Johann Sturm on Education: The Reformation and Humanist Learningtrans. by Lewis W. Spitz and Barbara Sher Tinsley (review)
- The Catholic Historical Review
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 83, Number 2, April 1997
- pp. 337-338
- View Citation
- Additional Information
BOOK REVIEWS337 wiU be the superior's part to consider whether the subject ought to be transferred to another place where he may have better bodUy health and be able to employ himself more in the service of God our Lord. (Constitutions , 304) It seems fair to say that the Jesuits dealt with confrontations with the plague in terms close to this directive, balancing the Ignatian ideal of devoted service ofthe sick with the prudent and pragmatic norms ofthe greater service ofGod. It was this tension that came into play in la guerra di San Carlo and the dispute with the great Carlo Borromeo over tending to the needs of plague victims .The Jesuit compromise was to appoint one or two men to work with the sick and transfer the rest to safer grounds. Needless to say, students of the early Society and its role in the sixteenth century wiU find much of interest in these pages. WW Meissner, SJ., M.D. Boston College Johann Sturm on Education: The Reformation and Humanist Learning. Introduced and translated by Lewis W Spitz and Barbara Sher Tinsley (St. Louis, Missouri: Concordia PubUshing House. 1995. Pp. 429.) These are English translations ofthe most important Latin pedagogical works of the Strasbourg educator, Johann Sturm (1507-1589). Sturm was a distinguished member of the host of Christian humanists who reformed the education of young people in Northern Europe just as reUgious institutions were undergoing a general revolution. They hoped that a return ad fontes would renew language and thus life. Sturm himself was swept into the Swiss/Rhenish Reformation as his construal ofthat hope, and he was active both in theological dialogue and controversy and in diplomatic maneuvers (not represented in this coUection). His chief work, however, was to design and administer schools that would profoundly shape young men by immersion in classical language and literature , in order to give them the poUtical virtue, grace, balance, and purity of the ancients.The Gymnasium and Academy of Strasbourg were of his making, and his ideas helped shape the education of eUte boys throughout Europe, including (at least Sturm thought) Jesuit schools. Several of the texts translated here were widely read and potent. These translations, however, are very uneven. Sturm wrote Latin with an elegance and nuance not reflected in these EngUsh texts. HappUy, several of his most important works are translated competentiy if inelegantly. The EngUsh title, "The Correct Opening of Elementary Schools of Letters," limps after Sturm's "De Uterarum ludis recte aperiendis," but it makes sense enough. Here Sturm offered a thoughtful, detaUed rationale for his curriculum,grade by grade. "Let the control of speech and of Ufe be joined together (p. 74)" His discussion 338BOOK REVIEWS of teaching method—chiefly what not to do—was pungent (p. 92).The other most significant and influential texts offered here, "Lauingen School" and the "Classical Letters," fiU out and develop the ideas Sturm had worked out in "Correct Opening."The translation of the "Classical Letters" profits from Jean Rott's magisterial edition and French translation; Spitz andTinsley send their readers to Rott's apparatus. In the "Classical Letters" Sturm offers concrete advice to his teachers, carefuUy outlining curricular goals in the context of the overaU structure of the curriculum, making suggestions about suitable teaching techniques, and sorting through the appropriate works for students to be studying. In some cases, however, these translations are a 'work stiU in progress. The very first text,"Advice onWhat Organization to Give to the Gymnasium in Strasbourg ," contains some English sentences that require very careful reading ifanything is to be gleaned from them. "Even though bringing sheep together is useful, it is almost necessary for men to compare themselves to the multitude and variety from which first, imitation is stimulated, and next, pleasure derived. For by that which many or aU praise, and by which men customarUy catch fire is the tedium of diverse studies removed." Such lapses, unfortunately, occur throughout the translations. The authors offer introductory essays on Johann Sturm himself, on his "method of humanistic pedagogy," and a bibliographic essay at the end.There are some significant inconsistencies between them: on page 15, Sturm's "Classical Letters" elicit the judgment...