It has become commonplace to hold up Rizal for emulation in the field of education. For us today, the pedagogy that he proposed a century ago is a matter of course, but it was considered avant-garde during his lifetime. The relevance of his thinking with regard to moral and civic formation and technical training continues till the present. However, the provenance of these ideas has hardly been given any treatment or touched upon. Rizal's commitment to national regeneration could account for them as their ultimate goal, but the particulars of method and content, and the radical turn of thought that we find elucidated in his post-U.S.T. (University of Santo Tomas) works, beg that other sources be scrutinized.
This paper will focus on two: the Institucion Libre de Ensenanza and the German systems of basic and vocational education as they existed in the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, it does not ignore the possible influence of Rizal's own passage on Philippine schools, for to do that would be to artificially compartmentalize his life into stages, truncating the vital continuum. To establish some correlation between these antecedents and Rizal's educational thought and achievement, an exposition of the latter is in order.