Peter Petersen (paedagogue)

Peter Petersen (* 26. June 1884 in Grossenwiehe with Flensburg; † 21. March 1952 in Jena) was a reform paedagogue.

In prevention of the prevailing spirit-scientific Pädagogik operated Petersen educational fact research as attempt to connect empirical and hermeneutische research procedures. Petersen developed the Jena plan in such a way specified at the University of Jena, to which he became to appoint in the context of the Greil school reform .

The large achievement of Peter Petersen consisted of the fact that it let the different reform-educational currents on the background of an independently developed educating science merge with one another and the Jena plan in such a way specified sketched. 1928 it was already appreciated in the “manual of the Pädagogik” by Nohl/Pallat for it. Petersens basic question read: How is the educating community to be constituted, in which and by one humans its individuality can complete the best education to the personality and acquire a child?

Petersen understood itself as an advocate of a human, child-fair alternative to the national, strictly hierarchically arranged schools of the time. Its efforts of reform aimed at the entire national public education off. It wanted a general, free elementary school, in which both sexes learn as possible together independently of conditions , religion and gift so long with one another. Much more strongly it stressed however a school reform from the inside, which became its task of life. Its achievements lie first of all in it that it develops an independent and to a large extent autonomous educating science, those from the educational fact research, i.e. the systematic observation of the child in his educating reality for the security and correction of educational decisions, one accompanies. It introduces secondly the academic teacher formation and creates the first educational faculty. Thirdly it represents a scientific school attempt , which theoretical it accompanies with the Jena plan school. Theory and practice, teachings and research merge with Petersen into up to then a unit been not yet there. The theoretical reason was based its stress of joint learning not least also on the basis of völkischer social theories and LV - affinen concepts like that the community, so that Petersen in contemporary reporting beside Krieck was celebrated as important Vordenker of a new movement in the educating science. Its practical Empirik stands thereby also anti-rationalistic coin more theoretically covers against.

With the Jena plan school it creates the prototypes of school reality, which the scientific realizations and requirements meets the present. Its educational concept the Jena plan school lost to today nothing at topicality. Since it its concept as “output form” and not when conceptional dogma regards, more than 70 years can tie later also today's teacher and pupil generations to its work. In the course genes decades more and more cognitive elements were at school stressed. Was missed, the knowledge in attitudes to convert attitudes and passion (“of the head in the heart” (Pestalozzi)). The Jena plan places neglected social virtues, which adjustment on fast reproducible “parrot knowledge” and a high Aggressionspotenzial, a proposal for solution for the acute problems of the school today, like tolerance and Empathie lacking, small motivation and readiness to perform, which is theoretical and practically established. Petersen offers an human Pädagogik , as well as which is characterized by openness and liberty a school (he) life made possible.

Table of contents

of Petersens work

Peter Petersen, educate-scientific of Petersens work

2 Petersens, became to 26. June 1884 in Grossenwiehe in close proximity to Flensburg born. Its family managed an own farm. Petersen buildup in a rural partnership with six further brothers and sisters. Largefamily living together formed its character and coined/shaped it lastingly. Here he felt the human characteristics as the first like for example joy and mourning or respect and helpfulness. Therefore Petersens entire Pädagogik centers itself around this partnership. Also the religious character of Petersens work decreases/goes back substantially to the influence of its Evangelical-Lutheran parents' house. The integration of humans into the community has highest priority for educational success, under what Petersen understands the Vergeistigung.

Petersens family background found in different way precipitation in its educating concept. Family is for it the first cell, from which the “human” aimed at by it can develop. It concerns to it less “heals” family world, but around experiencing a “life-genuine” and with its conflicts also “life-hard” family. He formulates this in such a way in the guidance teachings:

“Humans must recover to and to full development of its nature a circle of humans possess, [...] for him as whole humans the understanding possess, an understanding, which rests less on intellectual clarity, as if experienced and felt without words, evenly therefore terms are defamed and to its place the view of the eye, the pressure of a hand above all those always prepare act of the assistance and the assistance set.” (Guidance teachings of instruction)

as favorable for growing up and learning young humans Petersen recognizes also the natural and natural with one another from young and alto, experiencing and inexperienced. It converts this in the Jena plan school in the master's groups.

