Spread to other Countries

State-oriented mass educational systems, which were instituted not only in Prussia, but over the course of the 19th century throughout Europe, have become an indispensable component of modern nation-states. Public education was widely institutionalized throughout the world and its development has a close link with nation-building, which often occurred in parallel. Such systems were put in place when the idea of mass education was not yet taken for granted.

In Austria, Empress Maria Theresa already made use of Prussian pedagogical methods in 1774 as a means to strengthen her hold over Austria. The introduction of compulsory primary schooling in Austria based on the Prussian model had a powerful role, a biopower in the sense of Michel Foucault sense in establishing this and others modern nation states shape and formation.

The Prussian reforms in education spread quickly through Europe, particularly after the French Revolution. The Napoleonic wars first allowed the system to be enhanced after the 1806 crushing defeat of Prussia itself and then to spread in parallel with the rise and territorial gains of Prussia after the Vienna Congress. Heinrich Spoerls son Alexander Spoerl "de:Memoiren eines mittelmäßigen Schülers" (memories of a mediocre student) describes and satyrizes the role of the formational systems in the Prussian Rhine Province during the early 20th century in a famous novel of 1950, dedicated to Libertas Schulze-Boysen.

While the Russian Empire was among the most reactionary regimes with regard to common education, the German ruling class in Estonia and Latvia managed to introduce the system into those countries under Russian rule. The Prussian principles were adopted by the governments in Norway, Sweden to create the basis of the primary (grundskola) and secondary (gymnasium) schools across Scandinavia. Unlike Prussia, the Swedish system even aimed to expand secondary schooling to the peasants and workers. As well in Finland, then a Russian grand duchy with a strong Swedish elite, the system was adopted. Education and the propagation of the national epic - the Kalevala - was crucial for the Finnish nationalist Fennoman movement. The Finnish language achieved equal legal status with Swedish in 1892. France and the UK failed completely till the 1880s to introduce compulsory education, France due to conflicts between a radical secular state and the Catholic Church. In Scotland local Church controlled schools were replaced by a State system in 1872. In England and Wales the government started to subsidise schooling in 1833, various measures followed till a local School Boards were set up under the Forster Act of 1870, local School Boards providing free (taxpayer financed) and compulsory schooling were made universal in England and Wales by the Act of 1891, schooling having been made compulsory by the Act of 1880. However, unlike Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, both private schools and Home Schooling remained legal in the United Kingdom.

Early 19th-century American educators were also fascinated by German educational trends. In 1818, John Griscom gave a favorable report of Prussian education. English translations were made of French philosopher Victor Cousin's work, Report on the State of Public Education in Prussia. Calvin E. Stowe, Henry Barnard, Horace Mann, George Bancroft and Joseph Cogswell all had a vigorous interest in German education. The Prussian approach was used for example in the Michigan Constitution of 1835, which fully embraced the Prussian system by introducing a range of primary schools, secondary schools, and the University of Michigan itself, all administered by the state and supported with tax-based funding. However, e.g. the concepts in the Prussian reforms of primordial education, Bildung and its close interaction of education, society and nation-building are in conflict with some aspects of American state-sceptical libertarian thinking.

In 1843, Horace Mann traveled to Germany to investigate how the educational process worked. Upon his return to the United States, he lobbied heavily to have the "Prussian model" adopted. In 1852, Mann was instrumental in the decision to adopt the Prussian education system in Massachusetts. Governor Edward Everett of Massachusetts instituted a mandatory education policy based on the system. Mann persuaded his fellow modernizers, especially those in the Whig Party, to legislate tax-supported elementary public education in their states. New York state soon set up the same method in 12 different schools on a trial basis. Most northern states adopted one version or another of the system he established in Massachusetts, especially the program for "normal schools" to train professional teachers.

Americans were especially impressed with the Prussian system when they set up normal schools to train teachers, because they admired the German emphasis on social cohesion. This led to the establishment and proliferation of factory model school programs and facilities through to the end of the 20th century. During the 20th century, however, the progressive education movement emphasized individuality and creativity more and opted for a less European-inspired curriculum and lower social cohesion and uniformity. The Progressives faced a major setback with the Sputnik crisis, which led again to more focus on quality education and selectiveness of the school system. The derogatory use of the term may contrast 19th-century pedagogy (see the poisonous pedagogy debate in Germany) with the introduction of new technology into classrooms during the Information Age. While Joel Rose appreciates Horace Mann's commitment to a public education but is aiming at renewing how to deliver it, authors like Conservative Party of New York State activist John Taylor Gatto and further home-schooling activist Sheldon Richman claim that illiteracy rates in the USA were lower before compulsory schooling was introduced.