Born Dec. 20, 1841, in Paris; died Feb. 16, 1932, in Paris. French educator and public figure. Director of primary education in France from 1879 to 1896.
Buisson’s name is linked to the school reforms of the late 19th century, such as the drafting of the laws of the 1880’s on free compulsory primary education and on secular schools. Upon Buisson’s initiative two higher normal schools were set up, and pedagogy courses were introduced in several humanities departments. In 1896, Buisson became head of the pedagogic subdepartment of the Sorbonne. The Museum of Pedagogy was set up on his initiative. Buisson was a deputy to parliament from 1902 to 1924, belonging to the faction of the Radical-Socialists, and a cofounder of the League for the Rights of Man. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1927.
In his books, articles, and speeches, Buisson provided the rationale for the separation of the school from the church, defending the idea that the school should be neutral with respect to different religions. While excluding the teaching of religion from the school curriculum, Buisson nevertheless introduced into the ethics program the concept of god “as perfect being” and of “man’s duties toward god.” In the 1880’s, Buisson edited the four-volume Dictionary of Pedagogy and Primary Instruction.