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MU Spotlight: John Amos Comenius

MU Spotlight 20/20

John Amos Comenius

What is your role at the University and what is something many may not know about the work you do?

I don’t have a class year or title, per se, although I was a Bishop in the Unitas Fratrum in the 17th Century and I’ve been told I am now referred to as the Father of Modern Education. I was born March 28, 1592.

I think I am a symbol on your campus for the ideals of Moravian University (given the statue of me on Main Street) and I know you use this quote of mine frequently, “Not the children of the rich or of the powerful only, but of all alike, boys and girls, both noble and ignoble, rich and poor, in all cities and towns, villages and hamlets, should be sent to school.” 

I don’t think one of my other famous quotes has been shared regularly on your campus, so I’ll share this one: “Three things give the student the possibility of surpassing his teacher: ask a lot of questions, remember the answers, teach.”

Me, walking with the graduating class in the 1990s. I definitely prefer the 1590s.

My favorite spot on campus is…

My favorite spot on campus is Comenius Hall because it is a symbol of your academic program at the University, but when it was first built it included a library, gymnasium, and workshop with carpentry tools. That history embraces all of my teachings about the values of hands-on learning and play.        

What’s your favorite Moravian tradition?

My favorite college tradition is Vespers because I am intrigued by the notion of this service inspired by music and song, and I enjoyed learning that your College has thousands and thousands of people who look forward to this every year.

What is something you would like to share that no one knows about you? 

I have MU tattooed on my left calf, but no one ever sees it since it is covered by my robe; I would have had a greyhound but I didn’t know about the mascot thing back then.

What sound do you love? Why? 

I love the sound of people, young and old, playing. Most don’t know that I led a gymnasium during a time of my life when I was in Poland. Here’s another quote to share my opinions about the power of play, “A tree must also transpire, and needs to be copiously refreshed by wind, rain, and frost; otherwise it easily falls into bad condition, and becomes barren. In the same way the human body needs movement, excitement, and exercise, and in daily life these must be supplied, either artificially or naturally.”

I can never resist a good ____.

Picture book. Perhaps you don’t know that I was the innovator who first introduced pictorial textbooks, written in native language instead of Latin. I like to think that this helped children learn in new and meaningful ways.

If there was a movie produced about your life, who would play you and why? 

What’s a movie?  I’m sorry, but I don’t understand this question so I won’t be able to answer it.