9. What did Rein do?
As we have seen from Diesterweg's obituary, at his death in 1837, Schwarz had immense prestige and influence among German educators. A few years later, at his death, Herbart was not an unknown, but he was not someone recognized as a major influence on educational thought or practice. His prestige grew substantially through the century, however, while that of Schwarz and Niemeyer waned. Howard Dunkel has given a good account of the transformation of Herbart's thought into Herbartianism, explaining the broad outlines of its effect on American education scholarship. Little work in the history of education appeared in which there was a powerful effort to develop an understanding of educational purposes and practices immanent in past experience that reflective interpretation might draw out for current contemplation. Instead, many educational historians busily worked ammassing information about the educational past to be used primarily as exempla of practices deemed good or bad. Textbooks were written; source collections were published; and diverse specialized studies were conducted by various groups and individuals. All this activity fit well with the Herbartian idea that the history of education should be available as an instructional aid for systemmatic pedagogy, illustrating sound and unsound developments for prospective educators. Late in the century all these findings were brought back again into a mammoth synthesis under the direction of K.A. Schmid in Geschichte der Erziehung vom Anfang an bis auf unsere Zeit. With this work the encyclopedic culmination of the early German history of education was unmistakable, for Schmid's Geschichte really presented in chronological format, materials that Schmid was simultaneously developing for the ten volume Encyklopadie des gesammten Erziehungs- und Unterrichtswesens, which was published at the same time. Both parts of the enterprise, the Geschichte and the Encyklopadie reflected the conviction that what practical educators needed was not historical inquiry into education, but access to historical knowledge about education. A vast range of information was given, with little effort by the historians to engender interpretative reflection on it. No pedagogical hermeneutics was going on, generating new insight into the possibilities of education, for generating knowledge about education was thought to be the work of systematic pedagogy, not historical pedagogy.
Late in the century, the last and most influential of the German Herbartians, Wilhelm Rein, gave a clear, pointed statement of the relation of historical and systematic pedagogy. Rein systematized the tradition of Herbartian pedagogy, edited the Encyklopadisches Hanbduch der Pädagogik and wrote a three-volume Padagogik in systematischer Darstellung among many other works. These were the fulfillment of nineteenth-century German educational science. Although not an historian of education, his conception of educational history took Herbart's complaints about the work of Schwarz to their logical conclusion, and his views had substantial influence on the structure of educational scholarship founded in the United States and England. In both his book and his plan for the encyclopedic handbook, Rein divided pedagogy into two parts, the systematic and the historical. The table displaying his conception is rather comical: all positive knowledge pertinent to education was organized under the heading of systematic pedagogy; historical pedagogy was an equivalent division which Rein left completely empty, for he held that however informative it may be, it yielded no positive knowledge. In explaining this conception in the Padagogik, Rein quoted, without acknowledging it, from the "Preface" to the second edition of Erziehungslehre, where Schwarz explained why he put the big volume of educational history at the start of the whole work: "I am putting the history of education first for the simple reason that we first must see what has happened up to now and how we have been brought to our present Bildung before we can know what we have to do in order to form and educate our children well." Rein introduced these words saying that they represent a still widely held opinion and followed them unequivocally: "We hold this sequence to be false."
For Rein exactly the opposite was true. To write history well, the historian had to master systematic, scientific pedagogy first, before looking at the past, for only then could the historian judge rightly what he found in the past, for only then would the historian have the knowledge needed to discriminate soundly between what was right and wrong in past practice. In language not unlike Cremin's, Rein declared that "one must first have acquired through speculation and experience a solid, all-around theory before the history of previous efforts can be studied with success." Without such a theory grounded in the systematic study of education and a rigorous ethics and psychology, the student will lack "the standard by which previous efforts can be judged." Without such a grounding, the student will be discouraged by the complexity of educational history and will fall into an "unprincipled eclecticism." It is different for those who seek to create for themselves an entirely grounded standpoint through ethics and psychology — "for them history will then really be able to be a veracious teacher." One could not imagine a much more authoritative rationale for the characteristic weaknesses in the early history of education written in English, both their historical weaknesses and their educational weaknesses. Late 19th-century German pedagogy assigned this role to the history of education and those who founded American schools of education adopted it for their work. Herbartian psychology could loose its credibility as the whole system of pedagogical study was coming across the Atlantic and into American universities, but that was inessential, for the overall structure of roles that different studies were to play in the whole system remained in force. The architecture of the overall effort was what took hold and as more scientifically rigorous psychological programs displaced the Herbartian psychology in it, the role of psychology and of history remained the same, psychology would be the source of knowledge about the means of education and history would be the illustrator of good and bad practice as determined by suprahistorical standards.