Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827) is a Swiss pedagogue, teacher and thinker, pioneer of modern pedagogy. He dedicated his life to teaching poor children. He lived in Yverdon-les-Bains for 20 years.
Heinrich Pestalozzi set up his first institute for poor children in his Neuhaus estate. In 1804, he accepted an invitation from the authorities of Yverdon-les-Bains and founded an institute for boys in the Castle. He developed Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s educational precepts and taught 7-16 year-old upper middle class boys. At its peak, the institute counted nearly 150 children.
Two years later he created an institute for girls (1813-1869), who received the same education as boys, which was uncommon at the time. An institute for deaf and dumb children (1813-1869), as well as one for poor children 1818-1819) followed.
The Pestalozzi Documentation and Research Centre opened in 1977. Its aim is to maintain Pestalozzi’s philosophy alive, as well as his innovative teaching methods which greatly influenced modern pedagogy.
Today, a statue honouring Pestalozzi has been erected in the midst of square that bears his name, in the heart of the old town, and a room in the Castle has been set aside to honour his life and work. Yverdon-les-Bains remains marked by the generous spirit of this exceptional human being.