influence of Friedrich Froebel

Inventing Kindergarten

by Norman Brosterman, Kiyoshi Togashi (Photographer), Published by Harry N Abrams April 1997

Synopsis: Invented in the 1830s by German educator Friedrich Froebel, kindergarten was designed to teach young children about art, design, mathematics, and natural history. Inventing Kindergarten uses extraordinary visual materials to reconstruct this successful system, which grew to become a familiar institution throughout the world by the end of the 19th century. 130 illustrations, 55 in color. ISBN:0810935260

"By 1872, kindergarten had become compulsory throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire for all children under six years of age, and instruction in the Froebel method was made obligatory for all students of normal schools and teacher training classes. In 1909, there were seventy two kindergartens in Vienna alone."

The kindergarten is ubiquitous, but how many of its former pupils really know how it came about and what philosophies it is based upon. Norman Brosterman lovingly and meticulously studies the background of this 19th century invention, spurned by conservatives, embraced by those who wanted child-centered education for their young children, and which influenced 20th century painters and architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Kandinsky, Paul Klee and many others. Brosterman leaves no stone unturned. Through carefully written text and rich photographs of actual educational games ("Gaben" in German) by Kiyoshi Tagashi, he explains the goal of each "Gabe", its aesthetic value and then illustrates for the reader how these influenced a generation of artists who had been schooled with them. As an educator, gallery director, and Froebel descendant, I can say unequivocably that Brosterman's book is perhaps the best book written about Froebel in this century. Surely it is the most thought provoking book about art history that I have read in a very long time.

review by Johannes Froebel-Parker

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