Thursday, August 11, 2016

Generallandschulreglement, August 12, 1763

A Landschule in the early nineteenth century 

Dear Reader,

Usually, Kabinettskriege focuses on the military history of the its namesake era. Today, however, we are going to examine a bit of Prussian administrative history, which had important consequences for the western tradition. On this day, in 1763, Prussia circulated the Generallandschulreglement, or the General Rural School Regulations. According to this regulation, authored by Prussian civil servant Johann Julius Hecker:

"We desire that all of our subjects, whether parents or guardians... to send there children to school, from age five, and continue until age thirteen or fourteen. They are to receive the basic elements of Christianity, reading and writing, and should also be able to read and answer for whatever is contained in our approved textbooks."

While public education had been growing in German speaking lands since the 1600s, education lacked vital necessary resources. Schools, particularly rural schools, lacked both the monetary resources to provide for their students, and the ability to compel parents, who used their children as a labor source, to send their children to school. The Generallandschulreglement did not solve these problems completely: but was an important step on the road to compulsory public education. Although rural Prussian teachers continued to struggle with cash flow problems, the Prussian government did marginally increase its investment in education after 1763. The regulation was perhaps most important in that it gave encouragement to a number of private individuals, who continued to make steady improvements to the educational system.

Frederick inspecting a harvest after the Seven Year War 

As a minor figure of the Enlightenment in his own right, Frederick II of Prussia supported this initiative, and as his father had done before him, used it to employ former soldiers in public service. For Frederick, a more educated population meant a more prosperous Prussian state, which was his primary goal after the Seven Years' War. This regulation was one of the many reforms which Frederick took on after the Seven Years' War, in order to promote the growth and prosperity of the Prussian state and economy.

Thanks for Reading,

Alex Burns

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