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ERIC Number: EJ748888
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Jun
Pages: 25
Abstractor: Author
ISSN: ISSN-0030-9230
Free Play with Froebel: Use and Abuse of Progressive Pedagogy in London's Infant Schools, 1870-c.1904
Read, Jane
Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education, v42 n3 p299-323 Jun 2006
This article explores the process by which different elements of the material culture of educational settings, including learning tools, classroom design and other aspects of the physical environment that embody a particular educational philosophy, become transmuted when taken over by those with very different pedagogical aims. The article focuses on the adaptation of Froebel's kindergarten pedagogy for the Babies' Classes and Infant Schools established by the London School Board from 1870 to 1904 and opens with a brief historiography of infant education in London in this period. The development of infant education in the UK was underpinned by a very different approach to the education of young children from that evident in the Froebelian kindergarten and the article identifies the role played by Samuel Wilderspin in shaping practice in London's Infant Schools and the control exerted by the Education Department through Her Majesty's Inspectorate. Key aspects of Froebel's educational philosophy are described, suggesting how the physical environment, the learning materials (the Gifts and Occupations) and elements of the curriculum embodied his ideas. An account of the reception of Froebel's kindergarten pedagogy in the UK precedes an interrogation of practice in London's Babies' and Infant classes, demonstrating the hiatus between the aims and intentions of Froebel and those of the School Board and central government, which funded the provision of infant education. However, tensions arose between those infant teachers seeking to introduce less rigid methods drawing on Froebel's pedagogy and the Inspectorate. Reference to visual evidence from schools and kindergartens, together with committee minutes and logbooks, is used to support the argument. The changing emphasis in Froebel's writings between free play and creative activity and a more prescriptive, adult-led model of practice provided grounds for differing interpretations of his ideas, exemplified by the revisionist debate within the Froebel movement at the turn of the century, which reveals dissenting voices concerning orthodox practice within the Froebel camp itself. The conclusion suggests that, despite the limitations in the interpretation of his educational philosophy, Froebel's pragmatism may have led him to approve the use of his materials in London's Babies' Classes and Infant Schools.
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Kindergarten
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (London)