Copyright
Bertha Maria Marenholtz-Bülow.

Reminiscences of Friedrich Froebel online

. (page 1 of 26)
Online LibraryBertha Maria Marenholtz-BülowReminiscences of Friedrich Froebel → online text (page 1 of 26)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES






- h-/



THIS SKETCH

IS REPRINTED FROM THE APPENDIX TO

REMINISCENCES

OF

FRIEDRICH FROEBEL

BY

BARONESS B. VON MRAENHOLZ-BULOW

Kranslattti
BY MRS. HORACE MANN



PUBLISHED BY LEE AND SHEPARD, BOSTON

FRIENDS' BOOK ASSOCIATION, PHILADELPHIA

i6mo. Cloth. Price, $1.50



REMINISCENCES



OF



FRIEDRICH FROEBEL.



BY



\ o o o

BARONESS B. VON MARENHOLZ-BULOW.



BY MRS. HORACE MANN.

WITH A SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF FRIEDRICH FROEBEL
BY EMILY SHIRREFF.



BOSTON:
LEE AND SHEPARD, PUBLISHERS.

NEW YORK:

CHARLES T. DILLINGHAM.

1889.



COPYRIGHT, ' 1877.
EY MARY MANN.



UNIVERSITY PRESS: JOHN WILSON & SON,
CAMBRIDGE.



L&

637
77)33



NOTE BY THE TRANSLATOR.



'T^HOSE who are truly interested in the Remi-
* niscences of Froebel will wish to know more
particulars of the history of his life than are given
in these recollections of the last four years of it.
In the Appendix will be found a paper by Mrs.
Emily Shirreff, President of the Froebel Society
of London, and author of the " Kindergarten,"
" Principles of Froebel's System," and " Intellec-
tual Education of Women," read at the monthly
meeting, June, 1876.



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER PAGB

I. MY FIRST MEETING WITH FROEBEL . . . x

II. FROEBEL IN LIEBENSTEIN n

III. DlESTERWEG AND FROEBEL IN LlEBENSTEIN . 22

IV. MlDDENDORFF 35

V. THE SUMMER OF 1850 IN LIEBENSTEIN . . 49

VI. VISIT OF DR. GUSTAV KUHNE .... 61

VII. VISIT OF DR. HIECKE 78

VIII. EDUCATIONAL VALUE OF FESTIVALS. . . 97

IX. CHILD-FESTIVAL AT ALTEN STEIN .... 104

X. HERR VON WYDENBRUGK 124

XI. DR. R. BENFEY AND TEACHER HERMANN POSCHE 149

XII. DR. WICHARD LANGE 165

XIII. THE LAST SUMMER IN LIEBENSTEIN . . . 173

XIV. SECOND VISIT OF DIESTERWEG . . . . 177
XV. VISIT OF HERR BORMANN 194

XVI. THE PROHIBITION OF THE KINDERGARTEN IN

PRUSSIA 197

XVII. VISIT OF VARNHAGEN VON ENSE . . . 203

XVIII. TEACHERS' CONVENTION 256

XIX. LAST DAYS OF FROEBEL 288



REMINISCENCES OF FROEBEL

CHAPTER I.

MY FIRST MEETING WITH FROEBEL.

IN the year 1849, at the end of May, I arrived at the
Baths of Liebenstein, in Thuringia, and took up my
abode in the same house as in the previous year. After
the usual salutations, my landlady, in answer to "my in-
quiry as to what was happening in the place, told me that
a few weeks before, a man had settled down on a small
farm near the springs, who danced and played with the
village children, and therefore went by the name of "the
old fool." Some days after I met on my walk this so-
called " old fool." A tall, spare man, with long gray
hair, was leading a troop of village children between the
ages of three and eight, most of them barefooted and
but scantily clothed, who marched two and two up a hill,
where, having marshalled them for a play, he practised
with them a song belonging to it. The loving patience
and abandon with which he did this, the whole bearing
of the man while the children played various games
under his direction, were so moving, that tears came into
my companion's eyes as well as into my own, and I said



2 REMINISCENCES OF FROEBEL.

to her, " This man is called an ' old fool ' by these
people ; perhaps he is one of those men who are ridiculed
or stoned by contemporaries, and to whom future genera-
tions build monuments."

The play being ended, I approached the man with the
words, " You are occupied, I see, in the education of the
people."

