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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

INTRODUCTION: "Ratio Studiorum: Jesuit Education, 1548-1773"

INTRODUCTION: "Ratio Studiorum: Jesuit Education, 1548-1773"
by John W. O'Malley, S.J.

Ratio StudiorumThis introductory essay was prepared for an exhibit celebrating the 400th anniversary of the first promulgation of the Ratio studiorum. The exhibit, "Ratio Studiorum: Jesuit Education, 1548-1773" was held at the Boston College John J. Burns Library in the fall of 1999.
Within the past few years, the John J. Burns Library at Boston College has substantially increased its already impressive collection related to the history of the Society of Jesus. These recent acquisitions came to the library through purchases from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts and from the library of the French Province of the Jesuits located at Les Fontaines in Chantilly outside Paris. Since 1999 marks two anniversaries of great significance in the history of the Society of Jesus, it provides an excellent occasion for an exhibit including books from these new additions to the collection.
One of these anniversaries relates to the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus; the other relates to the Jesuits' educational enterprise and, thence, to their scholarship across a wide range of disciplines. Commitment to fostering religious devotion and to promoting formal schooling shaped the profile of the Society from its foundational years through the subsequent centuries, giving it the basic elements of what St. Ignatius called its "way of proceeding" or what we might call its style.
St. Ignatius underwent as a soldier a deep religious conversion while recuperating in 1521 from wounds he suffered in the battle of Pamplona. As his relationship with God developed over the next year or so, he began writing down what he was experiencing in order to help himself and also to help others who approached him in order "to converse about the things of God." These were the origins of the Spiritual Exercises, on which Ignatius continued to work for the next two decades. Although more often cited than studied, the Exercises were destined to become one of the world's most famous books.
The Exercises encapsulated the essence of Ignatius's own spiritual conversion from conventional Christianity to a deep awareness of God's presence and comfort in all of the circumstances of his life, and it presented this experience in a form that would guide others to analogous changes of awareness and motivation. Not a book of spiritual teachings as such, it was rather a design for a process of prayer, meditation, and discernment that would, as Ignatius said, "allow the Creator to deal directly with the creature, and the creature directly with the Creator."
A call to inwardness, it was the first Christian book to provide such a full, clear, yet remarkably flexible program, and it thus created what came to be known as the "retreat," a few days, a week, or a month of seclusion set aside in order to open oneself to God's will. The Exercises were intended for Christians from all walks of life but had special relevance for members of the Society in that they set the pattern, goals, and style for all of the ministries in which the Jesuits engaged. The importance of the book in establishing the ethos and spirit of the Society of Jesus cannot be overestimated.
When in the 1530s Ignatius studied philosophy and theology at the University of Paris, he guided a number of persons in the Exercises, including six of his fellow-students who, as a result of the experience, formed with him the first nucleus of what would in 1540 officially become the Society of Jesus. The book of the Exercises is what gave this initial group its cohesion, and it was an instrument that they used from the beginning in their efforts to help others find their spiritual way and, in some cases, to enter the nascent Society.
The book circulated in manuscript among members of the Society until it was finally published in Rome by the printer Antonio Blado in 1548. Ignatius wanted it published for several reasons: to assure a more accurate text, to increase its circulation among Jesuits, and to put it in a form that could receive papal approval. The last reason was crucial because the book was being attacked in some quarters as dangerous and even heretical. In any case, the publication launched the Exercises into the world beyond Ignatius's immediate disciples and began a remarkable printing history that continues to this day, with translations into practically every language around the globe. The book has had an immense impact on the history of Catholic devotion, an impact that continues up to the present. It has also influenced areas of culture in unexpected ways. With its promotion of the use of the imagination in meditation, for instance, it influenced painters and sculptors, and it helped create the genre of emblem books, with their fusion of symbol and meditation.
One of the most innovative and distinctive aspects of the Exercises was that individuals did not undertake them on their own but with the help of another person, who acted as guide, companion, senior partner, or simply helper. St. Ignatius in fact intended the book more for this person than for those actually making the retreat. In the book he gave the person a number of suggestions about how those making the Exercises might be guided most fruitfully and about dealing with the different circumstances that might arise. Early on, this person began to be referred to as the director of the Exercises. This was somewhat of a misnomer, given the more mediating role described in the book, but it became standard.
St. Ignatius trained some of the early Jesuits for this delicate role in informal ways, so that a demand grew for him to write down some further indications as to how it was to be performed. Ignatius left a few notes, as did some of the Jesuits he trained, but many Jesuits came to believe that something fuller and more systematic was needed, a "directory." Ignatius's two successors as superior general promoted the idea, but the next general, Everard Mercurian (1571-1580), pushed it forward by himself, composing a draft and successfully requesting another from Juan Alfonso de Polanco, one of Ignatius's closest assistants. The next general, Claudio Acquaviva (1581-1615), was finally able to bring the project to completion through further drafts and consultations. It turned out to be a relatively small book that tried to distill reflections resulting from pastoral experience, for the most part simply elaborating on suggestions already in the Exercises.
Thus in 1599 the official Directory was published, another landmark in the history of Catholic devotion. It meant that the Exercises had achieved almost canonical status. This Directorium exercitiorum spiritualium P. N. Ignatii, reprinted innumerable times and translated into a number of languages, was never revised nor has it ever officially been replaced, which is a tribute to its accomplishment. In the past thirty years, however, a number of commentaries on the Exercises have appeared that have made it less useful than it once was.
Scholars correctly describe the Society of Jesus as the first teaching order in the Catholic Church insofar as the Jesuits were the first ever to undertake the founding, management, and staffing of schools as a formal ministry. In the long history of the Jesuits, few activities seem more characteristic of them. It comes as somewhat of a surprise to learn, therefore, that when the Society came into being in 1540, such an undertaking was not in the purview of the founding members. In fact, graduates of the University of Paris though they all were, they decided that they would not undertake any teaching assignments anywhere except on a temporary, short-term basis. It certainly never occurred to them that they would end up running schools. They saw themselves primarily as itinerant catechists, preachers, and evangelists. Saint Francis Xavier, one of the original companions of Ignatius in Paris, was on his way to India as a missionary even before the Society received its papal charter in 1540. Within a few years, however, Jesuits began giving some instruction to young recruits, and bit by bit their reputation as pedagogues grew. They had, moreover, begun to see the benefits of labors sustained with the same group of people over a long period of time. The stage was being set for a new commitment, but we know this only in hindsight. It was certainly not clear to them at the time.
The curtain rose with incredible suddenness and the action took off with incredible speed. In 1547, scarcely a half-dozen years after the founding of the Society, St. Ignatius received an utterly unexpected and unsolicited invitation from leading citizens of the city of Messina in Sicily to found and staff a secondary school for their sons. He accepted, which indicates that his own thinking was already changing. The school opened the next year and, though plagued with many problems, was a great success. A momentous turning-point had been reached in the history of the Society of Jesus.
That same year, thirty members of the senate in Palermo, impressed by what was happening in Messina, petitioned Ignatius for a similar school. Again he acquiesced. Other schools soon followed -- in 1551 schools opened in both Vienna and Rome. By the time Ignatius died in 1556, the Jesuits were operating some thirty schools, practically all of them secondary, and just a few years later Polanco would write in the name of the new general to inform Jesuits that education had become the primary ministry of the Society.
Meanwhile the school in Rome, the "Roman College," had developed into a university, and, while secondary schools would always be far more numerous, other institutions of higher learning would henceforth be an important part of the Jesuit enterprise. By 1773, the year that the Society of Jesus was suppressed throughout the world by papal edict, the Jesuits were operating more than eight hundred universities, seminaries, primary, and secondary schools around the globe. The world had never seen before, nor has it seen since, such an immense network of educational institutions operating on an international basis under a single aegis.
As the schools proliferated in the early decades, questions about curriculum, pedagogy, textbooks, administrative procedures, and similar matters began to be asked with greater urgency. An overarching issue was how these many schools could maintain some coherence among themselves. This was important for a number of reasons, not least of which was the necessity for Jesuits being moved from one school to another to fit into the new institutions to which they had been transferred. How, furthermore, could a certain quality-control be established, with standards against which performance might be measured?
Gerónimo Nadal, one of Ignatius's closest collaborators. was also the founder and first rector of the school in Messina. He drew up the curriculum along lines in accord with those promoted by Renaissance humanists, and this became, along with some of Nadal's other writings, the first, somewhat indistinct, blueprint for the schools that were springing up everywhere. But chaos sometimes reigned. Just after the school opened in Vienna, Ignatius complained that it was offering a mishmash of courses, without plan or meaning. Bit by bit, some order was imposed, but Jesuit educators increasingly requested a document, a comprehensive "plan of studies" that they could use as a guide.
A number of attempts were made in succeeding decades to come up with such a plan, but none of the versions was found to be fully satisfactory. As with the Directorium in exercitia spiritualia, it was Claudio Acquaviva who was able to bring this long-standing project to completion and officially publish in 1599 the Ratio studiorum that became the Magna Carta of Jesuit education. In the Middle Ages, the Augustinians had a document known as Ratio studiorum, and other orders had similar documents which were intended for the training of members of the orders. The Ratio of the Jesuits was different in that it was meant as much for the education of lay students as for Jesuits, but it also was different because the "plan of studies" now included the humanities -- literature, history, drama, and so forth -- as well as philosophy and theology, the traditionally clerical subjects. This meant that the Jesuit Ratio assumed that literary or humanistic subjects could be integrated into the study of professional or scientific subjects; that is, it assumed that the humanistic program of the Renaissance was compatible with the Scholastic program of the Middle Ages.
The Ratio had all of the benefits and all of the defects of such codifications; while it set standards, for instance, it discouraged innovation. In any case, it had impact far beyond Jesuit institutions because it was seen as a coherent and lucid statement of ideals, methods, and objectives shared broadly by educators in early modern Europe. For the Society of Jesus, the Ratio studiorum symbolized a certain maturing in its commitment to education, which had great repercussions for the future of Catholicism. The schools were often at the center of the culture of the towns and cities where they were located: typically, they would produce several plays or even ballets per year, and some maintained important astronomical observatories.
The commitment to education effected a profound change in the model of the Society of Jesus from what Ignatius and his companions originally envisaged. It meant that the model of itinerant preachers of the Gospel had to be tempered by the reality of being resident schoolmasters. It meant the development of large communities needed to staff the schools, it meant other things as well. Perhaps most profoundly, it meant a special relationship to culture in that the Society as an institution had a systematic relationship to "secular" learning, for its members had to be prepared to teach both the classics of Latin and Greek literature of the humanistic tradition (Homer, Virgil, Cicero, and Terence, for example) and the scientific texts of Aristotle in the Scholastic tradition (we must remember that "philosophy" meant to a large extent "natural philosophy," subjects we call biology, physics, and astronomy). If Jesuits were to teach these subjects, they would also almost perforce begin to write about them, at least to the point of producing textbooks for their students.
At the beginning of the Society, St. Ignatius and the other Jesuits, graduates of Paris though they were, did not consider the writing of books in the purview of their mission; within a decade, Ignatius mentioned in the Jesuit Constitutions the possibility of "writing books useful for the common good." Few such books were produced, however, until the number of schools began to grow and the need for appropriate and inexpensive textbooks felt. With textbooks in view, Ignatius in the last year of his life went to immense trouble to secure a good press for the Roman College, which was installed and in good working order within a few months of his death. Among the first books published by this first press operated by the Jesuits was André des Freux's edition of Martial's Epigrams (1558) -- a book by a "pagan." Within two generations, Jesuits were producing books on a great scale, a phenomenon that would come to characterize the order. Many of these were textbooks or at least related directly to instruction in the Jesuit classrooms, but others ranged far more broadly and began to touch on almost every imaginable subject. The experience of the Jesuit missionaries in exotic places like Japan, China, and Viet Nam gave, when viewed largely, an extraordinarily cosmopolitan cast to this production.
It is highly probable that even without the schools, the Jesuits would have produced a significant number of books, for their counterparts in other religious orders did so. However that may be, the incontrovertible fact is that the schools provided the impetus for an extraordinarily copious production. They also required that the scope of that production be consistently and predictably wide-ranging, for the schools took the Jesuits into just about every conceivable aspect of human culture and made them reflect upon it and come up with something to say.

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Ratio Studiorum (Catholic Encyclopedia)

The term "Ratio Studiorum" is commonly used to designate the educational system of the Jesuits; it is an abbreviation of the official title, "Ratio atque Institutio Studiorum Societatis Jesu", i.e. "Method and System of the Studies of the Society of Jesus". The Constitutions of the Society from the beginning enumerated among the primary objects of the Society: teaching catechism to children and the ignorant, instructing youth in schools and colleges, and lecturing on philosophy and theology in the universities. Education occupied so prominent a place that the Society could rightly be styled a teaching order. Even during the lifetime of the founder, St. Ignatius, colleges were opened in various countries, at Messina, Palermo, Naples, Gandia, Salamanca, Alcalà, Valladolid, Lisbon, Billom, and Vienna; many more were added soon after his death, foremost among them being Ingolstadt, Cologne, Munich, Prague, Innsbruck, Douai, Bruges, Antwerp, Liège, and others. In the fourth part of the Constitutions general directions had been laid down concerning studies, but there was as yet no defininte, detailed, and universal system of education, the plans of study drawn up by Fathers Nadal, Ledesma, and others being only private works. With the increase of the number of colleges the want of a uniform system was felt more and more. During the generalate of Claudius Acquaviva (1581-1614), the educational methods of the Society were finally formulated. In 1584 six experienced schoolmen, selected from different nationalities and provinces, were called to Rome, where for a year they studied pedagogical works, examined regulations of colleges and universities, and weighed the observations and suggestions made by prominent Jesuit educators. The report drawn up by this committee was sent to the various provinces in 1586 to be examined by at least five experienced men in every province. The remarks, censures, and suggestions of these men were utilized in the drawing up of a second plan, which, after careful revision, was printed in 1591 as the "Ratio atque Institutio Studiorum". Reports on the practical working of this plan were again sent to Rome, and in 1599 the final plan appeared, the "Ratio atque Institutio Studiorum Societatis Jesu", usually quoted as "Ratio Studiorum". Every possible effort had been made to produce a practical system of education; theory and practice alike had been consulted, suggestions solicited from every part of the Catholic world, and all advisable modifications adopted. The Ratio Studiorum must be looked upon as the work not of individuals, but of the whole Society.

At the present time the question of origin is a favourite topic of historical investigation. It has been asserted that the Ratio was modelled chiefly on the theories of the Spanish Humanist, Luis Vives (see VIVES, JUAN LUIS), or on the plan of the famous Strasburg "reformer" and educationist, John Sturm. No such dependence has been proved, and we can unhesitatingly point to other sources. The method of teaching the higher branches (theology, philosophy, and the sciences) was an adaptation of the system prevailing in the great Catholic universities, especially in Paris, where St. Ignatius and his first companions had studied. The literary course is modelled after the traditions of the humanistic schools of the Renaissance period; it is probable that the flourishing schools of the Netherlands (Louvain, Liège, and others) furnished the models for various features of the Ratio. Certain features common to the Ratio and the plan of Sturm are accounted for naturally by the fact that the Strasburg educationist had studied at Liège, Louvain, and Paris, and thus drew on the same source from which the framers of the Ratio had derived inspirations. Several Jesuits prominent in the drawing up of the Ratio were natives of the Netherlands, or had studied in the most celebrated schools of that country. But, as is evident from the description of the origin of the Ratio, its authors were not mere imitators; the most important source from which they drew was the collective experience of Jesuit teachers in various colleges and countries. The document of 1599 remained the authoritative plan of studies in the schools of the order until the suppression of the latter in 1773. However, both the Constitutions and the Ratio explicitly declared that, according to the special needs and circumstances of different countries and times, changes could be introduced by superiors. As a consequence, there was and is a great variety in many particular points found in different countries and periods. After the restoration of the Society in 1814, it was felt that the changed conditions of intellectual life necessitated changes in the Ratio and, in 1832, the Revised Ratio was published; nothing was changed in the essentials or the fundamental principles, but innovations were made in regard to branches of study. In the colleges Latin and Greek remained the principal subjects, but more time and care were to be devoted to the study of the mother-tongue and its literature of history, geography, mathematics, and the natural sciences. In more recent times still greater emphasis has been laid on non-Classical branches. Thus the Twenty-third General Congregation (legislative assembly of the Society) specially recommended the study of natural sciences. Non-Classical schools were pronounced proper to the Society as well as Classical institutions. In regard to methods, the present general declared in 1910 that, "as the early Jesuits did not invent new methods of teaching but adopted the best methods of their age, so will the Jesuits now use the best methods of our own time". This voices the practice of Jesuit colleges, where physics, chemistry, biology, physiology, astronomy, geology, and other branches are taught according to the established principles of modern science. From this it is clear that it is not the intention of the Society to make the Ratio Studiorum stationary and binding in every detail; on the contrary, it is intended that the educational system of the order shall adapt itself to the exigencies of the times.
Concerning the character and contents of the Ratio a brief description must suffice. The final Ratio did not contain any theoretical discussion or exposition of principles. Such discussions had preceded and were contained in the trial Ratio of 1585. The document of 1599 was rather a code of laws a collection of regulations for the officials and teachers. These regulations are divided as follows: I. Rules for the provincial superior; for the rector, in whose hands is the government of the whole college; for the prefect of studies, who is the chief assistant of the rector and has direct supervision of the classes and everything connected with instruction, while another assistant of the rector, the prefect of discipline, is responsible for all that concerns order and discipline; II. Rules for the professors of theology: Scripture, Hebrew, dogmatic theology, ecclesiastical history, canon law, and moral theology; III. Rules for the professors of philosophy, physics, and mathematics; IV. Rules for the teachers of the studia inferiora (the lower department), comprising the literary branches. In this department there were originally five classes (schools), later frequently six: the three (or four) Grammar classes, corresponding largely with a Classical high school; then the class of Humanities and the class of Rhetoric (freshman and sophomore). Besides Latin and Greek, other branches were taught from the beginning under the name of "accessories"—especially history, geography, and antiquities. As was said above, gradually more attention was paid to the study of the mother-tongue and its literature. Mathematics and natural sciences were originally taught in the higher course (the department of Arts), together with philosophy; in more recent times they are taught also in the lower department. In philosophy Aristotle was prescribed as the standard author in the old Ratio, but he is not mentioned in the revised Ratio; St. Thomas Aquinas was to be the chief guide in theology. The Ratio Studiorum does not contain any provisions for elementary education. The cause of this omission is not, as some have thought, contempt for this branch of educational activity, much less opposition to popular instruction, but the impossibility of entering that vast field to any great extent. The Constitutions declared elementary education to be "a laudable work of charity, which the Society might undertake, if it had a sufficient number of men". In missionary countries, however, Jesuits have frequently devoted themselves to elementary education.
If it be asked what is most characteristic of the Ratio Studiorum, the following features may be mentioned: It was, first of all, a system well thought out and well worked out, and formulated at a time when in most educational establishments there was little system. The practical rules and careful supervision insured efficiency even in the case of teachers of moderate talent, while to the many teachers of more than ordinary ability sufficient scope was left for the display of their special aptitudes. The arrangement of subjects secured a combination of literary, philosophical, and scientific training. The Ratio insisted not on a variety of branches taught simultaneously (the bane of many modern systems), but on a few well-related subjects, and these were to be taught thoroughly. To secure thoroughness, frequent repetitions (daily, weekly, and monthly) were carried on in all grades. What the teacher presented in his prœlectio (i.e. explanation of grammar or authors in the lower grades, or lecture in the higher faculties) was to be assimilated by the student through a varied system of exercises: compositions, discussions, disputations, and contests. Attention was paid to the physical welfare of the students, school hours and work being so arranged as to leave sufficient time for healthful play and exercise. Compared with the severity of many earlier schools, the discipline was mild, the barbarous punishments not unfrequently inflicted by educators of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries being strictly forbidden. For the moral training of the pupils much was expected from the personal contact with the teacher, who was supposed to take an interest in every individual pupil. Religious training was the foremost object, and religious influence and inspiration were to pervade all teaching.
In modern times objections have been raised against various features of the Ratio Studiorum, but most of them are either based on a misunderstanding of the Ratio, or directed against features which are entirely unessential. Thus the supervision and examination of students by other pupils, the constant colloquial use of Latin, etc. are secondary features which have been abolished in most Jesuit schools. Much has been said against the supposed disastrous influence of emulation and rivalry, encouraged by the Ratio, and the awarding of prizes and premiums. This system is not necessarily dangerous and, if properly and cautiously used, may become a wholesome stimulus. At the time when the elective system was looked upon by many as the greatest modern discovery in education, the Ratio Studiorum was severely censured for upholding the "antiquated system of prescribed courses". As the free elective system is now considered a failure by the foremost educationists, it is not necessary to refute this charge against the Ratio. Besides, there is nothing in the Jesuit system which prohibits a reasonable amount of election, and many American Jesuit colleges have introduced certain elective branches in the higher classes. In regard to the numerous controversies concerning Jesuit education, Mr. Brown, U. S. Commissioner of Education (1911), has well observed that "in most of these controversies the Jesuit side is the side of many who are not Jesuits" (Educational Review, Dec., 1904, p. 531). Even critics who judge the Ratio with excessive severity are compelled to admit that it contains "much educational vision and experience, practical skill, and a pedagogical insight which never swerves from the main purpose" (Professor Fleischmann). Most of its essential features can well be retained and will prove advantageous no matter what new branches of study or methods of teaching are introduced.
Some points deserve to be specially treated on account of the serious objections raised against the Ratio. We hear frequent, and often animated, discussions concerning the aim or scope of educational systems and of various branches of study. What was the intellectual scope of the Ratio Studiorum? It cannot be better defined than in the words of the general of the Society, Father Martin, who said in 1892: "The characteristics of the Ratio Studiorum are not to be sought in the subject matter, nor in the order and succession in which the different branches are taught, but rather in what may be called the "form", or the spirit of the system. This form, or spirit, consists chiefly in the training of the mind [efformatio ingenii], which is the object, and in the various exercises, which are the means of attaining this object." This training or formation of the mind means the gradual and harmonious development of the various powers or faculties of the soul—of memory, imagination, intellect, and will; it is what we now call a general and liberal education. The training given by the Ratio was not to be specialized or professional, but general, and was to to lay the foundation for professional studies. In this regard the Ratio stands in opposition to various modern systems which aim at the immediately useful and practical or, at best, allot a very short time to general education; it stands in sharp contrast with those systems which advocate the earliest possible beginning of specialization. Jesuit educationists think, with many others, that "the higher the level on which the professional specializing begins, the more effective it will be". Besides, there are many spheres of thought, many branches of study, especially literary and historical, which may not be required for professional work, but which are necessary for a higher, broader, and truly liberal culture. The educated man is to be not merely a wage-earner, but one who takes an intelligent interest in the great questions of the day, and who thoroughly understands the important problems of life, intellectual, social, political, literary, philosophical, and religious. To accomplish this a solid general training, preparatory to strictly professional work and reasonably prolonged, is most valuable. One of the means, in fact the most important one, for this liberal training, the Ratio finds in the study of the Classics. Much has been said and written, within the past decades, for and against the value of the Classics as a means of culture. The Ratio does not deny the educational value of other branches, as sciences, modern languages, etc., but it highly values the Classical curriculum not merely because it is the old traditional system, but because, so far, it has proved to be the best means for giving the mind the much desired liberal training and general culture. It cannot be denied that the study of Latin, in particular, is excellently fitted to train the mind in clear and logical thinking. Immanent logic has been called the characteristic of the Latin language and its grammar, and its study has been termed a course in applied logic. Some writers have asserted that the Ratio prescribed Latin because it was the language of the Church, and of political and scholarly intercourse of former centuries, and that for this reason the perfect mastery of Latin, the acquisition of a Ciceronian style, was the primary aim of Jesuit education. It is true that in former ages, when Latin was the one great international tongue of the West, the study of this language had an eminently practical purpose, and both Protestant and Catholic schools aimed at imparting a mastery of it. But this was by no means the only object even in those days. As a distinguished Frendh Jesuit educationist expressed it in 1669: "Besides literary accomplishments gained from the study of the Classical languages, there are other advantages, especially an exquisite power and facility of reasoning", that is, in modern terms, mental training. The same is evident from the fact that Greek was always taught, certainly not for the purpose of conversation and intercourse. As there are many other advantages, besides the formal training to be derived from the study of the Classics, the Ratio needs no apology for the high value it set on them.
As was said above, the various exercises (the "prelection", memory lessons, compositions, repetitions, and contests) are the means of training the mind. The typical form of Jesuit education, minutely described in the Ratio, is called prœlectio; it means "lecturing" in the higher faculties, and its equivalent (Vorlesung) is even now used in German for the lectures in the universities. In the lower grades it means "explanation", but, as it has some special features, it is best to retain the word in an English dress as "prelection". It is applied both to the interpretation of authors and to the explanation of grammar, prosody, precepts of rhetoric, poetry, and style. In regard to the authors, the text was first to be read by the teacher, distinctly, accurately, and intelligently, as the best introduction to the understanding of the text. Then follow the interpretation of the text, formerly a paraphrase of the contents in Latin, now a translation into the vernacular; linguistic explanations of particular sentences; study of poetical or rhetorical precepts contained in the passage; finally, what is called "erudition" (i.e. antiquarian and subject explanation, including historical, archæological, geographical, biographical, political, ethical, and religious details, according to the contents). From many documents it is evident that a great deal of interesting and useful information was given under this head. But what is more important, the systematic handling of the text, the completeness of the explanation from every point of view, was an excellent means of training in accuracy and thoroughness.
Still it has been maintained that this method of teaching was too "formal", too "mechanical", and that as a result "originality and independence of mind, love of truth for its own sake", were suppressed (Quick). Should this "independence of mind" be taken as unrestrained liberty of thought in religious matters, as outspoken liberty of thought in religious matters, as outspoken or disguised Rationalism which places itself above the whole deposit of Divine Revelation, it must, indeed, be admitted that the Ratio and the whole Jesuit teaching are opposed to this kind of "originality and independence of mind". This, however, is a question of philosophy and theology rather than of pedagogical methods. Still, even some Catholic writers have thought that the Jesuit system is unfavourable to the development of great individualities, at least among the members of the order. Cardinal Newman says: "What a great idea, to use Guizot's expression, is the Society of Jesus! What a creation of genius is its organization; but so well adapted is the institution to its object that for that very reason it can afford to crush individualities, however gifted" (Hist. Sketches, III, 71). Whether the great cardinal here fully endorses Guizot's sentiments or not, it is certain that he virtually refutes them in another passage, when he states that the order was not over- zealous about its theological traditions, but suffered its great theologians to controvert with one another. "In this intellectual freedom its members justly glory; inasmuch as they have set their affections not on the opinions of the Schools, but on the souls of men" (ibid., II, 369). The history of the Society is the best refutation of the charge of crushing individualities. The literary and scientific activity of the order has been admired by its bitterest enemies. It has produced not only great theologians (Suarez, Vasquez, Molina, de Lugo, and others), but men prominently mentioned among the earlier Orientalists and writers on comparative language, as Hervas, Beschi, Ricci, Prémare, Gaubil; in the field of mathematics and natural sciences high distinction has been obtained by Clavius, called "the Euclid of his age", chief agent in the reformation of the Calendar under Gregory XIII; Grimaldi, Scheiner, and Secchi are famous as astronomers; Athanasius Kircher was a polyhistor in the best sense of the term; Hardouin, though frequently hypercritical and eccentric, was a most acute critic and in many ways far in advance of his age; Petavius was the father of the historical treatment of dogma and a leader in chronology; and the Bolandists have achieved a work which is truly a monumentum œre perennius. If the number of great men be taken as a criterion of the merit of an educational system, a long roll can be exhibited of pupils who were among the most prominent men in Europe: poets like Calderon, Tasso, Corneille, Molière, Goldoni; orators like Bossuet; scholars like Galileo, Descartes, Buffon, Muratori, Montesquieu, Malesherbes; statesmen like Richelieu; church dignitaries like St. Francis de Sales and Benedict XIV, called "the most learned of the Popes". All these men were trained under the Ratio, and, though it would be puerile to claim all their greatness for the system of education, one thing is certain, namely that the Ratio did not crush the originality and individuality of these pupils, whether members of the order of outside it. Nor has the educational system of the Society been sterile in more recent times in this regard; among its pupils it numbers men who have become distinguished in every walk of life.
The history of the practical working of the Ratio is the history of the colleges of the Society. In 1706 the number of collegiate and university institutions was over 750; Latin America alone had 96 colleges before the suppression of the Society. Some of the Jesuit colleges had over 2000 pupils each; while it is impossible to give an absolute average, 300 seems to be the very lowest. This would give the 700 and more colleges a sum total of over 210,000 students, all trained under the same system. Even non-Catholics bestowed great praise on the educational efficiency of the Jesuit schools; it was a common complaint among Protestants that many non-Catholic parents sent their sons to Jesuit schools because they considered the training given there superior to that obtained elsewhere. The suppression of the Society in the second half of the eighteenth century meant the total loss of property, houses, libraries, and observatories. After its restoration it had to struggle into existence under altered and unfavourable conditions. During the nineteenth century the Jesuits were persecuted almost without cessation in one country or other, and driven out again and again. These persecutions seriously hampered the educational work of the Society and prevented it from obtaining the brilliant success of former days. Still, the Jesuits possess now a respectable number of colleges, which is continually increasing, particularly in English-speaking countries.


PACHTLER, Ratio Studiorum et institutiones scholasticæ Societatis Jesu, per Germaniam olim Vigentes in Monumenta Germaniæ Pædagogia, II, V, IX, XVI (Berlin, 1867-94), the standard work, containing the text of the various revisions of the Ratio Studiorum and many other valuable documents; Monumenta historica Societatis Jesu (Madrid, 1894—); HUGHES, Loyola and the Educational System of the Jesuits in Great Educators Series (New York, 1892); SCHWICKERATH, Jesuit Education, Its History and Principles, Viewed in the Light of Modern Educational Problems (St. Louis, 1903); valuable notes on this work by BROWN in Educational Review (December, 1904), 523-32; DUER, Die Studienordnung des Gesellschaft Jesu (Freiburg, 1896); Commentaries on the educational practice of the Society by the Jesuits SACCHINI, JOUVANCY, KROPF, PERPIÑA, BONIFACIUS, and POSSEVIN, translated into German and annotated by STIER, SCHWICKERATH, ZORELL, SCHEID, and FELL in Herder's Bibliothek der Katholischen Pädagogik, X, XI (Freiburg, 1898-1901; QUICK, Educational Reformers (New York, 1890); PAULSEN, Gesch. des gelehrten Unterrichts auf den deutschen Schulen (2nd ed., Leipzig, 1896); SCHMID, Gesch. der Erziehung, III-V (Stuttgart, 1884-1901); FLEISCHMANN in REIN, Encyclopädisches Handbuch der Pädagogik, s.v. Jesuiten-pädagogik.

About this page

APA citation. Schwickerath, R. (1911). Ratio Studiorum. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved February 16, 2010 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12654a.htm
MLA citation. Schwickerath, Robert. "Ratio Studiorum." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 16 Feb. 2010 .
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by WGKofron. With thanks to St. Mary's Church, Akron, Ohio.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
Contact information. The editor of New Advent is Kevin Knight. My email address is feedback732 at newadvent.org. (To help fight spam, this address might change occasionally.) Regrettably, I can't reply to every letter, but I greatly appreciate your feedback — especially notifications about typographical errors and inappropriate ads.

Copyright © 2009 by Kevin Knight. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Souce: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12654a.htm
Date: 16-03-2010


Monday, February 15, 2010

Wat is een kind? Opvoeding in historisch perspectief en Slow parenting

De afstand tussen ouders en kinderen
Hoe kleiner die is, des te meer vrijheid je geeft

Door Rob Wijnberg
Elke woensdag bespreekt Rob Wijnberg een filosofisch dilemma naar aanleiding van een actuele gebeurtenis. Vandaag: hoe bezorgd moeten ouders zijn?

‘Laat je kind zo veel mogelijk zijn eigen gang gaan.’ Dat is kort samengevat de boodschap van een nieuwe kijk op ouderschap, die inmiddels bekend staat als slow parenting (nrc.next, 20 april).
Pleitbezorgers hiervan, waaronder de Britse schrijver Tom Hodgkinson en de Amerikaanse columniste Lenore Skenazy, vinden namelijk dat hedendaagse ouders zich veel te veel met hun kinderen bemoeien. Ze schrijven voor hoe ze zich moeten gedragen, hoe ze zich moeten vermaken en hoe ze met hun vriendjes om moeten gaan. Ook nemen ouders de meest elementaire verantwoordelijkheden uit handen: kinderen worden overal heen gebracht, het ontbijt wordt voor ze klaargemaakt en als ze zich vervelen, bedenkt de ouder wat ze kunnen gaan doen.
Volgens Hodgkinson zijn dit soort ouders structureel overbezorgd. Ze zijn als de dood dat het niet goed gaat met hun kinderen en lopen daarom als een politieagent én entertainer achter ze aan. Het gevolg: kinderen worden bang voor het leven en leren nauwelijks verantwoordelijkheden aan, aldus de slow parents. Het advies van Hodgkinson is dan ook om kinderen „zoveel mogelijk te negeren”. Want, zegt hij: „Daar worden ze zelfstandig van.”

