words of Friedrich Fröbel

Man is a creative being!

In the treatment of the things of nature we very often take the right road, whereas in the treatment of man we go astray; and yet the forces that act in both proceed from the same source and obey the same law.

Children are like tiny flowers; they are varied and need care, but each is beautiful alone and glorious when seen in the community of peers.

In answering the question What is the purpose of education? I started at that time from the observation that man lives in a world of objects which influence him and which he wishes to influence, and so he must know these objects in their characteristics, their essence and their relation to one another and to mankind.

Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child's soul.

The character and purpose of these plays may be described as follows: They are a coherent system, starting at each stage from the simplest activity and progressing to the most diverse and complex manifestations of it. The purpose of each one of them is to instruct human beings so that they may progress as individuals and members of humanity is all its various relationships. Collectively they form a complete whole, like a many branched tree, whose parts explain and advance each other. Each is a self-contained whole, a seed from which manifold new developments may spring to cohere in further unity. They cover the whole field of intuitive and sensory instruction and lay the basis for all further teaching. They begin to establish spatial relationships and proceed to sensory and language training so that eventually man comes to see himself as a sentient, intelligent and rational being and as such strives to live.

The union of family and school life is the indispensable requisite of education . . . if indeed men are ever to free themselves from the oppressive burden and emptiness of merely extraneously communicated knowledge heaped up in memory.

Only the quiet, secluded sanctuary of the family can give back to us the welfare of mankind.

If man is to attain fully his destiny, so far as earthly development will permit this, if he is to become truly an unbroken living unit, he must feel and know himself to be one, not only with God and humanity, but also with nature.

I would educate human beings who with their feet stand rooted in God's earth . . ., whose heads reach even into heaven and there behold truth, in whose hearts are united both earth and heaven.

Protect the new generation: do not let them grow up into emptiness and nothingness, to the avoidance of good hard work, to introspection and analyzation without deeds, or to mechanical actions without thought and consideration. Guide the young away from the harmful chase after outer things and the damaging passion for distraction.

"The Christian religion entirely completes the mutual relation between God and man; all education which is not founded on the Christian religion is one-sided, defective, and fruitless."

"Nothing comes without a struggle. Strife creates nothing by itself, it only clears the air. New seeds must be planted to germinate and grow, if we will have the tree of humanity blossom . . . We cannot tear the present from the past or from the future. Past, present, and future are the Trinity of time. In the children lies the seed-corn of the future!"

"That which follows is always conditioned upon that which goes before."

"The destiny of nations lies far more in the hands of women, the mothers, than in the possessors of power, or those of innovators who for the most part do not understand themselves. We must cultivate women, who are the educators of the human race, else the new generation cannot accomplish its task."

"The world of crystals proclaimed to me in distinct and unequivocal terms the laws of human life."

"What the spiritual eye sees inwardly in the world of thought and mind, it sees outwardly in the world of crystals."

"Man in his external manifestation, like the crystal, bearing within himself the living unity, shows at first more one-sidedness, individuality, and incompleteness, and only at a later period rises to all-sidedness, harmony, and completeness."

A child who plays and works thoroughly, with perseverence, until physical fatigue forbids will surely be a thorough, determined person, capable of self-sacrifice.

"If three hundred years after my death my method of education shall be completely established according to its idea, I shall rejoice in heaven."

The Education of Man - Mother Songs - a Froebel bibliography


The popularity of the kindergarten may have eclipsed the extent of Friedrich Fröbel's contribution. It was not until the 1980´s that a wide representation of Fröbel's original works became more easily available.

Fröbel's thinking was a part of the romantic movement. Philosophically he is an objective idealist, the centre in his universe is God. His practical education was very well structured and founded in the rationalistic practice of Pestalozzi. Fröbel claimed that education is like a natural process; that the child is an organic whole which develops through creative self-activity according to natural laws; that the individual is an organic part of the society; and that the universe as a whole is an organism of which all lesser organisms are members. According to Fröbel, man was a self-expressive being, who had to follow the inner calling.

Fröbel's appreciation for the interconnectedness of all nature appeals to those who are interested in protecting the environment and understanding the complexity of the ecosystem. As an apprenticed forester Friedrich moved through the woodlands of Thuringia, aware of each plant and animal, absorbing healing from the forest and developing the deep awareness of the unity of nature, which he was to bring to the education of children. As a student at the University of Jena, the seventeen year old Friedrich may have been thought a strange fellow, who made wonderful things from stones and cobwebs. His choice of the name, Kindergarten, meaning a garden of children, directs our attention to the wonder and unity of nature.

In a letter to his brother in 1807, he laid down his cherished plan of a school: "Not to be announced with trumpet tongue to the world, but to win for itself in a small circle, perhaps only among the parents whose children should be entrusted to his care, the name of a happy family institution."

Fröbel went on to equip himself for his life work by attending the training institute run by John Pestalozzi at Yverdon from 1808 to 1810 and further studies at the Universities of Göttingen and Berlin. His work at the mineralogical museum at Berlin, classifying minerals according to the geometry of their crystals was the theoretical basis of the gifts and occupations.

Come, let us live with and for our children
Friedrich Fröbel 1782 -1852

Kindergarten - Fröbel blocks - Fröbel gifts
influence on Alfred Adler - Frank Lloyd Wright
Friedrich Fröbel quotes - ancestors - relatives
Baroness von Marenholtz Bülow reminiscences - her life

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