The Education of Man

by Friedrich Froebel

extracts and quotes

"The purpose of education is to encourage and guide man as a conscious, thinking and perceiving being in such a way that he becomes a pure and perfect representation of that divine inner law through his own personal choice; education must show him the ways and meanings of attaining that goal." - p2

"We grant space and time to young plants and animals because we know that, in accordance with; the laws that live in them, they will develop properly and grow well; young animals and plants are given rest, and arbitrary interference with their growth is avoided, because it is known that the opposite practice would disturb their pure unfolding and sound development; but the young human being is looked upon as a piece of wax, a lump of clay which man can mold into what he pleases." - p8

"Mankind is meant to enjoy a degree of knowledge and insight, of energy and efficiency of which at present we have no conception; for who has fathomed the destiny of heaven born mankind? But these things are to be developed in each individual, growing forth in each one in the vigor and might of youth, as newly created self productions." -p233

The mind grows by self revelation. In play the child ascertains what he can do, discovers his possibilities of will and thought by exerting his power spontaneously. In work he follows a task prescribed for him by another, and doesn’t reveal his own proclivities and inclinations; but another’s. In play he reveals his own original power.

Building, aggregation, is first with the child, as it is first in the development of mankind, and in crystallization. The importance of the vertical, the horizontal, and the rectangular is the first experience which the child gathers from building; then follow equilibrium and symmetry. Thus the child ascends from the construction of the simplest wall with or without cement to the more complex and even to the invention of every architectural structure lying within the possibilities of the given material. -p281

The material for building in the beginning should consist of a number of wooden blocks whose base is always one inch square and whose length varies from one to twelve inches. If, then, we take twelve pieces of each length, two sets—e.g., the pieces one and eleven, the pieces two and ten inches long, etc.- will always make up a layer an inch thick and covering one foot of square surface; so that all the pieces, together with a few larger pieces, occupy a space of somewhat more than half a cubic foot. It is best to keep these in a box that has exactly these dimensions; such a box may be used in many ways in instruction, as will appear in the progress of a child's development. -p283

Menschenerziehung, 1826
Friedrich Froebel's classic "The Education of Man" edited by Jeffrey Stern and published in 1996

The Education of Man (1826) had a profound effect on the approach to early childhood education. Friedrich Froebel believed in the development of intelligence and character through activites that engaged the interest of children. To many of his critics these activities seemed more like play than school work.

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