He founded schools, without precisely knowing what he would teach. In order to learn, he undertook another journey abroad, which lasted from the 3rd of July, 1860 to the 23rd of April, 1861.
He studied the various pedagogic systems of the time. Need we say that he rejected one and all? Two visits to Marseilles taught him that the true education of the people is effected outside the schools (which he considered absurd), by means of the journals, the museums, the libraries, the street, and everyday life, which he termed "the spontaneous school." The spontaneous school, in opposition to the obligatory school, which he considered silly and harmful; this was what he wished and attempted to institute upon his return to Yasnaya Polyana. Liberty was his principle. He would not admit that an elect class, "the privileged Liberal circle," should impose its knowledge and its errors upon "the people, to whom it is a stranger." It had no right to do so. This method of forced education had never succeeded in producing, at the University, "the men of whom humanity has need; but men of whom a depraved society has need; officials, official professors, official literary men, or men torn aimlessly from their old surroundings, whose youth has been spoiled and wasted, and who can find no plan in
- At Dresden, during his travels he made the acquaintance of Auerbach, who had been the first to inspire him with the idea of educating the people; at Kissingen he met Froebel, in London Herzen, and in Brussels Proudhon, who seems to have made a great impression upon him.
- Especially in 1861-62.