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Schneider, Ernst (1878-1957)

SCHNEIDER, ERNST (1878-1957)

A psychoanalytically oriented Swiss educator, Ernst Schneider was born on October 17, 1878, near Liestal, and died in 1957 in Muttenz, near Basel.

A member of a large family living in the countryside around Basel, Ernst entered the Protestant Normal School of Muristalden, near Berne, at the age of sixteen. For five years he was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse, then pursued studies at the University of Berne. During a year he spent in a pedagogical seminar at the University of Jena, his attention was drawn to the new currents of thought circulating in Germany. Back in Switzerland, in 1903 he headed a course in continuing education for teachers and thereafter, from 1905, the Hofwil-Berne Normal School. There Schneider put into practice his ideas on school reform, wrote instructional manuals for use in the primary grades, and in 1907 founded the Berner Seminarblätter, a renowned pedagogical journal that was later renamed Schulreform, which he headed until 1920.

Schneider first learned of psychoanalysis in 1910. He then entered into contact with the Swiss Society of Psychoanalysis, underwent analysis with Oskar Pfister and later with Carl Gustav Jung, and participated actively in the summer courses organized by Pfister in 1912 on the relationship between pedagogy and psychoanalysis; he introduced Sigmund Freud's science into his courses at the Normal School, where Hans Zulliger was his student. Recalled from his post as director in 1916, he taught psychoanalysis to educators at the Institut Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Geneva, then, from 1920 to 1928, taught general psychology, psycho-pathology, and characterology at the University of Riga (Latvia). He then established himself as a therapist in Stuttgart. On his return to Switzerland in 1946, he taught at the Institut de psychologie appliquée (Institute of applied psychology) in Zürich.

In 1926, together with Heinrich Meng, whom he had met in 1922 at the Berlin Congress (where he also met Freud), he founded the Zeitschrift für psychoanalytische Pädagogik (Revue of psychoanalytic pedagogy). He was an active contributor, publishing numerous articles on the relationship between the two sciences and on teacher training.

An independent thinker who was passionate about pedagogy and open to new ideas, Schneider was more a practitioner than a theorist. Still, his institutional activity promoting an educational model informed by Freud's discoveries is worth remembering.

Jeanne Moll

See also: Switzerland (French-speaking); Switzerland (German-speaking).


Moll, Jeanne. (1989). La pédagogie psychanalytique. Origine et histoire. Paris: Dunod.

Schneider, Ernst. (1929). Psychoanalyse und lehrerbildung. Zeitschrift für psychoanalytische Pädagogik., 3, 237-251.

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