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results by teaching the mothers (or instructresses who supply their place) by an easy method to play and talk with their children, and to carry them through a series of gymnastic exercises, accompanied by explanatory songs."
“We hear frequently the inquiry, “Will not the mother's love find out the means to develop the child better than any system?' Maternal love cannot be overrated; but love must be guided by a knowledge of the child's being, and must be combined with respect to the divine laws inherent in his nature. Love without intelligence is not sufficient for the education of children. The number of those who recognize the importance of a true maternal education is happily daily increasing.”
This education necessarily begins in the family and under the eye of the mother, or of an instructress in whom love is united with discipline to fit her for the care of a young child. The co-operation between mother and teacher must be close and entire.
“No educator, up to the present time, has been more successful in reforming family education and the nursery than Froebel in his Kindergarten system, which is a result of the progress of education and culture in general, and of. the recognized needs of the rising generation. Its fundamental principle, which Pestalozzi has carried out so ably, must become the groundwork of education by all nations. .
“ The games are so organized that all faculties are harmoniously developed, and play becomes not a mere external amusement, but a means of culture, and a useful labor for the child.”
This system differs in principle and practice from the infant schools now known, - especially in this, that it is a system, carefully elaborated through long years devoted to observation, study, and experiment.
“ The infant schools contain a great variety of pictures and playthings, which are finished materials, intended to be looked at or to be used in a given form in imitation of others. Thus the young minds of the children are repressed, hindered in independent activity, and distracted in their attention.”
Froebel supplied the children with material, with which, as will be seen from the description of the various “ Gifts,” the children can produce an unlimited number of forms. The first of these six gifts of Froebel — the soft ball and string — belongs to the nursery. As the child is not only a filial, but also a social being, he needs a little world in which the social tendency may be developed, and where he may find at once stimulant and corrective in the companionship of those of his own age. The Kindergarten, which is a medium between home and school, supplies this need, and brings both motives into co-operation.
“ It is then a little world apart which the Kindergarten would present to its guests, to prepare them for the life of the real world, and at the same time for school or abstract study, and also to fill the place of home or family life.
“In it will be found the application of the idea which inspired the author of Robinson Crusoe, when he shows children the development of the human mind in the history of a man, who, deprived of all means except those furnished him by nature, reduced in one word to his own powers, discovers, invents, labors, obtains all that is necessary to his life, but proves that man has need of his fellows to be truly happy.
“This idea is very nearly realized in the Kindergarten, which is intended to show the commencement and progress of humanity. The necessities of life first present themselves, and it is only by degrees that we attain to the comforts and luxuries of civilization; passing thus from physical labor, which is the simple development of strength, to the expression of the beautiful in art and science.
“ The child should have his heart and character formed by the will put in action, and acquire a little practicality, before being delivered up to books and abstract study, for which he should be gradually prepared.
“ The genius of Pestalozzi has furnished the methods of educating by objects ; but Pestalozzi himself said, in one of his last discourses, ‘I give you the a b c for the development of the intelligence; it is necessary now to discover the a b c for art, action, and practicality.'.
“ It is this that Froebel has discovered. In his education by and for labor, he applies himself to develop the powers, the taste, and the wish to be useful. To induce the fulfilment of duty at the earliest possible age, and to make that fulfilment a pleasure, through love for others, is the moral principle which Froebel has put in practice."
Froebel aims, therefore, to bring the child into intimate relations with things before he knows much about books; the concrete must precede the abstract, — the special be in advance of the general. But soon the child is dissatisfied with mere activity, and asks for an aim and a result. Here is the special merit of Froebel's system. By means of simple graduated employments, important enough to interest, but not laborious enough to exhaust the pupil, he gratifies the love of construction and the ambition for service. “Our Charley” quickly destroys all the costly playthings provided for him, because that is the only scope afforded to his energy. Wearied of drawing his gayly-painted horse and carriage, he knocks that in pieces, and rushes out to put four rough boards together, and call it a house or a cart. To obviate this destructive tendency, Froebel gives the child materials from which to construct his own playthings. At the same time, in order to correct the tendency of youth to dissipate its powers, and to teach the habits of concentration and thoroughness, only a few simple, primitive objects are given, and the pupil is required to confine himself to them for some time.
To carry out these ideas, a garden is a favorable locality; and Froebel accepts the name Kindergarten as allegorically expressive of the free culture of children according to the laws of nature. Every child has his own plot of ground, which he cultivates according to his fancy, though under directions which lead him to careful and patient execution of his plans.
In order to realize fully Froebel's idea of a Kindergarten, the school-rooms should be spacious, healthy, well arranged, and in direct connection with a garden large enough to allow ample play-ground for all, with a little private garden-plot for each. Here should be congregated children of all ages, from the infant of two months to the child of fourteen years; for, enlarging his original plan, which regarded children of from two to six years only, Froebel saw the importance, on the one hand, of connecting these departments with crêches, or schools for infants and their nurses; and, on the other, the necessity for continuing the instruction till pupils were prepared for the Gymnasium or University. The most successful teachers are cultivated and talented young women, who can enter with vivacity into the games, and win the affections of the children by their hearty sympathy and co-operation; whilst they at the same time realize the sacredness of their office, — which is, in fact, that of spiritual maternity, — and watch with delight and reverent interest the unfolding of the human souls, which, through their skill and fidelity, shall be aided to bloom into a rich maturity. Froebel, both for the credit of his system and the welfare of the children, laid great stress upon the general culture and careful training of the teachers, both of which would unavoidably suffer in incompetent hands. He always taught his teachers in the country, seeking to inspire them with a love of nature, and to make them in all things simple and spontaneous. Twenty-five pupils are the utmost to whom one teacher can do justice. But the elder children render much service as assistants. They enter with great ardor into the plays; they counsel the little ones in their gardens and games, and in their turn demand such services as the youngest are delighted to render, in waiting upon them in the care of the birds, animals, &c., &c. The spirit of mutual helpfulness, courtesy, and love, tender care for the younger, respect for the older, pervades the Kindergarten. Quarrels sometimes arise, but generally quickly yield to the prevailing spirit. The principal punishment is exclusion from the game which may have been disturbed, or exclusion from the garden for a day or more, according to the gravity of the offence; and this proves very effectual. No corporeal punishment is allowed.
“To form the character, to develop the individuality, of these young plants, it is important to leave to the child his liberty of action. There are no prohibitions in the garden, but the habit is taken of following a law, of being orderly, and of submission to an authority that is loved. In living with others, self-control is learned, and at the same time the necessity of making one's place respected. The child should learn at an early age that there can be no true liberty without law. That which satisfies him truly is organized play, and not anarchy. He demands for his happiness, without being aware of it, that he should be developed, as well as amused. It is the aim of the Kindergarten, while giving to the plays a direction, to leave a free flight to the tastes and individuality of each child, and to procure for the youngest, as well as for those who go to school, a field where they can freely and methodically develop their powers, and bring into play all the faculties of the soul."
The children pass from three to five hours a day at the Kindergarten, and they carry their plays home with them to occupy and amuse them there. Froebel seeks the co-operation of the mother in every stage of the child's progress.
The first exercises are generally in the garden, where all. unite in singing, — then scatter to their various classes and plays, or to cultivate their gardens. Here a group is engaged in one of the series of gymnastic plays for the development of the muscles, marching and striking the foot to the time of a song which indicates the movement of the pestles of an oilmill, or exercising the arms and fingers in imitating the flight of pigeons in the favorite play of the pigeon-house, acquiring, meanwhile, by active imitation of all that strikes them, habits of nice observation and of thought. The gardens are an ever new delight to the little ones. They watch the seed from its first unfolding, feeling that it is in some manner their own work, and yet that there is another Power present, to whom they are taught to look in reverence and love. Another class of older children are receiving a practical lesson in botany, learning from the flowers they have just gathered the habits and names of the various plants, as well as the analysis of the forms of vegetation, from the simplest to the most complicated. The younger members, meanwhile, arrange the leaves and flowers according to their forms and colors, of which they learn the names.
A most interesting feature of the Kindergarten is the class of infants from two months upward, with their nurses, &c.
We quote again from Madame Marenholtz's lively description of a visit to a Kindergarten, in Hamburg we believe: —
“ Traversing the garden in another direction, we find a dozen infants from two months to two years, guarded by two mothers who accompany them, by an experienced nurse, and many young persons, from fourteen to sixteen years of age, who are passing through their novitiate, and learning to take care of and find occupation for the very young children.
“ Is it not, in fact, of the greatest importance to found establishments for those who are to have charge of infants, so often confided to the most unskilful hands, — to women without experience, and even of depraved hearts? For this reason, it is indeed urgent to make real the idea of Froebel, and give to women of all classes the necessary knowledge · how to bring up a child from its birth, and especially to exercise them before marriage in the practice of education.