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The article reveals the origin of the concepts of “enlightenment” and “education” and the characteristic features of the Enlightenment. The directions of educational activities of thinkers and philosophers in the Enlightenment, as well as teachers in Great Britain and Ukraine during the nineteenth century – early twentieth century are determined.
Keywords: education, enlightenment, knowledge, educational institution, teachers.

Hong Zhenlong
H. S. Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University, Kharkiv, Ukraine


The terms “enlightenment” and “enlightenment” date back to the seventeenth century. The Enlightenment is a chronological period of the mid-seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These concepts were used by various thinkers and philosophers of the time, including F.-M. A. Voltaire, J. G. Herder, speaking about the dissemination of knowledge among the population and the formation of social life. The concept of “enlightenment” was finally established thanks to the work of I. Kant “What is Enlightenment?” (1784) [1].

The main characteristic features of the Enlightenment were as follows

– the desire to rebuild all social relations on the basis of justice, reason and equality; professing the “cult of reason”, as it was believed that it could change the system of spiritual and social life of society;
– dissemination of advanced knowledge, ideas, and improvement of society’s morality. An important role was attached to education, and considerable efforts were made to disseminate knowledge among all segments of society. Enlightenment was an important activity aimed at the progressive development of society and included not only education, but also moral and social upbringing;
– the desire to open people’s minds, which contributed to the revival of humanistic ideas [5].

Thus, the Enlightenment is a civilizational and cultural trend of the period of transition from feudal to industrial society. Prominent philosophers of this time promoted the formation of a “cult of reason” based on political freedom, natural equality of people and civil equality [5].

The idea of the Enlightenment was supported in the nineteenth century by famous British educators – J. Lancaster and E. Bell, who are considered the founders of public education in England [6; 9]. Thus, J. Lancaster, in order to support a private initiative in his case, created a public education community to spread the Lancaster or British system of education for children from poor families. In turn, in 1811. E. Bell opened the National Community of Public Education in the spirit of the dominant church. In addition, the central schools founded in London developed a monitor method of teaching; institutes for teacher training were created at the central schools; British and national schools spread throughout the country, and the new system of education became known to the public; publishing activities were carried out (methodological manuals were published to familiarize teachers with E. Bell’s system, cheap textbooks for schools), etc.

In addition, in the nineteenth century in Great Britain, active educational activities were carried out by charitable communities that were founded on private initiative before the nineteenth century (community for improving the situation of the poor, community for spreading Christian knowledge of the Anglican Church, community for the introduction and support of Sunday schools); charitable communities that were founded on private initiative in the nineteenth century (a community for founding schools, a community of schools for orphans); public education communities that were founded on private initiative in the nineteenth century (a national community of public education in the spirit of the dominant church, a community for spreading the Lancastrian or British system of education for children from poor families). In general, the educational activities of charitable communities during the nineteenth century were focused on financial support and the establishment of elementary schools in Great Britain, drawing the attention of the general public, including the British government, to the problem of creating and operating elementary schools, and the practical implementation of the idea of universal education [6; 10].

Educational activities in Ukraine in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were carried out in the context of political, economic, social and cultural events in the country. It was conditioned by the process of formation of civil society, modernization of public institutions, intensification of activities of various public organizations and political parties, development of mass media, expansion of the network of periodicals and strengthening of their influence on national political processes, formation of national identity and public opinion, etc. Educational activities were carried out in the following areas [2; 3; 4; 8]:

– organization and holding of public lectures, popular science reports and readings;
– providing funding for various artistic events (performances, concerts, etc.)
– establishing cultural and educational institutions for the population (libraries, art exhibitions, museums, various clubs);
– providing financial assistance to poor and needy people;
– financing the construction and maintenance of various types of educational institutions (schools, kindergartens, summer playgrounds, orphanages);
– introduction of a culture of everyday life (lectures on personal and social sanitation, hygiene), introduction of rules for the sanitary maintenance of commercial and residential premises, the natural environment (streets, dams, rivers, ponds);
– performing community service, fulfilling certain duties on a voluntary basis: leading teacher self-education courses, working in various committees, etc.

It is important to note that the main principles of educational activities were: 1) the principle of humanism, which provided for the creation of conditions for the formation of the best abilities and qualities of the individual; 2) the principle of democracy, which meant the absence of strict regulation in educational activities; 3) the principles of naturalness, individualization and differentiation, which provided for the consideration of age and individual characteristics of the population and the level of educational training of people in educational activities [7].

Thus, educational activities were aimed at disseminating knowledge and education among all segments of the population (especially the vulnerable), developing vocational education, cultural, leisure and charitable activities, forming people’s social activity, their active life position and love for the homeland.

List of references

1. Gorlach M.I., Kremen V.G., Rybalko V.K. Philosophy. Kharkiv: Consum, 2000.
2. Ivanenko O. Educational activities of Poles in the Kyiv province in the early twentieth century. International relations of Ukraine: scientific research and findings. 2016. № 25. С. 166-185. URL: file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/10.pdf.pdf (accessed October 28, 2022).
3. Kolomiets T.V. Kharkiv Society for the Dissemination of Literacy among the People (1869-1920). Kharkiv: Consum, 1998.
4. Kushchova T. O. Pedagogical heritage and public educational activities of Adrian Mytrofanovych Toporov (1915-1984): Candidate of Pedagogical Sciences: 13.00.01. Mykolaiv : V. O. Sukhomlynskyi Mykolaiv National University, 2021.
5. History of world culture / Levchuk LT et al. Kyiv: Center for Educational Literature, 2010.
6. Mokromenko O. The role of educational activities of charitable and public education communities in the establishment of a single mass network of elementary education institutions in the UK of the nineteenth century. New Collegium. 2018. № 2. С. 74-77. URL: (accessed October 28, 2022).
7. Nadezhdina I. M. Educational activities of the intelligentsia of the South of Ukraine in the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Education and development of a gifted personality. 2018. № 1 (68). С. 25-29.
8. Olizko O. V. Public and educational activities of the Yelisavetgrad Society for the Dissemination of Literacy and Crafts (1873-1914) : Doctor of Philosophy dissertation in specialty 011 – Educational, Pedagogical Sciences. Kropyvnytskyi: Central Ukrainian State Pedagogical University named after Volodymyr Vynnychenko, 2021.
9. Barnard H. C. A History of English Education from 1760. London: University of London Press, 1961.
10. Wardle D. English popular education 1780-1970. Cambrige: CUP, 1976.