John Amos Comenius’s Great Didactic Reading Club
Term: Summer 2021
Target Grade Levels: Adult
Schedule: 1x / week, 120 mins
Section 1, June 9–July 14 (6 sessions): W 7:00 p.m. ET with Amy Morgan
Many of us are familiar with the C.S. Lewis quote about education that “the task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.” Centuries before C.S. Lewis’s irrigation of deserts, a Moravian bishop and educator described education in botanical metaphor as well: the tending of “God’s own garden of delight”
John Amos Comenius was an educator and church leader from the modern-day Czech Republic. Through war and plague and even as a refugee, Comenius dreamed and worked tirelessly to provide material and example for schools, churches, and states to train all young hearts and minds, male and female, rich and poor. He saw the task of teaching the young as a divine calling because of the divine nature of each person. If humanity is “God’s garden of delight”, Comenius aimed for education to prepare the soil of souls to hear and receive the gospel. He trusted God for fruitful outcomes from education, expecting people to blossom into their eternal purpose. Improving states, unifying the Church across Europe, and ending war would be side effects of human flourishing.
Perhaps his vision was too grand, too idealistic, or perhaps it was full of faith. He worked and prayed for God’s Kingdom to come “on earth as it is in heaven” and pressed on to do all he could with the gifts God had given him to contribute to that Kingdom.
How like Comenius’s are our hopes, expectations, goals, and setbacks as home educators, classical Christan educators, or as Christian educators in other school contexts? We, along with Comenius, commit ourselves to nurture children because scripture emphasizes the importance of children to the Kingdom; we know the eternal value of each soul. We, along with Comenius, have discovered in humility that some of our understanding of how our students learn and grow comes from our students themselves and also from watching how God produces growth in nature. We, along with Comenius, expect or at least hope the act of learning and of teaching should be pleasant, peaceful, playful, deep, effective, and efficient. We, along with Comenius, recognize the role of Christian educators as holy because we pray to inscribe on hearts the truth of “human dignity”, “excellence” and “divinity”. At the same time, we, along with Comenius, tremble at the challenges to this task as “we dwell close together, the good and the bad…and the bad are many more than the good”. We, along with Comenius, in humility acknowledge the weaknesses of our own bent hearts, minds, and plans, and we seek the wisdom, guidance, and correction of God and other teacher-pilgrims as we pursue our holy work.
Join me on a 6-week read and seminar discussion through John Amos Comenius’s work, The Great Didactic, in which he ambitiously sets out “the whole art of teaching all things to all people…pleasantly…and thoroughly”.
Tentative Reading Schedule:
Greetings to the Reader, Dedicatory Letter, The Use of the Art of Teaching, Chapters 1-4 (approximately 40 pages)
Chapters 5- 12 (approximately 50 pages)
Chapters 13- 16 (approximately 30 pages)
Chapters 17- 19 (approximately 35 pages)
Chapters 20 – 25 (approximately 45 pages)
Chapters 26 – 33 (approximately 45 pages)
Syllabus: Coming soon.
* Required texts
Comenius, John Amos. The Great Didactic
(Amazon has a paperback copy for $11.)
Optional supplemental text:
Smith, David L. Ph.D. John Amos Comenius: A Visionary Reformer of Schools. Giants in the History of Education series. Diener, David (Ed.) Classical Academic Press. 2017.
(This biography gives excellent context and appreciation for Comenius’s life work.)
* Required text not included in course purchase
Amy Morgan earned her BA in liberal arts at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, and continued her education with an MA in TESOL/applied linguistics at Indiana University in Bloomington. For over 18 years, Amy has taught English to speakers of other languages in the university, community, and private tutoring contexts. Additionally, Amy educated her own two children at home in grades PreK–8. When Amy’s not teaching, you might find her serving families who care for children in vulnerable circumstances, hosting international guests, reading aloud with her family or smiling at the antics of her backyard chickens. email@example.com
Computer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.
High-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.
Headset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm
Zoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. To download Zoom:
- Visit zoom.us/download.
- Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
- Open and run the installer on your computer.
- In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.
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