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John Amos Comenius: A Visionary Reformer of Schools

Giants in the History of Education

David I. Smith


Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Classical Academic Press
Publish Date: September 1, 2017
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1600513166
ISBN-13: 978-1600513169

“In this short volume, David I Smith offers a lucid introduction to the work of John Amos Comenius.”

–Jan Hábl, Hradec Králové University

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.


David I. Smith

David I. Smith started his career teaching French, German and Russian in secondary schools in England before moving into higher education. He currently serves both as Director of Graduate Studies in Education and as Director of the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has published extensively in the field of Christian educational theory and travels widely to speak at educational conferences and work with groups of teachers in both higher and K-12 education. He is editor of the International Journal of Christianity and Education, and has been involved with a variety of curriculum projects.


Table of Contents




Life: Who Was Comenius?

Labyrinths: What Is Wrong with Education?

Gardens: What Are the Goals of Educational Reform?

Humans: What Is the Nature of Learners?

Harmony: What Holds Curriculum Together?

Tools: How Does Vision Shape Practice?

7  Legacy: What Might Comenius Say to Us Today?


–A Note on Comenius in English

–Questions for Discussion

–About the Author


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