Many educational reforms of today may appear to be innovative, but the ideas that inspired them have been around from the 18th century.
Frederick Froebel (1782-1852), was born on Central Germany. As a lonely boy, neglected by his stepmother and distracted father, he formed youthful kinship with nature that blossomed into spiritual exaltation.
He fashioned a personal philosophy of unity that embraced the spiritual potential within a person; the relations between people in a free society; the place of individual in relation to the nature that surrounds and includes him; and the life force that controls growth in all things.
Thus, were born the three main ideas of Froebel’s education philosophy
- Unity of creation
- Respect for the individual child;
- The importance of Play in children’s education
Johan Heinrich Pestalozzi & Christain Weiss played a vital role in Froebel’s education philosophy. Their influence on development of both art & architecture was profound on Froebel’s education philosophy.
Pestalozzi was one of the first educators to advocate more active, hands on activities for what he termed “Object lessons” or direct concrete observation. Pestalozzi developed techniques that combined the two “Teaching of Writing” and the “Comprehension of Form”.
Under the tutorship of Pestalozzi, Froebel observed that “children have extraordinary relatedness in exploring, observing and interacting with nature.
Froebel saw how nature’s domain invited the child to uncover its secrets, each child has a strong impulse to know why they love nature’s manifold. He says, “Therefore, the child would know himself why he loves the thing; he would know all its properties, its innermost nature, that he may learn to understand himself in his attachment.” Thus showing that each child gains knowledge through observation & experiment.
The child’s primary route to knowledge begins with an instinct for activity which issues from a deep interest in nature and not from a conscious thought.
In 1814, Froebel took an assistant’s job at Mineralogical Museum of the University of Berlin under Professor Christain Weiss. Weiss was then in process of formulating the parameters & technique of modern crystallography, changing the field from a branch of natural philosophy to an exact mathematical science.
Froebel discovered that each shape of crystal had systematic variations in the design of their forms, planes & symmetries – providing an obvious unique structure to themselves.
Froebel viewed nature as a great work of design by a higher power and this intense & prolonged occupation with geometric handiwork of God had a profound impact on his future work.
COSMOLOGY (adapting unity of creation that embraced spiritual potential within a person)
(relations between people in free society)
(person relation with nature)
(life force controls growth in all things)
MINERALOGY (understanding minerals, crystallogy, understanding systematic variations in forms of crystals and why they grow like that) (Planes and Symmetries)
He began to perceive “transforming developing energy” in the smallest fixed forms of nature, and learned to think of crystals, plants & human beings as equivalent consequences of the same laws of growth.” Froebel postulated that since the forms of crystals are the outcome of the same natural laws that also shape growth of individuals & societies, handling these forms properly could reveal and illuminate the creator’s mind itself.
In 1816, Froebel formed his own school for children and after 20 years of teaching he concluded that a rigid dullness was often found within children who began schooling at officially mandated age of 7.
Two years later, Froebel opened his first revolutionary invention “KINDERGARTEN”. This concept related Two Ideas.
- Organisational Model (A garden for use by children)
- Its Spiritual foundation (a garden in which children should be raised).
Kindergarten, was meant to convey the interconnectedness of all forms of growth – Froebel designed physical tools, which he called “Gifts” – he created a methodology that when properly utilized, provided children with infinite number of conceptual links between gifts and the world.
These GIFTS were used to create structures of pictures into 3 Fundamental Categories – Forms of Nature (or Life), Forms of Knowledge (or Science) and Forms of Beauty (or Art).
Life forms were tangible (Trees, People)
Knowledge forms ( mathematical)
Forms of Arts (systematical patterns)
Kindergarten has continued to include singing and dancing as well as close observation of nature: growth of plants, symmetries of crystals and seashells. This practical and philosophical heart of the system, interconnected the series of 20 gifts and occupations – exercises involving sticks, coloured paper, mosaic tiles and serving cards as well as building blocks and drawing equipment.
The ultimate lesson of Kindergarten was straightforward. The forms of world, mathematics and art are equivalent and interchangeable.
Frederick Froebel taught that children should not be allowed to draw from casual appearances of nature until they had first mastered the basic forms lying hidden behind appearances.