Polish ideas about education late in the eighteenth and early in the nineteenth century were strongly influenced by the new trends in European philosophy that dated from the middle 1700s. Chielf among the thinkers wko affected education was René Descartes. His Disco urs de la methode was not only the foundation of a rational understanding of natural phenomena, providing new rules for the pursuit of knowledge, but it also influenced a search for new methods of conveying knowledge. John Locke recognized the role of sense experience as the source of knowledge and reflection in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (Polish translation 1784) and so directed the further course of educational ideas. His 1693 work, Some Thoughts on Education (Polish translation 1781), was not organized as an educational piece, but contained all the important pedagogical tendencies that were later worked out in theory and practice during the eighteenth century. Though Locke favored individual home tutoring, many of his ideas were applied to the classroom in England and elsewhere. Locke’s Some Thoughts on Education was like a manifesto calling for a connection between education and life’s demands and included valuable suggestions about how education might become more in touch with life.
The main ideas of Enlightenment education—rationalism, empiricism, and utilitarianism—originated in England and France. Natural law and its derived economic doctrine, physiocracy, propounded in France by François Quesnay, dominated the formation of new curricula, the definition of educational goals, and the writing of new educational plans. The encroachment of law and economics into the area of education was both the cause and result of stronger ties between educational change and economic and political reforms than had existed in previous centuries. This was particularly true in Poland.
Polish Enlightenment educational thought took shape slowly. New ideas reached Poland from France, England, Italy, and Germany. Enlightenment pedagogy developed later in Poland than in Western Europe, which does not, however, mean that Polish ideas were simply derivative. Polish educational thought was, to a large degree, defined by domestic social and political conditions and the need for basic reforms.
Gentry democracy in its increasingly decadent forms created different circumstances for the development of educational ideas as compared to the West. On the one hand, the number of enlightened individuals who knew educational literature, who were active in education, and who had broad intellectual horizons and bold ideas was much smaller in eighteenth-century Poland than in the enlightened monarchies, because of Poland’s growing economic and social backwardness, the degeneration of the political system, and the resulting cultural stagnation. On the other hand, the political system allowed for greater freedom of expression, for bolder thought linking education to political, economic, and social reforms. Thus, educational problems discussed in Poland were different from those discussed in the West.
Among the first issues raised in Poland was civic education, predating French concern in that area. Civic education was a paramount concern in Polish reform initiatives and statements on education during the Enlightenment. Civic education in ever richer forms became the principle that guided Polish approaches to the national system of education and even to home tutoring.
Polish educational reformers were convinced that to change the status quo they must change the social and political consciousness of the gentry. Therefore, shaping political opinion through education became the most important part of Polish educational thought. Only education in a school community according to a carefully planned curriculum could guarantee that ideas of citizenship would be reshaped. It is not surprising that an individual who was as much a statesman as he was an educator was first to push for educational reform. Stanisław Konarski was educated by the Piarist Order and became one of its members.1 He began his career as a teacher at one of the well known Piarist colleges. From 1725-1729 he supplemented his education and teaching experience at the Collegium Nazarenum in Rome, which influenced his later reform work. He also studied in Paris for a short time, and he acquainted himself with the schools of Venice and the German states. Konarski supported Stanisław Leszczyński and worked for his election to the Polish throne after the death of August II, thus gaining a fuller knowledge of political affairs. Konarski’s political activity and his work codifying Polish law (Volumina legum, vols. 1-6, 1732-39) deepened his conviction that only thoroughgoing reform could save Poland from collapse. He was convinced that reform could not succeed unless a new generation was educated to understand the necessity of reform and its substance.
In 1740 the Collegium Nobilium founded by Konarski opened its doors in Warsaw. It was an elite boarding school for children of the magnate class. The new school was modeled on the Collegium Nazarenum and on western European noble academies. Unlike those schools, the Collegium Nobilium had a carefully defined character-building curriculum. The most important and longest lasting of Konarski’s contributions to education was his formulation of an ideal of character-building directed towards patriotism and citizenship.2 It is worth remarking that Konarski’s ideas on civic education preceded the appearance of this term in French educational literature in the works of La Chalotais and Rolland d’Erceville by over a decade.3 Konarski frequently presented his ideas on education in many of his works. He made his most important and best- known statement in 1754 in a speech at the dedication of the new building for the Collegium Nobilium. He addressed the assembled notables, clergy, and gentry on “shaping an honest person and a good citizen” (De viro honesto er bono cive ab ineunte aerare formando). A good citizen should, above all, be faithful throughout his life to a “supreme love of the fatherland” even if it meant sacrificing his personal interests and ambitions. Young people, said Konarski, should be constantly imbued with a respect for existing laws, for the king, the government, and with the necessity of obeying them. But, one cannot be a good citizen unless one is a good person. A good person is deeply religious, yet is not a religious bigot. He loves justice. He is honest, open, modest, and tolerates other views and customs.4
Konarski had a greater appreciation for the character-building role of subjectteaching than his contemporary pedagogues. In the lower grades of the Collegium the emphasis in the curriculum was on languages. Readings from ancient authors were, however, chosen to give the boys examples of courage, self-sacrifice, and justice. In the upper grades, boys studied old Polish authors, Polish history and geography. Thus the students learned about their own country and how to properly express themselves in Polish. Though Latin came first, Konarski made sure modern languages were also taught.
Rhetoric was the most important subject at the Collegium, as it was around Europe. At the Collegium, however, and later at all the Piarist schools, the content of rhetoric lessons went far beyond the treatment of the subject generally accepted at that time. Training in effective and pleasing speaking was also used as civic training. The topics chosen for presentations related to politics, social issues, economics, and education. They were meant to introduce students to new ideas, to make them critical of prevailing customs, to lead students to seek ways to change their society for the better.
For the higher grades the culmination of work and a test of achievement in Latin rhetoric were the school dietines (sejmik) or debates. Traditionally school dietines were true reflections of gentry assemblies with arguments, noise, and fights. At the Collegium, however, a serious atmosphere prevailed during the school dietines. One after another students presented their positions gravely discussing the “improvement of Polish customs” and “how to make our fatherland a happier place.”5
Because the Collegium Nobilium was an elite school it provided virtually luxury accommodations for its students. At the same time, students were cut off from their families while at school in order to distance the boys from the social faults that Konarski hoped to eliminate in the younger generation.
Many enlightened citizens who went on to hold high government offices received their educations at the Collegium Nobilium. Among the school’s famous students were Ignacy and Stanisław Potocki. Ignacy was a member of the Commission for National Education and an author and defender of the Constitution of 3 May. Stanisław was a statesman in the Duchy of Warsaw and Congress Kingdom of Poland. In the Congress Kingdom he was a leading education official and worked to further education in Poland.
Konarski’s educational work went beyond the Collegium Nobilium. He correctly understood that it was not enough to patiently reeducate the social elite. It was necessary to educate wider circles of gentry and bourgeois youth, those boys who attended the Piarist Order’s schools. The Piarists were second only to the Jesuits in the number of schools they operated in the Kingdom and Lithuania. There were twenty-eight Piarist colleges and fifty-seven Jesuit colleges before the First Partition. Most of the schools of both orders were three to five year colleges whose curricula emphasized languages and grammar.
After overcoming many difficulties and defeating the opposition of senior members of his order, Konarski received papal permission to reform the Piarist schools in Poland. New rules were drawn up between 1753 and 1756 that redefined the Piarist schools. The reformed Piarist colleges differed from the Collegium Nobilium. Polish was more widely used and Latin instruction was simplified. In the upper grades mathematics and laboratory physics were introduced—subjects that had application in everyday life. More subjects were included as themes for assignments in rhetoric.
More intelligent teachers were sent abroad to improve their teaching methods and broaden their knowledge. Many enlightened Piarists joined the reform camp and worked to raise the level of Polish intellectual life. Among them were the first supporters of physiocratic economic ideas in Poland (for example Antoni Popławski), ideas which later influenced the introduction of new subjects into the school curriculum.
The Piarist drive to modernize their schools caught the attention of the Jesuits, who saw the new Piarist colleges as dangerous competitors to their own schools. After 1762 the Polish Jesuit schools benefitted from the arrival of members of the order expelled from France. The French Jesuits were generally better educated and they understood the necessity of adapting curricula to the new trends in education. Polish Jesuits also began to study outside of Poland more often. A result of these wider contacts was that certain larger Jesuit colleges became centers for the teaching of physics, mathematics, and astronomy. Laboratories were equipped and observatories set up, notably in Lwow, Poznan and Warsaw.
Another influential new circle that played an important role in Polish cultural and political life was established in Warsaw during the 1760s. It was centered in the Knight’s School (Szkoła Rycerska) established by King Stanisław August Poniatowski in 1765.6 The school, also called the Cadets’ Corps of His Royal Majesty and the Republic (Korpus Kadetów Jego Królewskiej Mosci i Rzeczpospolitej), was founded less than a year after Stanisław August’s coronation and began work at the beginning of 1766. For two more years, efforts continued to ensure the school a solid financial base, to find suitable teachers, and to find an appropriate place for the school. It was only in 1768 that the school’s organizational statute and curriculum were finally decided on. The Cadets’ Corps had a dual system of organization. It was military, as shown by the division of the School into brigades, the numerous officers, and military training. At the same time, for instructional purposes, students were divided by grades and their education was also meant to prepare them to hold civilian posts. The Cadets’ Corps had a seven-year curriculum. In grades one thru four the emphasis was on general knowledge: languages, history, geography, mathematics, physics, geometry, and drafting. In the upper grades, the concentration was on military engineering in grades five and seven and on basic law in grade six.
The clearly stated curriculum influenced the selection of teachers and military officers to serve at the Cadets’ Corps. The school’s staff was chosen for their professional preparation and knowledge of the subjects to be taught, which were more important than nationality, religious confession, or estate. This distinguished the Cadets’ Corps from the Collegium Nobilium. There were also other differences. The Cadets’ Corps was Poland’s first state school. It was supervised by the King and supported by the Polish and Lithuanian treasuries (2/3 and 1/3 respectively) and cadets enrolled from each province in the same proportion. Because the King was head of the school, he had overall control over it and informally supervised all its activities. Many gifted students of limited means owed their education to the King, including Tadeusz Kościuszko, who fought in the American War of Independence (1775-1783) and led the Polish uprising of 1794.
Responsibility for the finances and yearly inspection of the Cadets’ Corps was in the hands of the Diet’s Military Commission (Komisja wojskowa). The Cadets’ Corps’ exclusive ties to government institutions fixed its secular character. Most of the administrators and staff were not in holy orders, though the clergy was not excluded. When the Corps was first established, there were not enough properly prepared officers and teachers in Poland to staff the school, and most of the staffwas foreign, frequently Lutheran or Calvinist by religion. Over time the numbers of foreigners decreased. The shift was most apparent among the junior officers who directly and constantly supervised the cadets and had the greatest character-building influence on them. These junior officers were mostly Poles and, after a time, only Poles were recruited for those positions.
Foreigners were very important as senior officers and administrators. Beginning in 1768, the Cadets’ Corps worked according to the Royal Statutes (Ustawy Królewskie), which were closely connected to the Règlement Général. Englishman John Lind, director of instruction, and Adam Louis Bos Roger (Bosroger), an experienced French officer, probably collaborated in drawing up both of these sets of regulations. Although Bos Roger was only at the school during the years 1766-1768, he left a lasting mark. He introduced military engineering, cartography, and drafting plans for fortifications into the curriculum. It is worth mentioning that historians believe that it was Kościuszko’s skills in these very areas that gained him such recognition during his service in America, and Kościuszko was one of Bos Roger’s students.
The Cadets’ Corps owed its course and method of teaching strategy and tactics to another foreign officer, Prussian Lieutenant-Colonel Anton Leopold Oelsnitz (at the Corps 1767-1776?). Oelsnitz used his experience in the well organized Prussian army to shape his teaching. The valuable lessons that could be learned from the French and Prussian military were skillfully used to educate Polish officers thanks to the personal care of the Corps’ commandant, Prince Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski, the wise support of the King, and the primacy of civic and patriotic elements in the Corp’s educational program. The careers of many former cadets showed that this educational combination yielded the desired results.
The cosmopolitan make-up of the Corps’ staff required attitudes of tolerance and respect. At a time when religious prejudices were visible, the tolerant climate at this special school had an enormous character-building influence. Despite the cosmopolitan character of the faculty, the main school goal was teaching patriotic and civic values. In this respect the Cadets’ Corps followed the course laid down by Konarski twenty-five years before. The school’s lapidary definition of its character-building aims as “à former un bon citoyen et un homme sociable” faithfully repeated these ideas. In the Corps’ 1768 statutes, we find a point reminiscent of Konarski’s 1754 speech. “Chaque Cadet doit avoir tojours la droiture dans son coeur, la justesse dans son esprit et la vérité sur les lèvres.”7 This admonition was made to the cadets in various forms at every possible occasion.
The curriculum, teaching methods, ideas of character-building, and conduct regulations for cadets were all developed in their general form between 1768 and 1771. John Lind, from England, played a significant part in drawing up these basic policies. As director of instruction (1767-1772), he was responsible for the teaching program of the institution including standards of teaching and supervision of the examinations. Lind felt that there was a self-evident connection between subject-teaching and character-building. He put heavy emphasis on the use of Polish in teaching and therefore on his teachers to learn Polish. In the Cadets’ Corps curriculum more time was allotted to the study of history, geography, literature, and Polish law than in the Piarist colleges. Lind directed that teachers should appeal more often to students’ reason than to their rote memory and that experience and observation should be used to help students understand their subjects. This approach clearly shows the influence of John Locke and of the best English schools. School discipline, believed Lind, should work through students’ feelings of ambition, honor, and self-worth, not through fear. Honor and a sense of self-worth were two traits that should distinguish the graduates of the Cadets’ Corps.
Lind’s years in Warsaw and his close cooperation with Stanisław August left him with strong ties to Poland. After Lind returned to England he kept up his contacts with the King. Lind also became an unofficial spokesman for Poland. In his writings he condemned the First Partition and tried to draw the attention of English statesmen and English public opinion to Poland’s plight.
Christian Pfleiderer, a Württemberger, was the next director of instruction. He followed the direction set by Lind. Pfleiderer was at the Cadets’ Corps from 1766 tol782, first as a professor of mathematics, then as director of instruction. His main contribution to the school was his thorough attention to teaching methods. Much of his teaching methodology could still be used today, especially those about the relationships between teachers and students and realistic evaluation of students’ work and their effort. Pfleiderer was one of that group of foreigners who played a meaningful role in putting reform ideas in Poland into action, at the Cadets’ Corps and elsewhere.
The same may be said for the last director of instruction, Michał Hube. Hube was a native of Torun who knew German and Latin better than Polish, but considered himself a Pole. He proved his Polish allegiance through many years of service, especially in the most difficult period, 1792-1795.
First place among those who not only influenced the growth of the Cadets’ Corps but who played a leading role in Polish Enlightenment culture belongs to the commandant of the Corps, Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski. He was the King’s closest co-worker during the difficult early period when the form of the school was worked out. Czartoryski’s frequent and direct contacts with young people at that time made him aware of the obstacles to achieving the King’s educational plans.
Thanks to Czartoryski, a number of textbooks were written or translated that proved useful to the cadets and other students. His great contribution was in writing Katechizm moralny, 1774 (Moral catechism). Often called Katechizm rycerski(Knight’s catechism), this short clear work used the easily accessible form of questions and answers to explain ideas like truth, honor, self-worth, obedience, and love of the fatherland. The work appealed to students’ reason, feelings, and ambitions. It is not surprising that the Catechism became a textbook used by a wide circle of young people in many schools. The topics discussed in the Catechism received further development in Defńnicje rozne przez pytania i odpowiedzi, 1774 (Various definitions made through questions and answers) written for a more mature audience. Both works were reprinted many times and were important tools of character building.
