On Wilhelm von Humboldt's Theory of Bildung Dedicated to Wolfgang Klafki for his 70th birthday
This paper outlines the essential aspects of the educational theory ( Bildungstheorie ) of Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835). Humboldt's theory is a central reference point for German theories of curriculum and educational policy and Humboldt's role in German educational theory can be compared to that of Dewey in the US. After a biographical sketch the paper offers an interpretation of Humboldt's famous fragment 'Theory of human Bildung ' (1793/1794). In the concluding sections of the paper the fragment is placed in a wider theoretical and political context. Humboldt's writings before and after 'Theory of human Bildung ' are examined as well as the Prussian educational reforms of the early nineteenth century. As a leader of this reform Humboldt attempted to realize his educational theories and this political endeavour of Humboldt also plays an important part in understanding the continuing influence of his theories for German curriculum theory and educational policy.