The Froebel Kindergarten Philosophy
Humans are creative beings.
What separates us from other life forms is that we alter our environment. More than simple tool building, our brains allow us to visualize in 3-D and imagine a different future. True education must help children to understand their true nature as creative beings.
Play is the engine that drives true learning.
Play is not idle behavior. It is a biological imperative to discover how things work. It is happy work, but definitely purposeful. Froebel sought to harness this impulse and focus a child's play energy on specific activities designed to lead them to create meaning from this experience.
Children can only learn what they are ready to learn.
Each child is unique and develops according to their own schedule. Nothing can be more wasteful or frustrating than to try to force a child to march to a different beat. Froebel works with each child's own rhythm but makes it purposeful and guides the child toward the group.
Education means to "lead someone to knowledge."
The Latin root of the education ("educare") means "to lead to." Education was designed for the teacher to guide - to lead the child to an understanding. Trying to force knowledge into a young mind has been proven ineffective for centuries. It works for the short term (like cramming for a test) but does not produce lasting results.
Kindergarten was meant to be a prepared environment.
Froebel recognized that you cannot control the child so he controlled everything else. A prepared environment provides the teacher with the proper tools and gives children the experiences that the teacher feels are most beneficial, leading the child's mind to the subject at hand. It feels less structured or forced, but it is actually extremely efficient.
Activities are a window into a child's inner world.
Activities in a prepared environment give children experiences but they also provide the teacher with sophisticated diagnostic tools to assess where a child is at developmentally. The verbal exchanges between teacher and student are a window into a child's mind. The Froebel Gifts provide an organized "conversation piece" with which a teacher can naturally launch into any possible subject.
Mathematical work is not just for instruction, it also emphasizes order.
The greatest misconception is that the Gifts are intended as math manipulatives. The materials are part of a method to engage a child's mind, creativity, and playful spirit. The Gifts can lead to sophisticated experiences of geometry and physics, but can also be used for design or storytelling. Froebel's German heritage colors the perception of the materials. Imagine if they were from Italy or Japan? The focus shifts to the simplicity, elegance and beauty of the Gifts.
Teaching should always be joyful, fun and easy.
Copyright 2001-2008 Scott Bultman