Saturday, January 20, 2007

Freidrich Froebel (April 21, 1782 – June 21, 1852) could rightly be called the father of holistic education as well as being the inventor of Kindergarten.The following is from Froebel and Education through Self-Activity, H. Courtright Bowen, M.A. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 1897.

" the young child, as to primitive man, all knowledge does, as a matter of fact, come as one whole ...the subdivisions into subjects and departments is a very gradually evolved plan, for the most part wholly artificial and only adopted for the sake of convenience...the very nature of knowledge itself teaches the necessity of connectedness. Facts in isolation, and unrelated to one another do not form knowledge. Facts have to be compared, classified, organized, connected, before they become what we call knowledge...since education has largely to do with inducing the right acquirement of knowledge and the right use of knowledge, the task of the educator must largely consist in making clear and maintaining the connectedness of facts and things."

But for Froebel, the acquisition or assimilation of knowledge was only one part of the educational balance. The other part was "doing" or "giving out."

"...observation and discovery are not enough for our purpose--especially in the earlier years. Something must be added to them--something which renders more of the human being active, and which has to do with giving out or expression...this work, ...doing, will call into activity more of the mind; will require the co-operation of some of the physical powers; readily takes the form of giving outward definite expression to ideas and mental images; and it is easily united to observation and discovery, and is immensely improved by being so united. This making of new forms and combinations (rising from the merest imitation of models up to the most original inventions), this giving of definite expression to ideas and mental images, the great Froebelian doctrine of creativeness. It is the pactical application of the priniciple of self activity, and together with (Froebel's) doctrines of continuity and connectedness, it forms the heart of Froebel's system."

I think you can probably understand from this, how an activity like woodworking in schools (or outside of school) can fit a system of education. Having the school resources to bring abstract knowledge to concrete exploration and expression are essential to the development of each child.

The photo above is of Froebel's grave monument which was built in the shape of his second "gift."

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