Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
It is difficult these days to imagine that elementary school education was instituted by anyone at all. In fact, Swiss experimental educator Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827) laid the groundwork for universal elementary school education and developed many of the educational theories and techniques in use even in the present day. This film focuses on a critical period in Pestalozzi's development of his educational theories, when he was running a boarding school in a disused convent for impoverished village children in the French part of Switzerland. At the time, Pestalozzi (Gian Maria Volonte) was regarded as a strange renegade, and it had only been with great difficulty that he was able to persuade even the poorest parents that his efforts to feed, clothe, and educate their children might be beneficial to them. Most of the story is told in flashbacks, narrated by one of his friends and supporters.