This Week in Armenian History

Birth of Reteos Berberian (October 10, 1851)

Reteos Berberian was the most influential and best regarded Armenian educator in Constantinople for three decades. 

He was born in the neighborhood of Haskeuy, in Constantinople, on October 10, 1851. He graduated from the local Nersesian school in 1866. He had innate qualities to be an educator, and he cherished the ambition of founding a school from his youngest years. At the age of sixteen he started tutoring people of his age. He founded the Berberian school in Scutari (1876). Over the passing of the years, the school became an educational establishment renowned for its high standards.   

He shaped the curriculum and methodology according to his own educational and pedagogical concepts, which aimed at transmitting moral and spiritual values, intellectual excellence, and the best traits of characters. His idealistic approach managed to raise a generation of young people that included some of the best writers of the time such as Siamanto, Vahan Tekeyan, and Levon Pashalian.  

Berberian remained principal of the school until his death on April 6, 1907, in Constantinople. His children Onnig Berberian (1909-1911), a musician, and Shahan Berberian, a philosopher (1911-1922, interrupted by World War I and the genocide) continued the school as principals. The Berberian School was moved to Cairo in 1924 and closed for financial reasons in 1934. Reteos Berberian’s daughter Mannig was a writer and singer. 

Reteos Berberian published his first book of poetry, The First Leaves, in 1877, under the influence of French romanticism. He published several books containing his reflections, meditations, speeches and lectures: Men and Objects (1885), Words of an Educator (1901), Thoughts and Memories (1903), and School and Schooling (1907).