Johannes Käis

kais

26 December 1885 is the date of birth of one of Estonia’s foremost educational reformers, Johannes Käis (1885-1950), the son of a local village schoolteacher in the village of Rosma, Võru County. The future man of letters started his academic pursuits by attending Rosma’s village school. In 1916, Käis was admitted as an undergraduate to the mathematics and physics faculty at St. Petersburg University. 1916 was also the year when Käis organised six-week refresher courses for schoolteachers in his local Võru County. The method of studying local history through fact-finding excursions was to form the methodological basis used by Käis in his years as the head of the Võru County Teachers Seminary.

After Estonia’s War of Independence, the fledgling country faced the task of setting up a national school system. Educational policy mandated that a national network of primary schools be established, which could make possible the civic and academic formation of the young nation. The system was to be grounded on novel organizational and pedagogic principles, enacted by the school reform society headed by Käis, who at the time was serving as the head of the Võru County Teachers Seminary. The young educational reformer’s ideas focused on the notion of concentrating on each child’s individual interests and aptitudes, with an emphasis on the practical utility of the curriculum.

As the founder of Estonia’s school phenology and educational methods used in teaching life sciences, Käis emphasised the need to impress upon students a love of nature through its aesthetic beauty, especially through illustrating the direct links between abstract subjects and the students’ personal experiences of nature. For that purpose, efforts were made to propagate nature conservation and the establishment of schoolyard gardens. Käis’ ideas soon spread beyond Estonia and found their way into the curricula of Latvia and most especially Finland, a country often frequented by Käis, who was eager to communicate his ideas to his Finnish colleagues by giving several lectures on the person-centric learning process. Käis was recognised for his efforts by being elected an honorary member of the

Finnish Teachers Further Learning Society.  In 1937 the leading Finnish daily “Helsingin Sanomat” noted the following: “it is universally recognized that the working school concept has been imported from Estonia”. It should be noted that the spread of Estonian educational theories abroad in the 1930s was largely attributable to the personal efforts of Johannes Käis. In addition to being a capable innovator, Käis also made his mark as a prolific author, writing a number of articles on educational methods and policies in which he always stressed the need for an egalitarian approach in setting up comprehensive schools. After the onset of the Soviet occupation, Käis’ educational theories fell under official condemnation and were censored until the mid 1960s as the Soviet authorities accused his methods of propagating a nationalistic bourgeoisie mind-set incompatible with state ideology. The distinguished educational reformer died on 29 June 1950. The building located at Lõõtsa 4 of the Ülemiste City complex is named after the distinguished Estonian educational reformer

26 December 1885 is the date of birth of one of Estonia’s foremost educational reformers, Johannes Käis (1885-1950), the son of a local village schoolteacher in the village of Rosma, Võru County. The future man of letters started his academic pursuits by attending Rosma’s village school. In 1916, Käis was admitted as an undergraduate to the mathematics and physics faculty at St. Petersburg University. 1916 was also the year when Käis organised six-week refresher courses for schoolteachers in his local Võru County. The method of studying local history through fact-finding excursions was to form the methodological basis used by Käis in his years as the head of the Võru County Teachers Seminary.

After Estonia’s War of Independence, the fledgling country faced the task of setting up a national school system. Educational policy mandated that a national network of primary schools be established, which could make possible the civic and academic formation of the young nation. The system was to be grounded on novel organizational and pedagogic principles, enacted by the school reform society headed by Käis, who at the time was serving as the head of the Võru County Teachers Seminary. The young educational reformer’s ideas focused on the notion of concentrating on each child’s individual interests and aptitudes, with an emphasis on the practical utility of the curriculum.

As the founder of Estonia’s school phenology and educational methods used in teaching life sciences, Käis emphasised the need to impress upon students a love of nature through its aesthetic beauty, especially through illustrating the direct links between abstract subjects and the students’ personal experiences of nature. For that purpose, efforts were made to propagate nature conservation and the establishment of schoolyard gardens. Käis’ ideas soon spread beyond Estonia and found their way into the curricula of Latvia and most especially Finland, a country often frequented by Käis, who was eager to communicate his ideas to his Finnish colleagues by giving several lectures on the person-centric learning process. Käis was recognised for his efforts by being elected an honorary member of the

Finnish Teachers Further Learning Society.  In 1937 the leading Finnish daily “Helsingin Sanomat” noted the following: “it is universally recognized that the working school concept has been imported from Estonia”. It should be noted that the spread of Estonian educational theories abroad in the 1930s was largely attributable to the personal efforts of Johannes Käis. In addition to being a capable innovator, Käis also made his mark as a prolific author, writing a number of articles on educational methods and policies in which he always stressed the need for an egalitarian approach in setting up comprehensive schools. After the onset of the Soviet occupation, Käis’ educational theories fell under official condemnation and were censored until the mid 1960s as the Soviet authorities accused his methods of propagating a nationalistic bourgeoisie mind-set incompatible with state ideology. The distinguished educational reformer died on 29 June 1950. The building located at Lõõtsa 4 of the Ülemiste City complex is named after the distinguished Estonian educational reformer