Pestalozzi, Johann Heinrich

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Related to Pestalozzi, Johann Heinrich: Johann Friedrich Herbart, Johann Heinrich Lambert

Pestalozzi, Johann Heinrich

(yō`hän hīn`rĭkh pĕs'tälôt`sē), 1746–1827, Swiss educational reformer, b. Zürich. His theories laid the foundation of modern elementary education. He studied theology at the Univ. of Zürich but was forced to abandon his career because of his political activity on behalf of the Helvetic Society, a reformist Swiss political organization. From 1769 to 1798 he lived at his farm "Neuhof" near Zürich, where he conducted a school for poor children. He then directed a school at Burgdorf (1799–1804), and from 1805 until his retirement (1825) to "Neuhof" he was director of the experimental institute at Yverdon-les-Bains, which was established on Pestalozzian principles. Pestalozzi's theory of education is based on the importance of a pedagogical method that corresponds to the natural order of individual development and of concrete experiences. To Pestalozzi the individuality of each child is paramount; it is something that has to be cultivated actively through education. He opposed the prevailing system of memorization learning and strict discipline and sought to replace it with a system based on love and an understanding of the child's world. His belief that education should be based on concrete experience led him to pioneer in the use of tactile objects, such as plants and mineral specimens, in the teaching of natural science to youngsters. Running through much of Pestalozzi's writing is the idea that education should be moral as well as intellectual. Never losing his commitment to social reform, Pestalozzi often reiterated the belief that society could be changed by education. His theories also influenced the development of teacher-training methods. Although he respected the individuality of the teacher, Pestalozzi nevertheless felt that there was a unified science of education that could be learned and practiced. His belief that teacher training should consist of a broad liberal education followed by a period of research and professional training has been widely adopted throughout Europe and the United States. Pestalozzi's writings in English translation include The Hours of a Hermit (1780, tr. 1912), Leonard and Gertrude (4 parts, 1781–87; rev. ed. 1790–92, 1819–20; tr. 1801, 1894), and How Gertrude Teaches Her Children (1801, tr. 1915).


See W. S. Monroe, History of the Pestalozzian Movement in the United States (1907, repr. 1969); J. A. Green, The Life and Work of Pestalozzi (1912) and The Educational Ideas of Pestalozzi (1914, repr. 1969); M. R. Heafford, Pestalozzi: His Thought and Its Relevance Today (1967); K. Silber, Pestalozzi: The Man and His Work (2d ed. 1974).

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

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.


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