Marc-Antoine Jullien de Paris (1775 - 1848)

Jullien de Paris , Marc-Antoine

Short Biography & Significant Contribution

Marc-Antoine Jullien de Paris was born in Paris on March 10th, 1775 and died there in 1848. Jullien is known as the father of comparative education. He lived during a time period in which Europe and the United States were undergoing revolutions, and his writing and ideology are reflective of these changing times. Jullien is a prominent figure in comparative education, particularly for his publication, Esquisse (A Sketch and Preliminary View of a Work on Comparative Education), which was first published anonymously in a Swiss journal, Bibliotheque Universelle des Sciences, Belles Lettres et Arts (Geneva) in 1816. Although during his lifetime his work in education did not have great impact, it became much more prevalent after World War II.

Jullien attended the Navarre College, part of the University of Paris, having moved with his father to Paris in order to pursue his studies. He became involved in the politics of the French Revolution first through his father, a member of the Paris Jacobin club, where Jullien gave several speeches as a teenager. He was sent to England shortly afterwards in order to continue studying and as a secret agent for the French government. At an early age, Jullien began to travel working in different positions for the regime in power. He travelled to England, Scotland, Italy, Egypt, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, Prussia, and other parts of Europe. He began writing books on education in 1805 during his service in Germany with the French army and in 1806 his brief analysis on "a plan for using time" was first published. Later in 1808, he published General Essay on Education and Essay on the Employment of Time, the latter of which became the most durable and widely distributed of his works.

Jullien associated education with political or social science. His ideas on education were influenced by Talleyrand, Condorcet, the Paris Jacobin club, and Jeremy Bentham. Benjamin Franklin's autobiography published and translated in Paris in 1798 may have influenced Jullien's work on The Employment of Time, at least in the tables used to track time by categories. In this work, Jullien espouses the idea that "Everyone should pursue, so far as possible, the occupation for which he is most qualified and which is attuned to his tastes and talents". Jullien proposed that it was the responsibility of education, along with religion, legislation and morality, to "develop, direct or modify" these innate talents. His General Essay on Education was written at the time the Imperial University was being organized, and was in support of education for the upper classes policy and decision makers in order to better society.

In 1810, Jullien visited the famous school of Pestalozzi at Yverdon, which enrolled students from various countries. He conducted interviews and observed classes, which led to his publication, The Educational Method of Pestalozzi, two years later. This work is also considered among his most important contributions in education, as it describes the Swiss educator's institution and work in education. The visit influenced Jullien, so much so that he enrolled two of his children for five years. He later met an associate of Pestalozzi, P.E. Fellenberg, who also ran a school in Hofwyl, Switzerland. Fellenberg and Jullien helped form the Society for Elementary Instruction in Paris, which also published the Journal d'Education. Jullien found common ground with Fellenberg in the idea that different social classes require different types of education, although he did believe in upward social mobility. Jullien's experience in the diverse schools in Switzerland is said to have influenced his last important work in education and one of the most prominent in the history of comparative education, Esquisse, published in Paris in 1817, which outlined a plan for surveying all governments across Europe regarding systems of education. Jullien believed that "Education, like all other arts and sciences, is composed of facts and observations. It thus seems necessary to produce for this science, as has been done for the other branches of knowledge, collections of facts and observations arranged in analytical tables, so that these facts and observations can be compared and certain principles and definite rules deduced from them, so that education may become an almost positive science.(1)".

Marc-Antoine Jullien de Paris became a prominent figure in comparative education in the 1940s, as his contributions to comparative education theory became known at Teachers College, Columbia University, the University of Geneva, the International Bureau of Education (where he was proclaimed the father of comparative education), and UNESCO.

(1) R. R. Palmer, From Jacobin to Liberal: Marc-Antoine Jullien, 1775-1848, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1993, p. 171.

Image from: downloaded April 1, 2010

Educational Background

. Navarre College, University of Paris, 1792

Professional Background

. Assistant war commissioner, 1781

. Agent for the Committee of Public Safety, (sometime between 1793-1796)

. Member of the Executive Commission of Public Education, (sometime between 1793-1796)

. Junior staff officer, legion of the Italian Army, 1796

. Military inspector, 1805

. Revenue Inspector, War Ministry, 1809

. Editor of Revue Encyclopedique, 1819-1830

Affiliations (associations, organizations, institutions)

*Marc-Antoine Jullien de Paris had membership to numerous societies in a variety of areas, including scientific, literary, American and international societies. One source asserts that by 1841 the list of societies to which Jullien belonged numbered 66, 28 of which were in foreign countries.

. Founder, Society for Elementary Instruction in Paris, Journal d'Education,

. Founder-director of the Revue Encyclopedique

. Foreign member of the American Philosophical Society

. Societe Francaise de l'union des nations

Selected Publications

. Essay on the Employment of Time, or Method for proper regulation of life, the basic means to happiness, designed especially for use of the young, 1808

. General Essay of Physical, Moral and Intellectual Education: Following a Practical Plan of Education for Infants, Adolescents, and Youth, or Researches on the Principles and Bases of Education, 1808

. The Spirit and Educational Method of Pestalozzi, 1812

. (Esquisse) A Sketch and Preliminary View of a Work on Comparative Education. 1816, 1817.


Created: 7/18/2010

Updated: 7/20/2010

Contributed By: Magda Banda, Loyola University Chicago