By Alena Skodova Jan Amos Komensky - also known as Comenius was a thinker, philosopher, writer and educator. Here in the Czech Republic all school children know him - mostly under the name 'the teacher of nations'. I spoke with the director of the Komensky Museum in Prague, Ludovit Emanuel, who told me more about the rich but rather unfortunate life of this great Czech personality of the Baroque period.
While we know the exact date when Komensky was born, his birthplace remains shrouded in mystery:
"I led a wandering life, I had no homeland. I was constantly propelled from one place to another, never and nowhere did I find a permanent home."
Despite his wandering life, though, Komensky was a very productive philosopher and writer, and he also worked on a new school system, which he wanted to be introduced in the Czech kingdom. Schola ludus - or school through play - was the main credo of his project for a new type of school. He wrote many didactical books, such as 'The Gate of Languages Unlocked" - which was a textbook for teaching Latin and making it more attractive to children, or 'The School of Infancy' - a handbook for parents and educators, which was the first systematic pedagogic work in the world dealing with pre-school education. His most famous work is 'The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart' from 1623 - a book influenced by other European utopian writings, in which he presented his ideas as to how society might be improved. His popular encyclopaedia 'Orbis Pictus' was still in use in the 19th century. The great German poet Johann Wolfgang Goethe wrote of it warmly many times - it was one of his favourite books when he was a child.
Mr. Emanuel quoted one of Komensky's principle ideas about tolerance:
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