Page images
PDF
EPUB

Latin in Ratich's schools. Here it must suffice to say, as to the instruction at Köthen, that as soon as the children had learned their letters, in the first (lowest) class, they learned reading and writing together, in the second, using Genesis for a reading book. In the third class was studied “the grammar of the mother tongue, with examples both general and special; that is, to speak and write grammatically, and to understand the grammatical speaking and writing of others.*

In the fourth and fifth classes, Terence was studied, and the Latin grammar abstracted from it; after this there followed an especial Greek class.t

Besides these lessons in language, there was instruction in arithmetic, singing, and religion.

Ratich's labors at Köthen, however, as in other places, soon came to an end. There were various reasons for this. One was, that Ratich was a strong Lutheran, while the city of Köthen was of the “reformed” persuasion. The citizens also took offense at Ratich's having the ten commandments learned in his school, not after the reformed text and division, but after the Lutheran. Superintendent Streso charged him, for this reason, with being heterodox. Prince Ludwig tried to heal the difficulty by ordering both the Heidelberg catechism and Ratich's reading manual to be used in the schools; but this satisfed neither party.

In a report which Stresof and some other men of eminence made upon Ratich's school, by the order of the prince, it was remarked that the catechism and music were studied too little; that the discipline was bad ; that the hours of recreation were too many; that the children were made to pass too quickly and abruptly from the letters to reading, without any intermediate study of syllables, and that they “ wrote vitiosissime."

It is true that the results did not answer Ratich's great promises. He laid the blame, for various reasons, upon his patrons and colleagues ; and the consequence was that Prince Ludwig imprisoned him on the sixth of October, 1619, and only released him in the middle of the year 1620, on his signing a declaration in which he says that he “ had claimed and promised more than he knew or could bring to pass.

Afterward, in 1620, Ratich went to Magdeburg, where he was well received by the magistrates, but in 1622 he got into a quarrel with Rector Evenius. Princess Anna Sophie, who had married Count Gunther von Schwarzburg, now invited him to Rudolstadt, where she

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

studied Hebrew with him. About this time many opponents came out against Ratich, and among others the well known Dr. Hoë von Hoënegg, chief court chaplain at Dresden, who had been his strong partizan in 1614. In 1626, however, he wrote a long communication to the Countess Anna Sophie, opposing Ratich's views. “Your grace knows well,” he writes, “ that if one should give himself out for an architect, and especially for an uncommonly good architect, he would not be at once received as such, but that special, thorough, clear and demonstrative tests, would be made use of, before men would employ him for important buildings, or put them under his charge. But we, here at court, know of no such public, thorough proof, whatever, which the Herr Ratichius has given, proportionate to his claims, even in any small place; for the lack of which proof, people here will be the less willing to make any change in their system of teaching, and to adopt, instead of it, the Didactics of Ratich.” The Dukes of Weimar and Gotha soon gave him up, but Countess Anna Sophie still adhered to him. She supported him at Kranichfeld and Erfurt, and recommended him to Chancellor Oxenstiern, who caused an examination to be made of his system. Doctors Hieronymus Brückner, Johann Matthaeus Meyfart and Stephan Ziegler, made a favorable report upon it to the Chancellor, March 10, 1634.1

This report discussed, 1. The purpose and design of the plan. 2. The mode of teaching.

3. The promises made. The reporters first take up Ratich's arguments against the existing mode of instruction; as, that it is not really Christian; that the scholars have to learn too many things at the same time, &c. They then describe Ratich's method; and, lastly, consider his requirements, as, a regular appointment, the chief directorship of the work, good fellow-laborers, &c.

Comenius, who met the Chancellor in Sweden, in 1642, relates the result of his negotiations with him. “When I heard,” said Oxenstiern, “ that Ratich had a new method, I could not be easy until I had myself seen the man; but instead of conversation, he sent me a thick quarto. I accomplished this wearisome labor, and after I had read the whole book through, I found he had, it is true, not ill displayed the faults of our schools; but that his remedies did not appear thorough."! A sensible opinion. Comenius himself applied to

Niemeyer B. p. 8. This letter is in the Duke's library at Gotha. Niemeyer gives other extracts from it. (D. 13.)

† Ib. A. p.7.
6 The Chancellor does not mention Meyfart's report.

1 Details further on.

Ratich by letter, in 1629, as he relates in another place, asking him earnestly and repeatedly, to give him an account of his new method. But Ratich gave him no answer.

It was in 1632 that he first obtained an account of it, in a letter from the excellent Georg Winkler, pastor in Goldberg. “What great hopes," wrote the latter, “ were excited by Helwig and Jung's pompous report upon Ratich's method! But our good friend Ratich fell short of it, and will continue to fall short of it.” Winkler then relates how Moser, teacher in the school at Goldberg, had eaten a meal with Ratich, in hopes, by this plan, to find out something about his method; but he learned but little. Ratich had declared that he would only sell his discoveries to a prince, at a dear rate, and upon the condition that the men of learning to whom he should communicate them should promise to conceal them. Winkler asks, “would Christ, the Apostles, and the Prophets, have done so ?"

Ratich did not long survive his negotiation with Oxenstiern. He had suffered an attack of palsy in the tongue and right hand, in 1633; and he died in 1635, aged sixty-four.

We will now examine specimens of Ratich's method of teaching German and Latin, in order to show how he and his followers proceeded in instruction, and then consider his more important general principles of instruction and education. I commence with an account of a method of instruction, so as to be able more conveniently to refer to it for explaining principles.

I. Ratich's INSTRUCTION IN LANGUAGE.

Instruction in language should begin in the sixth or seventh year, with learning the letters; since the letter is the simplest element of grammar. The teacher should show the pupil the form of the letter, drawing it slowly on the blackboard, and naming it at the same time, so that the scholar may learn the form and the name of the letter together. He is also to compare the letters with forms, as, for instance, O with a circle, C with a semicircle, X with a cross, &c.*

Ratich requires that the pupil should copy the letters at the same time, but Kromayer, his follower, on the contrary, only permits it when he can read them easily.

The teacher then proceeds to the making of syllables; writing the names of them, as before, at the same time.

After this, Ratich says, he is to select an author from whom the language can well be learned, and whose contents are chaste and interesting; as, some history, comedy, &c. The youngest scholars

* Ratich's "Methodus," 140.

must, however, have a manual of the rudiments, (parvus libellus rudimentorum,) while the older use the author himself. This author is Terence.

Here the Ratichians differ from Ratich in one direction, and Kromayer in another. The former direct that after the study of the letters, Terentius* should immediately be taken up. The latter, however, says: “ The boys should first learn German well, before Latin or any other language is laid before them; for it is wrong for the boys to have any Latin material, such as Donatus, Latin verses, or the like, put before them, before they understand German well.” He adds that many scholars learn Latin grammar without knowing German well ; “that although they may not have learned it well in the lower classes, they are at once put into Latin. It is still worse when the children even at first, before they can read German, are taught to read in Latin A B C books. This is contrary to nature; for it is much easier to learn to read in the mother tongue, than in one strange or entirely unknown.” German should therefore be taught in the German classes, and Latin be postponed to the Latin classes.

Kromayer's course of Latin instruction is briefly as follows. From their letters, the step to reading, is to be made as soon as possible. The teacher must first “ read over by himself the whole book (of Genesis) to the end, reading each chapter twice over together; the scholars not reading at all, but only listening, looking on and following." When the book is gone through in this manner, the preceptor is to begin again at the beginning and read each chapter once, making the scholar read it over immediately after him, perhaps four lines at a time.” The book is afterward to be read a third time, by the scholar alone.

After this Kromayer proceeds to teach German grammar to those who are afterward to study the ancient languages. cially fine intellects are found,” he writes, “such as the teacher recog. nizes as fit for study, and to be afterward put forward into other schools, after they have learned to read fluently, they are to be put into the German grammar, and thereby a good introduction made for them to the Latin grammar.

“ The preceptor is to place these scholars together, and to teach them the German grammar; a chapter, or some other convenient part, at a time. The teacher is first to read it clearly, and explain it a little, where necessary, in other words ; secondly, the scholars are

* "Praxis," 162. "Alphabeto absoluto progreditur ad syllabas. Quo facto statim ad Autorem, qui in lingua latina est Terentius, fut transitus." Nothing is said by the Ratichians about teaching German; but we have seen that in Ratich's school at Köthen, the three lower classes were German, and that Latin was first begun in the fourth.

“ When any espe

to read it over after him, once, or ten times, if necessary; thirdly, as it has been well enough read, the pupil is to take up the first book of Moses, which he knows already; and the teacher is to show him the applications of that part of the grammar which was read, in the first chapter, in five, six, or even ten examples, reading the chapter until he comes to a point which is an instance of the rule in question. Here he pauses a little, and shows how the example agrees with the rule or precept in the grammar. As, for instance; if he is speaking of uninflected words ; he will find an example of them in the very beginning of the first book of Moses, as he will also almost anywhere. “ In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” &c. “In” is a preposition. “And the earth was without form and void. "And” is a conjunction, &c. Again; if he is speaking of nouns and verbs,* · Beginning" is a substantive noun, of the masculine gender, singular number, &c. “Created” is an active verb, third person, imperfect, &c. He may then conjugate it to the third person singular, where he will show that this is the person used in the book, at that place. He is to go on with such applications, not only in the first book of Genesis, but through the remaining chapters.

This method of application depends chiefly upon this point: that the teacher only is to read, while the pupils pick out the examples ; finding them themselves in the book, when any form in the declension or conjugation is required; so that it is necessary to keep a sharp eye upon the grammar, and to listen very quietly to the teacher's reading. When one part of the grammar has thus been applied, the teacher is to go on to another; read it, make the scholars read it after him, look out the examples in Genesis, show and apply them.

And in all this matter of the German grammar, it is to be observed, that it is not intended that an entirely complete knowledge of each part of the grammar, shall be required of the boys as they

Indeed, this could not be required either of the teacher or the pupils.

We know very well, it is true, that improvement in grammar must consist of an always increasing amount of observation and practice; but it is enough for the boys to get a reasonable knowledge in their own mother tongue of the secundas notiones,-the grammatical terms--such as number, case, declension, conjugation, noun, verb, &c., before they take up Latin, since they will then have more than half learned the meaning of these terms in their own language. It would be much easier for one who had already learned the grammar of Latin, to understand the parts of speech, number, tense, person, verb,

* Ratich uses German words for all the grammatical technicals. Niemeyer, D. 39.

go over it.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »