KARSEN, FRITZ (1885–1951), educator. Born in Breslau, Germany, Karsen began his educational career in Berlin as a secondary school teacher. In 1920, at the national school conference he presented the Einheitsschule (unified primary school) idea, which aimed at the mixing of social classes. His major achievement during this period was the organization and direction, 1921–33, of a school complex (from kindergarten through secondary school), the Karl Marx School in Berlin-Neukoelln. He introduced various new procedures in these schools, such as individualized instruction, pupil government, and activity method. Karsen undertook study trips to the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. His plans for an elaboration of his school organization to include young people aged 18 to 19 were halted by the advent of the Nazis. In 1933 Karsen left Germany and settled permanently in New York, where he served as professor of German at City College and professor of education at Brooklyn College. From 1946 to 1948, Karsen served as higher education specialist in the U.S. military government in Germany. The recognition of his educational work in Germany was commemorated by the establishment of the Fritz Karsen School in Berlin. Karsen's main writings include Die Schule der werdenden Gesellschaft (1921), Deutsche Versuchsschulen der Gegenwart und ihre Probleme (1923), and Die neue Schulen in Deutschland (1924), which he edited. He died in Guayaquil (Ecuador).
A. Ehrentreich, in: Bildung und Erziehung, 5 (Jan. 1952), 22–28. add. bibliography: G. Radde, Fritz Karsen – Ein Berliner Schulreformer in der Weimarer Zeit (1973); J.P. Eickhoff, Fritz Karsen – Ein Wegbereiter der modernen Erlebnispädagogik (1997); J.J. Choi, Reformpädagogik als Utopie – Der Einheitsschulgedanke bei Paulo Oestreich und Fritz Karsen (2004).
[William W. Brickman]
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