Robert L. Peters

6 April 2012

A salute | Frederick Fröbel (1782-1852)

Oberweißbach, Germany

Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel was a German pedagogue and a student of Pestalozzi, who laid the foundation for modern education based on the recognition that children have unique needs and capabilities. Fröbel developed the concept of the “kindergarten” (literally garden for children, coining the word now used in German and English) and developed the Froebel Gifts educational toys—these emphasized sensory exploration and manipulatives, and are credited as forerunners of abstract art, a source of inspiration to the Bauhaus movement, and a formative influence on Maria Montessori.

I attended kindergarten in Frankfurt, Germany as a child; like countless others in the fields of design, the elegant maple geometric “building blocks” derived from Froebelian toys that I was given to play with had a lasting effect on my sense of three-dimensional composition and perception of planar elements. (The great architect Frank Lloyd Wright also assimilated many influences into his architecture, and credited these learning tools with the geometric clarity that typified his work).

“From objects to pictures,
from pictures to symbols,

from symbols to ideas,
leads the ladder of knowledge.”

 ~ Friedrich Froebel 

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