Gift number 16 consisted of sticks joined to each other at the ends. The connectors I used were copper tacks clinched on the back side. Gift number 16 offered some additional fun as anyone with an old carpenter's folding rule will remember. But it also offered some additional restrictions to the design process. And just as anyone familiar with the process of design will attest, design happens within sets of limitations that must be mastered and turned to the specific advantage of the finished work. Please consider how Frank Lloyd Wright made use of natural settings for his designs. Falling Water is a classic example.
Froebel believed that children should begin drawing with concrete things. Just as some art teachers will instruct their students to look for geometric forms within the forms of nature, the study of form would build the child's capacity to design, even before he or she was able to manage pen and pencil on paper. The rule as stated by Otto Salomon to his students was that learning move from the concrete to the abstract.
The following is how Frank Lloyd Wright remembered his experience with the Froebel gifts and their impact on his design process:
"The virtue of all this lay in the awakening of the child-mind to rhythmic structure in Nature -- giving the child a sense of innate cause-and-effect otherwise far beyond child-comprehension. I soon became susceptible to constructive pattern evolving in everything I saw. I learned to 'see' this way and when I did, I did not care to draw casual incidentals to Nature. I wanted to design."I am now at the most difficult part of writing the book, that of organizing the additional materials that will paint a picture of the importance of Froebel's methods, and incite teachers and parents to take matters and materials in their own hands.
At this point, this blog has had over 1 million page views and over 20 percent of its regular readers are (to my surprise) from France. Nearly one third of its regular readers are from outside the US, which tells me that wisdom of the hands and how we can best address learning are world-wide concerns. Still the hands, spoil the child. And what better way can there be for setting our own hands in motion than the making of gifts that launch our children toward their own creative and constructive futures.
Make, fix and create...