A German educational reformer, pedagogical writer, and canon regular of the Order of St. Augustine, b. 6 January, 1724, at Gross-Glogau in Silesia ; d. 17 May, 1788, at Presburg in Hungary. He was the son of a postmaster, who had been ennobled by Emperor Charles VI. The death of his parents constrained him, after studying theology at the University of Breslau, to accept (1744) the position of teacher in a private family. In 1746 he joined the Order of Canons Regular of St. Augustine at Sagan in Silesia, was ordained a priest in 1748, and ten years later became abbot of the monastery of Sagan. Noting the sad condition of the local Catholic schools, he strove to remedy the evil by publishing his first school-ordinance in 1761. During the private journey to Berlin, in 1762, he was favourably impressed with Hecker's Realschule and Hähn's method of instructing by initials and tables ( Literal- or Tabellen-methode ), and became an enthusiastic propagator of this method. A school-ordinance for the dependencies of the monastery of Sagan was issued in 1763, teachers' college was established, and Felbiger's school reforms soon attracted the attention of Catholics and Protestants alike. He was supported by the Silesian minister von Schlabrendorff, and at the latter's request, after a second journey to Berlin he elaborated general school-ordinance for the Catholic elementary schools in Silesia (1765). Three graded catechisms, the joint work of the prior and the abbot of Sagan, appeared in 1766 under the title, "Silesian Catechism", and enjoyed a wide circulation. The death of von Schlabrendorff in 1769 marked the end of the Silesian government's educational efforts. Felbiger's suggetions were heeded, however, by King Frederick II in regulations issued (1774) for Silesian higher schools.
At the request of the empress, Maria Theresa , he repaired to Vienna in 1774, and was appointed General Commissioner of Education for all the German lands of her dominions. The same year he published general school-ordinance, and in 1775 his most important pedagogical production: "Methodenbuch für Lehrer der deutschen Schulen". His school-reform was copied by Bavaria and other German lands and was not without influence on Russia. Considerable opposition, aroused by Felbiger's arbitrariness, developed in Austria against his plan of founding special schools for the neglected instruction of soldiers. Maria Theresa, however, always remained his faithful protectress. Put his strictly religious principles education displeased Joseph II, who depraved him his position, assigned him to his provostship at Presburg, and advised him to look after educational intests in Hungary (1782). The chief peculiarity of Felbiger's too mechanical method was the use of tables containing the initials of the words which expressed the lesson to be imparted. Other features were the substitution of class-instruction for individual instruction and the practice of questioning the pupils. He aimed at raising the social standing, financial condition, and professional qualification of the teaching body, at giving a friendly character to the mutual relations between teacher and pupil. For a list of his 78 publications, which are mainly of a pedagogical character, see Panholzer's "Methodenbuch" (46-66).
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online