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Insight: Friedrich Froebel

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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 we can mold into whatever we please. You, who roam through garden and field, through meadow and grove, why do you close your mind to the silent teaching of nature? Behold even the weed, which, grown up amid hindrances and constraint, scarcely yields an indication of inner law; behold it in nature, in field or garden, and see how perfectly it conforms to law – what a pure inner life it shows, harmonious in all parts and features; a beautiful sun, a radiant star, it has burst from the earth! Thus, O parents, could your children, on whom you force in tender years forms and aims against their nature, and who, therefore, walk with you in morbid and unnatural deformity – thus could your children, too, unfold in beauty and develop in all-sided harmony!  

Friedrich Froebel, who created the concept of the ­kindergarten, was a reformist nineteenth-century educator who emphasized the value of teaching the “whole child” through active play, creativity, music, art, and hands-on learning.


Source: The Education of Man (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1906), 8–9.

Kay Polk, Sunny Kay Polk, Sunny
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