Ionut Patularu, The Normal School in Craiova… a landmark of the Romanian education

Publishing House Mitropolia Olteniei, Craiova, 2019, ISBN 978-606-1794-71-6

The pedagogical education in Craiova has recently celebrated 149 years, taking as a landmark the 7th of March 1870 when the great scholar and politician Gheorghe Chiţu established The Training School for Primary School Teachers in Craiova. In this context, Gheorghe Chiţu is also rightfully considered to be the founder of Craiova’s Training College for Primary School Teachers.

Throughout its existence, the Training College for Primary School Teachers has earned people’s special respect. There is a thesaurus of pedagogic tradition, of the primary school teachers and trainers who have educated this people during both in the hard times of sacrifices and in the fruitful periods of creative peace.

However, there are several opinions regarding the beginnings of pedagogical education in Craiova,. We think that one of the most justified is that of Professor Emeritus Nicolae A. Andrei, former principal of “Nicolae Balcescu” Highschool (today “Carol I” College), who brought to our attention the fact that the pedagogical education in our city could claim: „the heritage passed down from The Primary School Teachers College established within The Boys’ Central School „. Moreover, another important component of the pedagogical tradition comes from the Girls’ Central School (the former Institute „Lazaro-Oteteleşanu” (otherwise written Otetelişanu) , today the National College „Elena Cuza”), an institution which, according to the decision of the General Council of the Instruction, was transformed, into The Training School for Primary School Teachers (later training future secondary school teachers), comprising the former „Madona Dudu” Girls’ School for Primary School Teachers.

This beautiful and noble tradition of pedagogical education in Craiova has been essential for today’s education with all its lights and shadows. The teacher has been increasingly visible and ever more responsible in our society’s life during the last two centuries.

The one who approached for the first time the history of Craiova’s Training College for Primary School Teachers was the remarkable professor and principal Ilie Popescu-Teiuşan, who published a brief history in the Yearbook of the Training College for Primary School Teachers, Stefan Velovan, in Craiova, 1870-1932. He pointed out the beauty and idealism of the beginnings of pedagogical education, highlighting the necessity of such an institution in promoting a pedagogical education highly influenced by the Western principles of Ștefan Velovan, coordinator of the „Application School” within the Training College for Primary School Teachers. Thus, Ștefan Velovan represented the pedagogical education with honour and became a sort of a „patriarch” of the generations of students training as teachers, a status owed both to his intellectual and moral profile.

In 1970 the most complete monographic work, The Monograph of the Pedagogical College, was published, being written by Bușe Liubovia, Popa Ion, Murărețu Elena, all teachers and prestigious leaders of this institution. The work aims to analyse the history and tradition of education in Craiova, and implicitly that of Craiova’s Pedagogical College, from 1870, the year of its establishment up to 1970, the period of its full reorganization and institutional reform which included changing its name to „Ștefan Velovan”, this college being nowadays one of the top pedagogical institutions in our country.

Then, the authors analyse several components and aspects pertaining to the profile of this school, such as: pupils’ results, the teaching staff, the instructive-educational activity, the school facilities. This studyfocuses mainly on the history of the Training College for Primary School Teachers in Craiova and less on the other component of pedagogical education represented by „Madona Dudu” Girls’ School for Primary School Teachers (1914-1955).

Also, the above mentioned monographic work remains ‘anchored’ and sometimes subordinate to the communist propaganda especially in some of its less essential segments, a fact that the authors could not avoid  in those totalitarian times, if they wanted to publish a book, including a book  about Romanian education.

In 1995, when „Ştefan Velovan” Primary School Teacher Training College celebrated its 125-th anniversary, a group of former students initiated the publication of a new volume called Anniversary 125. This book adds new facts about the history of „Madona Dudu” Girls’ School for Primary School Teachers which worked between 1914-1955, as well as about the period after the merging of the two pedagogical colleges (1970-1995). The authors used both the archives found mostly at the „Nicolae Titulescu” College in Craiova and certain information related to school statistics.

Our research is a description of a prestigious school institution of Romanian education: Primary School Teacher Training College in Craiova. Its history becomes captivating, especially if we analyze the different contexts, in which the teachers have fulfilled a function of great responsibility throughout the modern and contemporary history of Romania. The documentary basis constituted by certain publications motivated our research and gave us an objective image of what it meant and also means the pedagogical education and the impact it had on the Romanian education.

The Primary School Teacher Training College in Craiova has been appreciated both locally and nationally, managing to impose itself in a rather short time since its establishment. The teacher has been and is increasingly present in the last two centuries in the Romanian society, fulfilling his role as trainer of the young generations as well as defender of the national values. The image of the magicians Ștefan Velovan, Ilie Popescu - Teiușan, Ioan Olteanu, I.C. Bombăcilă, Gheorghe P. Constantinescu reverberates to this day and obliges us in a way to continue the tradition that honors our Romanian education and our city.

The present book is structured in four chapters, and the research method is based on the historical-chronological criterion of the description and analysis of pedagogical education in Craiova from the year 1870, marked by the establishment of the Primary School Teachers’ Training College, up to certain recent aspects concerning the activity in „Ştefan Velovan” National Pedagogical College.

In the first chapter we insisted on a presentation of the genesis of pedagogical education in Craiova, with the unavoidable difficulties of asserting itself in Romanian society. The need for a pedagogical school to educate the young generations was obvious, as well as the necessity to form a truly pedagogical mentality, essential in a modern society. The Training College for Primary School Teachers in Craiova had the chance to benefit from great vocation teachers, such as the first principals and teachers Constantin Olteanu (1870-1873), Gheorghe P. Constantinescu (1873-1881) or Ioan Bombăcilă (1881-1898). They were great patriots and defenders of pedagogical values.

