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Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947. Christopher Clark (2008)

April 9, 2014

See on Scoop.itMore … or less!

“By scouring the legal residue of ‘feudalism’ from the noble estates, the October Edict aimed to facilitate the emergence of a more politically cohesive society in Prussia. ‘Subjects’ were to be refashioned into ‘citizens of the state’. Yet the reformers understood that more positive measures would be needed to mobilize the patriotic commitment of the population. ‘All our efforts are in vain,’ Karl von Altenstein wrote to Hardenberg in 1807, ‘if the system of education is against us, if it sends half-hearted officials into state service and brings forth lethargic citizens.’41 Administrative and legal innovations alone were insufficient; they had to be sustained by a broad programme of educational reform aimed at energizing Prussia’s emancipated citizenry for the tasks that lay ahead.”


“Once installed, however, Humboldt unfolded a profoundly liberal reform programme that transformed education in Prussia. For the first time, the kingdom acquired a single, standardized system of public instruction attuned to the latest trends in progressive European pedagogy. Education as such, Humboldt declared, was henceforth to be decoupled from the idea of technical or vocational training. Its purpose was not to turn cobblers’ boys into cobblers, but to turn ‘children into people’. The reformed schools were not merely to induct pupils into a specific subject matter, but to instil in them the capacity to think and learn for themselves. ‘The pupil is mature,’ he wrote, ‘when he has learned enough from others to be in a position to learn for himself.’43 In order to ensure that this approach percolated through the system, Humboldt established new teachers’ colleges to train candidates for the kingdom’s chaotic primary schools. He imposed a standardized regime of state examinations and inspections and created a special department within the ministry to oversee the design of curricula, textbooks and learning aids.”

[op. cit., pp. 331-332]

Manuel J. Matos‘s insight:

And, as an interesting addition, why not read the text over university reform from von Humboldt, available in english in the following address: (probably, it only works from a HE network)

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