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ISBN:0521528569
Author: James Van Horn Melton
ISBN13: 978-0521528566
Title: Absolutism and the Eighteenth-Century Origins of Compulsory Schooling in Prussia and Austria
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Language: English
Category: Humanities
Publisher: Cambridge University Press; First Thus edition (November 13, 2003)
Pages: 286

Absolutism and the Eighteenth-Century Origins of Compulsory Schooling in Prussia and Austria by James Van Horn Melton



Yet already in the eighteenth century, Prussian and Austrian rulers attempted to introduce universal education in societies that were overwhelmingly rural and 'premodern'. Focusing on the reigns of Frederick the Great of Prussia (1740-86) and Maria Theresa of Austria (1740-80), this 1988 book examines the origins, aims, and achievements of the compulsory school movements in those states.

Melton draws on a broad range of sources to show how school reform was part of a broader effort to transform social, economic, and cultu Focusing on the reigns of Frederick the Great of Prussia (1740-86) and Maria Theresa of Austria (1740-80), James Van Horn Melton examines in this book the origins, aims, and achievements of the compulsory school movements in. these states. Melton draws on a broad range of sources to show how school reform was part of a broader effort to transform social, economic, and cultural behavior at the popular level.

James Van Horn Melton has produced an important work on the educational policies of the absolute state and the social purposes behind them. The Eighteenth Century. Therefore, as Melton shows, although the eighteenth-century reforms in Prussia and Austria were largely unrealistic because of many factors (lack of finances, lack of qualified educators, emphasis on military expansion, et., Melton makes the assertion that the reform ideas greatly shaped the century to come. As I said at the beginning this is a fine book. Thank you for writing it James Van Horn Melton. Good health to you and your family.

Absolutism and the Eighteenth-Century Origins of Compulsory Schooling in Prussia and Austria. James Van Horn Melton. Socialism Goes Global: Decolonization and the Making of a New Culture of Internationalism in Socialist Hungary, 1956–1989. Mark et al. Daniel O’Connell, Repeal, and Chartism in the Age of Atlantic Revolutions. 1427 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637. by James Van Horn Melton. Yet already in the eighteenth century, Prussian and Austrian rulers attempted to introduce universal education in societies that were overwhelmingly rural and 'premodern'.

Focusing on the reigns of Frederick the Great of Prussia (1740–86) and Maria Theresa of Austria (1740–80), this book examines the origins, aims, and achievements of the compulsory school movements in those states.

List of tables List of abbreviations Acknowledgments Introduction Administrative divisions of the Habsburg and Hohenzolln monarchies, 1780 Part I. Cultural and Religious Forces: 1. Popular schooling in early modern Prussia and Austria 2. The rise of Pietist pedagogy 3. From image to word: cultural reform and the rise of literate culture in Theresian Austria 4. The catholic appropriation of Pietist pedagogy: Johann Ignaz. Felbiger Part II. Social and Economic Forces: 5. Mastering the masterless: cameralism, rural industry, and popular education 6. From compulsory labor to compulsory schooling:. September 30th 1988 by Cambridge University Press.

Focusing on the reigns of Frederick the Great of Prussia (1740-86) and Maria Theresa of Austria (1740-80), James Van Horn Melton examines in this book the origins, aims, and achievements of the compulsory school movements in these states. Melton draws on a broad range of sources to show how school reform was part of a broader effort to transform social, economic, and cultural behavior at the popular level.
Reviews: 4
Delalbine
James Van Horn Melton's work, Absolutism and the eighteenth-century origins of compulsory schooling in Prussia and Austria, traces the evolution of education in Prussia and Austria during the the 17 and 18th centuries, focusing the bulk of his research on the enlightened reforms of Prussia's Frederick II and Austria's Maria Theresa. Melton's Absolutism provides an alternative view concerning the rise of compulsory state education in Europe, challenging the conceptions of compulsory state education and the supposed antagonistic relationship that it had with the Church, both Lutheran and Catholic, while likewise challenging the connected argument that state education was solely introduced to ready a growing industrial workforce for a greatly changing society.

At the beginning of his work, Melton states, "Compulsory education is widely held to be a creation of modern industrial society. . . . [C]ompulsory schooling is customarily linked to the rise of industrialization, urbanization, and mass communications. . . . In Central Europe, however, efforts on behalf of compulsory schooling began long before the industrial age" (xiii). One often is told that state-funded, compulsory school systems in Europe were intrinsically connected to the rise of the industrial classes emerging as a result of the breakdown of the old order of feudal obligation. In the same vein, it is often stated that these states established these schools in direct antagonism against the church. For as it normally goes: prior to the rise of industrialism, man was viewed as homo sapiens, a wise man created in the image of God whose education was provided for by the Church; only until man became homo faber did education become a matter of the anti-religious state.

