Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852)

Friedrich Froebel

Friedrich Froebel (or Fröbel) was an early 19th century philosopher of education who laid the foundation that helped establish much of our contemporary educational system.

Professional Life

Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel was born on April 21, 1782, in Thuringia. Froebel’s strict father, a Lutheran pastor, raised him from infancy after Froebel’s mother died. At the age of ten, Froebel was sent to live with an uncle. In his youth, Froebel enjoyed nature and studied botany and mathematics. His first professional position was as a teacher at a school in Frankfurt. He taught in private duty, serving as the in-house educator for the children of noble families, and at several different schools throughout Germany. Froebel served briefly in the Prussian army during the Napoleonic wars. 

In 1816, Froebel founded the Universal German Educational Institute, which was relocated to Keilhau the following year. During this time, Froebel began publishing his theories on education. His most acclaimed work, The Education of Man, was published in 1826.

Froebel spent time in Switzerland and also founded an institution for education there in 1831. Upon his return to Germany in 1837, Froebel dedicated his work to the study of preschool education, and he published several magazines and papers on the topic. He founded the Child Nurture and Activity Institute for young children in Blankenburg; the school was designed to integrate play and activity into the educational arena. Shortly after, the Institute became known as kindergarten (child garden). Froebel developed all of the educational play tools in the kindergarten, including building blocks, pattern games, and other educational exercises. His innovations in the kindergarten environment are said to have influenced many fields, including architecture and art.

Contribution to Psychology

Froebel invented the modern concept of kindergarten by creating a classroom that combined play with learning. He emphasized that play is especially important for young children and can be used as a learning tool, and he incorporated singing, dancing, and similar forms of play into his educational model. Contemporary kindergartens are the direct product of Froebel's educational theories. 

Froebel's student, Margarethe Schurz, founded the first American kindergarten in Wisconsin. Following the example of Schurz's school, the first English-speaking kindergarten opened in 1860 in Boston. The popularity of kindergarten rapidly increased, and kindergarten is now a part of most people's educational experiences.

Legacy

The New Thuringian Froebel Association (NTFV) is an agency that strives to continue Froebel’s dedication to education and is directly involved in the activities of Froebel institutions throughout the world. The NTFV continues to further the educational principles and techniques that Froebel created by overseeing a museum, providing an authentic Froebel experience in Keilhau, and distributing the Froebel Diploma.

The Froebel College, now part of the University of Roehampton, was founded in 1892 in South West London, and in coordination with the Froebel Archive for Childhood Studies, the college maintains an extensive library of books, objects, multimedia, photographs, and other items that portray the details of the educational legacy created by Friedrich Froebel.

Last Update: 07-07-2015

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