|KANT IN THE CLASSROOM Materials to aid the study of Kant’s lectures|
Es kann mir durch die Seele gehn, wenn ich den Hofmeister in manchem adeligen Hause demütig und stumm an der Tafel seiner gnädigen Herrschaft sitzen sehe, wo er es nicht wagt, sich in irgendein Gespräch zu mischen, sich auf irgendeine Weise der übrigen Gesellschaft gleichzustellen...
Adolf von Knigge, Über den Umgang mit Menschen (Hannover, 1788)
Tutors (Hofmeister for the aristocracy; Hauslehrer for everyone else) prepared children for life at the university, and wealthier families often had these tutors accompany their sons to the university. Christian Jakob Kraus [bio], a student and later colleague and close friend of Kant, served for one year as Hofmeister to Archibald Nikolaus Gebhard Keyserlingk, the son of a local aristocrat and six years his junior, who matriculated at the university on May 3, 1777. Kraus describes his duties as follows:
I have to do nothing more with my young count than accompany him to Kant's courses, then quiz him over them, and guide him in reading, which he does gladly enough anyway. I'm then free the entire afternoon, and after four o'clock I see nothing more of my young count, since there are social gatherings here every day. For this nominal effort I receive 200 Thaler a year and free room and board.
Ich habe mit meinem jungen Grafen nichts zu thun, als ihn in die Collegia des Kant zu begleiten, dann zu wiederholen, und ihn zum Lesen anzuführen, welches er ohnedem gerne thut. Den ganzen Nachmittag bin ich frei und von vier Uhr an bekomme ich meinen jungen Grafen nicht zu sehen, denn es ist tagtäglich Gesellschaft hier. Für diese meine geringe Mühe bekomme ich jährlich zweihundert Thaler und freie Station. [Letter to von Auerswald, 4 May 1777; qtd. in Voigt 1819, 62; qtd. in Brandt/Stark 1997, lxx]
By the mid-18th century, even many non-aristocratic families were able to hire tutors; and for someone in the countryside, it was often less expensive to hire a live-in tutor (often costing no more than 40-50 rthl. per year, above the expense of room and board) than to send one’s son to a Latin boarding school in the city. These tutoring positions also provided a means for recent theology graduates to survive while waiting for their pastoral appointments, which often took years.
Instructing children in the home was still commonplace in 18th century Germany, and when the parents were unable — for lack of time or lack of skills — then a tutor would be brought in either to supplement or wholly supplant the parent. These positions varied widely, just as did the public educational opportunities.
As might be expected, Kant discusses the role of the teacher, and the proper form of instruction, in Rink’s edition of his pedagogy notes, and much of it reads like an instruction manual for the would-be Hofmeister. Kant also draws an interesting distinction between an instructor and a Hofmeister:
Guidance is directing the student in putting into practice what was learned. Hence arises the difference between the instructor, who merely teaches, and the Hofmeister, who guides. The former educates only for the school; the latter for life.
Anführung ist die Leitung in der Ausübung desjenigen, was man gelehrt hat. Daher entsteht der Unterschied zwischen Informator, der blos ein Lehrer, und Hofmeister, der ein Führer ist. Jener erzieht blos für die Schule, dieser für das Leben. [On Education, Ak. 9:452]
 La Vopa [1988, 116]. Some tutors were paid rather less: Jung-Stilling recalls from his own experiences that, apart from room and board, he was paid only 5 rthl. per quarter in his first post as a private tutor [Fertig 1979, 62-64].
 This distinction between Informator and Hofmeister is also found in the title of a work by A. F. Büsching, Unterricht für Informatoren und Hofmeister, 2nd ed. (Leipzig: Gräff, 1802).
Kant as Hofmeister [top]
Kant worked as a tutor for about six years, from 1748 to 1754, in the area around Königsberg, and with three different families: Andersch (in Judtschen), von Hulsen (near Arensdorf), and Keyserlingk (outside Königsberg). It isn’t clear whether Kant was biding his time for a teaching position.
The first tutoring stint after leaving the university lasted three years — from Fall 1748 to Fall 1751 — in the home of the reformed preacher Daniel Andersch in Judtschen (by Gumbinnen, about one hundred kilometers east of Königsberg), where Kant was responsible for three of the pastor’s five sons.
Kant next served at the home of nobleman Bernhard Friedrich von Hülsen in Groß-Arnsdorf (a village approximately 70 kilometers south of Königsberg), with his three sons Christoph Ludwig (age 14), Ernst Friedrich (age 11), and Georg Friedrich (age 7). Kant appears to have stayed in Groß-Arnsdorf until 1753, about one and one-half years.
Kant may have then served in the home of the Count Keyserlingk, although this is less certain, and it is possible that Kant moved back to Königsberg after leaving Groß-Arnsdorf, periodically visiting the Keyserlingk estate (located in the countryside south of Königsberg) for purposes of tutoring the children.
 Weisskopf [1970, 17-18]. Vorländer [1924, i.65] claims 1747, but the first trace of Kant’s presence in Judtschen is a baptismal record of October 27, 1748, where Kant served as witness to the baptism of Samuel Challet, son of the local schoolmaster; the other witness was the pastor’s wife. Similarly, when we find another student appearing as a baptismal witness in 1751, we can conclude that Kant had moved on and was replaced. Judtschen was later renamed “Kanthausen” in 1937 — because of Kant’s residence here, according to Grunert [1962, 339] — but in 1946, with the post-war Soviet occupation of the area, was given the Russian name “Wessjolowka.”
 Weisskopf [1970, 19].
 Reicke [1860, 7]. Borowski also mentions Kant’s tutoring with the Keyserlingk’s [1912, 16].
 See Kuehn’s discussion of Kant’s Hofmeister experience [2001, 95-98]. Kant mentions the role of the Hofmeister in the introduction to his lectures on education [Rink 1803; Ak. 9:439-99] in a discussion of public and private education (§22-25), and in the end favors public education over home tutoring, in that it better develops the children’s various abilities, as well as their preparation for civic duties. Basedow discusses the role of the Hofmeister in his Methodenbuch (one of the texts used by Kant in his pedagogy lectures): see §6 (“Besonders vom Unterrichte in Sprachen”) and §2 (which he begins with the complaint that they generally don’t know enough Latin to be able to teach it).
Famous Hofmeisters [top]
There were any number of poor university students in Kant’s day who served for a time as a Hofmeister or house tutor, and then went on to distinguish themselves — Johann Joachim Spalding (1714-1804), Friedrich Samuel Bock (1716-1785), Johann Bernhard Basedow (1724-1790), Johann Georg Hamann (1730-1788), Johann Georg Heinrich Feder (1740-1821), Johann Heinrich Jung-Stilling (1740-1817), Joachim Heinrich Campe (1746-1818), Christian Jacob Kraus (1753-1807), Friedrich Gedike (1754-1803), Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814), Johann Gottfried Karl Christian Kiesewetter (1766-1819), and Georg Hegel (1770-1831), just to name a few.
La Vopa notes that the majority of these tutors were badly underprepared and ill-suited for the job. They were tutoring, after all, because they were poor; and because they were poor, they generally suffered two defects: (1) they likely took only the bare minimum of courses at the university since that was all they could afford, and (2) they normally had little acquaintance with polite society and its manners, and thus were likely to strike their patrons as dull and boorish. Indeed, a great many students would do little more than matriculate in Königsberg before poverty would force them into some paying job where they might save enough to return later to pursue their studies.
 La Vopa [1968, 117].
 Thus a report submitted by the university on 7 January 1778 (GStA XX. HA, EM 139b Nr. 25, Bd. 5, fol. 55-56), quoted in Stark [1995, 55].
Helping students find a position [top]
University professors helped their students find positions, serving as clearinghouses and matching requests for tutors with students they knew. Kant was sometimes asked for help finding a good Hofmeister (letter from Wielkes, 15 November 1779, #154; Letter from v. Thile, 18 May 1790, #431), and Kant wrote numerous letters on behalf of current and former students. Four such letters were addressed to Kriegsrat Johann Carl Linck (1755-1821, Königsberg) on behalf of four different students:
• 5 August 1784 (#234; Ak. 10:395) Kant wrote to procure a position for a student by the name of Schütz, to work for Carl Wilhelm von Brausen. Schütz was attending one of Kant’s classes but was currently in the countryside during the summer vacation, and who “through diligence and skill has distinguished himself from many others.”
