Wolfgang Ratke (Ratichius) and his educational writings
Wolfgang Ratke (Ratichius, 1571-1635) presents something of a paradox in educational history. Born in Holstein, he first came into prominence through the Memorandum he presented at the election of the Holy Roman Emperor in Frankfurt in 1612. The Memorandum contained a brief proposal for reforming schools and bringing about unity of government, language and religion throughout the empire. Apart from these few facts, there is almost nothing concerning Ratke on which historians agree. For some, Ratke was a reformer of central importance - the first in history to dedicate himself exclusively to the cause of education (hence his self-given title 'Didacticus’ For others, he was a man who developed fruitful ideas, but failed to demonstrate that they could be implemented in practice, - a man sincere but incapable. For still others, he was not only incapable but not even sincere - a cheapjack, a charlatan. This thesis takes up the paradox of Ratke's treatment in educational history, and tries to discover how it arose. Starting with a sketch of Ratke's life, it examines Ratite’s attempts to implement his reforms in Augsburg, Kӧthen and Magdeburg, and the reasons for his failure. It also examines Ratke's contribution to the areas in which he invested his reforming energy for over twenty years - the curriculum, educational policy and administration, learning-theory and teaching-method. Finally, an attempt is made to find an answer to the question of whether Ratite’s ideas did indeed prove fruitful for the educational reforms which spread through seventeenth-century Germany, or whether they disappeared without trace.