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]
This house is named after Denton Welch (1915-1948) who was a famous artist and writer. He was seriously injured in 1935 and it was during his convalescence that he put his artistic talents to good use restoring this house which had been stored in a friend’s cellar. The house was in very bad condition. He found the date when it had been made, 1783, by the kitchen fireplace under a layer of paint together with the initials M.J.D. Despite the neglect suffered, the house had retained many of its original features, in particular the mantlepieces in each room and the perfect moulded cornices and door frames, the doors themselves being two panelled. Underneath the many layers of paint Denton Welch found the small red bricks which were originally painted on the house. He was probably responsible for decorating the fanlight which was usually painted or left plain in houses of the period. The stairs are made of oak with replacement balusters. As with most 18th century houses the central panel is fixed, with a door opening on each side. The house also has a pediment and balustrade running along the top, both typical of the period.
'The New Game of Human Life', published John Wallis and Elizabeth Newberry, England, 1790.
The game is played as a journey through life from the age of 1 to 84. The Age of Man is divided into seven periods, each of twelve years: Infancy to Youth, Manhood, Prime of Life, Sedate Middle Age, Old Age, Decrepitude and Dotage. He passes through life in a variety of situations that are arranged in the order in which they generally succeed each other. The game is played with a teetotum, an early form of dice. The ‘Utility and Moral Tendency’ of this game is described thus:
'If parents who take upon themselves the pleasing task of instructing their children (or others to whom that important trust may be delegated) will cause them to stop at each character and request their attention to a few moral and judicious observations, explanatory of each character as they proceed and contrast the happiness of a virtuous and well spent life with the fatal consequences arising from vicious and immoral pursuits, this game may be rendered the most useful and amusing of any that has hitherto been offered to the public.'