John Amos Comenius: A Visionary Reformer of Schools
Our fourth book in the Giants in the History of Education series
John Amos Comenius, a seventeenth-century theologian and reformer, had so great an influence on Western schooling that he has been called the father of modern education. To this day he remains one of the most influential and fascinating thinkers in the history of education.
In this concise introduction to the work of Comenius, Dr. David Smith sketches some of Comenius’s central ideas, pointing to several important themes that summarize Comenius’s tireless work for educational reform. Readers will discover that amongst the literally hundreds of works Comenius wrote in Czech and Latin, many of which are lost to us today, he created one of the world’s most successful children’s picture books*; suggested that learning should resemble gardening; and proposed that joy, piety, and harmony are central to the education of children.
In this book, Smith also touches on the key questions with which Comenius wrestled—questions that remain pertinent today. Readers will learn that Comenius is at once a forerunner of much of what we find and affirm today in education while also an advocate of some ideas that we would pass over. Smith suggests that we should let Comenius “be himself, rather than a forerunner of ourselves,” if we wish to be challenged by him afresh.
This volume is an important study for any educator wishing to understand the history of education with an eye to recovering perennial educational ideas and practices that will inspire both the present and the future.
*Note that back-cover copy of version 1.0 indicated that “he created the world’s first children’s picture book”. This is incorrect and has been corrected for future printings.
David I. Smith has a BA in German and Russian from Oxford University, a PGCE from Nottingham University, an MPhilF in philosophical theology and philosophy of education from the Institute for Christian Studies, Toronto, and a PhD in curriculum studies from the University of London. He is director of the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning and director of graduate studies in education at Calvin College. He also serves as senior editor of the International Journal of Christianity and Education.