Brazilian legislation only allowed for women to pursue an education after 1827. Up until that point, women without access to financial resources performed labor-intensive tasks, as they regularly learned from their elders. Contrarily, financially secure women received individual instruction from teachers imported from Europe in domestic duties and manners.
Women’s involvement in education just began to gather momentum in the middle of the 19th century, although slowly. They were allowed to enroll in the Empire’s "schools of first letters" for free public education, but Brazil's first comprehensive educational statute stipulated that boys and girls had separate study schedules and curricula. The focus of instruction in private institutions, many of which were religious, was on assimilation and dogma, prayers, abnegation, and the sanctification of women.
Carolina Krug Florence founded the Colégio Florence in the city of Campinas, in São Paulo State, at this time of major changes in Brazilian schooling in the 1800’s.
On March 21st, 1828, Carolina was born in Kassel, Germany. She valued education and had the dream of becoming a teacher. She was the daughter of João Henrique Krug, who made wood mosaics, and Elizabeth Debus Krug. From the time she was six years old until she was fourteen, she attended the Ruppel Schoolin Germany. After graduating from college, she relocated to Switzerland to enroll at Madame Niederer’s Institute, where she had the chance to study more about Pestalozzi’s approach (who was already regarded at the time as a significant figure in pedagogy) and to practice it. When Carolina returned to Germany in 1848, she started working as a teacher in a girls’ school.
In 1852, her parents made the decision to move in with their oldest son Jorge Krug, who had moved to Campinas in 1846. Carolina then travels to Brazil, where she weds her older brother's friend two years after her arrival. He was Hercule Florence, who had thirteen children with Maria Angélica Machado Florence, whom he had married in 1830 and had become a widower.
Since the time of her relocation to America, Carolina had the desire to create a facility in Brazil with a similar structure to the one she had attended in Europe. Nine years after she married Hercule and with his support, the educator founded the Colégio Florence in Campinas on November 3, 1863, in a building granted to her by her brother, Jorge Krug, at Rua da Flores, 24 and 26 (now Rua José Paulino).
Records from the school show the influence of the Pestalozzi method on the institution. The family, for instance, was at the center of education, as evidenced by letters from parents, students, and teachers. In the school, there was an atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation among the many individuals who made up the institution.
The regular activities of teachers and students reflected their shared lives. At Colégio Florence, interaction with a male teacher encouraged an education that was more centered on the social world in which they were living, in contrast to the religious schools of the same era, where the pupils had, for the most part, only nuns to educate them.
The fact that it offered a space for learning about cultural life was another pedagogical feature that set it apart from private religious organizations. Because Colégio Florence was a secular institution, its students were treated as women to live both in the private and public spheres, in contrast to religious boarding schools where the motivation for education was found in assimilation and dogma, prayers, abnegation, and sanctification of women.
Carolina also made an effort to assimilate fresh approaches that appeared as improvements to education. As a result, she gave teachers at the school the freedom to choose their own curriculum. The role of the teacher suggested greater freedom in the school, and it was always appreciated when new instructors brought new ideas.
Since the beginning, Carolina Florence also put a lot of effort to hire qualified teachers in her school, both domestically and internationally. Hercule Florence, Rangel Pestana, Joo Kopke, Emlio Giorgetti, Armelina Lamaneres, Leonor Gomes, Ana Krug Kupfer, Augusta, and Isabel Florence were among the instructors present.
“A Educação Feminina Durante o Século XIX O Colégio Florence de Campinas 1863 – 1889” [Women’s Education During the 19th Century The Colégio Florence in Campinas 1863 – 1889] emerged from the results obtained by Arilda Ines Miranda Ribeiro’s 1987 master’s thesis, “A Educação da Mulher no Brasil-Colônia” (Women’s Education in Colonial Brazil). In this book, Prof. Ribeiro retrieves the history of the Colégio Florence and of its founder, Carolina Krug Florence. Download the PDF of the second edition, which was financed by members of the Florence family, and have access to the complete work.