Character building at the Cadets’ Corps proceeded from different premises than at the reformed Piarist schools, where religion remained the foundation of civic training. At the Cadets’ Corps the emphasis was on shaping an independently thinking person. That did not mean, however, that the school countenanced intellectual libertinism. Religion continued to play a role in students’ lives. The cadets attended compulsory religious services and heard Sunday sermons. The school, however, provided no religious instruction.
In accord with the King’s intentions for the Cadets’ Corps most of its students were sons of the middle or impoverished nobility. Unlike the Collegium Nobilium, which educated the social elite, the Corps was, in a sense, a democratic school that educated the military and intellectual elite. Though early plans provided for two-hundred cadets, in the end about sixty boys attended the school yearly. The cadets received their tuition, room and board, uniforms, and instructional materials. It is worth noting that the Corps’ specialized library was one of the largest and best of its type in Europe.
Alongside those cadets with full scholarships, a certain number of students were admitted who paid a small sum for their education in the Corps. There were also day students who lived with the professors or with their families. By these means the number of cadets increased significantly. Lack of documentation about the numbers of paying students makes it impossible to say how many there were. A reasonable estimate is that about 1500 students of all categories attended the Cadets’ Corps over the thirty years of its existence. Not all of them completed their course of study. We can, however, say that even those students who attended for only two or three years acquired an understanding of those values that the school tried to teach. Students came to the Corps from many parts of Poland and Lithuania, often traveling long distances to attend the school. Many Poles who studied at the Cadets’ Corps left their mark on Polish history. Tadeusz Kościuszko was one of the Corps’ first students. His later adjutant, Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, a statesman, publicist, poet in his own right, as well as a deputy to the Four-Year Diet, was a student from 1770-1776. He spent the years 1797-1807 in the United States. Available statistics show that the Cadets’ Corps produced some 120 military officers who took part in the 1794 uprising, later serving in Napoleon’s army and Dąbrowski’ legion. Some of them participated in the November Uprising of 1830. Former cadets served in the Four-Year Diet and supported the Constitution of 3 May. Roughly sixty served in important civil posts in the Duchy of Warsaw and in Congress Poland. The majority of former cadets followed the spirit of the times and joined masonic lodges.
The Cadets’ Corps played a meaningful role in the educational reforms of the Enlightenment in Poland. The contribution to Polish reform made by the Corps was an unquestionable achievement of Stanisław August Poniatowski.
The crowning achievement of Polish educational reformers was the establishment of the Commission for National Education (Komisja Edukacji Narodowej), Europe’s first national school authority.8 The Commission was established as a result of the disbanding of the Jesuit Order. News of Pope Clement XIVs breve of 21 July 1773 dissolving the Order reached Warsaw in early September. It caused an uproar among the delegates to the Diet and among the nobility in general who had unlimited trust in the Jesuits. Much opposition had to be overcome before the papal breve could be executed. At the same time quarrels arose over the fate of Jesuit property, which was claimed by the church, the nobility, and by some former Jesuits.
After numerous talks, consultations, and negotiations, the decision was reached that, in principle, the property should be used for educational purposes. First, however, the value and income of the property had to be assessed. Two commissions were set up to do this—one for Poland and one for Lithuania. Each commission selected auditors to determine the value of the Jesuit “inheritance”. It was also decided that a separate commission would take over the Jesuit schools. Thus it happened that the same Diet on which fell the dishonor of approving the First Partition also established the Commission for National Education which was to play such a large part in shaping younger generations. As Cracow deputy Felix Oraczewski put it, “to make people Poles, and make Poles citizens, will be the source of all desired national achievements.”9
The Commission for National Education was established 14 October 1773. The act that founded it gave the Commission authority over all schools that educated the nobility “without exception.”10 That meant the Commission’s supervision extended to the former Jesuit schools, to schools run by other religious orders, and to both academies, Cracow and Wilno. The Commission also intended to take over parish schools. There was one exception, however: the Cadets’ Corps remained under the King’s directorship.
The Commission for National Education was to remain “under the protection” of Stanisław August. He exercised his protection through a benevolent concern for its affairs and by helping the Commission during its most difficult times. The King chose the Commission’s members, at least formally. The Commission received broad freedom of action. It was only answerable to the Diet for its budget. Eight members, four Diet deputies and four senators made up the Commission. In 1776, the number of members was raised to twelve. But the hardest work and greatest responsibility fell to the Commission’s first members.
The four members from the Senate were: Ignacy Massalski, Bishop of Wilno and head of the Commission, 1773-1776; Michał Poniatowski, Bishop of Plock, the King’s brother, head from 1776; August Sułkowski, voivode of Gniezno; and Joachim Chreptowicz, Vice-Chancellor of Lithuania. The Commission members from the lower house were: Ignacy Potocki, Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski, Andrzej Zamoyski, and Antoni Poniński. All of the commissioners, except Poniński, who contributed nothing to the Commission, were enlightened individuals of high intellect, though their moral standards were not always equal to their intellectual achievements.
The act that established the Commission also called for plans for school reorganization and for new curricula. The response was considerable for the time. The plans submitted contained interesting ideas and suggestions. The Commission used some of these, asking the authors to cooperate with the Commission in its work. Letters arrived from enlightened citizens from the Commonwealth and abroad. Unfortunately, few have survived to the present day. First to respond to the Commission’s call for plans and ideas was Franciszek Bieliński. His first letters written at the end of 1773 and the beginning of 1774 caught the commissioners’ attention and they urged him to keep working on his educational plans. Bielmski’s educational views were probably influenced by his encounter with French works on the subject during his 1763 sojourn in Paris. At the same time, Antoni Popławski, a Piarist and colleague of Konarski, was studying in France. He became a strong advocate of physiocracy. His 1774 school reform plan played an important role in the later work of the Commission. Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours had a short and dynamic period of work with the Commission. Well known at the time as a theoretician and supporter of the physiocrats, he arrived in Warsaw in early 1774 and became the Commission’s secretary for “foreign affairs.” He intended to stay in Poland for several years, but returned to France in three months when summoned by Turgot. While in Warsaw, he worked out plans for parish schools, military education, and for the overall organization of the educational systeim.11 Not all the plans have survived. It is hard to tell to what extent his ideas on educational organization affected the final form of the system developed by the Commission. Dupont did not forget his time in Poland after he returned to France. He corresponded with the King and later defended the King’s good name, taking a public stand as a friend of Poland and the Poles.
When they started their work, the members of the Commission for National Education tried to find out about the state of the former Jesuit schools and about the possibilities of using ex-Jesuits in the schools. In order to gather this information, the commissioners divided the Commonwealth into districts and inspected the schools either personally or through their representatives. What they found was not encouraging. Many school buildings were rapidly deteriorating. Other buildings necessary for the operation of the schools were also suffering neglect. Estates owned by the schools were falling apart. Former Jesuits, unsure of their futures, were abandoning the schools, often taking school property with them. The number of students had fallen seriously. The situation called for quick corrective measures, but reorganization of former Jesuit finances was delayed.
The auditing commissions that were to protect and assess Jesuit property acted slowly. Numerous abuses occurred, which diminished the income from the order’s lands and caused once rich income producing holdings to deteriorate. When the Diet tried to audit the Commission in 1776 it found it impossible. The account books were full of gaps and falsifications.
That same Diet put all former Jesuit property under the direct authority of the Commission for National Education. Historians’ estimates of the value of that property are varied and cannot be ascertained. It is generally accepted that over 30 percent was lost in the breakup of the order. For many years after the dissolution of the Jesuits, Commission accountants worked to solve problems caused by previous abuses. After 1776, however, the financial affairs of the Commission were properly administered. The Commission’s account keeping was praised by a number of Diet delegations that audited government finances. Setting the Commission’s finances in order and keeping them that way was the work of commissioners Andrzej Zamoyski and Franciszek Bieliriski (member 1776-1782) and of the Commission’s scrupulous treasurer Karol Lelewel.
