Skip to content


Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

The system of education educed from the ideas of Rousseau and of the German "Enlightenment", and established by Basedow on the basis of "philanthropy".

Johann Bernhard Basedow (born at Hamburg, 11 Sept., 1723; died at Magdeburg, 25 July, 1790) was a pupil at the school of Hamburg under the free-thinker Hermann Samuel Reimarus, studied theology at Leipzig, became (1749) a tutor in a noble family in Holstein, and (1753) professor at the academy for young noblemen at Soroe on the Island of Zealand, Denmark. In 1761 he was removed from this position on account of his Rationalistic opinions and appointed professor in a school at Altona. Here he published his "Methodenbuch für Väter und Mütter der Familien und Völker" (Altona and Bremen, 1770; 3rd ed., 1773), in which he presented in detail his ideas for the improvement of the school-system. This work and his "Agathokrator oder von der Erziehung künftiger Regenten" (Leipzig, 1771) attracted the attention of Prince Leopold Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau. In 1771 the prince called Basedow to Dessau, where he wrote his "Elementarwerk" (4 vols. with 100 copper-plates, Dessau, 1774; 2nd ed., Leipzig, 1785) which, in a form suitable to modern times, sought to present the idea carried out in the "Orbis pictus" of Comenius, of uniting the pictures of the things with the notions of them, by giving with pictures all the material essential for training children. In 1774 he opened a model school at Dessau, the "Philanthropinum".

To all our readers,

Please don't scroll past this. We interrupt your reading to humbly ask you to defend Catholic Online School's independence. 98% of our readers don't give; they look the other way. If you are an exceptional reader who has already donated, we sincerely thank you. If you donate just $10.00, or whatever you can, Catholic Online School could keep thriving for years. Most people donate because Catholic Online School is useful. If Catholic Online School has given you $10.00 worth of knowledge this year, take a minute to donate. Show the world that access to Catholic education matters to you. Thank you.

Help Now >

As the name signifies, it was to be a school of philanthropy for teachers and pupils. In contrast to the severe discipline of earlier days, children were to be trained in a friendly and gentle manner, instruction was to be made attractive, study as easy and pleasant as possible. The standard in forming the course of study was the practical and useful. Languages were to be taught more by practice and speaking than by the learning of grammatical rules, Latin, German, and French being regarded as the most important. Special attention was also given to the more practical studies, as arithmetic, geometry, geography, drawing, and natural science. Basedow and his successors deserve credit for their improvement of methods and educational appliances. Special stress was laid on physical development. The fact that children belonged to a particular nation or religious confession was disregarded; education was to produce cosmopolites. Religious instruction was to be replaced by the teaching of a universal natural morality. Among the teachers who aided Basedow in this school was Christian Heinrich Wolke, who had been his assistant before this in preparing the "Elementarwerk". Basedow, although a fine pedagogist, lacked the personal qualities necessary for conducting such an institution, and retired in 1776. His place was taken (1776-77) by Joachim Heinrich Campe (1746-1818), who was later a prolific writer on subjects connected with Philanthropinism, and is best known by his German version of Robinson Crusoe called "Robinson der Jüngere"; his most important work is "Allgemeine Revision des gesammten Schul- und Erziehungswesens" (16 vols., 1785-91). For a short time after Campe had retired, Basedow, assisted by Wolke, was once more the head of the school. Among the others who taught for a time at this institution were Ernst Christian Trapp (1745-1818), who sought to systematize the philanthropinist principles and theories in his "Versuch einer Pädagogik" (Berlin, 1780); Salzmann (see below), and Louis Henry Ferdinand Olivier (1759-1815). In 1793 this first 'Philanthropinum" ceased to exist.

Those who held Basedow's pedagogical opinions were called Philanthropen , or Philanthropisten . In imitation of the school at Dessau institutions called Philanthropin were established at various places. The only Philanthropin that prospered and still exists was that founded by Salzmann at Schnepfenthal in the Duchy of Gotha. Christian Gotthilf Salzmann (born at Sömmerda near Erfurt, 1 June, 1744; died at Schnepfenthal 31 Oct, 1811) was one of the most distinguished pedagogues of the Philanthropinist school, and probably the most interesting personality among all its representatives. He was originally a Protestant pastor at Erfurt; then, after writing on educational subjects for some time, he became the teacher of religion at the Philanthropin at Dessau (1781-84), and in 1784 founded his own school at Schnepfenthal, which he conducted until his death. Like the entire Philanthropinist school, his religious opinions were rationalistic. The best known of his writings are "Krebsbüchlein oder Anweisung zu einer unvernünftigen Erziehung der Kinder" (Erfurt, 1780, and frequently reprinted), a satirical account of the results of a wrong education ; "Ameisenbüchlein oder Anweisung zu einer vernünftigen Erziehung der Erzieher" (Schnepfenthal, 1806); "Konrad Kiefer oder Anweisung zu einer vernünftigen Erziehung der Kinder" (Erfurt, 1796). The most important of Salzmann's assistants was Johann Christoph Friedrich Guts-Muths (1759-1839), who was the teacher of geography at Salzmann's school ; one of his Pupils was the celebrated geographer Karl Ritter, the first pupil of the school at Schnepfenthal. Guts-Muths, however, is best known for his work in gymnastics. Friedrich Eberhard von Rochow (1734-1805) advocated views similar to those of the Philanthropinists but, unlike the actual members of this school, did much for the improvement of primary education ; his "Kinderfreund" (1775, and many later editions) was a widely used school-book. Finally Christian Felix Weisse (1726-1804), a voluminous writer for children, exerted great influence through his "Kinderfreund" (24 vols., 1775-84), a weekly publication for children.

How to Pray the Rosary free PDF download
Children learning @ Catholic Online School Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you.
Help Now

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Light your Free Virtual Prayer Candle

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2021 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2021 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter!