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THE ORDER OF THE PIOUS SCHOOLS THE PIARIST FATHERS IN ASIA

On school's organization
The Life Of St. Joseph Calasanz
Saints, Martys, & Venerables
Calasanzian Family

C) Concerning the school's organization

The historian L. Von Pastor credits Calsanz with founding the first, tuition free, public school in Europe. Calasanz was the first person to divide a school into grades. Children usually began schools at the age of six, moving through a succession of nine grades in descending order. Classes were held for two-and-a-half hours in the mornings and afternoons. A general examination was conducted every four months in all schools. Students who passed were promoted to the next grade. Calasanz recommended a maximum of fifty pupils in each class. To encourage competition, the students were divided into two groups which competed with each other for the best grades. He also established complementary facilities including dining halls, cloakrooms, and dormitories, and he saw to it that the students were provided with all necessary materials free of charge.

It is true that before Calasanz there had been other people in both Catholic and Protestant camps who wrote theories concerning pedagogy and statistics. But they were preoccupied with the theoritical problems of education, and they never made a significant impact on practical considerations. Especially among the Protestants, Luther and German statesmen soon became static in their initiatives and produced no significant flow of ideas. Durinf his lifetime, in the field of education, Calasanz was matched in stature only by the Czech Protestant bishop John Amos Comenius.

The Pious Schools of Calasanz exemplified in a marvelous way the three important qualities of being universal, tuition free and compulsory.

At least initially, his schools did not prepare students for higher or university studies. He was not satisfied with the cultural and intellectual programs used at that time in the elementary schools. He tried to widen the spiritual and intellectual horizons of the students, teaching them about literature, humanities, culture, and the perfection of their scientific knowledge. Calasanz was also concerned with physical education and personal hygiene.

Calasanz thought that this formation would help his students get jobs that were unapproachable to those who were not trained in the culture of his time. Before the establishment of the Pious Schools, only the most intelligent and those who were financially able could continue their studies without any difficulty.

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