Wolfgang Ratich (1571 – 1635)was a practitioner of education during the 17th century. His work during his lifetime was mostly a failure but time was a better judge of his practical insights into education. In addition, Ratich was an early influence on Comenius who was one of the greatest educators of all time.
Ratich studied philosophy and theology at university with the goal of becoming a preacher. However, a speech impediment put an early end to his career in ministry. This led him to try teaching as his career.
Views on Education
Ratich quickly formed strong views on education. He believed that children should study their mother tongue first before learning about others, which is an idea that is still supported to this day.
Teaching should also be inductive in nature which means that the students learn from examples and experience first and use these experiences to form conclusions. This was radical at the time because most believe that learning involved making grand conclusions first and finding support for them which is called deductive thinking.
Ratich also despised rote learning as intellectual harmful to students. He preferred to allow a child to learn according to nature. This idea was further spelled out in the work of Piaget and Kohlberg who stressed development in young children.
Language Teaching MEthod
Ratich method for teaching English was methodical, to say the least. His method included about 6 steps.
- Teach the alphabet
- Form words and syllables
- Teacher reads a book out loud to the class with students following along
- Students take turns reading parts of a chapter from the book the teacher read
- Teacher teaches grammar
- Students identify grammatical examples of the English terms in the book
It’s rather amazing this system worked. However, it was ahead of its time. Unfortunately, the results were mixed but maybe not for the method but rather because of the teacher
After several years of trying Ratch was finally allowed to put his ideas into practice at a school. With his thoughts on education and detailed method results were assumed o be coming. However, the school was a failure. This is due primarily to the poor people skills of Ratich
Ratich alienated everyone with his personality and stubbornness. He was rude and considered arrogant. Even Ratich’s religion was a point of contention as Ratich was Lutheran and he was living and working among Calvinist. Eventually, Ratich irritated the prince and was thrown in prison for a while before leaving.
Ratich in many had the right ideas and wrong personality. His ideas were revolutionary and in many ways laid the foundation for ideas in TESOL such as inductive learning, the use of authentic reading etc. Ratich only problem was Ratich which may be one of the lessons a young Comenius learned when he visited Ratich’s school.