|Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper, void of all characters, without any ideas. John Locke|
The period known as the Renaissance began in northern Europe and Italy and spread throughout the rest of the Western world. It signaled a renewed interest in the Greco-Roman traditions of art, literature and reviving classical learning known as humanism. The humanists believed that by transferring power and wealth away from the Church back to the people, the human condition would improve. In turn education was an important aspect, centered on the study of ancient classical literature, in particular the works of Plato and Aristotle.
Martin Luther challenged the authority of the Catholic Church directly when in 1517, he nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, in what is now Germany. As a result, a century of religious turmoil began and the people who protested the teachings of the Catholic Church came to be known as Protestants. The Protestants believed in self-determinism and that the teachings of the Bible should be read by individuals rather than interpreted by priests. Thus education, at least the ability to read the Bible, was seen as a necessary ingredient in providing people the tools for salvation. Luther and his co-worker, Melanchthon, (1497-1560) were advocates for the education of all social classes and for females. In addition, both Luther and Melanchthon felt that education should be state-supported.
The invention of the printing press by Johan Gutenberg (1400-1468) and use of moveable type by the end of the 15th century contributed to the dissemination of printed material and the spread of ideas. Prior to this time, books were hand-lettered usually by monks that limited their availability.
Johann Comenius (1592-1670) wrote some of the first texts containing illustrations. Comenius was a man ahead of his time. Many of his ideas such as integrated learning, collaborative teaching, and the concept of developing the life-long learner are part modern day pedagogy in teacher-training programs. He also believed that the teacher is essential to the education process and needs to be respected and justly compensated. Most of his ideas were not well received during his lifetime and were not universally accepted.
John Locke (1632-1704) was an English educator during the 17th century. He wrote many educational works, but the two most influential were Some Thoughts on Education and the Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Locke believed that ideas originated as a result of experience. He stressed the importance of education in developing the mind of the person. In fact a good education could improve a person, while a bad one could achieve the opposite result. Locke emphasized practical and effective methods of teaching and advocated a non-threatening environment for the learner.
When Martin Luther led the Protestant Reformation, Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) organized the Jesuits to establish schools and promote the Catholic Church. Though the original intent was the advancement of the advancement of Catholicism, the Society of Jesuits became a great teaching order and developed their own system of training teachers.Think about It: