By Christian Overman in Worldview Matters, September 28, 2012
The effects of the Reformation on the development of education in the West (and other parts of the world influenced by the offspring of the Reformation, such as Charles Grant and William Cary in India) cannot be overstated. The ball that Martin Luther got rolling in 1517 was something like that gigantic rolling rock that rumbled with increasing momentum toward Indiana Jones in the jungle cave.
Luther expounded upon essential Truths of the Bible which he believed were as comprehensible to cobblers as Kings, if they had it in their common language [something he provided for the Germans]. This conviction, combined with Gutenberg’s press, made The Book accessible to the people, and changed everything. It provoked a compelling reason for commoners' literacy, driven by the revolutionary idea that Truth would set people free.
Common people, if literate, could read Truth for themselves!Wow! And their children could read Truth too—if they were also literate.
They didn’t just view The Book as a collection of interesting bedtime stories. They perceived the Bible as the very Word of God in print. Reformers like Calvin saw it as the underpinning of cities, like Geneva, where Calvin put theology into practice and transformed what was once called “the smelliest city in Europe” to a city on a hill that inspired an entire continent. [Read Tom Bloomer’s recount of this remarkable story here.]
Luther also saw the urgency for educational reform. He wanted to replace the schools' fixation on Aristotle with a love for The Book. But Luther had his hands full reforming the Church, and it fell on one who came after Luther to reform education. His name was John Comenius, born in 1592, in Moravia (now the Czech Republic). He was a bishop with the Moravian Brethren who wrote nearly ninety books on education. Many consider him to be the father of contemporary education.
Comenius saw medieval schools as “slaughterhouses of the mind.” His mission was to make schools an “imitation of heaven.” How? By making connections between all subjects taught in school and the larger frame of reference that a biblical worldview provides. As Vishal Mangalwadi notes in The Book that Made Your World, “[Comenius] called his biblical philosophy Pansophia, integrating all wisdom, secular and sacred, into a biblical framework.”