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A Labyrinth of Learning
John Amos Comenius’s Labyrinth of the World is an excellent book for many different demographic groups as it has appeal to several interests. Today, we’re going to look at it from the perspective of trying to use it for instructional purposes in a classroom rather than just one of a thousand books to be consumed in a life of reading.
Developing a curriculum can be challenging, especially if one is not a regular teacher like myself. Part of the issue comes down to working up the content so that any teacher, whether a homeschooler or a multi-student classroom instructor, can quickly assume their role with the material.
For Home Schoolers (Private Schools)
For homeschoolers, Labyrinth of the World, by John Amos Comenius, will have a great attraction because of the story’s provenance with having inspired the second best-selling book in history: Pilgrim’s Progress. Such a feat creates a ready-made familiarity. Of course, virtually everyone knows of Pilgrim’s Progress. However, when you tell folks that Labyrinth of the World is spiritually healthier than the former, such an assertion will be hard to ignore.
To homeschool families, this book and curriculum can double for family reading. Younger children, middle-grade readers 8-12 years of age, will enjoy the book when read to them. parents will be able spend more time with their children through this reading. Young adult audiences, 13-18, will be engaged by the topic matter and issues Comenius deals with in this allegory. It will prepare students for the university and a world that is aggressively against faith. Younger children will be pulled into the story as well. Recently, at a homeschool convention, a helper told me his eight-year-old son had been listening to the audiobook on the way home. The boy got bent out of shape when the family had to turn it off to go into the house. He was engrossed in the story.
Reading units ought to be rich in vocabulary. Comenius will not disappoint in this regard. He spared little in throwing a dictionary at readers. Yet, his approach was not a gratuitous illustration of his grip on the language. Instead, he wanted to call readers to a higher level of understanding and their own accomplishment in vocabulary. This edition helps because the context, in most cases, divulges meaning.
Concerning vocabulary, at last count, I found 200 words will be challenging for readers in grades 9-12. Of these, 62 do not appear in Sparknotes’ list of Top 1000 most common SAT words. Even compared to a more expansive list of 6000 SAT words, there are still yet 60 that do not appear in even this list. Thus, readers will be significantly developed by both the book and the curriculum. There are another 10 specialty words not appearing on either list, which deal with medieval subjects. These will be used for extra credit and salient to anyone interested in the lore of Renaissance Faires.
Young Adult readers will be interested in the curriculum for the Ekklesia Press edition of The Labyrinth of the World. This dystopian, semi-biographical allegory has elements of fantasy. Both allegory and fantasy are popular genres with this audience demographic. Labyrinth of the World also deals with non-explicit adult subjects in the attempt to make sense of the world around the young adult reader. In today’s culture, this issue is increasingly salient because the context of the world makes less and less sense. Young people seek answers and encouragement that they are not loopy about what they perceive in the world.
This book, and the additional course with it, will spiritually develop readers and students alike. They will learn history concerning Eastern Europe’s background and the forces that shaped it, and that of Czech lands, Moravians and Bohemian thinking. In addition, readers will receive an introduction to classical educators and sources, which can serve as a guide. A student might read further, or they may learn personages they might avoid because of their lesser value as Comenius offers perspective within the story.
Themes within The Labyrinth of the World can be addressed with students if they did not perceive such through their own reading. Themes include the seeming futility of life, perceiving motives in others who want us to do what they wish (manipulation), the discernment of agendas, and learning to be circumspect. Living a good life is the underlying objective, and God being personal and approachable rather than a mysterious, out-of-touch force are some of the major themes that can be explored.
Labyrinth of the World presents a cornucopia of fascinating aspects that will encourage, challenge, and interest many readers. The history that pitched Comenius’s world into a dishevel uproar gives us much to learn and consider concerning both the issues of our world and the ultimate questions of life and how we can rise above circumstances. This book will be a boon to Homeschoolers, Czech heritage, Anabaptist believers, Young Adult readers, high school teachers, and anyone who enjoys good literature. Tragedy in life often is the seedbed for great things to take shape. Who doesn’t want to live a good life? It’s not so much about what happens to us in life as is how we respond. Comenius gives us much to ponder in this regard. More will be coming out about this resource. Signup for updates.
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