Plzeňské sympozia

Milena Lenderová

Preschool Institutional education between Charity and Patriotism. Case History of Hradec králové between 1837 and 1886

pp. 158–167 (Czech), Summary p. 168 (English)

The author analyses the establishment and subsequent development of the care centre in the city of Hradec  Králové, one of the first such institutions in Bohemia, set up in 1837. It embodied the concept of institutional care for preschool children, which had been engendered by the philanthropic movement. Essentially, it can be regarded as one of the manifestations of biopower, in its aspiration to discipline the youngest section of the population, to "set it off" in pursuit of a healthy and socially beneficial life. The question of whether a child's mother did or did not work outside the home happened to be secondary at the inception of these care institutions, and their relevance to  children's socialization was not taken into account by their champions and founding fathers. The Hradec Králové care centre was partly also the product of Czech national activism: its establishment counted with an active  involvement of, apart from the regional governor, J. Reyl, members of what was known as the Hradec Králové patriotic league. The present paper analyses the process of the centre's establishment, including the ways of  raising the required funds through a wide variety of cultural and charitable events, as well as through private  donations; its organizational provisions, its location, and the social makeup of its young occupants. The initial stage of the development of the Hradec Králové care centre ended in 1851 with the departure of Tomáš Vorbes, teacher and educational reformist. It reopened in 1858, thanks to the congregation of School Sisters of Notre Dame that reinstated the care centre along with a primary school for girls. By no means did the care centre cater solely for children from poor families, or for children of working mothers. Rather, the centre, which was transformed in 1885 into the Public Primary and Maternity School in Hradec Králové, was also attended by the offspring of the city's intellectual élite and white collar workers from both the private and public sectors. Members of the Sisters of Notre Dame were active in the educational process, following a curriculum adjusted to the specific needs of preschool children: the sisters based their approach on Comenius' Nursery School Compendium, as well as on the legacy of Heinrich Pestalozzi, and even that of Friedrich Fröbel.

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