" Yes," said he, fixing kind, friendly eyes upon me,
" that I am."

"It is what is most needed in our time," was my
response. " Unless the people become other than they
are, all the beautiful ideals of which we are now dream-
ing as practicable for the immediate future will not be
realized."

"That is true," he replied; "but the 'other people'
will not come unless we educate them. Therefore we
must be busy with the children."

" But where shall the right education come from ? It
often seems to me that what we call education is mostly
folly and sin, which confines poor human nature in the
strait-jacket of conventional prejudices and unnatural
laws, and crams so much into it that all originality is
stifled."

" Well, perhaps I have found something that may pre-
vent this and make a free development possible. Will
you," continued the man, whose name I did not yet
know, " come with me and visit my institution ? We will
then speak further, and understand each other better."

I was ready, and he led me across a meadow to a
country-house which stood in the midst of a large yard,
surrounded by outhouses. He had rented this place to
educate young girls for kindergartners. In a large room,



REMINISCENCES OF FROEBEL. 3

in the middle of which stood a large table, he introduced
me to his scholars, and told me the different duties
assigned to each in the housekeeping. Among these
scholars was Henrietta Breyman, his niece. He then
opened a large closet containing his play-materials, and
gave some explanation of their educational aim, which
at the moment gave me very little light on his method.
I retain the memory of only one sentence: "Man is a
creative being."

But the man and his whole manner made a deep im-
pression upon me. I knew that I had to do with a true
MAN, with an original, unfalsified nature. When one of
his pupils called him Mr. Froebel, I remembered having
once heard of a man of the name who wished to edu-
cate children by play, and that it had seemed to me a
very perverted view, for I had only thought of empty
play, without any serious purpose.

As Froebel accompanied me part of the way back to
Liebenstein, which was about half an hour's distance
from his dwelling, we spoke of the disappointment of
the high expectations that had been called forth by the
movements of 1848, when neither of the parties was
right or in a condition to bring about the desired ameli-
oration.

" Nothing comes without a struggle," said Froebel ;
" opposing forces excite it, and they find their equilib-
rium by degrees. Strife creates nothing by itself, it only
clears the air. New seeds must be planted to germinate
and grow, if we will have the tree of humanity blossom.
We must, however, take care not to cut away the roots
out of which all growth comes, as the destructive ele-
ment of to-day is liable to do. We cannot tear the



4 REMINISCENCES OF FROEBEL.

present from the past or from the future. Past, pjresent,
and future are the trinity of time. The future demands
the renewing of life, which must begin in the present.
In the children lies the seed-corn of the future ! "

Thus Froebel expressed himself concerning the move-
ments of the time, always insisting that the historical
(traditional) must be respected, and that the new crea-
tion can only come forth out of the old.

" Thatjvhichjollows is always conditioned upon that
which goes before," he would repeat. "I make that
apparent to the children through my educational pro-
cess." (The Second Gift of his play-materials shows this
in concrete things.)

But while Froebel, with his clear comprehension, cast
his eyes over the movements of the time, neither joining
with the precipitate party of progress nor with the party
of reaction that would hinder all progress, he was counted
by those in authority among the revolutionists, and con-
demned with his kinderga/tens. He repeated again and
again : " The destiny of nations lies far more in the hands
of women the mothers than in the possessors of
power, or of those innovators who for the most part do
not understand themselves. We must cultivate women,
who are the educators of the human race, else the new
generation cannot accomplish its task." This was almost
always the sum of his discourse.



FROEBEL'S NORMAL TEACHING.

Already on this first day of my acquaintance with
Froebel the agreement was made that I should take part



REMINISCENCES OF FROEBEL. 5

as often as possible in the instruction given to the pupils
he was training.

The fire with which he uttered and illustrated his
views gave them a peculiar stamp, and the deep convic-
tion with which he demonstrated their justice was some-
times overpowering and sublime. He became entirely
another person when his genius came upon him ; the
stream of his words then poured forth like a fiery rain.
It often came quite unexpectedly and on slight occa-
sions ; as in our walks, for instance, the contemplation
of a stone or plant often led to profound outbursts upon
the universe. But the foundation of all his discourses
was always his theory of development, the law of uni-
versal development applied to the human being.

