Jean Itard

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Jean Marc Gaspard Itard (born April 24, 1774 in Oraison , Alpes-de-Haute-Provence , † July 5, 1838 in Paris - Passy ) was a French doctor, otologist and teacher of the deaf and dumb.


The French doctor and teacher of the deaf and dumb Jean Itard (1774–1838)

Coming from a middle-class background, Itard first worked at a bank before starting to study medicine. He initially operated as a junior doctor at the military hospital in Soliers . In 1786 he was appointed surgeon at the Val-de-Grâce military hospital. In 1800 he took over the position of a doctor at the later Imperial Deaf-Mute Institute in Paris . In the same year he got to know his most famous student there: Victor , the so-called “ savage of Aveyron ”, a wild child of eleven or twelve who was found completely naked and wild in the forest of Caune ( Aveyron ) in 1799 and whose dramatic fate caused a great public stir at the time. In two famous reports from 1801 and 1806, Itard documented and justified his several years of teaching and education attempts. As a respected doctor, Itard received his private patients in the morning and went to work in the institution for the deaf and dumb in the evening.

In 1821 he became a member of the Académie de Médicine . Also in 1821 he published his treatise on the diseases of the ear and hearing ( Traité des maladies de l'oreille et de l'audition , Paris), which made him a recognized pioneer of ear, nose and throat medicine (oto-rhino-laryngology) . Through his pedagogical work with Viktor as well as numerous treatises on speech training and instruction for the deaf, Itard was also considered a forerunner of deaf education and education for the mentally handicapped .

The methods and didactic materials developed by Itard were later worked out by his pupil Edouard Séguin into a complete educational theory . Mediated and z. Modified in part by the work of Maria Montessori , these didactic materials , such as B. pegboards or insert cylinders, especially in kindergartens as well as in elementary and special schools to this day great popularity.


  • Expert opinion on the first developments of Viktor von Aveyron (1801); in: Malson u. a. 1972, 114-163
  • Report on the further development of Viktor von Aveyron (1806/1807); in: Malson u. a. 1972, 164-220
  • Traité des maladies de l'oreille et de l'audition (1821), 2 vol .; (Méquignon Marvis) Paris
  • Victor, the wild child from Aveyron , with admission and Nachw. V. Jakob Lutz; (Red apple) Stuttgart 1967
  • Lucien Malson , Jean Itard, Octave Mannoni : The wild children ; German by Eva Moldenhauer; (Suhrkamp) Frankfurt a. M. 1972

Reception in art

The French film The Wolf Boy (L'enfant sauvage) by the director François Truffaut is based on Itard's observations of Victor von Aveyron . TC Boyle's story Das Wilde Kind (2010) describes the failure of Itard's educational efforts to integrate the "wolf boy" into society.


  • Werner, Birgitt: The education of the savage of Aveyron. An experiment on the threshold of modernity. Lang, Frankfurt / M. 2004, ISBN 978-3-631-52207-3
  • Ladenthin, Volker: On Jean Itard's pedagogy and aspects of its reception by Maria Montessori. In: Pädagogische Rundschau 51 (1997), pp. 499-515
  • Friedrich Koch : The wild child. The story of a failed dressage. Hamburg 1997, page 133 ff., ISBN 978-3-434-50410-8
  • Lane, Harlan: The Wild Child of Aveyron. The Fall of the Wolf Boy. German by B. Samland. Ullstein materials, Frankfurt a. M. - Berlin - Vienna 1985 (1st edition 1976) (with an overview of the contemporary discussion and a reprint of the most important sources)
  • Barbara I. Tshisuaka: Itard, Jean Marc Gaspard. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin and New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 684.

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