Philipp Emanuel von Fellenberg (1771–1844) - American EducationInnovative Swiss educator and social reformer whose experimental educational institution at Hofwyl, an estate near Berne, was the first to infuse pedagogy with kindness and tolerance and the first to mix students of different social and economic classes. An agriculturalist, Fellenburg combined mental, moral and manual education at Hofwyl and promoted a “natural” pedagogy that encouraged the formation of warm, mutually tolerant relationships between children of different social classes. Fellenberg also eliminated punishment as a basic teaching method. Although he punished children who misbehaved, he abandoned flogging children when they made academic errors and encouraged them to learn for the sake of learning.
Fellenberg’s work, along with that of his colleague and fellow countryman JOHANN HEINRICH PESTALOZZI, profoundly affected education in the United States. Hofwyl served as a model for English reformer ROBERT OWEN’s school in New Harmony, Indiana, and, with fartherreaching consequences, for the state public school systems founded by Henry Barnard in Connecticut and Rhode Island. It was a visit to Fellenberg’s school in 1835 that convinced Barnard that children of all social classes were equally educable—a revolutionary concept for that era—and that the future of American democracy lay in establishing universal public education.