We also sketched out the role played by „Madona Dudu” Girls’ School for Primary School Teachers , regarding the evolution of Craiova pedagogical education. At the same time, we tried to do a general x-ray on the social situation of the students, who came mainly from the rural area, loaded with deficiencies and needs.They had the chance to learn from the fundamentals of the teaching process, most of them becoming aware of their future mission of teachers of the Romanian society, from the first years of high school.
In the second chapter we referred to several events in the national history, to which the teachers took part. 

The peasants’ uprising in 1907 represents another page of our national history, in which the teachers were effectively involved, being organically bound to the Romanian peasantry from among which most of them were coming.

In this chapter we also find a touching page written by the teachers in Dolj County who participated in the First World War (1914-1918).  Their sacrifice and heroism is illustrated by 64 teachers who gave their lives for the realization of Great Romania in the battles of Cerna, Jiu, Olt, Argeş, Dobrogea, Oituz, Mărăşti, Marăşesti. And last but not least, we have highlighted the role that teachers had in general, focusing on their involvement in the anti-communist fight that lasted almost 50 years. There was no county of Romania where teachers did not participate in the mission of defending the national values against the Bolshevik yoke.

This touching sacrifice makes us reflect deeper on what the teacher meant in those times of great turmoil of our national history.

The next chapter is dedicated to the two personalities of the Romanian Pedagogical Education, who taught at the Training College for Primary School Teachers in Craiova: Ștefan Velovan (1852-1932) and Ilie Popescu-Teiuşan (1895-1980). The two masters undoubtedly represent points of reference to which Romanian pedagogical education relates today. They went beyond the boundaries of their time by becoming pedagogical system creators, and especially promoters of thorough pedagogical training. Today, there is a lot of respect for them and for their two visions of Romanian pedagogy, „Velovanism” and „Teiuşanism”, which have reformed the concept of the modern teacher and educator.

The last chapter reveals new pages from the life of the National Pedagogical College „Stefan Velovan”, the direct descendant of the Training College for Primary School Teachers, as well as of „Madona Dudu” Girls’ School for Primary School Teachers. We take the risk of saying that in the recent decades pedagogical education has been not only marginalised but even disbanded, for reasons rather having to do with a type of poor mentality.  The Training College for Primary School Teachers in Craiova had a well-defined place that attracted the respect of society even in the Communist period, during the pseudo-reform resulting in the establishment of the Pedagogical Institute with a duration of two-year studies which proved to be a damage solution for the education system

We believe that this paper highlights elements of local history in order to promote the meaning of Romanian dignity and pedagogical spirit.

On the other hand, in recent years, we have known especially the pedagogical education system in Craiova, being one of the principals during 2012 – 2016, insisting on the return to the tradition and history of the term „pedagogical”. As a result, the National College „Ştefan Velovan” became the National Pedagogical College „Ştefan Velovan”, starting with the 1st of September 2013, our approach being welcomed by those who have known and appreciated the pedagogical education in Craiova.

Our experience of the last few years at this famous institution makes us insist on the usefulness of pedagogical education, with a well-defined status of „pedagogical college” and not of theoretical high school, as it worked in a certain period.

Training teachers for elementary education is required as a necessity of modern culture nowadays. Future teachers in this field must have a theoretical and practical instruction extended over a period of five years, focusing on socializing, psychological observation and on a good knowledge of the socio-human environment where they will work. Teachers should be guided to work together with the environment in which they operate and thus to know the family their pupils live in. From their earliest age, the psychology of the pupil must be studied and understood; today’s education has its instructional objectives centred firstly on individuals and only then on the groups of pupils, which further amplifies the responsibility of the teacher.

What has inspired Spiru Haret’s reform should be continued through the entire running of the pedagogical, scientific and social function as an imperative of our modern society’s development. Our education would gain in substance and elevation by training teachers prepared to observe and actively communicate in various social contexts in order to remove distances and acquire European recognition.

Such principles began to be put into action several years ago at the Pedagogical College. It was insisted on initiating and involving pupils in the fields of household physical work and school farm life. Organizing the school museum, the school library and the ethnographic museum located near the college hold an important role in developing pupils’ passion for research and their confidence in the power of culture through methodical discipline.

Another objective was the connection of school life to the events of the City, thus increasing pupils’ knowledge about the cultural and scientific personalities of our nation, and especially of the area we live in.

Cross-cultural events, scientific exchanges with renowned national or European institutions are forms of dialogue that have ensured the policy of truth, a genuine reintegration into the socio-political environment, and friendly relations of mutual esteem among countries.

To conclude, pedagogical education is meant to strengthen our traditional respect for education, maintain the national idea of our historic destiny, and preserve our spiritual matrix as a constituent nation of the European Union. The pedagogical education in Craiova made the teacher and the educator occupy a worthy place in the Romanian society.
The work that we propose to the public was largely the dissertation thesis from the Faculty of Social Sciences, the specialization „Romanians in the History of Europe”, in 2017, with the title „Highlights of the pedagogical education in Craiova: The Training School for Primary School Teachers „.

We truly believe that Craiova’s pedagogical education has fulfilled the purpose of providing a model of the dignity of the teacher and educator in the Romanian society.