Petersen on the yard of its family continues to experience sense-fulfilled work, which is vitally necessary for the community. It becomes conscious to it that humans develop self value by sense-fulfilled work its and. Similarly as on a farm Petersen sees the child-fair school as a life place, which illustrates a visible and understandable place, which can be felt of the children as homeland.

In its place of residence its both “endowed village school masters” of the einklassigen village school affect it most intensively. It writes even from them that they would have given the very best, fundamental education for its life to it. With its assistance it mastered learning contents of eight in only five school years. There instruction was class-spreading (of six to 14 years), why it could participate in the discussions of the older ones and continue working into tracing. Its teachers gave the priority before instruction to the direct, active experience with environment and culture. They gave enough time to the pupils, in order to be occupied with contents doubtful important for it and. These experiences induce to write it later in the guidance teachings:

“The child desired still sehnlichst after the new one, sees, hears, ertastet much more than the adult [...] and evenly also at what is given to it [...] in class rooms at attractions. [...] Which methodical absence ride therefore, the child rule-bound ways when looking at, with the thinking compilation and so on. make the awake senses for work and taking up in the schools wise and matte and blunt. [...] Connecting with the innate activity urge is an awakeness of the senses, we must let which play in the schools. [...] The child wants to become acquainted with the straight world, like it really is, in all directions, with all it innate functions it take up, it to itself in-get. “(Guidance teachings of instruction)

in addition Petersen in the village school made the experience that material working and honest achievement are possible only if sufficient time and peace are left to a child, so that it can dedicate itself to the thing with leisure and devotion. It writes later:

“We must develop the love for the thing to regard the ability, to be concerned on long time with a thing it from many sides and anzupacken; Pupils and thing must become one to a large extent with one another. “(Guidance teachings of instruction)

Petersen emphasizes to promote with the children discovering learning to give them the free space to live and represent in order to arrange. At the same time it warns of the fact that in schools “parrot knowledge” is in-trained, which has the advantage of the simple examinableness, but for the humanization of the child makes no contribution.

In the year 1896 it changes on the Flensburger High School. It experiences here that the authoritarian school of the empire is interested exclusively in the education of the young person to obedient subjects and like that in the receipt of the social structures. Although the Gymnasialzeit for Petersen is a time of the isolation, material and financial emergency, he knows around the financial missing of his family for his training. It leaves the school 1904 with the Abitur. It changes to the University of Leipzig, late Kiel, Copenhagen and floats. It studied Evangelist theology, philology, history, psychology and political economy and to the empirical research by the psychologist Wundt is introduced. 1908 it locks its thesis over philosophy Wundts. 1909 put Petersen down the national examination for the teaching profession at High Schools and go through the Referendariat.

Petersens educate-scientific interest and its reform spirit is only waked after he changes during his Referendariats to the human Johanneum High School in Hamburg, where he stays as an upper teacher to 1919. Apart from its school obligation he works starting from 1912 as a member of the board in the “federation for school reform”, in which he is appointed three years later due to his expert's assessment the existing school reform conceptions the secretary in the working group renamed now “German committee for education and instruction”. He transfers 1919 the line of the Lichtwarkschule to Hamburg, in which young humans themselves certainly and responsible at the democratization of the social life sharings are - probably, in order to extract that from ever more strongly becoming fascist currents the mental soil. Parallel to the two activities evenly specified Petersen participates additionally in a Hamburg working group in Meumanns “Institut for youth customer”, in whom all training and instruction questions on the basis of experimental psychology are to be examined, in order to be able to justify so the new Pädagogik. The experiences, which Petersen gains during this time, form the starting points for the later school conception of the Jena plan; it matures the vision all children of an accessible unit school in it, in which independence and - activity as well as the autonomous development are central.