Melton says that this antagonistic relationship between state and church and industrialism and agrarianism may have been different in other parts of Europe, but in Central Europe it is not so smoothly painted. Indeed, Melton makes the argument that Pietism was more influential on compulsory education than any other single movement (xiii). Pietism was a mid-seventeenth century movement within the broader Lutheran congregation. As Melton shows, Pietism emerged out of the destruction the Thirty Years' War wreaked on the German states and the spiritual decline amongst the Lutheran laity that followed (24). The Pietists viewed themselves as being the spiritual revivers of Luther's message, which they believed had become languid and stale. The way in which they believed this revitalization and re-spiritualization of the Lutheran ethos was to occur was through lay Scripture reading and "stress[ing] the practical value of Scripture for daily life . . ." (25).
Melton argues that the Pietist stress on Scripture reading was revolutionary, but maybe not from the perspective one may initially assume. Melton says, "Although it is customary to equate schooling with the acquisition of literacy, one must be cautious in projecting that equation on the early modern period," adding, ". . . Protestant reforms of the sixteenth century were highly ambivalent about the wisdom of placing Bibles in the hands of the laity" (8-9). Another assumption, Melton states, people tend to make about Protestantism is that it is intrinsically connected with lay literacy and hence lay Bible reading. But the major innovation that Pietism makes in Central European education is this stress upon literacy, roughly 150 years after the start of Protestantism.

The reason why the Pietists stressed lay literacy is interconnected with the way they viewed true Christian education, and this is connected with the appeal that Pietist education had to enlightened absolutists. Melton says, "Pietist schooling sought to cultivate an inner spirituality whose depth of conviction far exceeded the mere outward observance of Christian doctrine. The systematic promotion of popular literacy in Pietist schools was intimately tied to the cult of inwardness. . . The cultivation of inner piety required a genuine knowledge of Christ and his teachings, which could be obtained only by reading the Scriptures" (38). Since the Pietists held that mere outward signs of religious devotion were unsatisfactory for bringing the person to a deep understanding of Christianity, they encouraged people to follow their inner emotions and convictions, which they believed could only happen through the personal study of the Scriptures. The Pietists believed that one had to be coerced to give up his selfish and base desires (hence the introduction of compulsory education), but once this giving up of self occured, paradoxically they believed that one was then fit for action. All in all, it was only through this inner devotion to sanctity and morality that one could behave as Christianity demands that its adherents behave.

Not long after the rise of Pietist educational theory did Frederick William issue the edict of 1717, which was the first time "state funds were used to subsidize the construction of schools and the salaries of teachers" (48). One may here be curious as to why the king of Prussia would be interested in expanding and subsidizing these emerging Pietist schools, especially if we view the relationship between the church and state antagonistically. But Melton states, "The appeal to Pietist pedagogy to absolutist reformers lay in its simultaneous promotion of submission and autonomy" (59). Within the Pietist teachings of giving up one's self in order to be able to act without coercion, the enlightened absolutists found an ideology that fit perfectly within their own ideals of a citizenry that knows its destined place in society and serves that role with arduous complacency.

Up to this point, we have only discussed the rise of compulsory schooling via Pietist teachings in Protestant Prussia. Austria, while it of course had different views on education from their Protestant cousins, and although it begins making educational reforms about a half-century later than Prussia, actually mimicked the Pietist pedagogical practices when it began to reform its schools. Austria, much like Prussia, began reforming their educational institutions largely because of widespread ignorance the laity had concerning basic Christian teachings. Melton contends that the monopoly on education the Jesuits had on Hapsburg domains is largely responsible for this Christian illiteracy. The Jesuits, who were highly suspicious of lay reading, reduced their educational practice to catechistic recitations and plays: as Melton says, Jesuit education was one by image, not word. Many Austrian reformers believed this had caused the laity to become ignorant of Christian teachings and, therefore, immoral in their practices. Melton says, "Reformers were growing increasingly concerned about the integrity of popular Catholicism. As they examined pastoral practice more closely, they came to perceive many of the theatrical, outward signs of devotion as a danger to the coherence and purity of the Catholic faith" (74).

Like Frederick William and Frederick II in Prussia, Maria Theresa saw in Pietist pedagogical teaching the necessary discipline needed for running an efficient, enlightened state. While one may make the jump that since Pietist education, especially concerning its emphasization on lay Scripture reading, was radical in ideals and practice that they were a challenge to the status quo. But, paradoxically, the opposite is true. The Pietists believed that one should only be educated according to his lot in society. Therefore, the Pietists emphasized contentment through a willingness to do one's role in society. And it was through this willful obligation to duty that a just society could exist, for "the school was the place where the peasant was to learn self-coercion" (156).

