The State of Education – Its Past – Its Future
How can we teach students to become more intelligent than we are? The inventor of Kindergarten, Friedrich Froebel’s
framed this question in the mid 1800’s. His answer, formed the unifying
foundation for all his educational endeavors. The essence of Froebel’s
answer is genius and beautifully simple… We Must Teach Them How to Know. His answer was the Kindergarten. Kindergarten means Child’s Garden but may also be translated as “‘The ‘Kind’
Child’s Garden” because, the aspect of the Kindergarten’s “kindness” is
essential but this “kindness” should not be only understood as simple
tender sensitivity but also, the rigorous application of Froebel’s total
pedagogy and curriculum. This system use a variety of truly Child
Centered practices that guide students to their own unique abilities and
assists them in developing their own world view.
For a student to become more intelligent than, the master, the student must “learn” directly from “the truth”. When a student can see the world for what it “truly is” without the color of predetermined prejudice, unhindered by any enforced devotion to the predetermined answers that society and systems of education all too often load into the minds of young discoverers; Then, that student can become able to form new connections and arrive at new answers and novel solutions beyond the ability of their teacher. Thus, the atmosphere created by a method of instruction that allows and nurtures exploration and independent discovery for the sake of exploration and independent discovery, coupled with “The ‘place’ of Learning” form A Real Kindergarten or Truly “Kind Child’s Garden”. This type of “kindness” is essential to a students realization of their “true potential” because it is completely respectful of their uniquely capable ability. Regardless of a students creative, intellectual, psychological, emotional status or “learning level”. The “Kind Garden” promotes the engagement and growth of a students whole being because of the Kindergarten’s “kindness’ toward the individual’s unique nature. Froebel’s method for achieving this atmosphere was the subject of his life’s work and is much more than can be explored here; But suffice it to say that, Froebel’s concept of the Kindergarten; a “place” equipt with “The Gifts” of advanced learning materials and Trained Teachers applying Froebel’s “kind methods”, Form one of the most advanced pedagogies yet to be describe and employed in human history.
In Froebel’s lifetime he was exiled from Prussia for teaching mothers to teach their children in methods contrary to the kings liking. He was later repatriated after his method of education rapidly spread throughout the world because of its immense success, having profound and truly enlightening effects. In the mid 1800’s parents from Europe, to Japan to America embraced the New Paradigm of Education created by Froebel’s Kindergarten. Thousands of private Kindergartens sprang up all over the globe only to meet their demise through the “advancement” of “public schools” during and after World War I. Of course the name of Kindergarten remains, but sadly it true nature and very essence were lost when it was co-opted by generally state sponsored schools. Froebel, the inventor of the most well know theory of education, Kindergarten, was “lost” to history and most educators do not even know who he is much less have any idea of the truly inspired genius that he was. There are literally only a few handfuls authentic Kindergartens in the world today. The fact that the name persists the world over is a testament to the original effectiveness of Froebel’s pedagogy.
Unfortunately the system of education developed by Maria Montessori met a similar fate with the advance of “public education”. Though Montessori schools survived better than Froebel’s Kindergartens the original intent of Maria Montessori has only been partially realized. Building on Froebel’s model, Montessori likewise produced a series of advanced educational materials that allow students the opportunity of independent discovery. She developed highly effective teaching methods and insisted on trained teachers. But she had another idea which was grounded in her medical and scientific training. Montessori realized that despite her life long devotion to the advancement of eduction she would not be able to develop the best possible school or supporting materials. Thus she proposed and set up Montessori schools as Scientific “Teaching and Learning Laboratories” in which “Educational Experiments” could be conducted and recorded to determine the absolutely best methods – generally or for a specific community of students or society. Her idea was that schools would systematically be improved based on their experiences as well as the analysis of detailed data collection regarding the failures and successes of various supplemental materials or employed methodologies. Montessori of course envisioned that the knowledge gained would be shared with other Montessori schools and must have further hoped that this scientific method of advancing the art and science of education would spread to other types of schools regardless of its particular pedagogy. The Idea of The School as a”learning/teaching/educational laboratory” cements Maria Montessori as one of the last truly great minds in the advancement of modern education because this method of developing the school as tool for advancing the materials and methods utilized by educators is penultimate to great advancements in the theory and practice of educating our children. Why virtually all schools don’t employ this century old scientific method of improving the way in which we learn to educate our children is a very good question. Why we stand at the beginning of the 21st century with all our technological advancements and simultaneously in the midst of failing state of state sponsored school systems, is another. One suggested answer is that the general public, politicians, business people and even educators keep looking toward how we can improve the “indicators” regarding the health of current mass education systems but fail to seriously consider that the predominant systems may be fundamentally flawed. Regardless of the reasons, it is globally obvious that we need fundamental and systematic change regarding our methods of educating children. While surveys indicate that students from countries like Japan, Korea and Singapore, do well on international tests, they also indicate some of the highest statistics of student suicide. This is a despicable measure of success and indicates fundamental flaws regarding the system of education utilized. In complete contrast, is Finland, where students and teachers love school and routinely score higher than the previously mention countries on international tests. The fact that there are many far superior schools models from history as well as currently in existence, should provide great hope that we can soon fundamentally and greatly improve the value of our schools. We need Consider the wisdom of Montessori and Froebel and look toward and build upon examples of great success. We Must abandon the compromises that lead to mediocrity. We must become radical in our intention and effort to make and even force positive change. We need be fearless in abandoning what does not work and seek out and embrace what does. This task should not actually be that hard. After all, education is something we have been providing our children since the beginning of time! It does require that we more fully commit to provide “The Very Best” – “Education for Life”.