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Friedrich Diesterweg: "An Educator's Little Book of Crabs" (1856)

Friedrich Adolf Diesterweg (1790-1866), a schoolteacher and prominent proponent of progressive pedagogy, used the title of his essay to criticize the reactionary nature of advocates of traditional teaching methods. For Diesterweg, the backward moving crab symbolized reactionary elements. This vitriolic satirical piece introduces the "best" methods by which budding teachers could be brainwashed into backward, dependent, unqualified pawns of ultraconservatism.

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An Educator's Little Book of Crabs,
in Prescriptions for Old and Young Crabs in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century

1. Rules for Educating Towards Dependence

1. Always insist on unconditional, silent obedience to your orders, even when the pupil has grown up!
2. Teach him the rule of arbitrariness: tel est mon bon plaisir ["that is how I like it"].
3. Never give him a reason for your wishes! Always treat him as a "stupid kid"!
4. Accustom him to superficial, mechanical learning and exercises!
5. Let his higher faculties – understanding, judgment, reason – lay dormant! But burden his memory with difficult, incomprehensible material and dead subject matter to be mechanically repeated!
6. Put no value upon the development of fluency in speech!
7. Through frequent repetition, convince him to believe in his stupidity and in the correctness of the principle "based upon the limited understanding of a subordinate"!
8. Impress upon him the lowest regard for himself and the highest regard for others, namely for so-called superiors!
9. Restrict his social contact to narrow-minded, slavish, and servile people. Otherwise, isolate him and forbid him to mix with circles in which opinions are freely expressed!
10. Only permit him those books in which absolute authority is portrayed as appropriate and reassuring for weak people!

Should these rules prove insufficient for the goal, I recommend two more:

11. Fill his imagination with superstitious notions about witches, goblins, devils, and demons.
12. In case it should ever occur that the noble principles according to which he has been raised are forgotten, make him dreadfully afraid of hell. Even better, make his heart tremble and fill with self-recriminations every time he doubts or attempts to turn from the straight and secure path upon which you have led him!

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