Education for all in the 18th century?

The Francke Foundations as Early Modern Educational Architecture

Top floor of the Pädagogium with specially designated classrooms, detail of a plan drawing, c. 1750
Top floor of the Pädagogium with specially designated classrooms, detail of a plan drawing, c. 1750

The project, funded by the state of Saxony-Anhalt, is dedicated to the indexing and conceptual penetration of early modern sources on the history of the schools of today's Francke Foundations, which were known as Glauchasche Anstalten in the 18th century. The focus is on the connection of the school architectures with the specific Pietist-based pedagogical concept that was developed and became effective here. This aimed at the education and upbringing of children of all classes, boys and girls.

Whereas in earlier centuries teaching often took place in one and the same room in the teacher's house, today schools are independent, spatially differentiated and highly specialised institutions whose functions and pedagogical guidelines are reflected in the architecture and internal structure. Researchers generally see the epochal break with teaching in teachers' residences or in secularised and then converted monasteries towards planned and spatially differentiated new school buildings in the period around 1800. Reform pedagogy shaped by the Enlightenment is cited as decisive for these developments, which was reflected in the founding of pioneering schools such as the Dessau Philanthropin or the school in Schnepfenthal.

However, there are hardly any comprehensive or comparative studies on schools or educational architectures for the period before that. Hermann Lange's fundamental study »Schulbau und Schulverfassung der frühen Neuzeit« from 1967 is still a central reference here. Nevertheless, there are numerous individual studies on municipal or provincial schools as well as knight's academies and universities, which suggest a rich educational landscape and architecture in the early modern period.

The project aims to analyse the school architecture and the school rooms of the early modern Glauchasche Anstalten in a comparative perspective on the basis of the extensive historical source material (school regulations, architectural plans, etc.). With this approach, which goes beyond individual cases, the project also makes a contribution to the aforementioned research desideratum on school architecture before 1800.

The long-standing research on the Pietist image of children and human beings, on the teaching and schools of the Glauchasche Anstalten, on pupils and teachers is to be linked to the architectural and spatial conditions of the buildings as well as the internal organisation. The question to be discussed is whether and, if so, to what extent the Pietist concept of education is reflected in the layout of the buildings, their spatial structures and social organisation. In the 18th century, the Glauchasche Anstalten represented an exceptional educational institution where all people, regardless of their origin, social status and gender, could acquire education and be educated.

From 13 to 15 October 2022, an international and interdisciplinary conference on early modern educational architecture was held at the Francke Foundations. The conference volume Frühneuzeitliche Bildungsarchitekturen. Internationale und interdisziplinäre Perspektiven was published by the Francke Foundations in 2024.

To the conference programme.