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Spiru Haret is the most prominent personality in the history of the development and modernization of the Romanian educational system, at the end of the XIXth and the beginning of the XXth century. His laws and reforms kept the validity three decades, but many precepts could be valuable today also.
Spiru Haret’s works have been published in 11 volumes, containing 139 titles, 21 being mathematical researches. A lot of writings were dedicated to the work, activity and the man Spiru Haret, becoming with a reverential volume entitled Lui Spiru Haret. Ale tale dintru ale tale. La a 60-a aniversare” (To Spiru Haret. The Yours from Yours. At 60th anniversary) published even in the time of his life. Many people of the Romania and from abroad continued to write about this fascinating personality. He was recognized like as an outstanding scientist, a philosopher of the social life, a creator of laws for reforming the Romanian school, a fighter to realize the necessary reforms, a loved professor, a man that understood the needs of rural people and dedicated his activity to raise the cultural and social level in our country.
Spiru Haret entered the scientific world being of 27 years old, with his doctoral thesis: Sur l’invariabilité des grands axes des orbites planétaires (On the invariability of major axes of planetary orbits) which was defended at the renowned university Sorbonne of Paris on 18 January 1878. The results of the Haret’s calculus, published in his dissertation, discovered the existence of secular variations of the major axes of the planetary orbits. So, the discoveries of the young Romanian researcher contradicted the convictions of his célèbre predecessors, Laplace, Lagrange, Poisson, and demonstrated that the movement of planets around the Sun has not an absolute stability. Haret’s doctoral thesis was published by the University Sorbonne, and in Mémoires de l’Observateur de Paris. Poincaré, Andoyer, Tisserand, and many scientific encyclopedias quoted that work.
Another Haret’s scientific realization, with echo in the world of researchers, was his book Mécanique sociale, published in 1910 by Dunod at Paris and Bucharest. With this work, Spiru Haret could be considered a forerunner of the mathematical modeling in social sciences (M. Malita). In this book Haret introduces the rigor of mathematical reasoning in the study of economic and social problems of Romanian society of his time. The value of the book was emphasized by many researchers, and Haret was considered among the first scientists who have had the idea to use the mathematical tool in the explanation and understanding of social phenomena. Mécanique sociale was a successful book because Haret was among the few people with two fold vocations: the knowledge of the mathematical instrument and the social field of application.
The mathematician-astronomer Spiru Haret could not continue after 1878 his scientific research with the same important results because he had in country neither the documentation, nor the necessary time for study. However, the importance of Spiru Haret for the scientific research in Romania became more prominent due to his role in the organization of all degrees forms of education, which opened the way to appear a generation of Romanian men of science in mathematics and not only.
The great scientific value of Haret’s worth was recognized by the international scientific community even after almost 100 years from the publishing of its famous thesis, when International Union of Astronomers named “Spiru Haret” a crater of the Moon.
In country, Spiru Haret was associated member of the Romanian Academy starting with 1879, and became full member in 1892 and vice-president in 1904.
Spiru Haret, who returned in country in 1878 as a doctor in science from Paris and with an international recognition of a great scientific value of his thesis, was appointed professor at the faculty of physics and mathematics of the University of Bucharest. Here he taught rational mechanics. In the while 1878-1910 (the year of his retirement) Haret taught mathematics also at the School of bridges and roads and at the School of artillery and engineer officers. As a professor, Haret had laudatory acclaim from his students who dedicated to him an anniversary volume in 1907, at 25 years of his teaching.
Spiru Haret was named the “School’s Man” especially thanks to the laws elaborated by him, which reformed the educational system in Romania and thanks to his personal implication in the adoption of these laws by the Romanian Parliament and to their put in place.
Since 1878, when Spiru Haret turned back in Romania, as the firth Romanian doctor in mathematics from the University of Paris, involved with abnegation in the educational activity, both as professor and legislator-reformer of the educational activity, both as professor and legislator-reformer of schooling system. Haret obtained important functions in the Ministry of Public Education and Religions, besides that of professor. So, he was general inspector of the schools in 1889, general secretary of the ministry and three times Minister: 1897-1899, 1901-1904, 1907-1910.
The Haret’s thinking about the necessity to do a functional educational system, with a real utility, which had to raise the economic, social, cultural state of Romanian people, had roots in his personal early life and years of school. His souvenirs about this life were written in the paper “Anii de scoala” (Years of school) published in “Gazeta matematica” vol. XI, p.174-182). Later, in Paris, Haret understood and projected how to realize a modern, European education in his country.
Haret’s educational reform came into operation by two fundamental laws voted in the Parliament: the law for the secondary and superior education in 1898 and the law for the vocational education in 1899, both in the first period when Haret was Minister. Because of the political parties change to govern, the law of vocational education was necessary to be re-voted in 1901, at the second ministerial Haret’s function.
Haret’s reform of the education referred to the organization of the school system, to all its levels, from primary to secondary and university level. School programs, regulations for discipline and teachers stability, schools for adults, specifications for the girls schools, kindergartens, school canteens, salaries of teachers, medal for distinction in teachers work.
Haret himself calculated the costs of schoolhouses and generally costs of the reform, to provide the national budget.
Among the stipulations of the Haret’s laws, we find first the compulsoriness of the primary education, which had become a reality by providing of material conditions, both for children and teachers. The imperative stipulation was “a school for each village”. Then, the curriculum asked to transmit strict necessary knowledge for social life.
An extra-school activity of teachers designed to raise the social life in villages. The law established people’s banks, peasants’ communities, co-operative societies, canteens.
Haret insists to increase the number of girl schools, must increase, to assure at least a partial satisfaction to the learning request which the girls manifest and to give a cultural level higher than that of the primary school.
The Haret’s laws were profound and useful a long period of time.
As a Minister of Public Education, Haret has a great influence on other fields of the cultural life. He attributed to the theater an educative role: “theater is a school, a “seminary” and a church”, so the children must have the right to go at the theater. Music, drawing, fine arts, all were in attention of the Minister Haret. That is why personalities of Romanian culture cheered the “Great Teacher”.
Spiru Haret was a providential Man of his epoch and country: “He intuited, like as Cuza, Kogalniceanu, Maiorescu and Eminescu thought: a rural and predominant agrarian country must be modernized within it by adequate institutions. One of these institutions is the school, which Haret designed as being the fundamental mean of transformations in the rural society” (Schifirnet).