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Otto’s Diary

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Chapter Summary

When Otto van Eck penned the first page of his diary at the age of ten, he was not beginning a journal intime on his own initiative. The diary was part of a comprehensive didactic regime to which he submitted. The decision of Otto's parents to have him keep a diary under their supervision is the logical result of new pedagogical insights in which children's self-reflection and the observation of children's behaviour were considered of great importance. The publication of Lavater's diary marked a breakthrough in diary-writing in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. The battles described in the diary make it clear that Otto's parents carefully coordinated his education, drawing inspiration from the newest pedagogical insights. In obliging Otto to keep a diary they hoped to combine two key elements of enlightened pedagogics: the learning of self-reflection and the close observation of children.

Keywords: diary-writing; eighteenth century; enlightened pedagogics; Otto van Eck



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