One needed to see Froebel with his class, in order to
realize his genius and the strong power of conviction
which inspired him. No one could avoid receiving a
deep impression of it who saw him in that circle of
young maidens, teaching with that profound enthusiasm
which only an unswerving conviction of the truth uttered
lends to the discourse, with a love for the subject which
communicated his enthusiasm to his hearers, and an
untiring patience.

The greater number of his scholars may not have fully
comprehended his words, for that which he was teaching
often far transcended their accustomed sphere of thought,
and his- strange mode of speech made it difficult for
them to understand him ; but the spirit of the subject
penetrated their hearts, and in the course of his teaching
developed a partial understanding of it. This was true
only of those who could understand with the heart, and
in whom also love for the subject was really awakened.



6 REMINISCENCES OF FROEBEL.

Yet it cannot be denied that some of his scholars carried
into their own subsequent activity nothing but the prac-
tical occupations of the kindergarten, and often, alas !
an assumption of a knowledge which is not real knowl-
edge.

But the learning of the practical occupations and
plays in their logical connection, and with their intel-
lectual meaning, gave each of these young maidens at
least a limited comprehension of the subject. The full
measure of it, indeed, can be appreciated only by the
highly gifted and highly developed.

The understanding of his often obscure style was
facilitated by the accompanying demonstrations. Tears
would often be seen in the eyes of his scholars, when
with his overflowing love of humanity he would speak
of the helplessness of children, exposed to all harms by
the arbitrary way in which they are managed, but whom
God has intrusted to the female sex to be moulded into
true men and at the same time into children of God, to
be led back consciously to him from whom they had
come forth. And then he further emphasized the great
responsibility which was imposed upon women as educa-
tors of the human race, a responsibility doubled in our
day, whose problems are so great and difficult to solve
that the male sex alone is not able to solve them.
" The immature must become mature ; the immature are
especially the women and children whose human dignity
has not been in full measure recognized hitherto," he
used to say, when he spoke of the new tasks of the
female sex. He was most difficult to understand when
he spoke of the application of his " law " through the
gifts ; and also when he treated of the first impressions



REMINISCENCES OF FROEBEL. J

of the outward world upon the very young child, which
were given by concrete things, symbols, as it were, for
the later apprehension of spiritual facts.

Even the most developed of his scholars were hardly
capable of clearly reproducing this truly most difficult
and obscure side of his instruction. I saw this from
their note-books in which they wrote down the contents
of his lessons to them. On this account, therefore, I
have ever since conducted this part of the instruction in
quite another manner than he was accustomed to do.

But his eyes sparkled with delight when he pointed
out to me, here and there, in these note-books, passages
which showed a deeper insight and understanding of
the subjects he had treated. Still more would his joy
break forth when I would further develop and explain
the illustrations which he privately gave to me, and when
I showed that I had reflected upon what I had received
from him.

" How did you know that ? " he often asked me when
he was explaining the meaning of his play-materials, and
I anticipated him. " I have not yet spoken of that."
My answer, " I can infer it from my own recollection
of the intellectual demands of my earliest childhood,'^
made him quite happy, and he would reply, " You see,
then, that it is true."

And so he would say, when I communicated to him
at that time some of my own very short notes of his
teachings, as, for example, an aphoristical statement like
the following : " The first circle in the unfolding of the
earliest child-life is unconscious nature bound by ne-
cessity."

" Childhood, in this first period of life, can only find



8 REMINISCENCES OF FROEBEL.

its antitype in the external phenomena of the sensible
world, from the crudest types of nature onward, which
prefigure their organisms. The elementary finds itself
again only in the elementary."

" These images wake the soul-germs that are related
to all nature, which, on the other hand, is a symbol of
the spiritual. The still unthinking mind of the child
can be awakened and taught only through symbols or
the higher mental images. Natural phenomena furnish
these symbols, but not in the elementary form which
corresponds with the still unarticulated simplicity of the
child's soul. They must first be selected out of the
great manifoldness of things by the thinking mind.
They must reflect the universal law that gives its form
to the smallest as well as to the largest object, to the
flowers as well as to the celestial bodies."

" The simplest forms (types), which lie at the founda-
tion of the fabric of the world, lay also the foundation
in the minds of children for the understanding of the
world, which expresses God's thought (spirit). These
simplest and unarticulated forms are the fundamental
forms of crystallization." (The solid forms of Froebel's
second Gift.)

