Monday, June 13, 2016

why not?

 I have been attempting in my writing to describe the impact of Kindergarten on American education  but could do no better job than was offered in the following from Nina C. Vandewalker's historical treatise The Kindergarten in American Education, 1907.

The kindergarten movement is one of the most significant movements in American education. In the fifty or more years that have passed since the first kindergarten was opened in the United States education has been transformed, and the kindergarten has been one of the agencies in the transformation. Although it came to this country when the educational ideal was still in the process of transformation, its aims and methods differed too radically from the prevailing ones to meet with immediate acceptance. The kindergarten is, however, the educational expression of the principles upon which American institutions are based, and as such it could not but live and grow upon American soil, if not in the school system, then out of it. Trusting to its inherent truth to win recognition and influence, it started on its educational mission as an independent institution, the embodiment of a new educational ideal. Its exponents proclaimed a new gospel — that of man as a creative being, and education as a process of self-expression. They substituted activity for the prevailing repression, and insisted upon the child's right to himself and to happiness during the educational process. They emphasized the importance of early childhood, and made the ideal mother the standard for the teacher. They recognized the value of beauty as a factor in education, and by means of music, plants, and pictures in the kindergarten they revealed the barrenness of the old-time schoolroom. By their sympathetic interpretation of childhood, their exaltation of motherhood, their enthusiasm for humanity, and their intense moral earnestness they carried conviction to the educational world. The kindergarten so won its way to the hearts of the people that the school at last opened its doors and bade it welcome. It has become the symbol of the new education. – Nina C. Vandewalker, 1907
An indoor slide
Materials to build the imagination.
That  was then and this is now.

At some point, the impact of Kindergarten became less and the tide swept back in the other direction to the point that Froebel's ideas and philosophy are only tenuously connected with the institution he named and invented. As Kindergarten became institutionalized as part of American education, enthusiastic Kindergartners in love with early childhood learning, were replaced by trained teachers held accountable to standards. Please don't get me wrong. It's not the trained teachers who are to blame for the status of American education.

It has become time once more, for parents, teachers and grandparents to take matters and materials into our own hands, put the fun back in learning and drive the policy makers back into the darkness from which they came.

Make, fix, create and extend to others the joy of learning likewise.

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