Pestalozzi, Johann Heinrich
Pestalozzi, Johann Heinrich the father of modern educational ideas, or, as he has been aptly called, "the schoolmaster of the human race," was one of the greatest philanthropists of the world. He was born at Zurich, Switzerland, Jan. 12, 1746. His father, a physician, died when Pestalozzi was about six years old; but his mother, with the assistance of some relatives, procured him a good education. He studied divinity, but soon tired of it, and turned aside to fit himself for the profession of law; but, instead of entering either the clerical or legal ranks, he married, at the age of twenty-three, the daughter of a merchant of Zurich, purchased a small landed property which he named Neuhof, and went to reside upon it and cultivate it. Why this man of scholarly tastes and pious life should so suddenly turn his attention to farming was a mystery to many of his friends. But Pestalozzi himself had a far-reaching purpose in this step. The reading of Rousseau's Emile had drawn his attention to the subject of education. He had long noticed the degraded and unhappy condition of the laboring classes, the great mass of the population, and he was seeking — led by motives of Christian benevolence and sympathy — to provide means best suited to promote their elevation. He finally became convinced that by means of a sound education a remedy might be found for the many evils by which society was infected. He regarded their ignorance as the principal cause of their misery, and thought that by a proper and advantageous use of their political rights they could be raised from the state of stupidity and brutality into which they had sunk, and given devoted hearts and manly intellects. He proposed to effect this result not simply by instruction, but by a judicious blending of industrial, intellectual, and moral training. He rightly saw that it was not enough to impart instruction to children, but that their moral nature should be particularly cared for, and habits of activity instilled into them through agricultural and industrial labors. To his way of thinking, the great drawback on the side of industry was the weakening of the natural affections and the development of the mercantile spirit, without having the moral resources and consolations afforded by rural occupations. For this reason he preferred to withdraw to a farm, there to gather about him the children of the poor, and to foster in the. coming men and women the taste for domestic life and the sentiment of human dignity. He began in 1775 to carry his views into practice by turning his farm into a farm-school for instructing the children of the poorer classes of the vicinity in industrial pursuits, as well as in reading and writing. He was, however, unsuccessful in his operations. and at the end of two years his school was broken up, and he became involved in debt. In order to relieve himself from his encumbrances, and to procure the means of subsistence, he produced his popular novel of Lienhardt und Gertrud (Basle, 1781, 4 vols.), in which, under guise of depicting actual peasant life, he sought to show the neglected condition of the peasantry, and how by better teaching they might be improved both morally and physically. It was read with general interest, and the Agricultural Society of Berne awarded him for it a gold medal, which, however, his necessities compelled him at once to sell. It was followed by Christoph und Else (Zurich, 1782). During 1782-83 he edited a periodical entitled Das Schweizer-Blatt furi das Volk, which was collected in 2 vols. and published as Nachnforschungen uber den Gang der Natur in der Eintwickelung des Menschengeschlechts (Zurich, 1797). He wrote also other works of less importance. Not until 1798 did Pestalozzi's opportunity come again to test his theories by practice. In this year he established, with the assistance of the Swiss Directory, a school for orphan children in a convent which had belonged to the Ursuline nuns at Stanlz, in the canton of Unterwalden. Stanz had been sacked by a French army, and the children were such as were left without protectors to wander about the country. In the bare and deserted convent he had, without assistance and without books. to teach about eighty children of from four to ten years of age. He was thus driven by necessity to set the elder and better-taught children to teach the younger and more ignorant; — and thus struck out the monitorial or mutual- instruction system of teaching which, just about the same time, Lancaster was under somewhat similar circumstances led to adopt in England. In less than a year Pestalozzi's benevolent labors were suddenly interrupted by the Austrians, who converted his orphan-house into a military hospital. But the feasibility of his theory had become so evident that he could no longer be discouraged or turned back by any obstacle. He promptly removed to Burgdorf, eleven miles north-east from Berne, and there founded another school of a somewhat higher grade, and produced his educational works, Wie Gertrud uhre Kinder lehrt (Berne, 1801): — Buch der Mitter (ibid. 1803), and some others. In 1802 the people of the canton of Berne sent him as their deputy to an educational conference summoned by Bonaparte, then first consul, at Paris. His establishment at Burgdorf was prosperous, became celebrated. and was resorted to from all parts of Europe by persons interested in education; some came for instruction, others