Prussian Education System

The Prussian education system refers to the system of education established in Prussia as a result of educational reforms in the late 18th and early 19th century, which has had widespread influence since. It is predominantly used as an American political slogan in educational reform debates, since it was adopted by all American K-12 public schools and major universities as early as the late 18th century, and is often used as a derogatory term for education in the service of nation-building, teaching children and young adults blind obedience to authority, and reinforcing class and race prejudice. The actual Prussian education system was introduced as a basic concept in the late 18th century and was significantly enhanced after Prussia's defeat in the early stages of the Napoleonic Wars. The Prussian educational reforms inspired other countries and remains important as a biopower in the Foucaultian sense for nation-building. Compulsory education on the Prussian example was soon mirrored in Scandinavia, and United States started to adopt the Prussian example. Early American adopters include Daniel Coit Gilman, who set up The General Education Board, later renamed The Rockefeller Foundation, and first president of Johns Hopkins, John Dewey at the University of Chicago, James Cattell at The University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University, Henry Philip Tappan at The University of Michigan, James Earl Russell at the New York College for the Training of Teachers, and many more. France and the UK failed to introduce similar systems until the 1880s.

The term itself is not at all being used in German literature, which refers to the primary aspects of the Humboldtian education ideal respectively as the Prussian reforms. However, the basic concept remains fruitful and has led to various debates and controversies. 21st century primary and secondary education in Germany and beyond still embodies the legacy of the Prussian education system.