. The Education of Man
Reminiscences of Froebel
. by Dr Kevin J. Brehony
. at Online Forum
The Education of Man
by Friedrich Froebel
To learn a thing in life and through doing is much more developing, cultivating, and strengthening than to learn it merely through the verbal communication of ideas.
"The purpose of education is to encourage and guide man as a conscious, thinking and perceiving being in such a way that he becomes a pure and perfect representation of that divine inner law through his own personal choice; education must show him the ways and meanings of attaining that goal." - p2
"We grant space and time to young plants and animals because we know that, in accordance with; the laws that live in them, they will develop properly and grow well; young animals and plants are given rest, and arbitrary interference with their growth is avoided, because it is known that the opposite practice would disturb their pure unfolding and sound development; but the young human being is looked upon as a piece of wax, a lump of clay which man can mold into what he pleases." - p8
The mind grows by self revelation. In play the child ascertains what he can do, discovers his possibilities of will and thought by exerting his power spontaneously. In work he follows a task prescribed for him by another, and doesn’t reveal his own proclivities and inclinations; but another’s. In play he reveals his own original power.
"Mankind is meant to enjoy a degree of knowledge and insight, of energy and efficiency of which at present we have no conception; for who has fathomed the destiny of heaven born mankind? But these things are to be developed in each individual, growing forth in each one in the vigor and might of youth, as newly created self productions." -p233
Building, aggregation, is first with the child, as it is first in the development of mankind, and in crystallization. The importance of the vertical, the horizontal, and the rectangular is the first experience which the child gathers from building; then follow equilibrium and symmetry. Thus the child ascends from the construction of the simplest wall with or without cement to the more complex and even to the invention of every architectural structure lying within the possibilities of the given material. -p281
The material for building in the beginning should consist of a number of wooden blocks whose base is always one inch square and whose length varies from one to twelve inches. If, then, we take twelve pieces of each length, two sets—e.g., the pieces one and eleven, the pieces two and ten inches long, etc.- will always make up a layer an inch thick and covering one foot of square surface; so that all the pieces, together with a few larger pieces, occupy a space of somewhat more than half a cubic foot. It is best to keep these in a box that has exactly these dimensions; such a box may be used in many ways in instruction, as will appear in the progress of a child's development. -p283
The gifts are intended to give the child from time to time new universal aspects of the external world, suited to a child’s development. The occupations, on the other hand, furnish material for practice in certain phases of the skill.
Nothing but the First Gift can so effectively arouse in the child’s mind the feeling and consciousness of a world of individual things; but there are numberless occupations that will enable the child to become skillful in the manipulation of surfaces.
The gift leads to discovery; the occupation to invention. The gift gives insight; the occupation, power.
The occupations are one-sided; the gifts, many-sided, universal. The occupations touch only certain phases of being; the gifts enlist the whole being of the child.
Each gift should aid the child to make the external internal, the internal external, and to find the unity between the two.
Now form, and whatever may depend on form, reveals in various ways inner spiritual energy. To recognise this inner energy is part of man's destiny; for thereby he learns to know himself, his relation to his surroundings, and, consequently absolute being. It is therefore, an essential part of human education to teach not only how to apprehend but also how to represent form.
The Education of Man (1826) had a profound effect on the approach to early childhood education. Friedrich Froebel believed in the development of intelligence and character through activites that engaged the interest of children. To many of his critics these activities seemed more like play than school work. Wood building blocks were one of these activities, which Froebel called gifts as they were given to the child
Froebel, F. (1887) The Education of Man. (Translated by Hailmann, W.N.) New York, London, D. Appleton Century.
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