Saturday, August 06, 2005

Froebel's autobiography on Project Gutenberg

An eBook of the autobiography of Friedrich Froebel, the education pioneer best known as the inventor of kindergarten, has just been posted on Project Gutenberg. This was prepared via Distributed Proofreaders and I had a role in producing this as the "Post-Processor" (completing a finished copy of the book after it's been proofread); I'm credited in the text. (I've previously posted about my involvement with DP, where I explained the process a bit more).

Since Froebel didn't write a formal autobiography, it's a compilation of two long autobiographical letters, heavily annotated by the translators (with 142 footnotes for a work of about 150 pages!) and also contains a Froebelian chronology and bibliography, so it has quite a bit of historical material.

Quotes about Froebel's educational philosophy from the book:
While others have taken to the work of education their own pre-conceived notions of what that work should be, Froebel stands consistently alone in seeking in the nature of the child the laws of educational action—in ascertaining from the child himself how we are to educate him. —Joseph Payne
As the cultivator creates nothing in the trees and plants, so the educator creates nothing in the children,—he merely superintends the development of inborn faculties. So far Froebel agrees with Pestalozzi; but in one respect he was beyond him, and has thus become, according to Michelet, the greatest of educational reformers. Pestalozzi said that the faculties were developed by exercise. Froebel added that the function of education was to develop the faculties by arousing voluntary activity. Action proceeding from inner impulse was the one thing needful... —R. H. Quick (from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica article on Froebel)
As an indication of his stress on spontaneity, "Nature, Love of" is listed 14 times in the index!

Paul Avrich's history of The Modern School Movement discusses Froebel's great influence on Elizabeth Ferm of the Stelton Modern School. He's also one of the six historical figures in Dana Bennis's "Why Have Freedom in Education?" dialogue in the latest issue of AERO's magazine Education Revolution.

Other free ebooks about alternative education on the Net that I know of:

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