Melton makes it clear that reforms made during the 18th century were not as widespread and effective as the bureaucratic officials often times claimed they were. But, as he says, "One appraises the success of any reform not only by its immediate, quantitatively measurable results, but also by the traditions it supersedes and the precedents it establishes. A reform, in other words, may have a historical significance that transcends the success or failure of initial efforts to implement it" (233-234). Therefore, as Melton shows, although the eighteenth-century reforms in Prussia and Austria were largely unrealistic because of many factors (lack of finances, lack of qualified educators, emphasis on military expansion, etc.), Melton makes the assertion that the reform ideas greatly shaped the century to come. Ultimately, Melton concludes that the enlightened reforms introduced during the eighteenth-century based upon Pietist ideology largely failed, for "far from creating a stable social and political order, the absolutist policies examined here merely contributed to the disorder [during the mid-nineteenth-century, especially the 1848 revolutions] they sought to prevent" (239).

Melton's Absolutism is a thorough overview of the rise of compulsory schooling in the major German-speaking territories of the eighteenth-century. Absolutism provides a convincing counter to the generally assumed dichotomy between church and state education, for, as it shows, the educational curriculums endorsed by the enlightened despots remained thoroughly Christian in their orientation, differing little from the education that existed during the 16th and 17th centuries, with the notable exception of the promotion of lay literacy so central to Pietist pedagogical beliefs. But as Melton concludes, this one difference was to transform the future of Central European education, for as the word became universally understood, the states became unable to keep their subjects in the positions they desired for them to be.
Hono
I am the founder of a charter school in Michigan. Before deciding to found such a school, I read voluminous texts about the history and purposes of public education. This is, by far, my favorite text on education history.
Most education historians make the mistake of blindly accepting as a premise the common misconception that the intended purpose for the development of compulsory education in Prussia was the mass production of soldiers and obedient subjects. Research proves this to be utterly false. While certainly it cannot be argued that the training of the young has been misused at points in history by tyrants, including Hitler, you can't label an invention by its misuse. All innovations have the inherent danger of perversion for evil purpose.
Compulsory public education has a very interesting and wholesome history. The research of Melton sheds much needed light on the perpetually maligned history of compulsory education. This is a must read for those wishing to learn the intricate truth of the evolution of Prussian/Austrian systems of education. The revelations of this probing research succesfully challenge the commonly held prejudices regarding state-run educational systems.
Taulkree
This is a fine book. Meticulously researched and referenced. My interest in the history of education arises out of the fact that I don't intend to send my daughter to school choosing instead to educate her at home. One reason I'm doing this is that mainstream school, whether state or private, is not primarily about education but about structuring society to create a class system and about mentally programming its participants into some role within society. That's quite a bold statement to make and I made it after only a little research. While I might be totally convinced of it, I have be aware that it might be wrong since my daughter's future is at stake. Hence my desire for further research, a desire most ably satisfied by this book. If you read Melton's book you will be left in no doubt as to the veracity of the statement. Also in the book you will find described most of the mind control and indoctrination methods that we associate with modern school and which in alternative education circles is known as the hidden curriculum.
For me a major benefit of this book is that it is written by someone not involved in the alternative education movement, someone who has probably never heard of us or read any of our material. In 'Absolutism', Melton offers independent verification of some of the ideas circulating among an otherwise small group of people. Melton agrees that Prussia is where the origins of compulsory modern schooling lie, but whereas the movement customarily places them in the Prussia after the battle of Jena round about 1805, after Fichte's addresses to the German nation, Melton has them in the Prussia of the early 1700s with methods under the direction of one August Hermann Franke. A piffling discrepancy you may think which makes no difference to the children with lives blighted by school, but all the difference in the world when analysing the philosophical roots of compulsory school. It should also makes a difference when considering reforms to school or its abolition. With Melton's work we can now make a small but significant correction and state that the origins of the education systems in most countries of the world are attributable to Christian Pietists under contract to the Prussian State. Before, the origins were customarily attributed to solely the Prussian State with the silent implication that the origins are secular.
There is much more in this book. As well as home educators, practitioners of alternative education and education historians, this book will appeal to people interested in other aspects of the history and in the politics, philosophy, and religion of eighteenth century Prussia and Austria. In it you will read about Cameralists, the textile industry, labour shortages, seigniorial authority, the rise of agrarian capitalism and much more. Chapter 3 deals with things like baroque Catholicism, popular comedy and drama, and literate theatre - stretching the relevance to add a bit of colour I suspect but good fun nonetheless.
Be warned though, this book is not a primer. You will need to have some prior familiarity with the material to derive maximum value from 'Absolutism'.
As I said at the beginning this is a fine book. Thank you for writing it James Van Horn Melton. Good health to you and your family.
Dakora
Melton's view of schooling in Prussia and Austria is both informative and precise. He is an under-rated scholar with fascinating perspectives on 17th century European history.