Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi

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Pestalozzi, Johann Heinrich


Born Jan. 12, 1746, in Zürich; died Feb. 17, 1827, in Brugg. Swiss educator and democrat. A founder of the study of teaching methods in elementary education.

Pestalozzi completed two programs of study at the Collegium Carolinum. He headed the home for the poor in Neuhof (1774–80), a school for orphans in Stans (1798-99), and institutes in Burgdorf (1800-04) and Yverdon (1805-25). He wrote numerous works on education, receiving worldwide acclaim for Leonard and Gertrude (1781-87), How Gertrude Teaches Her Children (1801), Letter to a Friend About a Sojourn in Stans (1799), and Swan Song (1826). In 1792, Pestalozzi was named a Citizen of the French Republic by the French legislature.

Pestalozzi’s world view combined ideas of the French philosophers of the Enlightenment, chiefly J.-J. Rousseau, with the theories of the German idealist philosophers, including G. W. von Leibniz, I. Kant, and J. G. Fichte. Pestalozzi believed that education should conform to human nature, developing the mental and physical strengths inherent in it in accordance with the child’s drive toward diverse activity. This development was to be brought about through sequential exercises done systematically and in a prescribed order, first at home and then at school. Pestalozzi’s theory of elementary education included intellectual, moral, physical, and vocational training, all closely interacting to produce harmonious human development. K. D. Ushinskii called Pestalozzi’s idea of developmental education a great discovery (Sobr. soch., vol. 3, 1948, p. 95).

Pestalozzi devised techniques for teaching children the basics of arithmetic, measurement, and speech. He significantly expanded the content of primary education to include drawing, singing, gymnastics, and elementary geometry and geography. He called for the creation of schools that “would satisfy the needs of the popular masses, be willingly accepted by them, and be to a significant extent the creation of their own hands” (N. K. Krupskaia, Ped. soch., vol. 1, 1957, p. 279).


Sämtliche Werke, vols. 1-17 A, 18-21, 23, 25. Edited by A. Buchenau, E. Spranger, H. Stettbacher, and E. Dejung. Berlin-Leipzig-Zürich, 1927-73.
Sämtliche Briefe, vols. 1-13. Edited by Pestalozzianum and the Zentral-bibliothek in Zürich. Zürich, 1946-71.
In Russian translation:
Izbr. pedagogicheskie proizvedeniia, vols. 1-3. Edited by M. F. Shchaba-eva. [Preparation of text, introduction, and notes by V. A. Rotenberg.] Moscow, 1961-65.


Krupskaia, N. K. “Pestalotstsi.” Pedagogicheskie sochineniia, vol. 1. Moscow, 1957.
Krupskaia, N. K. “K glave o Pestalotstsi.” Pedagogicheskie sochineniia, vol. 4. Moscow, 1959.
Pinkevich, A. P., and E. N. Medynskii. I. G. Pestalotstsi: Ego zhizn’, uchenie i vliianie na russkuiu pedagogiku. Moscow, 1927.
Pinkevich, A. P. I. G. Pestalotstsi. Moscow, 1933.
Rotenberg, V. A. “Pedagogicheskaia deiatel’nost’ I. G. Pestalotstsi.” Sovetskaia pedagogika, 1952, no. 3.
Rotenberg, V. A. “I. G. Pestalotstsi o soedinenii obucheniia s trudom i podgotovke k deiatel’nosti v promyshlennosti.” Sovetskaia pedagogika, 1962, no. 7.