Thursday, September 9, 2010

American Public Education

The Prussian Connection.
Prussia was prepared to use bayonets on its own people as readily as it wielded them against others, so it’s not all that surprising the human race got its first effective secular compulsion schooling out of Prussia in 1819, the same year Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, set in the darkness of far-off Germany, was published in England. Schule came after more than a decade of deliberations, commissions, testimony, and debate. For a brief, hopeful moment, Humboldt’s brilliant arguments for a high-level no-holds-barred, free-swinging, universal, intellectual course of study for all, full of variety, free debate, rich experience, and personalized curricula almost won the day. What a different world we would have today if Humboldt had won the Prussian debate, but the forces backing Baron von Stein won instead. And that has made all the difference.


fgingras47 said...

My knowledge of German history is quite limited, but I thought that von Stein actually supported Humboldt's reformist educational ideas.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, I thought so, too. Indeed, Stein appointed Humboldt but Humboldt was only able to work for educational reform only for a little over a year. More here:

You are right, though, it is a misleading statement.....