"Der Struwwelpeter" - A Critical Analysis of a Pedagogical Trend

Josefine Wagner
2017 Zenodo  
In this paper I revisit the popular German children's book classic "Der Struwwelpeter" written by Heinrich Hoffmann as a Christmas present to his son in 1845. The German psychiatrist compiled nine stories that would teach his son proper behavior by modeling mishaps, accidents, and ill will of bad children and the punishment that they will rightly receive for it. From the standpoint of critical pedagogy, I approach the power relations that are inherent in the pedagogical teachings of this book.
more » ... ings of this book. With the help of lenses, such as feminism and post-colonialism, I look at the role of the adult, the behavior of the child that is marked as naughty or deviant from the desirable, and their punishment. This way, I dismantle the racist, patriarchal, and oppressive lessons that children are taught and I understand how the perverted power triad of adult, child, and punishment is mirrored by the theoretical writings of 18th and 19th century philosophical scholars. Katharina Rutschky assembles these writings under the term of poisonous pedagogy in that they propagate actions and beliefs of pedagogues that largely infringe on the rights of children manifested in the United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child, 1989. As I will show, these actions and beliefs have not only appeared in fictional works but also in residential state-run institutions such as the Halteshof in West Germany where children experienced physical, mental, and sexual abuse in the 1950s and 1960s. In this paper, I trace back pedagogical confusions which children are exposed to until this day in popular literature. Rutschky's writings bridge the gap between fiction and reality as we see that scholarly work has served to justify the inhumane treatment of children.
doi:10.5281/zenodo.4009340 fatcat:yfr7i4bhkvccdkjmdkx3rnpy4q