1902 Encyclopedia > Education > Johann Bernhard Basedow (1723-90)

(Part 16)

Johann Bernhard Basedow (1723-90), German educational reformer

The teaching of Rousseau found its practical expression in the philanthropin of Dessau, a school founded by Basedow, the friend of Goethe and Lavater, one of the two prophets between whom the world-child sat bodkin in that memorable post-chaise journey of which Goethe has left us an account. The principles of the teaching given in this establishment were very much those of Comenius, the com-bination of words and things. An amusing account of the in-struction given in this school, which at this time consisted of only thirteen pupils, has come down to us, a translation of which is given in the excellent work of Mr Quick on educational reformers. The little ones have gone through the oddest performances. They play at "word of command." Eight or ten stand in a line like soldiers, and Herr Wolke is officer. He gives the word in Latin, and they must do whatever he says. For instance when he says "claudite oculos," they all shut their eyes when he says "circurnspicite," they look about them; imitamini sutorem," they draw the waxed thread like cobblers. Herr Wolke gives a thousand different commands in the drollest fashion. Another game, "the hiding game," may also be described. Some one writes a name and hides it from the children, the name of some part of the body, or of a plant or animal, or metal, and the children guess what it is. Whoever guesses right gets an apple or a piece of cake; one of the visitors wrote "intestina," and told the children it was part of the body. Then the guessing began, one guessed caput, another nasus, another os, another manus, pes, digiti, pectus, and so forth for a long time, but one of them hits it at last. Next Herr Wolke wrote the name of a beast or quadruped, then came the guesses, leo, ursus, camelus, elephas, and so on, till one guessed right it was mus. Then a town was written, and they guessed Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, London, till a child won with St Petersburg. They had another game which was this. Herr Wolke gave the command in Latin, and they imitated the noises of different animals, and made the visitors laugh till they were tired. They roared like lions, crowed like cocks, mewed like cats, just as they were bid. Yet Kant found a great deal to praise in this school, and spoke of its influence as one of the best hopes of the future, and as "the only school where the teachers had liberty to act according to their own methods and schemes, and where they were in free communication both among themselve, and with all learned men throughout Germany."

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