Origins of Nursery Education:
The Froebelian Experiment
announcing a six volume reprint of works by Friedrich Froebel and members of the English Froebel Movement.
Routledge have invited Dr Kevin J. Brehony to edit this collection of Froebel's work and Froebelian texts. A description of the project is to be found at: http://www.rdg.ac.uk/~emsbreny/Froebel_Project.html
Dr Kevin J. Brehony, School of Education, The University of Reading, Bulmershe Court, Reading RG6 1HY, UK
early childhood education bears the unmistakeable impress of Froebel's educational principles if not that of his symbolic and material apparatus.
Froebel's writings are of more than antiquarian interest for they were inscribed or institutionalised in the English nursery school roughly during the first decade of the twentieth century. His ideas and practises were revised by his followers and other to became the dominant ideology within the colleges where the teachers of young children were trained. It may be argued that this ideology was a hybridisation of the work of Froebel, Margaret McMillan and Maria Montessori but even if this view were to be accepted the Froebelians were the hegemonic grouping.
Froebel wrote in German and it was some time before they became available in English translation. Into this gap leapt a number of exegetes, readers who produced their own diverse readings of Froebel. While it is possible that much of Froebel's work remains untranslated the Froebelians based their practice on a few key texts. These, together with a selection of Froebelian texts that appeared before the Montessori whirlwind was to challenge the Froebelian position, are to be reprinted in five volumes by Routledge. In addition to Froebel's main works and accounts of his life, there will be included works of exegesis and commentary, accounts of kindergartens in England, the turn to slöyd, critiques of the Froebelian ideology - internal as exemplified by the Deweyean revisionists and also ones of a Darwinian external kind - and texts illustrating the importance of the relation between Froebelians and the women's movement and the Froebelian women's professionalising project.
Dr Kevin Brehony has recently contributed a chapter to a book that is being published by Yale and is edited by Roberta Wollons from Indiana that deals with the kindergarten as an international phenomenon. He has also written about the British Froebelians who had studied with G. Stanley Hall and Dewey for a collection of writings on Victorian women. 'Revising Froebel: English revisionist Froebelians and the schooling of the urban poor' in Hilton, M. and Hirsch, P. (Eds.) Practical Visionaries: Women, Education and Social Progress 1790-1930, London, Addison, Wesley, Longman.
In his PhD thesis: 'The Froebel Movement and State Schooling, 1880-1914: A Study in Educational Ideology' Open University 1987. Dr Kevin Brehony argued that the kindergarten in England was taken up by fractions of middle and sometimes upper class women who were outside the hegemonic Anglican Church/Tory Party/Landed Capital nexus. Consequently, the kindergarten was supported by intellectuals organic to the industrial bourgeoisie men who have been called the 'industrial trainers' themselves mainly Jewish, Unitarian or non-conformist and Liberal in politics.
Froebel bibliography by Dr Kevin J. Brehony
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