignity for five and twenty years. His school soon acquired, an extraordinary renown. Scholars poured in upon him, not merely from Silesia, but from Austria, Styria, Carinthia, Hungary and Poland : to have had him for a teacher, was the best of recommendations.

Trotzendorf adopted quite a peculiar organization. His school was divided into six classes, and each class into tribes. The scholars too, he associated in the government with himself, by appointing some to be Oeconomi, others Ephori, and others again, Quaestors. The Oeconomi were to oversee the household arrangements, as, for example, that all should rise in the morning or retire at night at the set time, that the rooms, clothes, etc., should be kept in good order, etc. It was the duty of the Ephori to see that order was observed at the table. Finally, each tribe had its Quaestor, and all these Quaestors were made subject to one supreme Quaestor. Those were chosen weekly, this one monthly; on laying down their office they delivered Latin orations. The Quaestors were expected to secure a punctual attendance on lessons, to report the indolent, to give out subjects for the Latin debates customary during the half-hour after meal time.

Trotzendorf moreover established a school magistracy. This consisted of a consul chosen monthly by himself, twelve senators and two

Had a scholar committed any fault, he was obliged to justify himself before this Senate, and in order to do it the better, he was allowed eight days in which to prepare his plea. At the trial Trotzendorf presided as perpetual dictator. If the accused party cleared himself from the charge, he was acquitted, especially when he delivered a well framed plea; but if his speech was good for nothing in point of style, he was condemned even for a trivial misdemeanor. And Trotzendorf repeated the decree of the Senate in such cases with great solemnity, and insisted strongly on its fulfillment.

These singular regulations had the good effect of accustoming the boys early in life to have respect to the civil government. A similar tendency may be observed in the laws which Trotzendorf established in his school. In the introduction to these laws, he says: “Those men will rule conformably to the laws, who, when boys learn to obey

censors.

the laws." These school-laws are characteristic of the man. He first lays down these five principles :

1. Tros Tyriusque mihi nullo discrimine agetur. Here, where scholars are assembled from all countries, all must be governed equally and alike.

2. Factus tribulus serva legem, was a Lacedaemonian proverb. And here too must those favored by fortune as well as the base born, so long as they are scholars, conform to the laws. The pupil is no longer the nobleman.

3. According to the degree of their demerit the scholars are to be punished with the rod, the lyre,* or imprisonment. Those who, either on account of noble descent, or years, shrink from the disgrace of these punishments, must either do right and thus not come under sentence, or leave our school, and seek freedom to do as they please elsewhere. Fines are never to be imposed in any case, since they affect parents rather than children.

4. Every new comer, before being enrolled among the scholars, must first promise to obey the laws of the school.

5. The members of our school must be members likewise of our faith and our church.

The first chapter of the school-laws treats of piety. “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom "—this is the opening sentence. A clear knowledge of Christian doctrine is required, together with prayer, church-going, confession, taking the communion, diligence and obedience; while swearing, cursing, foul language, the practice of magic, with every superstition, are forbidden.

In regard to instruction, Trotzendorf's school agreed in the main with other schools of that period. It was based upon

the customary trivium, grammar, logic and rhetoric.

In Trotzendorf's German School Regulations of 1548, it is laid down as the aim of his school “to prepare boys to enter upon the study of the higher faculties, as theology, medicine, philosophy, and jurisprudence." To accomplish this aim,“ in the first place, grammar, inasmuch as it is the mother and nurse of all other arts, must be pursued with the most thorough-going diligence. Therewith should be combined useful readings from good authors, such as Terence or Plautus, and Cicero, the epistles and offices, chiefly. Thus boys, being guided into the Latin tongue both by rule and by example, will learn to speak Latin and to write it with equal propriety.

"The lyre, lyra or fidicula, was made of wood in the shape of a violin, and furnished with strings. Triflers were disgraced by being made to stand with this about their neck, and their hands passed through it and fastened.

Next should come reading from the poets, as Virgil, and some books of Ovid, so that the boys may comprehend metre, and learn to construct verses.” “Every week there should be a common exercise in writing letters in Latin, and every week, likewise, a common theme should be versified by the whole school.” The Latin school-code provides that the scholars, in these exercises, “ should use no phrase before ascertaining in what author it occurs, and whether it is sufficiently elegant and appropriate;" also that they should never use the mother tongue; but with teachers, fellow-scholars or other learned persons, speak in Latin alone." 'In a poetical eulogium on the Goldberg school, cited by Pinzger, we are told that “none were permitted to speak German there, so that the boys came gradually to regard their mother tongue as a foreign language." Still stronger expressions occur in a eulogium on Trotzendorf : “He had so thoroughly infused the Roman tongue into all the neighborhood, that it was deemed a disgrace to utter even a word of German ; and could you have heard the Latin accents that poured from the tongues even of plough-boys and dairy-maids you would have thoughtsurely Goldberg is within the borders of Latium.'"*

To speak and to write Latin was the universal ideal of that era, and hence, among the authors to be read, Terence and Plautus were deemed the most important. In addition to Latin, Greek grammar and readings from Greek authors were prescribed. Logic and rhetoric were likewise classed among regular studies, as we learn from the German School Plan above cited. “Trotzendorf exercised his scholars in the art of speaking, and that of thinking likewise. Logic was never intermitted by him, and he prepared his scholars for excellence in rhetoric, by a frequent study of the speeches in Livy, and those of Cicero." Music and arithmetic are likewise named in the School Plan, though without being enlarged upon. Lectures were read, on the Sphere of Sacro Bosco, by a “ Sphaerista," and on the principles of moral and natural philosophy, by a “ Magister.Religious instruction was given by Trotzendorf himself, with faithfulness and solemnity, and he read with his scholars the epistles of Paul, as well as portions of the Old Testament in the original.

The instruction of the upper classes he at first took entirely upon himself, nor did he employ assistant teachers until many years had elapsed; but the lower classes he committed to the charge of older scholars.

[ocr errors][merged small]

And here we can not fail to be struck with the quite peculiar character of Trotzendorf's educational system. Schools, in general, will be found to consist of two sharply defined and distinct bodies,-teachers on the one hand, and pupils on the other. The teachers are learned, the pupils ignorant; the former impart knowledge, the latter receive it; those dictate and these obey. This sharp division, Trotzendorf rendered impossible, both in discipline and instruction. In instruction, for while he himself taught the older scholars in the higher classes, he appointed these same scholars teachers of the lower classes, that they, too, might learn by teaching. This reminds us of the monitorial system of the present day, and perhaps Trotzendorf, like Lancaster, was first led to adopt this plan from the impossibility of giving his personal attention to a large number. He found the need of scholars to aid him, both in oversight and instruction, as the resources of the school were too slender to admit of his hiring an adequate body of sub-teachers.* But if we look more closely into this plan, it will appear

not merely to have been adopted from the necessities of the case, but, at the same time to have been the organic outgrowth of a principle. Trotzendorf's school appears to have been a republic, where all the scholars, noble and obscure, were alike and unconditionally subject to the laws: he himself was Dictator in perpetuo over this republic. And his authority was rendered secure and universally effective by the fact that he delegated to the scholars themselves, though ever under bis supreme direction, a share in the government, and made them moreover responsible, for law and order. He thus rendered impossible that absolute hostility which is so often cherished by a firmly united band of scholars toward a too often divided corps of teachers. The many scholars, who, as teachers, ephori, oeconomi, quaestors, senators, censors and consuls, assisted in the government, formed an intermediate body between the teachers and the scholars, and by their mutual relations to each disarmed that hostility, and paralyzed its power.

Whatever judgment we may pass upon Trotzendorf's regulations, still we are warranted, from what we know of his character, in concluding, that he would not permit those regulations to degenerate into a mere round of lifeless observances. He was a genuine dictator, and, as Melancthon says of him, born to the government of a school, as truly as was the elder Scipio Africanus to the command of an

*About the year 1547, at the death of Frederick II., Duke of Liegnitz, there were but six teachers employed, quite an inadequate number for the size of the school. Trotzendorf was wont to say :-"If he should muster all his scholars together, he could present the emperor with quite a respectable army to fight the Turks.” Still, strange to say, we have no more precise information on the subject.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »