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Art. 1. — KINDERGÄRTEN OF GERMANY.
1. Les Jardins d'Enfants, Nouvelle Méthode d'Education et d'Instruc
tion de Frederic Froebel. Par la BARONNE DE MARENHOLTZ.
tion celles et Ostend, Mission. By MADA
2. Woman's Educational Mission. By MADAME DE MARENHOLTZ.
London: Danton & Co. 3. A Practical Guide to the English Kindergarten, being an Expo
sition of Froebel's System of Infant Training. Accompanied by a great Variety of Instructive and Amusing Games, and Industrial and Gymnastic Exercises ; also numerous Songs, set to Music and arranged to the Exercises. By Joh. and BERTHA RONGE. London: J. S. Hodson. 1855.
WHILE the hopes of political freedom for Germany have again and again been blighted, its intellectual life has gone on developing in every form of science and art. To the German mind we owe the vast flood of light which has been thrown on Biblical interpretation and theologic science. Every department of natural history has been filled with students of deep insight and laborious research. History and Belles lettres have put on new charms, and Art counts her votaries by thousands. Amid all this intellectual life, the subject of
education has received the attention of both government and · people, and the public-school systems of Prussia and Saxony
surpass all others in thoroughness, extent, and efficiency. No wonder that in this country of intellectual activity and vigorous thought has appeared the new system which aims to begin edu
VOL. LXVII. — 5TH S. VOL. V. NO. III.
cation at the very threshold of life, and to conduct the child by progressive steps from its first instinctive yearnings after knowlledge up to its highest development. The Kindergarten must pave the way for the Gymnasium and the University. A full knowledge of this new system in its details may be gathered from the works named at the head of our article. We shall preface a slight account of its leading aims and methods by a notice of the life of its founder, Friedrich Froebel, condensed from the pages of Madame Marenholtz.
Friedrich Froebel was born in 1782, at Oberweissbach, in the principality of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt. His father, a humble country curate, brought him up in the principles of the Christian religion, and in the daily practice of piety and charity. Friedrich lost his mother early; and in his deep sense of the deprivation of her tender, intelligent, and unwearying affection, may be found the source of his devotion to the cause of maternal education.
The visits which he made with his father to the cottages of his parish, the sufferings and domestic troubles which he witnessed, developed in the soul of the young man the love of humanity, and the desire to remedy the evils which had come under his observation. He was an ardent lover of nature, and an earnest student of the natural sciences, mathematics, and agriculture. After passing some years in Switzerland, under the direction of Pestalozzi, he took part in the war for German independence, in the regiment of Lützow, whose daring exploits are commemorated in “ Lützow's Wild Chase.” He was afterward inspector of the Mineralogical Museum at Berlin, but abandoned this lucrative position, preferring, even at the expense of hard privations, to consecrate his whole time to the realization of the idea which possessed him, — the improvement of early education.
He founded his first establishment at Keilhau, a small village of Thuringia, where his school, supported by the people of the neighboring villages, is still in existence. His farm-house being too small to contain his pupils, while additional rooms : were building poor Froebel was obliged to lodge in the henhouse. He scarcely allowed himself the necessaries of life; often, in his journeys, passing the night in the open air, to save
the expense of an inn, that he might employ the penny saved in the education of some poor child. His wife shared his labors and his sacrifices.
His experience taught him the necessity of applying his system to children younger than those with whom he commenced at Keilhau ; and after lecturing upon the Kindergärten – which are really schools for mothers and nurses as well as infants — in various places, he founded gardens in several towns of Germany, — Hamburg, Dresden, Leipsic, Gotha, - and in Switzerland. He continued his work of beneficence and devotion until his death, in 1852, at Marienthal, where he had founded an establishment for the training of young instructresses. The Duchess Ida of Weimar, sister to Queen Adelaide of England, was one of the best friends of his old age; so also was the Duke of Meiningen, at whose country-seat he died. Froebel had great difficulties to overcome ; but he had the rare success of seeing his system recognized and accepted to a great extent, more than fifty Kindergärten having been established in Germany.
Simple in heart, manners, and character, humble as a child, and retaining under the white hairs of an old man the pure and innocent expression of childhood, he was, at the same time, intrepid and firm as a hero or a martyr in the presence of obstacles and sufferings; always misunderstood, as so often happens to genius, but always triumphing in his unshaken confidence in God; devoted to his mission, even to forgetting for it not only glory, but science, which was dearer to him, especially the study of nature, to whose mysteries and secrets few had so deeply penetrated. Solely occupied with his undertaking, he sought not honors and celebrity ; but his works will one day. speak for him, and it will be acknowledged that he has established on a truer basis the education of human beings; and women, through his methods, will become what he has called them, “ Gardeners of Infancy,” cultivators of the human plant, — warming it into life with the sun of their love, and guiding it to unfold like a flower, true to its own germ, in obedience to the laws of nature and the will of God.
The works of Froebel have never been given into the hands of a publisher. They can only be obtained of his widow, who
still presides over the Kindergarten at Hamburg. A digest of his principal work, Menschenerziehung, — “ The Education of Man,” — which goes deeply into principles, and is a valuable contribution to mental science, is now in preparation at Brussels. The French translation of his “ Causeries de la Mère” makes more accessible that most valuable and suggestive little book to mothers. He has rendered an equal service to mothers and children by his collection of the nursery-songs of all lands, which he has had set to music.
Les Jardins d'Enfants” of Baroness Marenholtz is a lively and interesting account of a visit to a Kindergarten, in which she sees children of various ages engaged in different exercises, games, and employments; whilst the more methodical work of M. and Madame Ronge gives a practical guide, drawn from their long experience, to the best methods of applying Froebel's system to use.
The leading idea of Froebel is, that education should develop the individual according to the peculiar tendencies of his nature, not according to any arbitrary standard, and that those tendencies are manifested at a very early age. The maternal instinct readily appreciates these differences, and it is to this instinct, enlightened by knowledge and aided by systematic discipline, that Froebel trusts the destiny of the future man.
“ The child, by the impulse of his nature, wants to create ; and as he finds no material to represent his own ideas, he exercises his energy in destroying his playthings, often that he may reconstruct them.
“ The children of the richer classes are frequently more limited in their occupations than those of peasants and workmen, who find materials by which they can exercise their creative power. This is one great reason why we find comparatively more inventive genius among the lower classes. The original bent is much more likely to be preserved where there is freedom of action in childhood. How much genius was developed in the plays of the Greeks, and how great was their progress in the fine arts !
“ It is in the child's play, an instinctive and spontaneous act, suggested by nature for its physical and intellectual development, that the natural character is revealed, and rendered capable of being acted upon. That this play may attain its end, it should develop the limbs and the senses, and become an instrument fitted to awaken the faculties of the soul, and afford it its first nourishment. Froebel attains these