On this day (January 14, under the Julian calendar), he signed a decree to open the School of Mathematics and Navigation. The country modernizer emphasized that “this school is needed not only for navigation and engineering purposes, but also for artillery and civic affairs.” In several months, the school was located in the newly built Sukharev Tower. Such an institution did not exist in enlightened Europe, but the names of subjects – arithmetic, geometry, trigonometry, navigation, astronomy – sounded very unknown in Russia entangled in a web of the Domostroy rules and customs. This navigation school hosted a mathematical revolution in Russia being incomprehensible to ordinary people’s minds. Teacher Leonty Magnitsky replaced the Slavic numerals – those written using letters – with the familiar Arabic ones. The greenhorns got used to this system: they learned everything quickly and successfully applied their knowledge in the Northern War. However, the word “greenhorns” is not quite appropriate: the navigation school was open to everyone aged 15 to 33. The zeal for learning was encouraged: students were paid scholarships growing from grade to grade. The students were trained on ships, and those being especially gifted and wealthy – also abroad. They were examined upon their arrival back home, and sometimes the Tsar did it on his own.
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