- Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel (1782-1852) devised a system of kindergarten teaching (and he was the first to use the word kindergarten for such schools) to help children learn naturally. To develop children's abilities, his program included such activities as claymodeling, matplaiting, paper-cutting, and weaving. Froebel's instructional material remained standard equipment for many years. But Froebel was not given a free rein to institute his useful and farsighted system.Froebel was born at Oberweissbach, Thuringia, Germany, the son of a Lutheran pastor. His mother died in his infancy, and his life with his father was unpleasant. But things took a turn for the better when he was made the charge of a kindly uncle who took a personal interest in him. After spending some time as a forester's apprentice and an architectural student at Frankfurt-am-Main, he found his calling when he was invited to teach in a school in Frankfort administered by a follower of Johann H. Pestalozzi (1746-1827). In 1806, Froebel became a tutor to the three sons of Baron von Holtzhausen, from which experience he derived a firm conviction of the vital need for both father and mother to participate in the education of children. Froebel's next important move was to the village of Griesheim, where he opened his own school which he described as the "Universal German Educational Institution." After his marriage in 1818, he moved his school to neighboring Keilhau, and it soon expanded into a flourishing institution.Froebel worked unstintingly at the school, and there published his notable book The Education of Man (1826), an amalgam of idealism, romanticism, and mysticism. But in 1828 his school became suspect to the authorities as a "nest of demagogues." Froebel was removed from direct control and left the school.In Blankenburg, Germany, Froebel's method of teaching preschool children took root, and several kindergartens were founded. But his unorthodox methods aroused suspicion, culminating, in 1851, in a ban of kindergartens as subversive by the Prussian minister of education. Froebel died the next year.Froebel's method of teaching and his kindergarten system have gained recognition and have had a profound effect upon educational methods in many countries. Some of his ideas anticipated and inspired nineteenth- and twentieth-century educators, among them John Dewey. The ban against the kindergartens was removed in Germany, and today the kindergarten is a universal educational institution.Froebelism is based on the premise that man is essentially active and creative rather than merely receptive. Froebel's belief in self-activity and play in child education resulted in the introduction of a series of learning apparatus (toys) devised to stimulate learning.
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.