AMOS B. ALCOTT (USA, 1799 - 1888).
Teacher, mystic, and writer, born near Wolcott, Connecticut, USA. The father of Louisa May Alcott, he was largely self-educated and became an itinerant teacher (1823-33) before settling in Boston to found his own school (1834). By this time he was a mystic and transcendentalist, and his radical ideas of educating children, plus his acceptance of a black girl as a pupil, led to the failure of his school (1839). He settled in Concord, MD, but after a trip to England (1842), where a school (Alcott House) based on his theories had been set up, he returned to establish a utopian community, Fruitlands, outside Boston (1844). Devoted to vegetarianism as well as to high thinking, the community failed within eight months. He took his family back to Concord, and although he moved around to teach and lecture, he spent most of the rest of his life there, the centre of the transcendentalists. He was appointed superintendent of schools in Concord (1857), and is credited with several innovations, including the first parent-teacher association. The success of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women (1868) gave the family financial security and allowed him to set up his Concord Summer School of Philosophy and Literature (1879). He wrote poetry, several books on his theories of education, a biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and an autobiography, but his greatest impact seems to have come through his personal presence and conversation.
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