Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Friedrich Froebel, woodworker...
References of his being involved in crafts from various biographies discussed the making of nets from string as early as 1808 and in 1817 his students worked with wooden blocks of his design that he made for student learning. Earlier he had been a forester's apprentice and would have thus become knowledgeable of forest crafts, including the use of a spring pole lathe, as was likely used in forming the sphere and cylinder of gift number 2. He would have had some knowledge in the use of saws and cutting boxes for making wooden cubes, perfectly square on all sides from having observed waldhandwerkers or what the English would call "bodgers" on innumerable occasions. He would have known what few teachers know to this day... how to sharpen and use the tools of the craftsman to beautiful and lasting effect.
Even with a deluxe Oneway® lathe, it is not easy making a near perfect sphere. It takes practice. My own technique is to make a quarter circle template that I can use to check progress as I gradually cut away that which is not spherical. The cylinder is easier, as initially forming one is the first step upon which nearly all turned objects depend.
As I make Froebel's gifts, I am reminded that while kindergartners in the US were buying their gifts from Milton Bradley®, Froebel had shaped the beginnings of Kindergarten in his own hands.
There are advantages in making your own instructional materials. Just as cutting firewood warms you twice, to have made the objects of your own child's learning is a warming experience. You gain skill, a love and a grasp for the work and for the craftsmanship, and are changed in character and temperament at the same time preparing for your child's intellectual growth. Whether you are a parent or grandparent or a teacher, what could possibly be better than that?
Make, fix and create...