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Júlia Nagy: The of 17th- and 18th -century Calvinist school drama in education

The Hungarian practice of performing plays in Protestant schools was first described and long determined by Comenius, who in his prologue to Schola Ludus dealt with drama in detail. He considered school drama a methodological element in the acquisition of practical knowledge; it was a method for practising the material taught and was also a form of praise and encouragement for pupils. Dramas were not performed in Calvinist schools for a century after Comenius' work appeared, but in the second third of the 18th century this tradition was revived. This rebirth was due in large part to the formation, improvement and spread of the vernacular culture as well as to a return o the educational goals set down by Comenius in the foreward to Schola Ludus. Although there is little likelihood that 18th- century praeceptors used or were even familiar with Comenius' work, there is no question that they wrote and taught dialogues at first and later entire dramas following the principle of the practical method. Five main groups of Calvinist dramas developed during the 18th century according to their role in education. Plays about school life and apprentice contest are reminiscent of certain chapters of Schola Ludus, while biblical dramas are closely related to similar Jesuit plays. These pieces clearly served educational purposes; the audience's point of view was of minor importance. Lower-form secondary pupils performed in these plays, which were mostly of the genre certamen contest. The 1770s saw new types of drama in secondary school poetry programmes, which were built on the curriculum using Greek and Roman mythology as a source. Drama at that time was a collaborative activity between students and teachers and became a true form of entertainment for the audience. This study attempts to trace this process.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 99. Number 4. 375-387. (1999)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: Nagy Júlia, H-3432 Emőd, Ady Endre u. 32.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia