Trotzendorff - Encyclopedia




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TROTZENDORFF (or [[Trocedorfius), Valentin Fried' 'Land]] (1 49 o - 1 55 6), German educationist, called Trotzendorff from his birthplace, near Gdrlitz, in Prussian Silesia, was born on the 14th of February 1490, of parents so poor that they could not keep him at school. The boy taught himself to read and write while herding cattle; he made paper from birch bark and ink from soot. When difficulties were overcome and he was sent for education to Gdrlitz, his mother's last words were "Stick to the school, dear son." The words determined his career: he refused all ecclesiastical promotion, and lived and died a schoolmaster. He became a distinguished student, learned Ciceronian Latin from Peter Mossellanus and Greek from Richard Croke, and after graduation was appointed assistant master in the school at Gdrlitz. There he also taught the rector and other teachers. When Luther began his attack on indulgences, Trotzendorff resigned his position and went to study under Luther and Melanchthon, supporting himself by private tuition. Thence he was called to be a master in the school at Goldberg in Silesia, and in 1524 became rector. There he remained three years, when he was sent to Liegnitz. He returned to Goldberg in 1531 and began that career which has made him the typical German schoolmaster of the Reformation period. His system of education and discipline speedily attracted attention. He made his best elder scholars the teachers of the younger classes, and insisted that the way to learn was to teach. He organized the school in such a way that the whole ordinary discipline was in the hands of the boys themselves. Every month a "consul," twelve "senators" and two "censors" were chosen from the pupils, and over all Trotzendorff ruled as "dictator perpetuus." One hour a day was spent in going over the lessons of the previous day. The lessons were repeatedly recalled by examinations, which were conducted on the plan of academical disputations. Every week each pupil had to write two "exercitia styli," one in prose and the other in verse, and Trotzendorff took pains to see that the subject of each exercise was something interesting. The fame of the Goldberg School extended over all Protestant Germany, and a large number of the more famous men of the following generation were taught by Trotzendorff. He died on the 10th of April 1556.

See Herrmann, Merkwiirdige Lebensgeschichte eines beriihmten Schulmanns, V. F. Trotzendor ffs (1727); Frosch, V. F. Trotzendorff, Rektor zu Goldberg (1818); Pinzger, V. F. Trotzendorff (with the Goldberg portrait, and a complete list of his writings, 1825); Koehler, V. F. Trotzendorf f, ein biographischer Versuch (1848). The biographical facts appear to be derived from a funeral or memorial oration delivered by Balthasar Rhau in the university of Wittenberg on the 15th of August 1564, and published in an edition of Trotzendorff's Rosarium (1565).

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