Maximilien Robespierre, one of the best-known and most influential figures of the French Revolution was instrumental in the period of the Revolution commonly known as the Reign of Terror, which ended with his arrest and execution in 1794. The following was proposed by Robespierre before the National Assembly in France in 1793, proving that even the most cruel and evil people from the past were more sensitive to the needs of children than are some today:
Public education, besides giving strength and health, must instill the duty of the habit of work, because this is to all both a necessity and an advantage. I do not refer to a thorough knowledge of any particular kind of work, but rather to that energy, that activity, that industriousness and that perseverance to the end which characterizes the life of every diligent individual. Educate such men, and the Republic will see its fruits of agriculture and of industry redoubled. Instill in the child this need, this habit of work, and his future existence is secured, as he will then be entirely dependent upon himself. I consider this part of education as the most important, and therefore my plan of general instruction contains manual labor as its vital feature. Of all the sources which are apt to stimulate the average child, none will produce a greater desire for activity than physical work.And so we have the second day of a new year. I will work in my shop today and will spend a bit of time at school getting ready for the return of my woodworking students from their winter break.
By this bill I lay before you, I hope to interest fathers, teachers, and pupils. Fathers because their taxes will be decreased; teachers, because they may hope for honor and recompense in this new field; and children, because the accomplishment of some real, material work will always be to them a source of great delight. I would desire that various kinds of handicraft be introduced.