The Earl of Dysart gave his son, Lord Huntingtower, 12 guineas on 29 December 1757 to pay for the miniature of his late mother [Grace Carteret, Countess of Dysart] and two guineas to have it mounted in the snuff box. [V&A]
Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, on whose educational theories this specimen box is based, was advocating a holistic and child-centred approach to the education of the young as early as the 1790s. Pestalozzi advocated a radically different approach at a time when most teachers used methods which depended upon the written word and the ‘correct’ answer, and relied on punishment to make their pupils comply.
As well as suggesting that each child was an individual who should explore learning to find an answer, he insisted on the importance of the balance between head, hands and heart: the children should do practical things as well as study, and their education should be the route to social justice and freedom. He founded two experimetal schools which failed, but the crucial experience in developing his theories seems to have been his work with orphans whose parents had been killed during the Franco-Swiss wars of the 1790s. It was necessary to communicate with these traumatised children at a more personal level, and to base their education on their own knowledge and experience of life.
Although his work is now perhaps less well known than that of some later educational reformers such as Friedrich Froebel and Maria Montessori, his importance was recognised in using his name for the Pestalozzi children’s villages which were set up after the Second World War of 1939-45, to care for refugee children. The Pestalozzi International Village Trust’s work is currently offering educational opportunities to children from developing countries. [V&A]