Nonetheless, the Commission had to give up its early plans to build up education at all levels and was even forced to limit the number of schools maintained by Commission funds. Emphasis was put on secondary schools. Despite the many obstacles and difficulties that went along with organizing a new system of schools the Commission gave much attention to the internal organization of schools, to working out new curricula, and to school rules. These matters drew in most of all those commissioners who already had experience in education, for example, Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski and Ignacy Potocki (a onetime student of the Collegium Nazarenum). In the spring of 1775, a Society for Elementary Books (Twvarzystwo do Ksiąg Elementarnych) was established with Ignacy Potocki as president. The secretary was Grzegorz Piramowicz, a former Jesuit, an experienced educator, and a dedicated and knowledgeable school reformer. For twelve years Piramowicz was in charge of all the Society’s work. The first intention was that the Society would prepare textbooks for the new curricula. Actually, the Society became the instructional department of the Commission for National Education, taking upon itself the full burden of work associated with organizing and operating the new school system.
The Society had ten, then later twelve members. Members were nominated from among the most experienced educators in Poland: Piarists, former Jesuits, and the directors of instruction of the Cadets’ Corps worked with the Society. All of the members were individuals with broad intellectual horizons, mostly educated abroad, and were acquainted with new trends in education and other fields. From the beginning its work proceeded in several directions. New curricula were written and edited. The Society worked to assure a supply of new textbooks by the best authors through commissioning books and holding contests for textbooks. Almost all the members of the Society worked to inform the mostly conservative nobility about the new curricula and ideas about education and to win them over to the new ways. The members also tried to attract European intellectuals to their cause, hoping for their help and support. To gain European involvement in its effort, the Society sent out curricula and textbook outlines to learned journals (Journal de Bouillon, Nova Acta Eruditorum, etc.). Jean Henri Samuel Formey, secretary of the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin, sent his laudatory comments and informed Piramowicz that he had turned over the educational plan he received to the Academy.12 Formey also wrote that German journals would publish notes on the plan edited by him. The renowned physician Jean Philippe de Limbourg, member of the Royal Society in London and of the Physicians’ Society in Paris, replied in a similar vein.13 From Mannheim the secretary of the local Academy of Sciences, André Lamey, wrote the Society for Elementary Books that he had made the Polish educational plan known.14 The text of the outlines together with critical comments appeared in Nova Acta Eruditorum Lipsensis, Anni, 1774.15 The Society also sent out the textbook outlines to France to the honorary member of the Commission, Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours and to the physiocrat economist Nicolas Baudeau, who translated the text into French and published it in Paris in 1775. Baudeau visited Poland in 1769 on the invitation of Bishop Massalski and later published two works containing his commentary on the country’s situation. A translation of the outlines appeared in 1778 in the Journal Encyclopédique.16 Commission and Society members’ travels abroad also gave them a chance to spread Polish ideas and compare them to the achievements of others. “In Turin I found learning in good condition,” wrote Piramowicz to I. Potocki on 29 June 1780, “the provisions for public education surpass those of any other Italian state.... An excellent educational program, but ours is broader in how it encompasses the entire goal and in that it is directed to that one goal. I described some of the points of our plan to them... They praised it highly, as they did our elementary textbook plans.”17
Of course the Commission for National Education’s work attracted the attention of foreigners living in Warsaw. These included a professor of history and natural history at the Cadets’ Corps, Jean Baptiste Dubois. This young, extremely gifted Frenchman with wide ranging interests gave many proofc of his interest in Polish culture.18 In 1777, Dubois, working with Italian geologist and mineralogist Jean-Philippe Carosi, outlined a textbook for the Commission’s schools.19 But it turned out that neither of the authors had sufficient knowledge of Poland’s natural life and resources for their outline to be accepted. Still, both men served Poland well. Dubois published many articles concerning Poland in Esprit des Journaux and in Journd Encyclopédique de Bouillon. Carosi contributed his geological and mineralogical studies of the Polish southwest provinces.
About this same time, 1776, the Society for Elementary Books received an interesting “Plan de réformation des études élémentaires’ from Frenchman Jean Alexis Borrelly, a member of the Prussian academy.20 Elementary education was, however, put aside as part of the long term goals of the Society at this time, and Borrelly’s plan shared the fate of other unused proposals.
Designing the new secondary schools took almost five years (1774-1779). The reformed schools were to impart useful knowledge and shape civic attitudes according to ideas of social cooperation and tolerance. One of the means to raise patriotic consciousness was to make the schools “national,” that is, to make Polish the language of instruction at all levels. In the two lower grades the course of general studies covered arithmetic along with Latin and Polish grammar. In the upper grades arithmetic gave way to algebra and geometry. Starting in the third grade boys learned Latin rhetoric, history, and geography. The first place among all the subjects went to moral instruction based on natural law, which was taught in all grades, and was meant to shape students’ values. In the lower grades students learned about ideas like truth, responsibility, and moral duty through examples drawn from everyday life. The pupils were taught that their chief duty was to their families, those closest to them, their subordinates, and to their fellow citizens. An individual’s rights should depend on how well he performs his civic duties. In the upper grades these ideas were to be taught through instruction in law and in political economy.
Practical knowledge was to come from the study of physics, natural history (botany and zoology), horticulture, agriculture, and health. The curriculum had a broadly practical character. There was a visible physiocratic influence and in the methods used — empiricism and rationalism. The students were to recognize the practical application of the theoretical material they had learned in various forms and situations. For this reason instructional aids and practical exercises like surveying and working school gardens were recommended. Rote learning was to be limited and independent thought and rational analysis substituted. Logic, taught in the graduating year, was also to strengthen the influence of rationalism.
The wide reaching and varied curriculum required a change from the old system of a single teacher for each grade. Single teachers taught all subjects in the first two grades under the new system. Starting in the third grade the curriculum was divided into four thematic units, each taught by a different teacher in all the upper grades. There were four subject teachers, one each in rhetoric, mathematics, physics, and law.
The Society for Elementary Books also worked to obtain textbooks that fit the new course’ of study. Competitions only partly satisfied the Society’s expectations. In some cases the Society decided to commission textbooks from selected authors for subjects to which it attached special importance. Antoni Popławski, for example, was commissioned to write textbooks for the program of moral instruction, and he completed books for the first three grades. Etienne de Condillac was asked to write a logic textbook. He delivered the manuscript in 1778. Ignacy Potocki translated its first part but the whole work in a new translation was published only in 1802. The original text, published in France in 1780, was used as a textbook in the schools. Editorial work on all the textbooks progressed very slowly because of the high standards of the Society’s members, the need for translations into Polish, and diversion of the Society’s attention by other matters. Despite Society efforts, textbooks were not written for all the subjects in the curriculum. A number of textbooks appeared too late to be of real help to teachers and students. Overall, from 1775 to 1792 seventeen textbooks and six exercise and reference books (selections from Latin authors, dictionaries, logarithmic tables), and six teachers’ manuals appeared as a result of the Society’s work. The teachers’ manuals contained notes to textbooks and often included a significant body of suggestions on teaching methods and explanations to help with preparing lessons. This information was an invaluable aid to those who wanted and knew how to use it. The teachers’ manuals were something completely new in educational literature. The idea of “textbooks of teaching methods” was used in Poland into the twentieth century.
Many of the textbooks and teachers’ manuals published by the Society were remarkable for the modern treatment of their subjects and their inclusion of the newest scientific findings. These works are well thought of by today’s educators, historians of education, and academics (for example the textbooks on mathematics by the Swiss mathematician, Simon L’ Huillier, and Wstęp do fńzyki (Introduction to physics) by Micha! Hube).21 The production of these books in Polish also helped develop Polish scientific language.
