17 February 2009

inventing kindergarten

A man by the name of Friedrich Froebel invented Kindergarten back in the mid-19th century, when he founded the Play Activity Institute in 1837. He was a pioneer in early child education, and a strong advocate for the importance of free play in childhood. His Kindergarten classes were structured around a series of "gifts," designed to be given to a child in order to inspire innovation and self-directed activity. See a full gallery of Froebel's Gifts here
Activities in the first Kindergarten were focused on "free work" and games, and included singing, dancing, gardening, and self-directed play with the Froebel Gifts. Check out the Kinder-garden, above! (Unidentified kindergarten, Los Angeles, circa 1900)
Some late-19th century "beauty forms" from anonymous kindergartners made with the fourteenth Froebel gift (paper weaving). Look familiar? It is no coincidence that the first generations to graduate from this new Kindergarten grew up to become those radical adults that formed the modernist movement:

"There was...an international force for change of dramatic potency that never appears in discussions about the roots of modern art and is only rarely mentioned as an influence on the movement's pioneers. The Victorian childhood of the seminal modernists and their audience coincided with the development and widespread embrace of a radical educational system that was a catalyst in exploding the cultural past and restructuring the resulting intellectual panoply with a new worldview...It was the seed pearl of the modern era and it was called kindergarten." 
-Norman Brosterman, Inventing Kindergarten


Monstertoke said...

I wish I went to kindergarden like the one you are describing...is this your senior project?

nancynago said...

Stellar post! An unfathomably interesting and exciting find you've made.

kindra said...

Fantastic Post Aimee! If you need anymore materials/games/childrens' activity books let me know. I've got them.