for inspection. In 1804 he removed his establishment to Munichen-Buchsee near Hofwol, in order to operate in conjunction with Fellenberg. who had a similar establishment at the latter place; but the two educational reformers disagreed, and in the same year Pestalozzi removed to Yverdun, in the canton of Vaud, where the government appropriated to his use an unoccupied castle. This establishment became even more prosperous and more. celebrated than the one at Burgdorf, and had a still greater number of pupils and of visitors. Unfortunately dissensions arose among the teachers, in which Pestalozzi himself became implicated, and thus the latter years of his life were embittered. The number of pupils rapidly diminished, the establishment became a losing concern, and Pestalozzi was again involved in debt, which the proceeds of the completed edition of his works, Pestalozzi's Sammtliche Werke (Stuttgard and Tubingen, 1819-26, 15 vols.), hardly sufficed to liquidate. (This edition was the result of a subscription got up in 1818 for the publication of his works, the names of the emperor of Russia, the king of Prussia, and the king of Bavaria standing at the head of the list.) In 1825 Pestalozzi retired from his laborious duties to Neuhof, where his grandson resided. Here he wrote his Schwanengesang (1826), and Mieine Lebensschicksale als Vorsteher mneiner Erziehungsanstaltene in Burgdoif und Iferten (ibid.), in which he recounts his disappointments in a most desponding mood. He died Feb. 17,1827, at Brugg, in the canton of Aargau, and over his grave a monument was erected by a grateful generation, which, though it had always failed to reward him as he deserved in life, yet failed not to honor him when his work was done.
The great idea which lay at the basis of Pestalozzi's method of intellectual instruction was. that nothing should be treated of except in a concrete way. Objects themselves became in his hands the subject of lessons tending to the development of the observing and reasoning powers — not lessons about objects. His special attention was directed to the moral and religious TRAINING of the children, as distinct from their mere INSTRUCTION; and here, too, graduation and a regard to the nature and susceptibilities of children were conspicuous features of his system.. His aim was to impart to the school the character of an educating family, into which the ease and pleasure of home should be introduced Without books and without apparatus, he directed his attention to those natural elements which are found in the mind of every child. He taught numbers instead of figures; living sounds, instead of dead characters; deeds of faith and love, instead of abstruse creeds; substance instead of shadow; realities instead of signs. Whatever may be thought of his system as a whole, the present generation cannot afford to ignore its great indebtedness to Pestalozzi for the fresher thoughts and experiments which his plans suggested. What Rousseau (q.v.) attempted with a simulated pupil was realized, though with modifications, by Pestalozzi upon real men; and that which was already existing in scattered ideas was collected by him into a focus. Besides. it is the great distinction of Pestalozzi to be among the first benefactors of the poor-the first to claim for their squalid children the full advantage of all that is impressive in art and beautiful in nature-the first to share his bread with them, and to dwell among them as a poor man himself, in order, as he expressed it, that he might "teach those harassed with poverty to live as men." It now remains for us to notice more distinctly Pestalozzi's relation to Christianity, and especially to Protestantism. It was the practice in his day and country to teach the child the Catechism, and forget altogether the deeper lesson of real faith and true love. As one has aptly put it, the Christianity of Pestalozzi's generation was a lazy Christianity of memory and form," or, as Pestalozzi himself was accustomed to designate it, "a paper-science." Pestalozzi took issue with such a course. He was a Protestant, in whom the essence of Christianity took the place of the form, and in whom the spirit preponderated over the letter. True, he put revealed religion as auxiliary to natural religion, and only instructed his pupils in the latter when the former had been mastered; but whatever may be thought of the method, it is certain that Pestalozzi was a firm believer in the salvation of the world by Christianity. The humble man shrank from professions; he found that he might cause his pupils to stumble if they looked to him for a pattern, and we do not wonder that in the midst of his trials with the world he is led to cry out, "I do not think that there are many men naturally fitted to be Christians;" and in shame and confusion confesses that he does not really think himself a Christian, because he does not find himself endowed with a capacity to arrive at religious excellence by the conquest of himself. His life will bear the closest scrutiny, and if ever there has been a striving after perfection, Pestalozzi sought for it in Christianity. In the hour of death his hope for salvation was in his Savior. See Krisi, Pestalozzi: his Life, Work, and Influence (Cincinnati. 1870); and the article in Kiddle and Schem's (Encyclop. of Education, p. 693-95; also Hagenbach, Ch. Hist. of the 18th and 19th Centuries, 2:154 sq.; Hurst, Rationalism, p. 188 sq.