The first decade for the Commission for National Education, 1773-1783, was a time of organizational work aimed at laying the foundation of a new system of education. The school inspections carried out at this time allowed the Commission to see the real state of the schools, their needs, and the quality of the teaching staff. Financial difficulties caused significant changes in the educational system. In Poland, the Commission turned over nine of the twenty-four former Jesuit colleges to other religious orders. Among others, the Piarists received three, giving them a total of thirteen secondary schools. The Basilians, a Greek rite order, received three schools, giving them eight schools altogether in the south. The network of schools included the two so-called “academic colonies”. These were schools established at the end of the sixteenth century under the auspices of the Cracow Academy. By the end of the seventeenth century they numbered about thirty. Later, some disappeared while others became parish schools. The Commission for National Education took over the oldest, the Collegium Nowodworscianum (founded in 1588 and reformed by Kołłątaj) and a small school in Pirńczów. In Lithuania the Jesuits had seventeen colleges before the disbanding of their order, the Piarists eight, and the Basilians two. The Commission took over the Jesuit schools and founded an additional three schools. The Commission was less generous with the former Jesuit schools in Lithuania than it had been in Poland. Only the Dominicans benefited there, receiving one school. The Dominicans opened two schools themselves. The Basilians opened three new schools of their own. The ex-Jesuit schools and so-called “academic colonies,” financed by and under the direct supervision of the Commission, received the status of state schools. The religious schools were to conform to the curriculum of the Society for Elementary Books and were subject to government inspection. The Commission, however, did not influence the choice of teachers or administrators.
Starting in 1780, the final division of the country into school districts was made. The departments were replaced by districts - five in Poland, four in Lithuania. The desire of the Piarists in Poland to keep their schools separate is visible in the designation of Piarist schools as part of a special “district” wherever they might be located.
At this same time, a hierarchical scheme of school administration was established within the educational system. The new organizational scheme was not a novelty in Poland. It was similar to a late sixteenth-century plan in which the Cracow Academy set up a system of districts (so called “colonies”) with secondary and primary schools under their control. Antoni Popławski adapted this French idea, which Bartholémy Rolland d’Erceville (referred to earlier) promoted from 1763-1768, and which had initially been introduced to the Commission for National Education by its first secretary, the physiocrat Samuel Dupont de Nemours. At the head stood the Commission. The former Academies of Cracow and Wilno (now called Main Schools) were directly responsible to the Commission. The Main Schools supervised the district schools, that is, upper level secondary schools. The rector of district schools controlled the subdistrict schools within their districts. All schools operated by religious orders were rated as subdistrict schools except the Piarist schools in Warsaw. The prorector of subdistrict schools supervised the lowest level of schooling, the parish schools.
Parish schools were designated for peasant children, townspeople, and the impoverished gentry. The parish schools were the weakest part of the Commission’s system. Though there was a lively interest in elementary education when the Commission began its work, mainly under the influence of physiocratic ideas, neither the money available nor the social order prevailing permitted radical changes in primary education. Parish schools depended on local priests and the philanthropy of noble estate owners. They were often ephemeral. They used whatever teachers could be found and suffered from low standards and poor material conditions. There were not enough parish schools to satisfy society’s needs. Only a few parish schools maintained by members of the Commission met the Commission’s expectations. Both of the Commission’s presidents took direct action to increase the number of parish schools. Massalski funded a teachers’ seminary in Wilno. Poniatowski set up teachers’ seminaries in Lowicz and Kielce. They did not produce lasting results. There were not enough funds to develop the primary schools and the nobility did not understand the need for them.
While it was a solitary achievement, the only significant result of the Society for Elementary Books’ concern with parish schools was the publication of Elementarz dia szkólparafialnych, 1785 (Primer for parish schools), produced cooperatively by its members, and Grzegorz Piramowicz’s Powinnosci nauczyciela, 1787 (The teacher’s duties). Piramowicz’s short work was meant for teachers. It contained a wealth of pedagogical knowledge and practical suggestions. Unappreciated by contemporaries, it appeared in numerous editions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
In 1780, the decision was made to collect all the previously issued educational directives, recommendations, and instructions into a single corpus. All the members of the Commission and the Society worked on this project. Grzegorz Piramowicz was the editor. A draft of the collected “statutes” was sent to the rectors of the Main Schools and the district schools to elicit their remarks and ideas. The outcome of these consultations was a large number of changes in various chapters of the collection. The Commission finally approved the “Statutes of the Commission for National Education for the Academic Estate” (Ustawy Komisji Edukacji Narodowej dla stanu akademickiego) which became unconditionally binding within the Commission’s jurisdiction at the beginning of the 1783-1784 academic year.22
Under the Statutes the academic estate became a separate social group with a specific legal status defined by education and employment without regard for estate of birth. The academic estate included all those who worked in academic schools, members of the Main Schools, and members of the Commission and of the Society for Elementary Books. The Statutes were the first code of school regulations to define precisely the organizational basis of the school system, the internal organization of schools, the goals, curricula, tasks and methods of teaching, and the rights and responsibilities of teachers and students. In terms of their scope and the rich variety of questions they addressed, the Statutes constitute an example of innovation in educational thought of importance not only for Poland.
The goals of character-building were expressed in almost every chapter, in the main, repeating the ideas of Stanisław Konarski. The methods to achieve the goals enjoined by the Statutes were like those used at the Cadets’ Corps. Old traditions from the religious schools (regulations for the daily lives of teachers) were combined with a movement towards secularizing the academic schools by promoting an ideal of civic education. Moral instruction was to play an especially important role in the process of education. Religious instruction was provided only in the first two grades; however, great importance was attached to the students’ religious services. Finally, the Commission tried slowly to enlarge the number of secular teachers. Although most of the Statutes were concerned with secondary schools (district and subdistrict schools), they also included chapters detailing the organization and tasks of the Main Schools.
The Commission was somewhat delayed in undertaking the reform of the two Academies. This was because of embryonic plans to establish new universities. When financial limitations forced the abandonment of those ambitious plans, the commissioners decided to take advantage of an earlier offer by the Cracow Academy and begin university reforms. The real author of the reform plan for the Cracow Academy was Hugo Kołłątaj. His ideas, as they were put into practice, also influenced the organization of the Wilno Academy.
Kołłątaj came from an impoverished gentry family. For a short time he studied at the Cracow Academy and then went on to study in Vienna and Italy. His time at Italian universities allowed him to deepen his knowledge of natural law and political economy, acquainted him with the doctrines of the physiocrats, and awakened his interest in natural sciences. He returned to Poland in 1775. Accepted as a member of the Society for Elementary Books, he attracted the attention of Michał Poniatowski, who accurately assessed his intelligence, energy, and initiative. Kołłątaj was sent to Cracow where he was to inform himself about the actual state of the Academy. His mission was a complete success. It is likely that he already had an idea for reforms that would return the university to its former stature. Kołłątaj said that he found a “gothic” system of organization that was neither conducive to the development of knowledge-nor responsive to demands of pedagogy. Of the university’s four schools, only the school of philosophy, which had been reformed some ten years earlier, approached his concept of what the university should be. The school of medicine was practically non-existent. At the school of law the only department that attracted students was natural law. The school of theology was the richest and largest of the four schools and dominated the university. After his return to Warsaw, the young inspector submitted his report about the state of the Cracow Academy and then a plan O wprowadzeniu dobrych nauk do Akademii o założeniu seminarium dia nauczyciell szkól wojewódzkich (For the introduction of good learning at the Academy and the establishment of pedagogical schools for teachers of provincial schools).23 Poniatowski received the plan positively, thanks to which Kołłątaj was able to move on to developing further plans. The introduction of “good learning” meant further changes in the school of philosophy, including funding a series of new departments: physics, natural history, higher mathematics, history, and literature. Kołłątaj also envisioned an expanded medical school similar to those at other European universities and a larger law school, but he wanted to trim the school of theology.
