Friday, April 18, 2008
Those readers familiar with kindergarten inventor Friedrich Froebel might not be surprised by the new reincarnation of kindergarten as described in the Wall Street Journal. While most children in the US are suffering from "Nature deficit disorder", a complete disassociation from the natural world, parents and teachers in Germany and the Scandinavian countries are returning children to the forests... an upbringing, not unlike the early life of Freidrich Froebel in the Thuringian woods. At the CODA conference I chatted with one grandmother who had given her grandson real tools for Christmas. Unfortunately her daughter-in-law didn't go along. Use of the tools, she said, would get her son "dirty," and make a "mess."
German Tots Learn to Answer Call of Nature"
By MIKE ESTERL April 14, 2008;
IDSTEIN, Germany -- Each weekday, come rain or shine, a group of children, ages 3 to 6, walk into a forest outside Frankfurt to sing songs, build fires and roll in the mud. To relax, they kick back in a giant "sofa" made of tree stumps and twigs.
The birthplace of kindergarten is returning to its roots. While schools and parents elsewhere push young children to read, write and surf the Internet earlier in order to prepare for an increasingly cutthroat global economy, some little Germans are taking a less traveled path -- deep into the woods.
Germany has about 700 Waldkindergärten, or "forest kindergartens," in which children spend their days outdoors year-round. Blackboards surrender to the Black Forest. Erasers give way to pine cones. Hall passes aren't required, but bug repellent is a good idea.
Please follow this link to the Wall Street Journal for the rest of the story.
At Clear Spring School, we have acres of woodlands that have engaged our children in imaginative play for years. When my daughter Lucy, now a freshman at Columbia University was in 3rd and 4th grades, she and her friends built a fort in the woods they called "double tree," with no reference or similarity to the Hilton Hotels of the same name. In the meantime, children throughout the world are taught in artificial places without reference to the real world. Can it be any surprise that we fail to engage them in real learning?