Ligthart, Jan

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Ligthart, Jan Gender: M
born on 11 January 1859 at 03:00 (= 03:00 AM )
Place Amsterdam, Netherlands, 52n22, 4e54
Timezone LST m4e53 (is standard time)
Data source
BC/BR in hand
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Schepel
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_capcol.18.gif 20°25' s_mo.18.gif s_aricol.18.gif 06°14 Asc.s_scocol.18.gif 15°09'

Jan Ligthart


Dutch teacher, a major innovator of the Dutch education system.

Jan Ligthart (Etymyology: "light heart") was born in the liberal Protestant family in the poor Amsterdam Jordaan district. In his autobiographical book "Jeugdherinneringen" he writes about his difficult past, then stinking as sanitary sewer functioning Amsterdam grachten and his many bad educators. But he learned from the past and could forgive them.

His epileptic father Cornelis Ligthart was a grocer without commercial talent. He went bankrupt twice. He became a servant, but because of recurring fits he was often unemployed. He had a bad temper and hit his children often as he had difficulty setting limits (to much, to less). His mother Anna Margaretha van Spall was the daughter of a Protestant pastor. She actually ran the family and stimulated her five children to follow vocational education to get a decent job. But Jan had a poor health and was not physically fit enough to become a skilled carpenter via work and study at the "Ambachtsschool". Being recognised as a bright child by the school head was granted a study at the dogmatic Reformed Christian college of the Bloemgracht to become a school teacher.

Because of the phenomenon of "verzuiling" (Pillarisation) the Dutch school system reflected the politico-denominational segregation of a society. Every socio-cultural brand could (and can still) establish its own on ideology and religion based schools, but at that time there was little eye for educational quality, let alone that educators had an eye for the psychology and needs of children, that were still seen as not yet grown up adults. The educational system had an vertical hierarchy.

In 1885 Ligthart became the head of labour children school of the "Openbare School voor Onvermogenden" (Public school for the poor) in the Tullinghstraat The Hague. He worked here till his dead in 1916. He was also involved in the emancipatory movement of school masters for educational freedom in contrast to prescribed ideology. He often acted in ideological fights as an true mediator that could honestly refer to his personal experience and practice.

By writing many Dutch articles and books about education Ligthart actually reformed the Dutch elementary school system. He was not a developmental psychologist, nor an academic theorist, but just an ordinary school master who was dedicated to his job and pupils. So his influence remained confined to Dutch speaking countries. For this reason the Dutch Wikipedia spent more than 10 A4 pages on him, whilst the English Wikipedia Biography gives just a scant notice of it.

Jan Ligthart did not develop revolutionary methods, but he changed the attitude of many Dutch school masters towards their work and pupils. His attitude towards the needs of children has been compared to Lev Tolstoy experiments with "democratic education" and the educational ideas of Maria Montessori who visited his school in the Netherlands in 1914 and created Dutch Montessori schools in the following years. But in his Calvinist Dutch circles, still the majority of the population in those days, Jan Ligthart's progressive humanitarian Christian idea's were less radical and less confronting than that of radical atheist theosophers and socialists and thus were more easily accepted.

When the Dutch Queen Wilhelmina was looking for an elementary school for her daughter Princess Juliana, she asked Ligthart to advise her in the choosing process. She visited his labour children school incognito in 1914, in the same rampant year (WOI) as Montessori did.


On 30 Dec. 1886 he married Rachel Marie Lion Cachet (b. 3 Feb 1863, Amsterdam), a school teacher with whom he had three children, two daughters and one son Jan. Jan died early in June 1905 because of blood poisoning. This affected Ligthart a lot.

Due to bad health (tbc?) he was put Dec. 1914 in a sanatorium in Laag-Soerem.

He died 16 February 1916 after falling (or jumping) into a canal in a snow storm and drowning. A shipper tried to rescue him, but he was already dead.

Link to Dutch Wikipedia biography


  • associate relationship with Bruijn, Cor (born 17 May 1883). Notes: Both major reformers reformers of school education
  • associate relationship with Hichtum, Nienke van (born 13 February 1860). Notes: helped her to publish "Afke's tiental"
  • associate relationship with Jetses, Cornelis (born 23 June 1873). Notes: Jetses illustrated his books
  • associate relationship with Montessori, Maria (born 31 August 1870). Notes: Montessori visited his school in 1914
  • business associate/partner relationship with Thijssen, Theo (born 16 June 1879)
  • (has as) student relationship with Asscher-Pinkhof, Clara (born 25 October 1896). Notes: learn and teach by the heart (compassion, chesed)


  • Death, Mysterious 16 February 1916 in Dieren (Drowning or suicide)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

Schepel quotes Municipal Archive for 3h00 AM LMT in Sterrentijd 1 no 11 of 1 Nov. 1990


  • Vocation : Education : Teacher (reformer of education)
  • Vocation : Writers : Children's literature
  • Vocation : Writers : Other Writers (lots of publications on pedagogy)
  • Notable : Famous : Top 5% of Profession (as a school teacher and educational reformer)