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Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852)

A German educator who developed the Kindergarten or children's garden. Froebel accepted the ideas of Pestalozzi but set out to give them a sound philosophical base and to organize and systematize the methods of early childhood education.

Froebel's philosophy of education was based on Idealism. He believed that every human being had a spiritual essence and that every person had spiritual worth and dignity. Like Idealists, he also believed that every child had within him all he was to be at birth, and that the proper educational environment was to encourage the child to grow and develop in an optimal manner. This was the basis of the Kindergarten--a place for little ones to grow and blossom and be what they were destined to be.

One of Froebel's significant contributions to early childhood education was seeing play as a means by which children externalized their inner nature--and a way of imitating and trying out various adult roles. Moreover, he believed that mothers and Kindergarten teachers needed to be carefully educated about the child's nature and development stages.

Froebel's Kindergarten had a series of gifts and occupations designed by Froebel himself. A gift was an object given to a child to play with--such as a ball--which helped the child to understand the concepts of shape, dimension, size, and their relationships. The occupations were items such as paints and clay which the children could use to make what they wished. Through the occupations, children externalized the concepts existing within their minds.

The philosophy of early childhood education

that provides the foundation for Kindergarten programs in Saskatchewan is derived from the ideas of German philosopher and educator Friedrich Froebel . . .

Froebel believed in children's potential for good and the need to provide a place in which children could be nurtured and developed through experiences with the natural environment and caring people. He believed true education originated in activity and that play was an essential part of the education process.

Friedrich Froebel

He is known as the "Father of Kindergarten." He started the first kindergarten (garden of children)in Germany in 1837. "Children are like tiny flowers; they are varied and need care, but each is beautiful alone and glorious when seen in the community of peers." He was a "kid watcher." We can thank Froebel for his gifts to all children, meaning his blocks. These blocks are known as manipulatives and are found in almost every kindergarten around the world. His idea was to help children learn while they were playing. He believed that they learned best by doing rather than by direct teacher instruction. He was also known for using hands-on activities. Froebel's philosophies of education still live on today. Teachers use his ideas and strategies as a part of their own teaching techniques.

Friedrich Fröbel (1782-1852)

German educator, the originator of the kindergarten. Born in Oberweissbach, Froebel was largely self-educated. In 1816 he founded at Griesheim the Universal German Educational Institute, and in 1817 he moved the school to Keilhau. Froebel developed ideas there for the education of preschool children aged three to seven. In 1837, at Blankenburg, Thuringia, Froebel established the first institution exclusively for the education of such children; for this school he coined the term Kindergarten ("children's garden"). His ideas, which stressed encouraging the natural growth of a child through action or play, were not readily accepted. In addition, he was suspected of sharing the radical political views of his nephew Julius Froebel, a professor at Zürich, and from 1851 to 1860 the Prussian government banned all kindergartens in Prussia. Froebel's disciples, especially the Baroness von Marenholtz-Bülow, caused kindergartens to be established throughout western Europe and the United States in the 1850s and in Germany after 1860. Froebel's writings include The Education of Man (1826; translated 1885).

The change in direction of schooling for the very young came with Friedrich Froebel,

the German founder of the kindergarten. He believed that childhood was a special phase in life, during which the individual learned largely through play. He felt that young children should not be subjected to formal instruction, as were older children, but should learn through "self-activity" in play and imitation. They should also be allowed to rest during the day and not be forced into rigid classroom patterns of schooling. Froebel opened his first kindergarten at Bad Blankenburg in 1837. Within 25 years after his death in 1852, his educational theories had spread to the extent that kindergartens had been started in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Canada, Great Britain, Hungary, Japan, The Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United States.

Froebel was a nineteenth-century German educator

who is responsible for originating the idea of the kindergarten. In the kindergarten, Froebel focused on play as a child's work. Froebel felt that curriculum should not be imposed on children but should rather issue forth from children's unique interests. For the purpose of teaching and instruction is to bring ever more out of man rather than to put more into him; for that which we can get into man we already know and possess as the property of mankind . . . On the other hand what yet is to come out of mankind, what human nature is yet to develop, that we do not yet know. From Froebel we learn to honor the child's interest as the driving force of the curriculum.

Froebel, Friedrich Wilhelm August 1782-1852,

German educator and founder of the KINDERGARTEN system. (In an educational situation less formal than elementary school, children's play instincts are organized constructively through songs, stories, games, simple materials, and group activities, to develop habits of cooperation and application. In the U.S. kindergartens are generally part of the public school system. The first American kindergarten was established in 1856, the first public kindergarten in 1873.) Having little formal schooling himself, he stressed pleasant surroundings, self-directed activity, and physical training for children. Influenced by SCHELLING, (whose concept of art as the unity of the natural and the spiritual was a bridge between German idealism and romanticism) Froebel also insisted upon spiritual training as a fundamental principle. He founded (1816) the Universal German Educational Institute to train teachers and opened the first kindergarten in 1837. The most important of his several books on education is The Education of Man (1826).

Friedrich Froebel's ideas provided the major direction for kindergarten curriculum during the last half of the nineteenth century.

Friedrich Wilhelm Froebel is best known as the founder of kindergarten. Between 1808-1810 he attended the training institute run by John Pestalozzi at Yverdon. Froebel left the institution accepting the basic principles of Pestalozzi's theory: permissive school atmosphere, emphasis on nature, and the object lesson. Froebel, however, was a strong idealist whose view of education was closely related to religion. He believed that everything in this world was developed according to the plan of God. He felt that something was missing in Pestalozzi's theory: the "spiritual mechanism" that, according to Froebel, was the foundation of early learning. "Pestalozzi takes man existing only in appearance on earth," he said, "but I take man in his eternal being, in his eternal existence." (Shapiro,1983, p.20.) Froebel's philosophy of education rested on four basic ideas: free self expression, creativity, social participation, and motor expression.

Froebel began to focus on the needs of children just prior to entering school. He envisioned a place attended by 4-6 year olds where children would be nurtured and protected from outside influences--like plants in a garden. Froebel decided to call his school kindergarten, which in German means "child garden." Froebel began a training institute for the teachers of his schools. He believed that teachers should be highly respected people with values that the children should imitate. The teacher should also be a sensitive, open, and easily approachable person.

Froebel's first kindergarten was founded in 1837 in Blakenburg Germany. It featured games, play, songs, stories, and crafts to stimulate imagination and develop physical and motor skills. The materials in the room were divided into two categories: "gifts" and "occupations." Gifts were objects that were fixed in form such as blocks. The purpose was that in playing with the object the child would learn the underlying concept represented by the object. Occupations allowed more freedom and consisted of things that children could shape and manipulate such as clay, sand, beads, string etc. There was an underlying symbolic meaning in all that was done. Even clean up time was seen as "a final concrete reminder to the child of God's plan for moral and social order." (Shapiro, p.20). The teachers were to point out the symbolism to the children, and it was expected that they would understand.

The Prussian government did not agree with Froebel's ideas. They were considered dangerous and detrimental to children. The government ordered the schools closed in 1848. Froebel died in 1852 not knowing the impact his work would have on the U.S. school system.

Many Germans immigrated to the United States after the German Revolution. Among them were women trained in the Froebel system of education. It was these women who were responsible for bringing kindergarten to the United States. The first U.S. kindergarten was for German immigrant children. It was started by Margarethe Schurz in Watertown Wisconsin and taught in German. William T. Harris, superintendant of St. Louis schools, was the first to incorporate kindergarten into the public school system in 1873.

Friedrich Froebel's ideas provided the major direction for kindergarten curriculum during the last half of the nineteenth century. Many of his ideas can still be observed in kindergarten today: learning through play, group games, goal oriented activities, and outdoor time. His theories on "Spiritual Mechanism," as well as others have been forgotten or discredited, but his role as the developer of kindergarten is remembered.

Sources Shapiro,M. Childs Garden. University Park, Pa: Penn State University Press, 1983.
Krough,Suzanne Lowell. Educating Young Children Infancy to Grade Three. Mc Graw-Hill Inc, 1994.
Foundations of Education: 6th edition, 1997
Prepared by Alison Dewey

The teaching methods pioneered 200 years ago by educator, Frledrich Froebel.

Noting with Johann Pestalozzi that distinctions, manipulation, composition and expression learned from early objeot-lessons formed the basis upon which skills in speaking, reading, writing, arithmetic and verbal reasoning were later developed, he devised playthings and games from which children could discover these fundamentals most directly in the course of their voluntary play activity. Following after such preschool instruction, the work of first grade teachers was greatly facilitated, thereby proving as false the then prevalent notion that preparation for reading, writing, arithmetic and the arts-crafts was something which could be left entirely to the grade schools.

Froebel's means of teaching through play activity were at first used in kindergarten classes, - "kindergarten", or "children's garden", being a name he originated to indicate that the educator superintends the development of the child's inborn faculties just as the gardener tends the growth of plant life contained in the seed.