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Reminiscences of Froebel

Pestalozzi and Froebel

from Reminiscences of Froebel (Erinnerungen an Fröbel) by Baroness Bertha von Marenholtz-Buelow

translated from the German by Mrs. Horace Mann, Boston: Lee and Shephard, 1887

Froebel's ideas with respect to the earliest education from the cradle up are quite different from those of Pestalozzi. They are founded on a new theory of the child's nature, even if they do not contradict Pestalozzi's, but the practical means to carry out his ideas are offered by FROEBEL not Pestalozzi; for by Froebel the instinct and educational intuition of the mother are first elevated to an intelligent mode of action, and the right means for this are presented to has also to do with the soul. Froebel teaches the right way to deal with the child's soul as it gradually awakes from unconsciousness, and he can do it because he understands clearly the relation between the unconcious condition of childhood and the conciousness of the mature mind...that is one thing; but in another direction he goes BEYOND Pestalozzi. Instead of the principle of observation on which Pestalozzi rests, FROEBEL combines DOING with Observing. Then he lets children represent their observations objectively and certainly, not only by imitation but freely by remembrance, which thereby prepares for INVENTIVE activity. In this way only is Pestalozzi's demand, that of combining power of action (Koennen) with knowledge, fully realized....the using of labor as a means of education was limited buy Pestalozzi to mechanical work and cultivation of the ground. FROEBEL's method proposes to banish all that is merely mechanical, and offers the means of methodically exercising the limbs and senses in every productive work...children are thereby elevated to productive activity in the full sense of the word, and artistic conception will be prepared for wherever the inborn capacity for it exists.

(The party including Baroness von Marenhlotz-Buelow and Dr. Kuehne from Berlin reach the gates of the ducal hunting palace in Marienthal, where Froebel, by the grace of His Emminence the Duke of Meiningen, resided and held his classes and gave lectures)

"This then is the house of the prophet," said someone in our party, as we entered the great courtyard of the Marienthal* house, which stood back, two stories high, with a front of eleven windows, looking more like a dwelling-house of a farm than a castle, but pleasant and homelike in the midst of the old green trees that surrounded it...on one side were very beautiful old lindens, which in flowering time spread their fragrance far and wide.....


Froebel attended the training institute run by Johann Pestalozzi at Yverdon from 1808 to 1810. Froebel left the institution accepting the basic principles of Pestalozzi's theory: permissive school atmosphere, emphasis on nature, and the object lesson. Froebel, however, was a strong idealist whose view of education was closely related to religion. He believed that everything in this world was developed according to the plan of God. He felt that something was missing in Pestalozzi's theory: the "spiritual mechanism" that, according to Froebel, was the foundation of early learning. "Pestalozzi takes man existing only in appearance on earth," he said, "but I take man in his eternal being, in his eternal existence." Froebel's philosophy of education rested on four basic ideas: free self expression, creativity, social participation, and motor expression.

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