Adolphe Ferrière

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ferrière, Adolphe


Born Aug. 30, 1879, in Geneva; died there June 16, 1960. Swiss educator and theoretician active in the “new education” movement—a trend in bourgeois reformist education of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Starting in 1900, Ferrière taught in the “new schools” of France and Germany. In 1909 he began lecturing at the University of Geneva, and from 1912 to 1922 he was a professor at the J.-J. Rousseau Institute in Geneva. He was one of the founders and chairman of the International Bureau of New Schools from 1912 to 1914. In 1921 he founded the International New Education Fellowship and until 1933 was active in its national sections in France, Belgium, Spain, and elsewhere. He also worked on behalf of the International Bureau of Education, which he helped found in 1925.

Ferrière was one of a group that worked out the general principles and developed the ideas of the “new education” movement—a group that included J. Badley, G. Wyneken, O. Decroly, E. Demolins, H. Lietz, and C. Reddie. These “new school” advocates were critical of the scholastic literalism, the dogmatic type of instruction, and the formal relations with children that characterized the official schools, and they called for reforms based on a different set of educational principles.

According to Ferrière, the new secondary schools were to have the following obligatory features: they had to be boarding schools and located outside city limits; class size was to be from ten to 12 students; in addition to the sciences, the schools were to emphasize art, gymnastics, games, sports, outings, excursions, farming, and crafts; instruction—founded on facts and on observation of the material world and natural phenomena—was to be oriented toward the children’s interests and their developmental stages; and self-government would be introduced to encourage student initiative and independence.

As private establishments that charged tuition, the “new schools” were accessible to the children of the well-to-do and served the educational purposes of the “captains of industry” and entrepreneurs. As N. K. Krupskaia noted in 1915, “Compared to the regular secondary schools, the ’new’ schools represent a giant step forward. But this type of school is not at all the type that the working class wants.... In the ’new’ schools, life is cast in a mold that is entirely bourgeois” (Ped. soch., vol. 1, 1957, p. 347).


L’Ecole active à travers l’Europe. Lille, 1949.
Brève initiation à l’éducation nouvelle. Paris, 1950.
In Russian translation:
Iz opyta novoi shkoly Zapada. Moscow-Leningrad, 1926.


Krupskaia, N. K. Ped. soch., vol. 1. Moscow, 1957. Pages 344–48.
Poznanskii, N. F. Konstruktivnoe vospitanie: Pedagogicheskie idei Ad. Ferr’era. [Saratov] 1928.
Delchet, R. Principes et philosophie d’Education nouvelle d’après l’oeuvre d’Adolphe Ferrière. Lyon, 1952.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.