Francke, Aug. Hermann (1663–1727)

August Hermann Francke grew up in Gotha in Prussia amid the ecclesiastical, pedagogical, and social reforms of Ernst the Pious, Duke of Sachsen-Gotha. After a conversion experience in 1687, Francke founded a circle of "awakened" students in Leipzig, where he was studying theology. In 1691, he was appointed pastor of Glaucha near Halle; the same year, he was named a professor at the University of Halle in Prussia. His close relationships with members of the Prussian royal dynasty, particularly Frederick William I, helped promote Francke's great educational experiment: the Hallesches Waisenhaus. Francke founded the Hallesches Waisenhaus (Halle Orphanage) at the university in 1695. In addition to various economic enterprises, the facility contained an ORPHANAGE, elementary schools for boys and girls, the LATIN SCHOOL, and the Pädagogium Regium.

Francke's significance for the history of childhood lies in his ground-breaking methods of school organization, teacher training, and the promotion of gifted children; these innovations developed under his direction in the various institutions of the Hallesches Waisenhaus. Beyond Francke's pedagogical writings, the educational techniques in the Hallesches Waisenhaus contributed a great deal to the modern understanding of education. On the threshold of the ENLIGHTENMENT, Lutheran Pietism found in Francke an ideal spokesperson. He sought to realize in his pedagogy the Pietist aspiration to devote all of life to Christian objectives. In doing so, Francke helped to establish a different view of children and to enhance the status of childhood as a stage of life.

The decisive characteristic of Francke's approach was the submission of educational activity to specific methods. His philosophy contributed to the development of one of the most effective pedagogical prescriptions of the modern age: exerting methodical influence on the child's emotional life with the aim of shaping him from within. By extending its scope of application to include all children, regardless of social status or sex, Francke elaborated this objective and its realization in the form of pedagogical ordering concepts designed to promote discipline. His most important writings in this field include Kurzer und Einfältiger Unterricht … (Brief and simple instruction …, 1702) and the preface to the German translation of FRANÇOIS FÉNÉLON'SÜber die Mädchenerziehung (On the education of girls, 1705). In his writings, Francke developed a unified notion of the child independent of her social status; similarly, the pedagogical practice of the schools of the Hallesches Waisenhaus reflected a unified educational concept which was applied to all its students. The Waisenhaus soon gained the reputation of a model institution. It achieved a heightened control of affect and individualization of education through the external organization of schools; instruction and internal influence in the form of catechism, self-observation and the examination of conscience; and by the extraordinary alertness of its teachers to the intellectual and spiritual development of their pupils. Francke's influence on the Prussian state and its educational system is undisputed, but his philosophy extended far beyond the borders of Prussia, as evidenced by his international contacts and the broad geographical origins of the children who lived and studied in the Franckesche Stiftungen (Francke Institutes). Francke's life and work are splendidly documented in the archives of the Franckesche Stiftungen in Halle a.d. Saale.

Francke's influence on the development of a modern understanding of childhood continued in the writings and teachings of Nikolaus Graf von Zinzendorf (1700–1760), the founder of the Moravian Church; his pedagogy also left a profound mark on F. Schleiermacher's (1768–1832) Romantic notion of childhood. Francke thus occupies a prominent position in the development of childhood education. His followers, along with those of Jansenism in France and Pietism in Germany, not only led pedagogy to autonomous modes of thought but also had a decisive impact on cultural images of the child at the beginning of the Enlightenment and Romanticism.

See also: Education, Europe; .


Francke, August Hermann. 1964. "Pädagogische Schriften." In Schöninghs Sammlung pädagogischer Schriften, 2nd edition, ed. Hermann Lorenzen. Paderborn, Germany: Schöningh.

Jacobi, Juliane, and Thomas Müller-Bahlke, eds. 1998. "Man hatte von ihm gute Hoffnung." Das erste Waisenalbum der Franckeschen Stiftungen 1695–1749. Tübingen, Germany: Verlag der Franckeschen Stiftungen Halle.

Menck, P. 2001. Die Erziehung der Jugend zur Ehre Gottes und zum Nutzen des Nächsten. Die Pädagogik A. H. Franckes. Tübingen, Germany: Verlag der Franckeschen Stiftungen Halle.


Francke Foundation. Available from