Comenius - Didactica Magna - Suit the teaching to the abilities of the person
Type of Spiritual Experience
Despite the somewhat provocative beginning to this passage, Comenius is actualy saying that there is no such thing as a dull and stupid person.
When I was at school there was a move to try to abolish streaming. Thankfully in my school it was resisted, my teachers pointing out that streaming helps children - it ensures the teaching is geared to their abilities. The contrary argument was then, but it makes the children in the bottom streams appear inferior and gives them a feeling of worthlesness.
As my head teacher pointed out,[a wise old bird] if you create one large comprehensive school from three or four grammar and secondary modern schools this is the inevitable result. Might it not be better to go back to smaller specialised schools and smaller streamed classes?
As Comenius said in another paper
The slower and the weaker the disposition of any man, the more he needs assistance … nor can any man be found whose intellect is so weak that it cannot be improved by culture.
Given that we are, as it were, all in the same boat, there is every reason to help those who might overturn it, because they simply did not understand
A description of the experience
The Great Didactic of John Amos Comenius - Translated into English by M. W. Keatinge, M.A.1967
Nor is it any obstacle that some seem to be naturally dull and stupid, for this renders more imperative the universal culture of such intellects. The slower and the weaker the disposition of any man, the more he needs assistance, that he may throw off his brutish dullness and stupidity as much as possible.
Nor can any man be found whose intellect is so weak that it cannot be improved by culture. A sieve, if you continually pour water through it, grows cleaner and cleaner, even though it cannot retain the liquid.
And in the same way, the dull and weak minded, though they make no advance in letters, become softer in disposition.
There have been, besides many instances in which those who are naturally stupid have gained such a grasp of the sciences as to excel those who were more gifted. As the poet truly says ‘industry overcomes all obstacles’.
And again, just as some men are strong as children, but afterwards grow sick and ailing, while others, whose bodies are sickly and undersized in youth develop into robust and tall men, so it is with intellects.
Some develop early, but soon wear out and grow dull, whilst others, originally stupid, become sharp and penetrating.
In our orchards we like to have not only trees that bring forth early fruit but also those that are late bearing; for each thing, as says the son of Sirach, finds praise in its season and at length, though late shows that it has not existed in vain.