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Young children, the outdoors and nature
Young children, the outdoors and nature

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2 Finding traces of Froebel in current practice

Although Froebel lived and wrote in a very different context, many of his ideas continue to influence early childhood pedagogy and practice all over the world including the three key ideas discussed in the last section. In this section you are going to look at some of his pedagogical tools. However, it is important to bear in mind that practice has continued to re-interpret these tools rather than slavishly follow concrete ideas he laid down. Julian Grenier (2016) reflects on this theme as he describes a visit to the first Froebelian kindergarten in Keilhau:

I was left thinking that on the one hand, it is a great strength of the Froebelian tradition that it has developed and renewed itself over the years. Different educators can bring different aspects to the fore… some materials…have been updated, and others… made less prominent. But on the other hand, perhaps this modern practice is not really Froebelian at all, rather like the antique axe that’s been renewed over the years with three new handles and two new blades.

(Grenier, 2016)

Grenier illustrates here what may happen if Froebelian practice is disconnected from some key Froebelian principles. However, if these principles sit at the heart of the practice, then this practice becomes an iteration of ideas that remain faithful to particular core values. These core values focus on a way of being with children. It is a focus that cannot be accused of being stale or obsolete because it responds to each child’s uniqueness in their contemporary context. Present-day Froebelian scholars, led by the Froebel Trust, recognise and agree on the interpretation of some key pedagogical ideas.

This section will examine some of these ideas including:

  1. Froebelian principles
  2. Froebel’s gifts
  3. Mother songs