His plans went much farther towards creating a center of learning in Cracow. Again, lack of money as well as of the necessary professors influenced the eventual course of change.
In the area of teacher training, Kołłątaj wanted to return to old traditions, to the time when the Cracow Academy supplied teachers for many Polish schools. He believed that now the Academy should educate teachers for the reformed schools. An opponent of education by religious orders, he wanted secular teachers to staff the academic schools. According to Kołłątaj, clerical teachers could quickly be replaced by secular teachers. Education at the academic schools should be free of religious prejudice and the students’ lives should not be subject to excessive regulation. On the point of religion in education, Kołłątaj’s plans stood in opposition to the ideas expressed earlier by Antoni Popławski. Popławski paid special attention to teacher training in his ideas on reforming the Piarist schools. He saw the teachers’ seminary as a closed institution where a limited number of students studied according to a set curriculum and in which everyday life was regulated by detailed rules. Similarly teachers working in the schools, preferably clergymen, should conform to strict rules and should be under the close supervision of a rector or prorector.
In their final form, the reformed Main Schools discarded the old division into four schools, replacing it with a separation into two colleges, the physical and moral. The physical college covered mathematical and physical sciences and natural history (including zoology, botany and mineralogy). Chemistry lectures used the latest theories in the field. Medicine was also part of the physical college and the number of chairs of medicine was systematically increased. The new professors of medicine were educated at Italian, German, and French universities.
The moral college covered law, theology, and literature. Despite opposition from the theologians, the number of chairs of theology was cut and funding decreased. This caused Kołłątaj much unpleasantness, for he was accused of acting against the best interests of the Main School. The number of chairs in the school of law increased. The new chairs included one of canon law and, finally in 1790, a chair of Polish law. Antoni Popławski’s lectures in natural law and political economy enjoyed unflagging success.
The reorganization of the Main Schools proved very productive, especially in Cracow. In the decade 1783-1793, the number of chairs increased and the quality of the lectures improved. At the physical college useful organizational changes and modernized teaching methods were observable. A botanical garden was laid out and an astronomical observatory built on its grounds. A new building went up housing lecture halls and laboratories for physics, mechanics, chemistry, mineralogy, and biology. The medical department received an anatomy laboratory, a small clinic and later a hospital. Kołłątaj wanted to ground his reforms in the cooperation of well-educated young people and so worked to send the most intelligent teachers abroad to study. Thanks to Kołłątaj’s work and the concern of the Commission for National Education, the Main School in Cracow obtained many bright, dedicated professors full of reforming zeal. The most eminent among them was undoubtedly Jan iniadecki, a professor of mathematics and astronomy, a scholar with broad intellectual horizons and enormous organizational talent. He became secretary of the Main School and Kołłątaj’s right hand during Kołłątaj’s tenure as rector (1782-1786). Jniadecki’s enormous correspondence bears witness not only to his influence on various of Kołłątaj’s actions, but also to his ability to gain students’ confidence, especially that of graduates who were already working as teachers. They sent him letters telling him about their work, their difficulties, and even their personal problems.24
Those studying to be teachers did not have an easy time of it. The Commission for National Education, probably in expectation of the nobles’ reluctance, gave up on Kołłątaj’s ideas on teacher training and entrusted the organization and direction of the pedagogical schools to Popławski. He, however, left that post after three years, and there followed a period of frequent changes. The number of students was limited and their course of study was never clearly defined. In spite of these weaknesses, the academic schools received a slow flow of secular teachers and, towards the end of the Commission’s existence, they were a decided majority of the academic estate. Dedicated to their Alma Mater, they supported school reform, and usually brought new ideas and useful knowledge to their schools. Many of them remained faithful to the heritage of the Commission for National Education in their later work.
The reform of the Wilno Academy took a different course. Founded by the Jesuits in 1579, the school never developed into a full university and had only two schools - philosophy and theology. The abolition of the Jesuit Order was a blow to the Wilno Academy. Many professors retired as a result. Those who remained found it hard to work under the new school authorities. If the Academy did not collapse completely it was owing to its president (from 1780), former Jesuit Marcin Poczobut, an internationally known astronomer. He was loyal to the Commission for National Education, but he did not have the energy and zeal for reform that marked Kołłątaj. Poczobut faced greater difficulties than Kołłątaj in organizing a physical college. He took a different approach than the Cracow reformer in finding appropriate professors. He tried to recruit foreign scholars. Wilno, however, was too far from the centers of European culture and the working conditions too primitive to be attractive. A period of frequent turnover of professors’ chairs followed and some chairs were vacant for a long time. Despite orders to conduct instruction in Polish most lectures were in Latin, French or German. Only the astronomical observatory established under Poczobut’s direction was a meaningful achievement in the development of the Main School of Lithuania at this time. The moral college was more successful. More of the professors had an education the quality of which guaranteed a high standard of teaching. While in Cracow there was no department of history, and the teaching of literature was limited to lectures on ancient authors, in Wilno work in both history and literature was closer to Kołłątaj’s original plans. Piarist father Hieronim Stroynowski taught natural law and political economy. He was also the first Polish author of a textbook in political economy.
Generally speaking the Main School of Lithuania lagged behind Cracow during the life of the Commission for National Education. The University of Wilno had its period of excellence in the early nineteenth century. There is no doubt that, though change was slow at Wilno, the university reform, often called the Kołłątaj reform, reshaped both universities and started them on the road to further growth. Kołłątaj’s attempts to develop a wide-scale research program at the universities were, nonetheless, unsuccessful. Although the gaps between learning in Poland and in the West rapidly started to narrow, there were many obstacles to a more accelerated development of learning in Poland. These included: Poland’s backwardness caused by the state of politics and the economy at tfie turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Michał Poniatowski’s disinclination to take measures that did not give quick and practical results, slow growth of support for learning, and the many responsibilities that the Main Schools had as institutions which supervised lower-level schools.
Required yearly inspections of lower schools took two professors at Cracow away from their regular duties for several months. Time-consuming meetings were held to discuss inspection reports, to prepare reports and recommendations for the Commission, and to discuss matters of concern. The exhausting and detailed correspondence of the Main Schools with the Commission and the lower schools fell mostly to the secretaries, but it often involved other professors as well.
The nobility did not accept the Commission’s reforms readily. Nobles reacted with distrust to the new curriculum, and they disliked secular teachers. It was with difficulty that the propaganda work of the Society for Elementary Books broke down that distrust. One way that the public gained a closer look at the new schools was through public school performances organized at the end of the academic year to the assembled parents and local citizens. Teachers gave speeches on current social, political, and economic problems. Similarly the Main Schools held public lectures on special occasions to popularize the new directions in learning or to acquaint the public with important individuals at the university.
Proof that the nobles’ distrust was breaking down came in the form of letters to the Commission, thanking its members for the useful knowledge imparted to young people and for the responsible care taken with them. Slowly, the number of students increased. But it was not easy to overcome old habits and prejudices. One must remember that the Statutes only took full effect in 1783 and one can only speak of the reform being put into action after that date. There was, therefore, not enough time to change the mentality of the nobility. Further, the numbers of students educated at the Commission’s schools, the Cadets’ Corps, and loyal religious schools were too small to bring about a real change in attitudes.
The time of trial came during the Four-Year Diet. On the one hand, the conservative movement mobilized. A longing for the Jesuits reappeared and criticism of the Commission increased. On the other hand, the academic estate was united in support of the reform movement and of Kołłątaj, with whom many former colleagues and students of the Main School kept up friendly relations. Direct contact between Cracow and Warsaw increased. Under these conditions it became apparent that Kołłątaj had built for himself - a strong backing during his inspection and reform of the Cracow Academy. His work at Cracow had allowed him to become familiar with the Main School and with the environment that other schools operated in and thus with the mood and ideas of the broad masses of the gentry. When he became leader of “The Forge,” a club of radical reformers, the people he worked with included members of the academic estate. Professors of law from Wilno and Warsaw took part in work on the so-called Code of Stanisław August.
