Article ID: CBB319975682

Geometry as ‘Forceps of Intelligence’: Lines, Figures, and the Plane in Édouard Séguin’s Educational Thought (2021)


Activities involving form had a key role in Édouard Séguin’s approach to the education of «idiots» or «feeble-minded» people, in his pioneer work developed between 1837 and 1847. We discuss the geometrical content of exercises on lines, configuration, solids, and the plane, which were intended to awake the child’s awareness in relation to the environment. The failure of his attempts, conducted together with the medical doctor Jean Itard, to teach a single pupil how to draw a square, was the starting point of theoretical and experimental work linked to his earlier refections on art (painting). Séguin was able to develop intuitive, implicit geometrical knowledge that schools did not usually teach, which was revealed as crucial for encouraging disabled children’s activity, intelligence, and will. His vision is still present in Montessori’s educational materials and ofers an example of attention to geometry in basic education among the innovators in the 19th century.

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Authors & Contributors
Despy-Meyer, Andrée
Aicardi, Christine
Ackerberg-Hastings, Amy
Kidwell, Peggy Aldrich
Roberts, David Lindsay
Mertens, Manuel
Foundations of Science
History of Science
History of Education
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
Revue d'Histoire des Sciences Humaines
Johns Hopkins University Press
New York University Press
Transaction Publishers
Teaching; pedagogy
Disabilities; disability; accessibility
Science and society
Bruno, Giordano
Montessori, Maria
Connes, Alain
Dewey, John
Hobbes, Thomas
Bodin, Jean
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
18th century
16th century
21st century
17th century
United States
Paris (France)
Ottoman Empire

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