"The norms of all the organisms and all the phe-
nomena of nature are the universal properties of things,
that which is peculiar to them all in spite of the infinite
variety of form ; and this universe, which expresses itself
in form and color, in relations of size and weight, in
tone, in number, etc., is to be stamped in the most ele-
mentary manner on the child's soul, through his eye, as
fundamental form, fundamental color, fundamental tone,
archetypes as it were of ideas."



REMINISCENCES OF FROEBEL. 9

" Definite, clear, and sharply drawn conceptions fol-
low such logically ordered ideas in the subsequent circle
of development. A correct comprehension of external,
material things is a preliminary to a just comprehension
of intellectual relations."

"Only that knowledge furthers the ripening of the
mind which mounts up through its own activity and
effort from the perception and contemplation of external
objects to the thoughts or the conceptions which dwell
in things. Only through a gradual climbing up on the
ladder of knowledge does the child's mind rise out of
its own darkness to the light of its own consciousness.
Only from the antitype which makes objective the child's
own inner being can this consciousness be gained clearly.
So that the A B C of things must precede the A B C of
words, and give to the words (abstractions) their true
foundations."

" It is because these foundations fail so often in the
present time that there are so few men who think in-
dependently, and express skilfully their inborn, divine
ideas. The instruction forced upon the child's mind,
which does not correspond to its inner stage of devel-
opment and its measure of power, robs him of his own
original view of things, and with it of his greatest power
and capacity to impress the stamp of his own individ-
uality upon his being. Hence arises a departure from
nature which leads to caricature," etc.*

So obscure and difficult to understand were Froebel's

* What is quoted here is only for those initiated into Froebel's system,
and is referred for explanation to my writings, particularly to that which
treats of the method. It has found no other relevance here than so far as
it concerns the relation mentioned.



10 REMINISCENCES OF FROEBEL.

distinctions, and so much veiled was his "Idea" by his
peculiar mode of speech, that one could cull out the
peculiar meaning of it only after one had penetrated
his method of intuition (Anschauungsweise). Single
lightning flashes often illuminated the dark way, and
the truth which he himself received pre-eminently by
inspiration was communicated to his hearers also in-
tuitively as it were.

I had many opportunities to notice his intercourse
with the princes of Meiningen and Weimar, whom I
had interested in him and his subject, and who often
accompanied me in my visits to him. He was truly
modest, but it was a marked trait of character in him
that he felt his dignity as a man and his own importance
personally as the bearer of an idea. Real appreciation,
however, easily misled him to take for granted the full
recognition of his " divine idea," and, rejoicing in that,
he could undoubtedly appear arrogant and boastful to
those who did not know that he never looked upon the
idea as his own, but regarded himself only as the God-
favored bearer of it ; but the haughtiness of mediocrity
was wholly foreign to him.

Therefore I was often vexed when some of the fre-
quenters of the baths of Liebenstein, whom I took to
see him, allowed themselves to treat him, on account
of the plainness of his external appearance, which was
not unlike that of an old village schoolmaster, in -his
old-fashioned long coat, with his hair parted, and of the
childlike simplicity of his manners, with a degree of
contempt, or indeed as an inferior ! But he was seldom
moved by what concerned himself personally, though
very much so by everything that undervalued or slighted



REMINISCENCES OF FRQEBEL. II

his cause. When in conversation touching his idea, any
learned scholasticism undertook to condemn it without
having arrived at any understanding of it, a violent in-
dignation was kindled in him. When he had taken for
granted a capacity to understand him, and yet met a
motiveless opposition, he could come crashing in, as I
experienced in one case, when he defended the truth of
his views like an enraged lion.




'
CHAPTER II.

FROEBEL IN LIEBENSTEIN.

WOULD that men did not always demand of ge-
niuses who bring the Great and Good into the
world, that with this extraordinary gift they should unite
all human perfections ! This unreasonable requisition
often causes them to be misunderstood and calumniated
when it is discovered that as men they do not always
stand upon the height of their genius. We forget that
the heavenly light hardly ever illuminates to its pos-
sessor anything but the field whereon he is to build,
but cannot penetrate through the whole mind ; and by
the side of the divine inspiration the natural power
stands as yet unpenetrated by the light, which leaves
room also for the unspiritualized powers (damonisches)
and likewise for human weaknesses.