Nu is die overbezorgdheid wellicht deels te verklaren door het constante gevoel van onveiligheid dat in westerse samenlevingen heerst. In onze door massamedia gedomineerde maatschappij staan mensen doorlopend bloot aan slecht nieuws – van breed uitgemeten ontvoeringen tot gewelddadige overvallen op crèches. Hoewel uit cijfers blijkt dat de criminaliteit feitelijk al jaren daalt, blijkt ook in Nederland het onveiligheidsgevoel het afgelopen jaar weer licht te zijn gestegen, constateerde het CBS onlangs. De neiging om je kind meer en meer te beschermen tegen deze boze buitenwereld is dan een logisch gevolg.
Maar er ligt waarschijnlijk ook nog een andere aanname ten grondslag aan onze ouderlijke bezorgdheid, namelijk dat kinderen – anders dan volwassenen – niet of nauwelijks in staat worden geacht zich staande te houden in de wereld. Onderliggend aan de vraag hoe vrij je je kind het beste kunt opvoeden, ligt dus een fundamentelere filosofische vraag:wat is eigenlijk een kind? En, specifieker: hoezeer verschilt een kind van een volwassene?
Opvallend genoeg bestaat daarover in het westerse denken een redelijk grote consensus. Filosofen zijn door de eeuwen heen nooit veel afgeweken van de kijk op het kind die de Griekse wijsgeer Aristoteles (384-322 v. Chr.) al had, namelijk als een ‘onvoltooid exemplaar van de mens’ die nog moest uitgroeien tot zijn uiteindelijk ‘functie’ – een volwassene. Deze visie stoelt grotendeels op het zogenoemde teleologische wereldbeeld: Aristoteles ging er vanuit dat alle dingen in de wereld bewogen naar het doel (telos) waarvoor ze waren ontworpen. Zo beschouwde Aristoteles een zaadje niet als een zaadje op zich, maar als een ‘plant-in-wording’. Voor de mens ging volgens hem precies hetzelfde op: een kind was als het ware nog geen mens, maar een ‘mens-in-wording’.
Deze kijk op het kind is in het Westen tot op de dag van vandaag gemeengoed. Pas wanneer een kind ‘volgroeid’ is, wordt hij in staat geacht deel te nemen aan de volwassen wereld. Het grootste deel van zijn jeugd brengt hij dan ook gescheiden van die wereld door: tot zijn 18e zit hij met leeftijdgenootjes verplicht op school en pas vanaf zijn 15e is het hebben van baantjes toegestaan. Soortgelijke restricties gelden ook voor drinken, gokken en autorijden – en het hebben van seks op jonge leeftijd wordt doorgaans ontmoedigd. De leidende gedachte hierachter is zoals Aristoteles deze al formuleerde: kinderen zijn nog niet ‘rijp’ genoeg om de verantwoordelijkheden te kunnen dragen zoals dat in het dagelijkse leven van mensen wordt verlangd.
Nu lijkt deze gedachte nogal voor de hand liggend – het is niet voor niets dat er onder filosofen al eeuwen overeenstemming over bestaat. Toch is deze kijk op het kind niet altijd even vanzelfsprekend geweest. In zijn beroemde – maar niet onomstreden – standaardwerk De ontdekking van het kind (1973) beschrijft de Franse historicus Philippe Ariès (1914-1984) hoe in de middeleeuwen, grofweg vanaf de zesde tot zestiende eeuw, „het idee van de kinderjaren niet bestond”. Kinderen werden volgens Ariès in die periode niet als kinderen, maar als „kleine volwassenen” gezien.
Zodra ze onafhankelijk waren van directe zorg, rond hun zevende, namen zij deel aan het volwassen leven: ze gingen niet naar school, maar leerden zich goed te gedragen door te werken. Zij waren niet, zoals in onze tijd, het middelpunt van de familie, maar stonden in dienst ervan – op gelijke voet met hun ouders. Deze opvatting reflecteerde volgens Ariès duidelijk in de kunst: op schilderijen werden kinderen afgebeeld als ‘miniaturen’ van volwassenen en gingen gekleed in dezelfde soort kleding. „De middeleeuwse samenleving had geen gevoel voor het kind”, aldus Ariès.
Vanaf de veertiende eeuw kwam daar langzaam verandering in. Zo transformeerde gaandeweg de functie van het gezin: het was niet langer alleen een manier om leven, eer en bezit over te dragen, maar raakte verbonden met persoonlijke affectie en zorg voor elkaar. Ook groeide het besef dat kinderen een wezenlijk andere belevingswereld hebben dan volwassenen. Er ontstond met name twijfel over het feit of kinderen wel over een moreel bewustzijn beschikten of niet.
Onder invloed van katholieke en protestantse evangelisten deed het begrip ‘opvoeding’ zo zijn intrede, aldus Ariès: kinderen moesten door het gezin gesocialiseerd worden naar een bepaalde moraal. Tijdens de Verlichting, begin negentiende eeuw, kreeg deze gedachte een extra impuls, toen het idee gemeengoed werd dat ‘rationaliteit’ het meest wezenlijke kenmerk van de mens (en de moraal) was. Bij kinderen was dit rationele vermogen nog onderontwikkeld, constateerde men – en zodoende kwam het kind steeds verder van een volwassene af te staan. Met de afschaffing van kinderarbeid, na de Industriële Revolutie, waren de gescheiden werelden van kind en ouder definitief een feit.
Ironisch genoeg is het juist deze (goedbedoelde) scheiding tussen de fysieke en geestelijke belevingswereld van kinderen en volwassenen geweest, die de bezorgdheid van ouders hand over hand deed toenemen. Want, aan de ene kant verminderde het geloof in de morele en rationele capaciteiten van kinderen, terwijl tegelijkertijd de afstand tussen de dagelijkse praktijk van ouder en kind groeide.
Dat gaf al vanaf de zeventiende eeuw enorme onrust, constateert Ariès: de wereld raakte „geobsedeerd door de lichamelijke, morele en seksuele problemen van het kind”, schrijft hij. Men huldigde de opvatting „dat een kind nog niet rijp was voor het leven” en daarom gedurende zijn jeugd „in quarantaine moest worden gehouden”.
Of deze terugkeer naar het Aristotelische wereldbeeld terecht is geweest, kan worden betwijfeld. Uit recente psychologische onderzoeken is namelijk gebleken dat kinderen al veel eerder een rationeel en moreel bewustzijn ontwikkelen dan lange tijd werd verondersteld. Zo hebben kinderen al vanaf hun vijfde een redelijk sterk empathisch vermogen, waardoor ze de intenties van anderen kunnen inschatten. En vanaf hun achtste zijn ze reeds in staat om goed en kwaad op abstract niveau van elkaar te onderscheiden. Wel is uit recent onderzoek gebleken dat pubers niet goed zijn in het beoordelen van risico’s: hoewel ze bijvoorbeeld weten dat brommer rijden zonder helm op ‘niet goed’ is – en daarvan dus een abstract moreel besef hebben – overzien zij de mogelijke consequenties nauwelijks.
Bezorgd zijn over je kinderen is dus niet altijd onterecht, maar dat sommige ouders er in doorschieten, zoals de slow parents constateren, is evident. De vraag is alleen of dat komt omdat ouders te dicht op hun kinderen staan, zoals Tom Hodgkinson beweert. De historische analyse van Ariès laat immers zien dat moderne ouders geestelijk en fysiek juist veel verder af staan van hun kinderen dan een paar eeuwen geleden. Ouders bemoeien zich misschien wel veel met hun kroost, maar die bemoeienis wordt vooral ingegeven door de aanname dat hun belevingswerelden strikt gescheiden zijn – of horen te zijn. Ze brengen de kinderen naar de crèche, naar school en naar gitaarles, en gaan er ondertussen vanuit dat ze niet ‘rijp’ genoeg zijn om op zichzelf te staan. Bezorgdheid is dan het onvermijdelijke gevolg.
Om kinderen gewoon ‘hun gang te laten gaan’, zoals de slow parents adviseren, zal dan ook eerst de afstand tussen ouders en kind verkleind moeten worden – door juist meer directe betrokkenheid bij hun leven te tonen en zo het vertrouwen te ontwikkelen dat ze tot meer verantwoordelijkheid in staat zijn dan we vaak denken. Kinderen „zoveel mogelijk negeren”, omdat ze dat „verantwoordelijkheidsgevoel geeft”, zoals Hodgkinson suggereert, is dus het paard achter de wagen spannen: dan wordt de bezorgdheid van de moderne ouder vermoedelijk alleen maar groter. Het is eerder andersom: om je kinderen te kúnnen negeren, moeten ze eerst heel dichtbij je staan.

Verschenen in nrc.next op 29 april 2009 - http://www.robwijnberg.nl/site/blog/essay-zin-69-slow-parents-en-de-vraag--wat-is-een-kind-