John Pestalozzi (1746-1827) is one of the most influential educators of the most influential educators of the early 19th century and still one of the most influential educators today. This post will examine his life and his views on education.
Pestalozzi was born Zurich, Switzerland in 1746. His father died when he was a child and Pestalozzi was raised by his mother. As a student, Pestalozzi showed no signs of greatness and his teachers accuse d him of being lazy.
Despite this, Pestalozzi goes to college to studying theology before switching to law. After completing school he tried to be a farmer but failed. After his farming venture folded did he turn to teaching by starting his own school.
Teaching during the 18th-19th century was mostly an unappreciated experience. The teachers normally lacked training and were poorly paid. In addition, many leaders did not want the general public to be educated because they believed that educated people were harder to control.
Knowing or experience all this Pestalozzi started his school anyway only for it to fail as well. The main benefit of this experience was that He discovered his love for teaching.
In 1798, Pestalozzi moves to Stanze to care for 80 orphans who had suffered from war. He ran the entire operation by himself with only help from the children. Unfortunately, he had to leave less than a year later and spends several years as an assistant teacher.
In 1805, Pestalozzi starts his second school. This school was by far more successful than his first attempt and became a leader in innovative education in Europe at the time. All the students and teachers lived, ate, and study together. This operation lasted 20 before infighting finally destroyed it. Two years later in 1827, Pestalozzi died.
Pestalozzi views were not so much radical as they were distinct in focusing on the individual development of the child. Teaching should follow the natural progression of the child. In addition, students learn best through repetition and learning by doing.
Combing repetition with learning by doing means that a child should do it over and over again until they are comfortable. Again, it is natural for many children to learn this way. The teacher encourages this by supporting or scaffolding the learning experience of the student
Children should be taught the literal before the abstract because this is appropriate for their senses. This also leads to inductive teaching in many instances but not necessarily always.
Pestalozzi also emphasized that human nature consisted of the physical and moral capabilities. Pestalozzi was a Christian and was convinced that a child must learn more than academics but also develop a sense of right and wrong as prescribed by religion.
Pestalozzi work continues to impact teaching today. Almost every teaching education program talks about his work in one way or another. His philosophy of the whole child approach is a summary of what many believe education should be.