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11. Science and Education
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1. Government and Administration   |   1.A. Confederation or Nation-State?   |   1.B. Authoritarian or Parliamentary/Constitutional Rule?   |   1.C. Emancipation of the Jews   |   2. Parties and Organizations   |   3. Military and War   |   4. Economy and Labor   |   5. Nature and Environment   |   6. Gender, Family, and Generation   |   7. Region, City, Countryside   |   8. Religion   |   9. Literature, Art, Music   |   10. Elite and Popular Culture   |   11. Science and Education

Friedrich Adolph Diesterweg (1790-1866) was a secondary school teacher and a prominent proponent of a progressive pedagogy in which pupils would learn a wide variety of topics by independent investigation. A prolific author, rather the hero of many of Germany's schoolteachers (and still widely esteemed today), Diesterweg served as director of the teachers' college in Berlin from 1832 until 1847, at which point he was dismissed due to conservative political pressure. Diesterweg's 1856 essay "An Educator's Little Book of Crabs," gets its comic-sounding title from the fact that crabs scuttle backwards, and thus were a nineteenth-century epithet for reactionaries, people who wanted to move society and politics back into the past. In this essay, Diesterweg denounced the enemies of progressive pedagogy: supporters of rote learning and memorization, proponents of religion as the primary subject of instruction in the public schools, adherents of the subordination of schoolteachers to the clergy and, more generally, those who wished to keep schoolteachers in a low social status.

Jonathan Sperber

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