Froebel was no exception to this rule, and not only in
his lifetime, but even now, after his death, has had to
suffer from manifold unjust judgments, among which are



12 REMINISCENCES OF FROEBEL.

those of some of his earlier pupils in Keilhau-(i8i7-
27), who cannot complain enough of what they call the
defects of some of his branches of instruction, without
considering all that stood in the way of bringing his
method immediately into complete working order. / ffhe
new always stands in opposition to established claims,
and has first to clear the ground of what has become ~"
") obsolete before it can be effective, (in the introduction
* of new ideas, their representatives pay no regard to men
and things that oppose them, and therefore often wound
sensibly even those who are dearest)

Froebel often made his friends and relatives suffer
when their views and interests did not harmonize with
what he considered necessary or best for the good of his
idea. But one must in this respect discriminate between
the lack of sound judgment in a matter of human inter-
est, and that in a matter which serves the end of self-
seeking, the latter being the chief motive with the
majority of mortals. This vulgar self-seeking is never
known to the real genius, the genuine bearer of an idea,
for he must offer himself as a sacrifice on the altar of
this idea. Through his whole life Froebel sacrificed
himself and his personal interests, also the interests of
those nearest to him, to the development and propa-
gation of his idea, and knew no other striving. This
should not be forgotten by those who have to complain
of him for some loss of their own.

In Keilhau, Froebel could only make experiments in
order to get necessary data for the working out of this
educational idea. The idea itself was grasped by him
at first only in the germ, and was still unripe, as well as
the means of its accomplishment. In the process of



REMINISCENCES OF FROEBEL. 13

fermentation towards a new form in which Froebel found
himself, he could not, in full measure, fulfil all the duties
of the practical teacher, any more than could Pestalozzi
or others of his predecessors. Therefore some com-
plaints of his pupils as to gaps in their knowledge may
be quite justified, since, moreover, the time for instruction
was much curtailed by the practical labors superadded,
and by excursions in the fields and woods of Keilhau.
Yet, not to be unjust, the gain in respect to the forma-
tion of character and practical ability must be thrown
into the balance. How very much Froebel did influence
the moral culture of his pupils is made public by the
unbounded love and gratitude expressed by the majority
of them at the time of his death. Even on this side it
is to be observed that his peculiar mission did not have
reference to the improvement of instruction, which had
already been turned into the true path by Pestalozzi, but
rather consisted in creating a new foundation for edu-
cation in general, and consequently in working more
indirectly for the reform of instruction. The new truth
concerning the nature of childhood which he brought
out cannot be without influence upon all branches of
education, and here it was that Froebel knew no yielding
whenever the jewel of the truth intrusted to him was
questioned or attacked.

But on the other hand, he would confess ignorance in
the most childlike manner, when the application of his
idea touched points not yet considered by him. He
frequently said, upon such occasions, " I have not yet
considered that side of the subject ; I will see ; it may
be so " : or, " That is new, but it must be right, and we
must work it out," etc. He would even learn from chil-



14 REMINISCENCES OF FROEBEL.

dren, or others, for he was wholly free from that pride
of knowledge which covers so much emptiness. One
day when I visited him, he said, his eyes lighting up,
" To-day is a good day ; much that is new has come to
me ; almost every morning when I wake this comes to
me uncalled for, but to-day it was especially bright and
clear. Yes, this truth is endless, and cannot be ex-
hausted by thought."

/ It was generally extremely difficult to hold him fast to
one train o'f thought, for if a new thought struck him he
/often followed it up without any regard for his particular
'theme, and without any consideration for his hearers.
He was always learning himself as he spoke, and there-
fore the logic of his discourse suffered exceedingly, so
that he gave to many the impression of disorderliness of
thought. Added to this, his peculiar manner of expres-
sion, the doubling and trebling of words in order to
make the matter clear, the often endless interweaving of
sentences, all this made him quite unintelligible to the
ordinary public, and especially to women.

Sometimes at Liebenstein, when I introduced strangers
to him to whom he tried to explain his method without
succeeding according to his wish, he would call on me
with the request to explain this or that, with the words,
" They understand you better."

Now and then the word "confusion," or something
similar, fell from the lips of his hearers, but the great
majority of them were won by the power of the deep
conviction which expressed itself in every word, even
before a real understanding of the subject was possible.



Online LibraryBertha Maria Marenholtz-BülowReminiscences of Friedrich Froebel → online text (page 1 of 26)