Jean Théodore Beck (1839-1936)
and the special circumstances of the Ecole Alsacienne

Beck was one of the most striking personalities of the Ecole Alsacienne which he directed from 1891 to 1920.

An innovative educator

  • Pastor Jean-Théodore Beck (1839-1936) © S.H.P.F.

He was a Lutheran pastor in Alsace, and founded a girls’ boarding school in Strasbourg. He left Alsace in 1880 for political reasons and went to Paris to teach German at the Ecole Alsacienne, founded by Frédéric Rieder( he became agrégé in 1881). As headmaster of the Ecole Alsacienne, and until 1922, he made its reputation by his keen interest in innovative educational methods.

History of the Ecole Alsacienne

  • École Alsacienne in Paris © Isabelle de Rouville

Soon after the 1870 defeat, generous minds thought of a way to offer to such Alsatian families who had opted for France a primary and secondary school where their children could be taught according to new methods recently introduced to Alsace from Germany and Switzerland. Too ambitious a curriculum could not be implemented immediately, but the school opened on October 5th, 1874 and the teaching was soon of a baccalauréat level.

The scattering of Alsatian families in Paris and throughout the provinces could have resulted in the founding of a boarding school ; however, placing the children with Parisian families was the preferred solution. As one of the school’s founders said : « no more boarding schools, no more barracks, the child’s natural faculties must be developed and, rather than having his memory crowded, he must learn to learn ; physical education must likewise be encouraged » (supprimer l’internat, plus de caserne, developer les facultés de l’enfant au lieu de surcharger sa mémoire, lui apprendre à apprendre, faire à l’éducation physique une grande place).

The solemn opening of the new buildings (between the rue d’Assas and the rue Notre-Dame des Champs) on June 9th, 1881 was attended by Paul Bert, the Minister for Education.

Jean Théodore Beck succeeded Frédéric Rieder as director from 1891 to 1920.

Jean Théodore Beck (1839-1936)
and the special circumstances of the Ecole Alsacienne

Ecole Alsacienne - Paris

Itinerary to this location


  • Books
    • CABANEL Patrick et ENCREVE André , Dictionnaire biographique des protestants français, de 1787 à nos jours, Editions de Paris - Max Chaleil, Paris, 2015, Tome 1 : A-C

Associated tours

  • Protestant education since the Revolution

    After the French Revolution, a public education system was gradually established with the high schools and Grandes Ecoles. Protestants participated widely in the major school and university reforms of the...

Associated notes