What did John Amos Comenius contribute to education?
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An early advocate of fundamental changes in the way children are taught, John Amos Comenius (originally, Jan Amos Komensky, in his native Czech) had a major impact on the manner in which students are encouraged to think about the world.
In an age when most educators, especially those controlled by the Catholic or Protestant Churches, were constrained in how and what they could teach, Comenius, himself a Protestant minister, revolutionized the field by advocating the teaching of Latin and encouraging students to study the known world beyond their own borders. His ideas also facilitated the expansion of the school day as well as the expansion of the classroom to include all children, and not just the more privileged. The emphasis on teaching the Latin language, Comenius argued, would provide a broader background in European studies, as Latin provided the basis for all the major European languages, much as it continues to do today. His textbook on Latin studies, Janua Linguarum Reserata, was designed to help children learn European culture at the same time they were, of necessity, learning their native Czech language and culture.
Comenius's books, including The Great Didactic and The School of Infancy, emphasized the need to make education more interesting for children, as well as expanding the geographic focus.
Comenius was heavily influenced by the 1618 outbreak of the Thirty Years' War, which represented yet another in a long line of relgious wars, only more protracted and destructive. The internecine conflict convinced him of the desperate need to reform the educational processes that lead to narrow-minded views of the world. Having to continue to flee war, more recently, in England, he ended up in Sweden, revising Swedish textbooks along the lines of his "pansophy" philosophy of broading horizons while identifying unifying themes among mankind rather than dividing ones.
Comenius would continue to move about Europe, seeking respite from religious turmoil and political intrigue, but continuing to educate children consistent with his philosophy of achieving harmony among disparate peoples.
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