In the year 1920 Petersen over Aristoteles habilitiert itself and transfers the line of the reform-educationally aligned Lichtwarkschule. It sketches its own science of the education, which all Pädagogik, didactics and methodology are to precede. 1923 appoint it the University of Jena to the chair for educating science with the politically supported order universitäre people school teacher training to construct and the relationship of educational theory and practice to a new basis to set. The attached university school, in which the theory is practically examined and turned around practice into the theory flows, is converted from Petersen into a “life place of the child”. Due to the worsening political situation Petersen uses the world-wide invitations for the end of the 20's, in order to report on its Pädagogik. In Locarno on the conference of the “world league for renewal of the education” the school attempt Petersens is tituliert of the conference members as Jena plan and enters in such a way educational history.

The time among the national socialists gets over Petersen intact. This phase is discussed until today controversially, since it partly positively expressed itself over the National Socialist ideology. According to Hilbert Meyer [Schulpädagogik (1997) Bd 2 S 167] he compromised himself “more than”. After the war it continues working first in the GDR , however only in the year 1950, when its university school is closed by the SED due to the “reactionary Potenzials and [as] leftover of the Weimar Republic”. 1952 it dies in Jena and in its place of residence Grossenwiehe is buried. On its gravestone is the sentence in accordance with ice ELT, which like no second the nature of its Pädagogik - which service at humans - shows:

“The oldest one among you is to be like the youngest one and the most distinguished one like a servant. ”

Petersens educate-scientific thinking

one of the historical achievements of Peter Petersen lies in the fact that he endeavored itself around it to establish the Pädagogik as (to a large extent) independent and autonomous science and justify her theoretically. After its view an independent science exists, if it is independent like philosophy, psychology, sociology or biology of other fields. The educating science of Petersen is affected despite its effort after autonomy from many directions. Petersen attaches thereby at Fröbel to “the life of humans is a life of the education”, as also at Kant “humans can only humans become by education”. The reason of the educating science for its autonomy sees Petersen in the fact that it regards its own article range, that the education. Since it is however a reality science, which must consult realizations of the neighbour sciences, in order to answer own questions, he calls her only “relatively” independently. Educating science is before-arranged for it the Pädagogik. The task of the educating science is to be described it the educating reality as a whole within the society scientifically to arrange and point their sense purchase out. Petersen goes toward the background of the science however not only empirically on the education, but asks always also for the nature the same.

What now is education in the eyes of Petersen? This fundamental and extremely complex question cannot be answered in few lines. It provokes altogether to a philosophical answer. Petersen always answers this question in its educating science on the background of a Erziehungsmetaphysik, which is based in an individual and on community people picture put on and carries Christian-religious courses. Education is for Petersen very comprehensively regards a genuine function of the people unity, which accompanies it by the entire life. Everything educates. Education serves however in the special sense of the intentionful, planned and purposeful interference the character figuration of younger ones by adults to indoctrinate but without which he condemns on the sharpest. The adults within responsibility before God educate. Petersen Pädagogie calls and means the conscious portion of education with it the science of the guidance.

Education is the special and peculiar one of the people unity, which differentiates it from other organisms and which sphere of the people unity reveals. It is reflected as mental function again and expressed in potenziell possible human experiencing. Among this humans peculiar one, which goes out out of the mental life, Petersen quality, love, loyalty, humility, itself concerns, service, comrade shank, genuine compassion, ranks wrong, devotion, reverence etc. Petersen calls this the Vergeistigung, which carries out itself from the inside out in automatic acting of the child, in addition, the adult, and means with it in the context of the community and/or. the moral virtues a humanization of humans. This is for it the nature and the goal of education. Petersen strives thus for the emotional side of the life in the community, the interhuman, virtues and values, the moral, how he calls it. Vergeistigung is reached in the Christian sense by the selbstlosen service at humans in the special one at the child and young person - simply and without words. This is the expression for genuine community. The readiness for the service at humans is the substantial characteristic (humanisierten) of a personality.

