Known as Père Girard, a Swiss pedagogue, b. at Fribourg, 17 December, 1765; d. there, 6 March, 1850. At sixteen he entered the novitiate of the Franciscans at Lucerne ; after spending some time teaching in the colleges of the order, he went to Würzburg for his philosophical and theological studies, and was there ordained to the priesthood. Returning to Fribourg in 1789, he spent ten years in missionary work and in teaching philosophy to the young men of his order. His admiration for Kantian ideas, although restricted, was the occasion of suspicion of his orthodoxy. Upon the invitation of Stapfer, minister of arts and sciences, Girard wrote a plan for education in Switzerland and was called to Verne where he remained four years. In 1804 he was recalled to Fribourg, and took up work in the primary schools.
As director of the schools in Fribourg (1807-1823), Girard made education compulsory, organized the school administration, insisted on the adoption of good textbooks and methods, and introduced the monitorial system, avoiding the abuse of mere memory exercise and making every study converge to the child's complete education. These reforms, though crowned with success, were the occasion for bitter opposition from those who did not realize the importance of education, or adhered to the old routine methods. In 1809 Girard was sent to Yverdun to make a report to the Government on Pestalozzi's institution. He had met the latter in Berne and professed the greatest admiration for his ability as an educator, while differing from him on several important points, especially on the value of the monitorial system. This method, in fact, which Girard applied, was opposed by the bishop and the civil authorities of Fribourg, in 1823. Girard abandoned his school and went to Lucerne as professor of philosophy in the gymnasium. In 1834 he returned to Fribourg, where he remained till his death, engaged in educational pursuits and in the publication of some of his works. He had a great reputation in France, being a Knight of the Legion of Honour, and a corresponding member of the Académie des Sciences morales et politiques.
Besides many reports and memoirs, his principal writings are: "Cours de philosophie fait au Lycée de Lucerne" (1829- 31); "Des moyens de stimuler l'activité dons les écoles" (1835); "Parallèle entre la philosophie et la physique" (1840); and "Cours éducatif de langue maternelle" (Paris, 1840-48). These works banish abstractions that are above the child's intelligence, principles and rules being taught chiefly by means of concrete examples, and difficulties being introduced gradually. They contain the foundation of modern educational textbooks, and are still well worth studying. Père Girard ranks next to Pestalozzi among Swiss pedagogues.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online