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ERIC Number: EJ1202906
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018
Pages: 22
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0030-9230
Kindergartens for Civilisation: The Intellectual Origins of The St Louis Public Kindergarten
Luckey, Eric
Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education, v54 n6 p800-821 2018
This article reexamines the intellectual history of the first public kindergartens, established in St Louis, Missouri, by William Torrey Harris and Elizabeth Blow in 1873. This piece argues that historians have overlooked a critical influence on the establishment of the first public kindergartens; namely, Harris and Blow's conviction that children's intellectual, psychological, and moral development recapitulated historical stages of human cultural and sociological evolution. This belief in cultural recapitulation deeply informed how they viewed the kindergarten curriculum and the role of public education--including the public kindergarten--in a liberal democratic society. Consequently, the first public kindergartens stand as a patent example, not of romantic reform, but of a late nineteenth-century state-centered liberalism grounded in Harris and Blow's ethnocentric views of cultural and child development, as well as their Hegelian institutional idealism. Finally, this article illustrates how Harris and Blow transposed widely circulating theories of biological and cultural evolution, a belief in Western cultural superiority, and their vision of a civilised social order onto the biology and psychology of the child. As such, this paper illustrates how the metaphors and categories used to describe the stages of child development have made ethical claims with far-reaching implications.
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 530 Walnut Street Suite 850, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Tel: 215-625-8900; Fax: 215-207-0050; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Kindergarten; Primary Education; Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Missouri (Saint Louis)