Curriculum for Disobedience: Raising Children to Transform Adults


  • Peter Appelbaum Arcadia University
  • Belinda Davis Rutgers University


The Kinderladen movement in 1970s West Germany, a critical forerunner of present-day alternative and free schools in Germany, began as an effort to raise children to be disobedient in all senses. Members of cooperative “pedagogy groups” hoped to make social change by changing themselves as parents and educators.  This photo essay challenges received histories of early childhood education and the origins of many practices later justified in cognitive psychological and developmental terms, reclaiming the political and psychoanalytic sources of such practices; it also critiques the activists’ conception of authority and disobedience. We question curriculum histories that offer linear narratives leading up to the present, attempting rather to think about the variety of alternative futures these experiments offered, raising for renewed consideration current, radical initiatives that are often either dismissed or subsumed under versions of “reformed” education.

Author Biographies

Peter Appelbaum, Arcadia University

Peter Appelbaum is Director of Disciplinary and Transdisciplinary Studies in the Department of Curriculum, Cultures and Child/Youth Studies and University Coordinator of Visual Literacy at Arcadia University. He is the author of Children’s Books for Grown-Up Teachers; Reading and Writing Curriculum Theory, and Embracing Mathematics: On Becoming a Teacher and Changing with Mathematics, and Multicultural and Diversity Education. Professor Appelbaum is the current President of the American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies.

Belinda Davis, Rutgers University

Belinda Davis, Professor of History and Vice Chair for Graduate Education at Rutgers University, is author of Home Fires Burning: Food, Politics, and Everyday Life in World War I Berlin (Chapel Hill 2000); and co-editor of Alltag—Erfahrung—Eigensinn. Historisch-anthropologische Erkundungen, (Frankfurt a.M. 2008); and Changing the World, Changing Oneself: Political Protest and Transnational Identities in 1960s/70s, West Germany and the U.S. (New York 2010). She is currently completing a book on “The Internal Life of Politics:  “Extraparliamentary” Opposition in West Germany, 1962-1983.”





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