influence of Friedrich Froebel
the expression of universal harmony through geometric form
Friedrich Froebel conceived of mental development as the unfolding of inner aims through the learning of the world and the self. Kindergarten was a garden of children in which the child would be treated as a seed in a nourishing environment.
Froebel developed exercises for teaching children to express themselves through play and become educated in what he called "motor-expression." Froebel believed that tactile and visual knowledge was far more important than language. To teach what he called "plastic material representation," Froebel developed a series of didactic materials, the most widely known and influential of which were his Gifts and Occupations, consisting of a series of objects given to children at intervals from the age of two months upwards to six years. Through the Gifts, children would learn basic ideas about relationships between objects: similarity and contrast, tactility, lightness, and heaviness. While Froebel intended that the Gifts teach the child basic skills of "motor-expression," he also believed that each Gift had a symbolic meaning, bringing forth from the child an innate idea of the Absolute and the mathematical laws that govern the universe. These beliefs in harmony and the elemental nature of the geometric solids were both philosophical and spiritual in dimension.
Many artists and architects, among them Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, and Wassily Kandinsky, attended Kindergarten in childhood. Kandinsky, Klee, Wright, and Le Corbusier, all maintained that turning art toward abstract geometric form would lead to a complete spiritual transformation of society.
Inventing Kindergarten uses extraordinary visual materials to reconstruct this successful system, to teach young children about art, design, mathematics, and nature.
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