Education does not equate Petersen with education. It refers first to the switching of knowledge, which is a natural life procedure beyond that and can in the context of instruction carry out itself. It is the development and development of the particular after its individual possibilities, a form becoming, which the Vergeistigung has to subordinate itself. Education can carry out itself also in a “broken” community. Petersen in its guidance teachings tries to work on the range of the education. Education however aims rather at whole humans, at the personality off. It is, as said, a community process attached at morality and runs rather unintentionally and apart in educational situations unconsciously. It works in the present in experienced and lived situations.

Liberty stands with Petersen in close relationship with the Vergeistigung and/or. Education. Thus he quotes Platon: “Humans are a slave, if its actions express not its, but the thoughts of another.” Petersen sees into its Gemeinschaftspädagogik also a Freiheitspädagogik, in which authority and obedienceness prevail, these however by the fact is justified that they stand in the service of humans to its Vergeistigung. Liberty unfolds in acting, creates values and finally morality.

Petersens work is pulled through from an educational realism, which was atypical for the Reformpädagogik. It recognizes therein the basis for a “illusion-free educating science”. Petersens educating science forms an open system of learning and instruction. It refuses itself normative defaults to the child to place, but it accepts it in its its. This realistic beginning stresses serving practical life attitude of acting humans in the special one the “act action” (Pestalozzi) as one the life accomplishment. At the same time it (the educators) reminds itself to give the “omnipotence up of the conscious education” and the limitness to be clear questionableness and futileness of all educational efforts. Petersens work expresses itself on the basis of humans, who are even not put on on completion, for an open system without forecasts, which also means that its Jena plan, as already mentioned, when output form of educational acting is to be regarded. Always the goal should be however an human school, a “people school”.


  • the small Jena plan
  • guidance teachings of instruction
  • the Jena plan and the land school
  • the newEuropean educating movement
  • general educating science in three volumes: General one Educating science, the origin of the Pädagogik, humans in the educating reality
  • a primary school after the principles of the work and partnership school
  • William Wundt and its time
  • the practice of the schools in accordance with the Jena plan

of reference works

  • Birgit furnace brook: Education in school and instruction, Peter Petersens model of an educating school, 240 sides, 2000
  • Birgit furnace brook: Peter Petersen general educating science, 163 sides, 2002
  • Theo Dietrich: The Pädagogik Peter Petersens, the Jena plan: Model of an human school, 176 sides, 1986
  • Michael cook and Matthias's Schwarzkopf: Educational concepts of the Jenaer educating science in the NS time. In: Uwe Hossfeld/Jürgen John of olive Lemuth/Ruediger support (Hrsg.): “Kämpferi science”. Studies to the University of Jena in the national socialism. Cologne, Weimar, Vienna 2003. S. 772-793. ISBN 3-412-04102-5.
  • Robert Döpp: “… nevertheless somehow in the middle in it…”: “Jena plan” in the national socialism. A contribution for the “everyday life history” of the NS time. In: ebd. S. 794-821.
  • Torsten swan: A politically naive, opportunistischer theoretician? Peter Petersen and the national socialism: Conditions and problems of the research. In: ebd. S. 822-849.
  • W. Potthoff: Introduction to the Reformpädagogik. From the classical to the current Reformpädagogik. Freiburg 1992. S. 140-155.

Web on the left of

Peter Petersen school Grossenwiehe

office for Peter Peter close in Hamburg Wellingsbüttel

the Jena plan after Peter Petersen

Jena plan initiative

bibliography to Peter Petersen

office for Peter Peter close in Frankfurt Eschersheim


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