What does it mean to work with the philosophy of Friedrich Froebel?

For the past year, since beginning in my role for FROEBEL Australia, I have been reflecting on what this question means to me.  What does it mean for educators working in an Australian context in 2016?  When I tell people that I work for ‘FROEBEL’ those with no knowledge of early childhood education ask me to describe:

What does ‘FROEBEL’ mean?

What is the philosophy all about?

And, what makes FROEBEL centres different from other early childhood settings?

Here, I go back to what I learned when I studied to become an early childhood teacher –  about the history and philosophy of education- but sometimes this does not give the full picture.  An important ‘sign post’ came in the form of visiting the FROEBEL centres and seeing this philosophy in action.   Elements within the centre environments give clues and also evoke a specific quality.  For example the ‘play pods’ at St Leonards reminded me of some kind of organic plant form – a reflection of the natural world. To me, they had a beautiful, calming quality.  I wondered about this, and then as I read further about the life story of Friedrich Froebel, I learned how from a very young age Froebel formed a deep love for nature.  For Froebel, spending time in nature allowed a sense of peace and personal wellbeing.


Through reading about Froebel’s life and seeing his important connection to nature, I have been able to form an understanding that helps me to further describe (to friends who ask) the underpinning roots of his educational movement.  The ‘play pods’ were like a ‘marker’ for my personal process of  ‘unpacking’ and ‘repacking’ what this  philosophy means.  This process is by no means finished – it is an ongoing one.

When we reflect on our personal philosophy as educators what ‘signposts’ are the significant ones?

By sharing these moments of my reflective, inquiry process I wonder if it prompts you to think about your connection to the work of Friedrich Froebel.

As a FROEBEL educator:

What was your first impression of the centre environment?

Was there something that you wanted to know more about?

As a point of departure, I finish this post with the words of Froebel.  To me, these words speak to the idea of reflection and action working together to build and develop new learning about aspects of practice.  Without the ‘doing’ the ‘thinking’ would not be effective – the two elements work hand in hand!

“To learn a thing in life …through doing is much more developing, cultivating, and strengthening than to learn it merely through the verbal communication of ideas.”

Friedrich Froebel in:  The Education of Man, (1885).

Photography by  Karl Blossfeldt. ‘Natural Geometry’ Germany, c.1900-28

German sculptor and art teacher, Karl Blossfeldt  presented images of nature in these amazing close-up photographs of plants.  He held the view that many forms of art could be found in nature and he expressed this in his work.  Read more about Blossfeldt’s work and his connection to the work of Friedrich Froebel in the book: ‘Inventing Kindergarten’ by Norman Brosterman or through the following website:  http://karl-blossfeldt-archiv.de/

Posted by: Jessica Horne-Kennedy.  Quality Management and Compliance Coordinator at FROEBEL Australia.




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