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Aloisius-Edouard-Camille Gaultier

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Priest and schoolmaster; b. at Asti, Piedmont, about 1745, of French parents ; d. at Paris, 18 Sept., 1818; began his studies in France, and completed them in Rome where he was ordained ; upon his return to France (1780) he devoted himself to the work of education and in 1786 opened a school in Paris, wherein he applied his principle of instructing children while amusing them. The French Revolution obliged him to seek refuge in England, and, finding in London a number of his former pupils of the French nobility, he opened a course for the education of French refugees. His principles were greatly admired and his methods commended by the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. He came back to France in 1801, and continued to teach and publish his educational works. Later another journey to London was undertaken for the purpose of studying the monitorial system of teaching, practised by Bell and Lancaster, a system which he wanted to introduce into the French schools. During the Hundred Days, Carnot appointed him a member of the commission for the reorganization of public instruction, and later Gaultier was one of the founders of the "Société pour l'enseignement élémentaire".

To give a complete list of Gaultier's works is impossible here. They include text-books for every branch of primary instruction, reading, writing, arithmetic, geometry, geography, history, logical and grammatical analysis, composition, politeness, etc., and they apply his method of instructive plays, that is, a system of questions and answers in which, according to the correctness or incorrectness of the answers, a scheme of loss and gain in credits constantly stimulates the interest of the pupils. While, from the point of view of modern pedagogy, this method has many obvious defects, especially that of being too mechanical and of insisting too much on mere memory, it was nevertheless an advance on methods previously used, and it acknowledged, though carrying it to excess, the great importance of the principle of interest in education. It must be supplemented by the application of the psychological principles of adaptation, reflection, and assimilation.

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