Friday, November 27, 2015

the universal man...

H. Courthope Bowen in his book Froebel and Self-Activity had suggested that the songs and games of Kindergarten should be adapted to better conform to the immediate lives of the children in the particular community. His idea was that since it was unlikely that Kindergarten children in an urban environment would ever encounter fishes living in a brook, that songs and fingerplay about fish should be abandoned to make room for others more relevant to the particular children involved. Susan Blow in her book Symbolic Education respectfully took an opposing position. There should be no child not taken to a brook and exposed to the wonders of nature where real fish might be observed.

I fall on Susan Blow's side in this minor dispute. If Kindergarten is to lead to an understanding of the interconnectedness of all things, as Froebel intended, how can that be without the child's direct engagement in nature? Through planting gardens, tending the growth of plants, observing the wonders of nature and attending to the needs of small animals, children are awakened to a deeper relationship to life, and nurture their own sense of responsibility to life itself. There are universal principles having to do with nurturing children to become nurturing of all that surrounds them. This might not fit well with industries' demand for the industrialization of all things for the sake of their profits. But to a very large degree, survival of our species requires that we act with a high degree of sensitivity to what surrounds us.

In addition to celebrating Thanksgiving, I am attempting to illustrate Froebel's idea of occupations..I'll focus on just two examples as the book about making Froebel's Gifts should simply provide a starting point for parents hoping to take a greater role in assuring their child's full development. With the occupations, building upon the foundation provided by the gifts, the parents' role becomes simplified. Provide some simple tools and materials and back off while the child creates...

Make, fix, create, and insist that others learn likewise.

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