until about 20 years before Johann's birth, his village had no school.
Most children were unable to read or write. But a school was there
for Johann. He and the 80 other children in the school learned their
"3 Rs," plus the essentials of fruit growing and bee keeping.
The only teacher in the school, Thomas Makitta,
was quick to realize that Johann had special ability, being what
we would call today as "gifted and talented." Johann had
heard about a more exciting school at Leipnik, a town about 13 miles
away. It was much like today's Middle Schools. Two boys
in Heinzendorf were going to this school and on their vacations
they impressed Johann and the other local children with all the
new things they were learning.
Johann and his teacher pleaded with the parents
to send him off to this school. Johann's father wanted him to stay
on the farm and be prepared to run it upon inheritance. But
his father also knew that education was the only way Johann would
escape from the narrow and hard life of a peasant. In those times,
the peasants were partial slaves, being required to work three days
a week for the Lord of the Manor.
So, Johann did go to this larger school, and he
quickly achieved top-of-the-class standing.
order to go to college, Johann had to work to pay the bills. He
tried to get work as a private tutor, but failed because of lack
of friends and contacts with people who could give him recommendations.
He became so stressed that he became sick and had to go back home
to recuperate. It took a year before he was well enough to go back
to college. Even after he went back, his health broke down again
and again. He had to drop out after the first two years. His college
professor, Friederick Franz, had taught at the Augustinian monastery
in Brno and had been asked to become a scout for promising candidates.
He was impressed with Johann, whom he described as "a young
man of very solid character. In my own branch (of science) he is
almost the best."