Guarini, Guarino 1374–1460 Italian Educator

views updated

Guarini, Guarino
Italian educator

The Italian scholar Guarino Guarini had a great impact on the field of education. His schools used the language, history, and culture of the ancient world as the foundation for knowledge. These goals reflected his own education and upbringing.

Born in Verona, Italy, Guarini studied Latin as a boy. In the 1390s he traveled to Padua and Venice to pursue his studies. In Venice he came into contact with the Greek scholar Manuel Chrysolaras, whose lectures on the Greek language were sparking interest in the developing humanist* movement. Guarini followed Chrysolaras back to his home city of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) and spent five years there learning Greek. He returned to Italy around 1408. After several years of failed efforts in scholarly fields, Guarini opened a successful humanist boarding school in Verona. In 1429 he moved to Ferrara, where he served as a tutor at the court of the ruling Este family. He founded a school in Ferrara that soon became one of the most famous in Europe.

Guarini's challenging schools helped to invent a new style of education. He instructed boys in classical* studies with the goal of turning them into free—or "liberal"—thinkers and well-developed human beings. Their education began with the rules of Latin grammar. They learned advanced grammar from Guarini's own text, The Rules of Grammar, which was the first Latin grammar book of the Renaissance. In addition to speaking and reading classical Latin, students learned about the history, major figures, and mythology of the ancient world. They also developed a basic familiarity with Greek. Guarini's teaching methods came to dominate European education for centuries. The ideal he established of "liberal education" persists to this day.

Guarini also made a name for himself as a scholar and translator. He translated the works of several major Greek authors, including the historian Plutarch, into Latin. His work made these texts available to the large number of early humanists who did not know Greek. Guarini also played a role in the rediscovery of many ancient Latin authors.

(See alsoClassical Scholarship; Education; Humanism. )

* humanist

referring to a Renaissance cultural movement promoting the study of the humanities (the languages, literature, and history of ancient Greece and Rome) as a guide to living

* classical

in the tradition of ancient Greece and Rome