The ratification of the Constitution of 3 May was widely acclaimed at the schools and the celebrations they organized included many regular citizens. This was a successful way to promote the new Constitution. The Constitution’s first anniversary was greeted in similar style. When the war with Russia began in 1792, school directors complained that their older students wanted to leave to join the army.
Later, there was defeat. The government formed by the Confederation of Targowica ruled. The Commission was split in two, one for Poland, the other for Lithuania. Though it was later reunited, it never regained its former spirit.
The Commission’s real work ended in 1792; even though it still held school inspections in 1793, in the rump of Polish territory these had no meaning. At the time of the Kościuszko uprising, the Commission for National Education was replaced by the Department of National Instruction. The Department failed to become active in the broad sphere the Commission had worked in and can hardly be acknowledged to have continued the Commission’s work. Kościuszko’s defeat resulted in the Third Partition, which wiped Poland off the map of Europe. The uprising was defeated, but not the nation.
The Commission for National Education had carried on its work for twenty years. It began life in a dramatic time, after the First Partition, and ended its existence in the year of Kościuszko’s uprising. The first decade was a time of putting finances in order, of assessing the state of the Jesuit colleges, of developing projects and plans, and of issuing the first directives that laid the foundation for school reform. At the end of that period, the idea arose of creating a unified educational system based on connecting schools at all levels and establishing a hierarchy intended to guarantee the unity of the entire educational system in terms of both instructional curricula and character building.
The whole body of questions about the workings of the system of education was addressed in the Statutes for the Academic Estate, the first European school code to take such a modern and universal approach. For the first time, educational plans based on Enlightenment ideas, including both the thoughts of western philosophers and valuable Polish traditions, were to be brought to life under the leadership and supervision of a central school authority responsible to the Diet in financial matters and informally responsible to the king in matters of educational policy.
The second decade was the time when the Statutes of 1783 were put into effect. It was a period during which theoretical assumptions, plans, and goals worked out collectively during the first decade were implemented.
The university reform completed in Cracow in 1783 entirely reorganized that institution. In introducing a modern curriculum the reformers tried to adapt to d’Alembert’s and Diderot’s classification of science. These attempts were not entirely successful. Nonetheless, the university’s internal organization changed completely. Thanks to young professors, who were largely educated abroad, there was enormous progress in the content and method of instruction. New centers of learning that later developed fully in the nineteenth century were established at this time. Thanks to Kołłątaj’s reform the Jagiellonian University was able to survive the most difficult times of 1800-1870.
Full implementation of the new educational system required much longer than the less than twenty years the Commission existed. During that time it had to change the organization of school administration, fight for money, work out the legal basis for its actions, write, publish, and distribute new textbooks, train teachers, and do battle with the conservative opposition. The complicated history of the Polish nation between 1795-1918 points to the nation’s will to live and its stubborn striving to regain independence. It is reasonable to ask to what degree those attitudes on the part of Polish society were the result of Konarski’s dogged struggle for civic education, the influence of the educators from the Cadets’ Corps, and the work of the mass of teachers supervised by the Commission for National Education. Gaps in the documentary record do not allow even an approximation of what proportion of society received an education appropriate to the ambitions of the Polish Enlightenment in the late eighteenth century. Judging, however, by the longevity of the Commission’s educational heritage during the partition period, the role of the Commission for National Education, and of institutions that acted in the same spirit, was enormous.
The Statutes for the Academic Estate remained a model for the following generations even when many of its provisions became obvious anachronisms. School organizers in the Grand Duchy of Warsaw and the Congress Kingdom referred to the Statutes, though the school systems set up under those governments differed from the organizational principles of the Commission for National Education.
The Commission for National Education had an incontrovertible influence on the Russian school reform of 1803.25 The Russian system introduced at that time was modeled on the Polish Commission’s system in the areas of school administration, including the role of the universities, and to a degree in the curricula. It is, therefore, not surprising that the growth of education was most successful in the western provinces of the Russian empire, those parts of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth taken by Russia in the Second and Third Partitions. Simultaneously, during the first two decades of the nineteenth century, the University of Wilno flourished, led by Jan Śniadecki (1807-1815). Overall supervision of the university, and of the whole school system, was in the hands of the curator, Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski, supported by the advice of his father Prince Adam Kazimierz, a former member of the Commission. The cooperation between Hugo Kołłątaj and Tadeusz Czacki, organizer of the gymnasium, later a liceum, in Krzemieniec, also bears witness to the continuity of the Commission’s educational heritage and to the work of educators associated with the Commission.
At that time, the University of Wilno and the schools in Wilno’s educational region produced many individuals who became famous for their work in a number of fields. The generation educated in those years largely determined the future course of Polish and not only Polish culture. The seed sown by the Commission for National Education yielded an exceptionally rich harvest.
1. Stanisław Konarski, Pisma wybrane (Selected works), ed. Juliusz Nowak-Dhizewski, intr. Zdzisław Libera (Warszawa: PIW, 1955), 2 vols; Ustawy szkolne dla polskiej prowincji pijarów (School statutes for the Polish province of the Piarists), ed. Jan Czubek, intr. Stanisław Kot (Kraków, M. Aret, 1925); Hugo Kołłątaj, Stan oswiecenia w Polsce w ostatnich latach panowania Augusta III (1750-1764) (The state of education in Poland in the last years of the reign of August III (1750-1764)), ed. Jan Hulewicz (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1953); Władysław Konopczyński, Stanisław Konarski (Warszawa, 1926); Łukasz Kurdybacha, Dzialalnosc pedagogiczna Stanisława Konarskiego (Pedagogical work of Stanisław Konarski) (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1957); William John Rose, Stanislas Konarski. Reformer of Education in XVIIIth Century Poland (London, 1929).
2. Ambroise Jobert, La Commission d’Éducation Nationale en Pologne (1773-1794. Son euvre d’instruction civique (Paris; Librairie Droz, 1941), pp. 81-118.
3. Louis-René Chalotais Carduc de la, Essai d’éducation nationale, ou plan d’études pour la jeunesse, par...(Gènève, 1763); Compte rendu aux chambres assamblées par M. Rolland, des différentes mémoires envoyées par les universités sises dans ressort de la cour... relativement au plan d’étude á suivre dans les collèges non dépendants des universités et á la correspondance á établir entre les collèges et les universités. Du 13 mai 1768. (Paris, 1768).
4. Konarski, Pisma wybrane, vol. 2, pp. 123, 130 passim.
5. Konarski, Pisma wybrane, pp. 317-379.
6. Jobert, La Commission..., pp.119-154; Adam Czartoryski, Katechizm rycerski (Knight’s catechism), ed. Henryk Moscicki (Warszawa, 1925); Jean Fabre, “La propagande des idées philosophiques en Pologne sous Stanislas-Auguste et l’École varsovienne des Cadets”, Revue de Littérature Comparée (1935): 643-693; Mieczysława Miterzanka, Dzialalnosc pedagogiczna Adama ks. Czartoryskiego, generala ziempodolskich (The pedagogical work of Prince Adam Czartoryski, General of Podolia) (Kraków, 1931); Kamilla Mrozowska, Szkola Rycerska Stanisława Augusta Poniatowskiego (1765-1794) (The Knights’ School of Stanisław August Poniatowski 1765-1794) (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1961).
7. “Règlement pour les Cadets”, item 11, see Mrozowska, Szkola Rycerska..., p. 121.
8. Jobert, La Commission..., pp. 155-480 including a bibliography of sources and publications pp. 1-24. The bibliography is supplemented with works published in the years 1938-1978 in the Polish translation of Jobert’s work: Komisja Edukacji Narodowej, tr. Mieczysława Chamcówna (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1979), pp.236-305; Ambroise Jobert, Magnatspolonais etphysiocrates franęais (1767-1774) (Paris: Librairie Droz, 1941); Łukasz Kurdybacha, “The Commission for National Education in Poland 1773-1794”, History of Education 2 (1973)’. 133-146; Komisja Edukacji Narodowej) (The Commission for National Education), ed. Stanisław Tyne (W roclaw: Ossolineum, 1954), see pp. 565-723 for Statute of 1783; Józef Lewicki, Ustawodawstwo szkolne za czasów Komisji Edukacji Narodowej (Educational legislation of the Commission for National Education) (Kraków, 1925); Pisma i projekty pedagogiczne doby Komisji Edukacji Narodowej (Works and educational plans in the time of the Commission for National Education), ed. Kamilla Mrozowska (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1973); Protokóły posiedzeń Komisji Edukacji Narodoweji 1773-1785 (Minutes of the meetings of the Commission for National Education’s meetings 1773-1785), ed. Mieczysława Mitera-Dobrowolska (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1973); Protokófyposiedzen...1786-1794 (Minutes... 1786-1794), ed. Tadeusz Mizia (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1969); Raporty generalnych wizytatorów szkól Komisji Edukacji Narodowej w Wielkim Księstwie Litewskim (1782-1792) (The reports of the inspectors general of the Commission for National Education in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (1782-1792), eds. Kalina Bartnicka and Irena Szybiak (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1974); Raporty Szkoły Glównej Koronnej o generalnych wizytach szkól Komisji Edukacji Narodowej (The reports of the Main Crown School on the general inspection of the schools of the Commission for National Education), eds. Kamilla Mrozowska and Anna Zielińska (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1981); Dzialalnosc edufacyjna Jana Żniatlecldego (The educational work of Jan Śniadecki (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1980); Kalina Bartnicka, Wychowanie patriotyczne w szkolach Komisji Edukacji Narodowej (Patriotic education in the schools of the Commission for National Education) (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1973); Mirostawa Chamcówna, Uniwersytet Jagiellonski w dobie Komisji Edukacji Narodowej... 1777-1786 (The Jagiellonian University in the time of the Commission for National Education... 1777-1786) (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1957); Mirostawa Chamcówna, Uniwersytet Jagiellonski... w latach 1786-1795 (The Jagiellonian University... 1786-1795) (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1959); Władysław Maria Grabski, U podstaw wielkiej reformy (At the foundations of the great reform) (Łódz: Wydawn. lódzkie, 1984); Jan Hulewicz, “Opinia publiczna wobec Komisji Edukacji Narodowej” (The Commission for National Education and the public opinion) in Studia z dziejów kultury polskiej (Warszawa: Gebethner i Wolf, 1949); Ambroise Jobert, “Une correspondance polonaise de Condillac”, Revue d’Histoire Moderne, 11 (1936): 414-433; Janina Lubieniecka and Czesław Majorek, Książki szkolne Komisji Edukacji Narodowej (Schoolbooks of the Commission for National Education) (Warszawa, 1975); Kamilla Mrozowska, Walka o nauczycieli swieckich w dobie Komisji Edukacji Narodowej na terenie Korony (The struggle over secular teachers in Poland in the time of the Commission for National Education) (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1956); Kamilla Mrozowska, Funkcjonowanie systemu szkolnego Komisji Edukacji Narodowej na terenie Korony w latach 1783-1793 (The functioning of the school system of the Commission for National Education in Poland 1783-1793) (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1985); Hanna Pohoska, Wizytatorowie generalni Komisji Edukacji Narodowej. Monografia z dziejów administracji szkolnej (The inspectors general of the Commission for National Education. A study of the school administration) (Lublin, 1957); Jan Poplatek, Komisja Edukacji Narodowej. Udziaibyiych jezuitówwpracach Komisji Edukacji Narodowej (The Commission for National Education. The participation of former Jesuits in the work of the Commission for National Education) (Kraków, 1973); Irena Szybiak, Nauczyciele szkól srednich Komisji Edukacji Narodowej (Secondary school teachers of the Commission for National Education) (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1980); Irena Szybiak, Szkolnictwo Komisji Edukacji Narodowej w Wielkim Księstwie Litewskim (The schools of the Commission for National Education in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania) (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1973); Stanisław Salmonowicz, “Podstawy prawne funkcjonowania Komisji Edukacji Narodowej” (The legal bases for the operation of the Commission for National Education), in Rozprawy z Dziejów Oswiaty, 23 (1980): 37-63; Stanisław Tyne, Nauka moralna w szkoiach Komisji Edukacji Narodowej (Moral education in the schools of the Commission for National Education) (Kraków, 1922).
9. “Mowa J. W. Imci P. Oraczewskiego z d. 29 kwietnia 1773 r.” (Speech of P. Oraczewski, 29 April 1773) in Komisja Edukacjj Narodowej, ed. Stanisław Tyne, p. 18.
10. “Uniwersat Komisji z 24 paidziernika 1773 r.” (Proclamation of the Commission of 24 October 1773), in Komisjia... ed Tyne, pp.24-30.
11. “Vues Générales. Moyens d établir des écoles paroissiales,” MS, Archives of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków, no. 2200; “Principes de 1 éducation politique,” MS, Czartoryski Library, Kraków, no. 818.
12. Pisma i prjjekty pedagogiczne.., ed. Kamilla Mrozowska, pp. 175-176.
13. Pisma i projekty..., ed. Mrozowska, pp. 177-179.
14. Pisma i projekty..., ed. Mrozowska, p. 179.
15. Pisma i projekty..., ed. Mrozowska. For the remarks of Jan Albertrandi and Kazimierz Narbutt about this criticism, see pp. 180-188.
16. Protokóly posiedzen Komisji Edukacji Narodowej 1773-1785. (Minutes of the meetings of the Commission for National Education 1773-1785) Mieczysława Mitera-Dobrowolska ed. (Wrocław: Ossolinem, 1973) p.64.
17. Grzegorz Piramowicz, Powinnosci nauczyciela..., pp. 131-132.
18. Jean-Baptiste Dubois de Jancigny was at the Cadets’ Corps from 1774 to 1779. He studied Polish intensively and among his publications are Essai sur l’histoire littéraire de Pologne, 1778 and a piece, Casimir le Grand, 1775, both dedicated to King Stanisław August Poniatowski. In 1779 he was made an honorary member of the Society for Elementary Books, but he left Poland that same year because of poor health. He maintained a correspondence with Ignacy Potocki and the King and published articles about Poland in various periodicals.
19. Jean-Philippe Carosi was curator of Stanisław August’s natural history collection. In 1787 he prepared a catalog of Poland’s natural resources for G.L. Buffon, which earned him Buffon’s special thanks.
20. Published in the Hague in 1775.
21. Simon L’Huillier, a Genevan mathematician, was the winner of the international competition announced by the Society for Elementary Books for a mathematics primer. He became a member of the Society and spent 10 years in Poland and published a textbook on mathematics in 1778, on geometry in 1780-1781, and on algebra in 1782. Later he became a professor at the University of Geneva and published an enlarged version of the algebra textbook in German and French. See Jobert, La Commission.... pp. 287-289.
22. Certain corrections were made in the Statutes in 1790 and again in 1793.
23. Łukasz Kurdybacha, Kuria rzymska wobec Komisji Edukacji Narodowej w latach 1773-1783 (The Roman Curia’s attitudes toward the Commission for National Education 1773-1783) (Kraków, 1949). Kołłątaj’s text appears on pp. 68-87.
24. The archive of the Jagiellonian University MS 274 contains numerous letters from directors of district schools, teachers, and inspectors written to Jan Śniadecki in his capacity as secretary of the Main School in Kraków.
25. Daniel Beauvois, Lumières et Société en Europe de l’Est. L’Université de Vilna et les écoles polonaises de 1 Empire russe 1803-1832 (Paris: Champion, 1977), 2 vols, passim.
Translated by George Makowski