Basedow, Johann Bernhard

Basedow, Johann Bernhard

Basedow, Johann Bernhard (yōhänˈ bĕrnˈhärt bäˈzədō), 1723–90, German educator, b. Hamburg, educated in Hamburg and at the Univ. of Leipzig. Later he taught in Denmark (1753) and Germany (1761) but became involved in controversies aroused by his unorthodox religious writings. In 1774 his Elementarwerk was published with funds raised by popular subscription, and Basedow opened at Dessau a school called the Philanthropinum, where the methods of elementary education outlined in this text were employed. Drawing upon the writings of Comenius, Locke, and Rousseau, Basedow emphasized realistic teaching and introduced nature study, physical education, and manual training. He resigned in 1778 because of disagreements with his staff, and the school closed in 1793. His reforms were widely influential, however, and similar institutions were established throughout Germany and Switzerland.
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Basedow, Johann Bernhard


Born Sept. 11, 1724, in Hamburg; died July 25, 1790, in Magdeburg. German educator; founder of “philanthropinism.”

Expressing the interests of the young German bourgeoisie, Basedow criticized the schools of his time for scholasticism and isolation from life and insisted on the teaching of the natural sciences and modern languages. He advocated religious tolerance and tried to prevent church interference in the affairs of his Philanthropinum (an educational institution similar to a boarding school), which he had opened in Dessau (1774). Although Basedow’s Philanthropinum accepted children of various social classes, it preserved the features of a socially stratified institution. The students were divided into boarders (noblemen’s children who were prepared for admission to a university) and “famuliants” (poor people’s children, future tutors).


Ausgewahlte Schriften. Langensalza, 1880.
Elementarwerk. . ., vols. 1–3. Edited by T. Fritzch. Leipzig, 1909.


Piskunov, A. I. Ocherki po istorii progressivnoi nemetskoi pedagogiki kontsa XVIII-nachala XIX vv. Moscow, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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