The Future of 17th-Century Education

anticipatory predecesors

But why?

Why is the 17th-century Czech philosopher John Amos Comenius now re-circulating in liminal communities? 

How did he get a shoutout in Jonathan Rowson's excellent recent article praisesplaining (sic) the depth and significance of Daniel Schmactenberger's main ideas

Zak Stein (here) called Comenius "arguably the greatest education thinker humanity has ever known" -- and yet most of us had never heard of him. 

The intriguing thing about Comenius (1592-1670) is that he basically pre-solved all the educational issues that we are still facing.  His framing instructions served to help the modern educational reform of the Western Enlightenment take shape but they also showed in advance various answers to problems with which modern education still struggles.

Multidisciplinary.  Gender inclusive.  Practical.  Community-oriented.  Formatted for developmental stages in the unfolding of cognition.  Life-long learning.  Deep humanist spirituality.  Leading edge multi-media learning tools.  Active thinking as opposed to rote memorization.


That's admittedly pretty good for the 17th century.  In fact, one could argue that had we stuck more closely to Comenius' vision we would have produced a form of modernity that was vastly healthier and wiser than the version we actually got. 

However, the most interesting thing for us today is that Comenius did all this during a profound cultural tectonic shift.  The new technology of print literacy was just emerging and the old economic, social & communicative paradigms were beginning to totter -- proving themselves insufficient to organize the new information landscape.  These are crucial historical moments and we seem to be in one now. 

Since the problem of education is one of the major fulcrums upon which the well-being and sustainability of near-future civilization depend, we need to be thinking more like Comenius.  Whatever we do now (and this is arguably the thrust of Stein's article linked above) must be characterized by a boldness, adaptability, deep human empathy & integrative appetite akin to his comprehensive pedagogical vision.

Very bildung.