• 15 February 1793 (#560; Ak. 11:412): Kant recommended a Pomeranian student by the name of Krüger (“my former, so far as I know, well-mannered auditor”) to serve as Hofmeister for Major Otto Georg von Stutterheim.
• 15 April 1793 (#569, Ak. 11:423-24): Kant wrote on behalf of “Magister Jacobi, who recently began an institute here for young people wanting to learn business, but for lack of demand has given it up.”
• 30 August 1793 (#587, Ak. 11:447): Kant wrote on behalf of a theology student named Boehnke, the brother of a Königsberg merchant and a former auditor of Kant’s, who was seeking a position in Königsberg.
Kant also helped an early student of his, Ludwig Ernst Borowski [bio], find a position tutoring the young sons of General von Knoblauch in the late 1750s. In a letter of 1 May 1784 to Georg Friedrich von Hülsen (#229; Ak. 10:388), Kant suggests several students to serve as a Hofmeister (the letter indicates that von Hülsen had asked Kant to help him with this).
Of course, Kant recommended his students for positions other than as a private tutor, as well. For instance, his former amanuensis Lehmann [bio] was seeking a post at the Gymnasium in Stettin to teach mathematics, philosophy, and Latin, for which Kant wrote a letter (to Johann Heinrich Ludwig Meierotto; c.August 1797; #767, Ak. 12:188). Kant also helped his students obtain scholarships; see the Student Finances page.
 La Vopa [1968, 127-28].
 Vorländer [1918, 14].
 G. F. von Hülsen (1744-1820) was one of Kant's own students when he served as a Hofmeister at their estate near Arnsberg in the early 1750’s.
The Hofmeister as Notetaker? [top]
While often ill-paid (in the August 30 letter above, Kant notes that Boehnke’s salary in his current Hofmeister position was 120 rthl. per year), the role of the Hofmeister could be lucrative, and might include the side-benefit of being able to continue one's own studies while accompanying the sons of wealthier families to the university. In this capacity, the Hofmeister’s duties were to accompany and oversee, rather than to teach. One example of this connected with Kant’s lecture notes is Karl Gottlieb Fischer (1745-1801), who matriculated at the university in Königsberg on 7 October 1763. There he made friends with Herder and attended Kant’s lectures on physical geography and theoretical physics (according to his obituary), which “he heard with great diligence and attentiveness, taking notes and completing them in the Repetition.” In the fall of 1769 he accepted a position as Hofmeister, then lived a while with his father in Thorn, accepted a pastoral position in the fall of 1772, and the following spring became the tutor of the single son of a widowed Gräfin Dohna, Karl Ludwig Alexander zu Dohna, whom he accompanied back to the university. Dohna matriculated on 18 October 1774, and Fischer was able to attend “once more Kant’s philosophy lectures.” During this time Fischer lived in the Dohna house in Königsberg, retaining his position until 1777, when the young Graf finished his studies.
We can well imagine these tutors being used to take notes for their charges, or perhaps help them rework their notes into a fair copy when back home. Another son from the Dohna dynasty, Graf Heinrich Ludwig Adolph zu Dohna-Wundlacken [bio], matriculated at Königsberg on June 15, 1791, attended a good many of Kant’s lectures and left behind fairly well-worked out notes, especially remarkable because he would enter the day and hour throughout the notes. We have his notes from Kant’s anthropology lectures (WS 1791/2, his first semester at the university), physical geography and logic the next semester (SS 1792), and logic (SS 1792), and metaphysics in his third semester (WS 1792/93). The fact that these notes are not all in the same hand suggest that a tutor might have helped write them or at least copy them out.
 Schlictegroll, Nekrolog [1803, 238], as qtd. in Stark [1995, 59].
 Schlictegroll [1803, 244].
Copyright ©2006 Steve Naragon (Manchester College)
Last modified: 3 Jul 2010
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