Johann Bernhard Basedow was born September 11, 1724, and died on July 25, 1790. He was a German educational reformer, teacher and writer. He founded the Philanthropinum, a short-lived but influential progressive school in Dessau, and was the author of "Elementarwerk", a popular illustrated textbook for children.
In 1744, Basedow went to the University of Leipzig as a student of theology, but turned instead to the study of philosophy, being particularly influenced by Wolff's "Philosophy of Reason". This made him examine his own Christian faith, arriving at a position that was in a centre between Christianism and naturalism. Basedow used the confabulation for the language learning which consisted of a constant dialogue between pupil and teacher in the foreign languages, including Latin. He described his new teaching method in his 1752 dissertation and also introduced it to the public in a German-language publication. After teaching for some years he devoted most of his energies to writing on theological, philosophical, and pedagogical themes. Because of his critiques of revealed religion he was persecuted by the orthodox clergy.
Under the protection of the enlightened Prince of Anhalt-Dessau, Basedow was able to open his first school, the Philanthropinum, in 1774 with three kids including two of his own children. Even if it never had more than fifty pupils at one time, this school, run along reformist principles, enjoyed extraordinary public attention, especially because of Basedow's playful and vivid teaching methods and the relaxed atmosphere among the kidsand teachers. The waning interest of the public and the prince, as well as conflicts with colleagues, caused Basedow to withdraw from the director-ship. The Dessau Philanthropinum closed once and for all in 1793.
According to Basedow, the principal goal of education should be to prepare children for a happy, life of service to the community. As the school functions for the individual, it performs a service also for the state; since the state is but a community of individuals, it will experience good fortune only to the extent that each individual member does. The curriculum should contain only those things that can be shown to be useful. Basedow stressed in the traditional schools on developing verbal skills especially in Latin.
Things that can be touched, seen, heard, and manipulated; to show the child the extent to which he can control his environment; should be substituted for the traditional verbal exercises,…