Our eternal contemporary

The national poet of Romanians, Mihai Eminescu – also one of the most prominent philosophers and visionaries of Europe – died and was buried 123 years ago, on June 15 and 17, 1889. The eternity of his values is more valid than ever today, precisely against the background represented by the critical situation of the present-day European society and, implicitly, also as a natural reaction to the trend of being denigrated by the impostors that try to remove them from the circuit of our existence. Precisely as a natural reaction to such anti-Romanian stances, well-paid in hard currency, just saying the name of Eminescu today represents the foremost symbol of our national resistance against the backstage schemes of the new “superimposed class” of spoliators that despise the traditions of the country. There is a national resistance based on Eminescu’s model, which manifests itself mainly through creation as the first justification of freedom and democracy. It is known fact that, in the absence of creation and of the day-to-day produced values, freedom declines and eventually turns into its opposite.

The permanence of creation and progress strictly depends on instructing and educating the new generations, in their permanent succession. This fundamental truth was stimulated by Eminescu through his entire activity, also when he was a school inspector and acquired pedagogic opinions that are still of actuality today. We should heed to Eminescu’s advice in terms of educational ideas and principles, which are valuable even for today’s education system. In his reports sent to the minister of Public Instruction, when he worked as school inspector, same as in his entire work as a publicist, Eminescu makes and thorough and detailed portrayal of the Romanian education system of the 19th Century. It is a rebirth-meant criticism that attacks the discrepancies between what school was back then, and what it should have been. Reading his work today, superimposed to the realities of today, we once again understand how Eminescu introduced common-sense in pedagogy, in organising and guiding the education system, in conceiving the school manuals and primers, and in the entire school policy. Starting from this, he devised so clear and deep ideas that their complete assimilation was a task for the future. This is also a mission of our generation.Future, seen by Eminescu as an organic development of the Romanian nation, is always taken as a reference point in his analyses, which are deeply based on our social and economic realities. “To prevent our peasant from extinction, he must be replaced by another type of peasant (…), which must produce more and learn more at school, with the same sum of power,” Eminescu wrote in a report to the minister of Public Instruction. However, “both the social environment and the administration make school almost useless,” and this state of facts can only be changed “by a different tax system” and “a freer way of organising labour.” These goals were meant to result in electing prefects based on their knowledge of “administration, finance and political economy,” rather than on political criteria. This should also eradicate the arbitrary attitudes that led to situations like that of “the school of Sipotele commune, which is deserted from lack of wood,” and “the notary stores his sour cabbage in one of its classrooms.”In fact, the condition of rural schools today still is similar to those of Eminescu’s times, when he said that “compulsory education is an illusion, teachers are often paid like bailiffs, school buildings are in poor state and there is a class of good-for-nothing scribes – mayors, deputy taxmen etc. that oppress and sneer the population of the commune.” As Eminescu teaches us, a primer must include descriptions of the country, tales about its past, portraits of the prominent personalities of the people, information and literature and art. Because “a primer seeds into tens of thousands of citizens the same love for the past and the furrow of their land; it transforms, after a just observation, a mass of individuals which happen to live on the same plot of land into a people that maintains a country.”  And this is the portrayal of a good school: “characteristic for a good school is that pupils learn there more than they are thought, more than even their teacher knows.” This means that “school should not be a warehouse of foreign notions, but rather the gymnastics of the entire individuality of a human being.” Because “the pupil is not a porter that burdens his memory with sacks of scraps of foreign ideas, but a human being that exerts all the powers of his intellect.”The criticism made by Eminescu almost always provides means of correction, often with a prophylactic character, and never doubt the role of school, as precarious as its condition may have been. Each piece of criticism is followed by a solution, such as this admirable educative ratio between the quantity and quality of school knowledge: “Non multa, sed multum. Indeed, not so much knowledge, but well understood, well digested will provide a clear conscience and will pave a road for thinking, a norm that puts in order the entire intellectual life.” And the decisive significance of primary education results precisely from the fact that “who is destined to become a learned person will become so even without bulky curricula, because it is enough for a child to learn how to understand what he reads, instead of memorising what he did not understand, and he will walk the path leading to absolute science.” In fact, most of Eminescu’s observations on education and training affirm the need for turning each “apprentice” from an object of the education process into a co-author, an active factor of the own process of formation, capable of inspiring an interior depth to the synthesis between instruction and education. Even today, these are targets for modern education everywhere, so youths can feel school as a catalyst that forms their personalities within the horison of their specific, natural characteristics.Back in the times of Eminescu, same as today, society was convinced, even obsessed that prosperity only comes from economic and financial accumulations. Eminescu’s idea about the priority of the investment in the human being, in cultural, scientific, moral and professional education was a beneficial message for the future. Today, the exemplary way in which it was expressed, intensely advocated by our genius poet, makes us feel Eminescu as our eternal contemporary.

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