The Child Under Eight
E.R. Murray and Henrietta Brown Smith

Part 1 out of 4

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_General Editor_.--Prof. A.A. COCK.



E.R. Murray

Vice-Principal Maria Grey Training College
Author Of "Froebel As A Pioneer In Modern Psychology," Etc.


Henrietta Brown Smith

Lecturer In Education, University Of London, Goldsmiths' College
Editor Of "Education By Life"

"Is it not marvellous that an infant should be the heir of
the whole world, and see those mysteries which the books of
the learned never unfold? I knew by intuition those things
which since my apostasy I collected again by highest




_The following volumes are now ready, and others are in preparation_:--

Education: Its Data and First Principles. By T.P. NUNN, M.A.,
D.Sc., Professor of Education in the University of London.

Moral and Religious Education. By SOPHIE BRYANT, D.Sc., Litt.D.,
late Headmistress, North London Collegiate School for Girls.

The Teaching of Modern Foreign Languages in School and University.
By H.G. ATKINS, Professor of German in King's College, London; and H.L.
HUTTON, Senior Modern Language Master at Merchant Taylors' School.

The Child under Eight. By E.R. MURRAY, Vice-Principal, Maria Grey
Training College, Brondesbury; and HENRIETTA BROWN SMITH, L.L.A.,
Lecturer in Education, Goldsmiths' College, University of London.

The Organisation and Curricula of Schools. By W.G. SLEIGHT, M.A.,
D.Lit, Lecturer at Greystoke Place Training College, London.


The _Modern Educator's Library_ has been designed to give considered
expositions of the best theory and practice in English education of
to-day. It is planned to cover the principal problems of educational
theory in general, of curriculum and organisation, of some unexhausted
aspects of the history of education, and of special branches of applied

The Editor and his colleagues have had in view the needs of young
teachers and of those training to be teachers, but since the school and
the schoolmaster are not the sole factors in the educative process, it
is hoped that educators in general (and which of us is not in some sense
or other an educator?) as well as the professional schoolmaster may find
in the series some help in understanding precept and practice in
education of to-day and to-morrow. For we have borne in mind not only
what is but what ought to be. To exhibit the educator's work as a
vocation requiring the best possible preparation is the spirit in which
these volumes have been written.

No artificial uniformity has been sought or imposed, and while the
Editor is responsible for the series in general, the responsibility for
the opinions expressed in each volume rests solely with its author.




We have made this book between us, but we have not collaborated. We know
that we agree in all essentials, though our experience has differed. We
both desire to see the best conditions for development provided for all
children, irrespective of class. We both look forward to the time when
the conditions of the Public Elementary School, from the Nursery School
up, will be such--in point of numbers, in freedom from pressure, in
situation of building, in space both within and without, and in beauty
of surroundings--that parents of any class will gladly let their
children attend it.

We are teachers and we have dealt mainly with the mental or, as we
prefer to call it, the spiritual requirements of children. It is from
the medical profession that we must all accept facts about food values,
hours of sleep, etc., and the importance of cleanliness and fresh air
are now fully recognised. We do, however, feel that there is room for
fresh discussion of ultimate aims and of daily procedure. Mr. Clutton
Brock has said that the great weakness of English education is the want
of a definite aim to put before our children, the want of a philosophy
for ourselves. Without some understanding of life and its purpose or
meaning, the teacher is at the mercy of every fad and is apt to exalt
method above principle. This book is an attempt to gather together
certain recognised principles, and to show in the light of actual
experience how these may be applied to existing circumstances.

The day is coming when all teachers will seek to understand the true
value of Play, of spontaneous activity in all directions. Its importance
is emphasised in nearly all the educational writings of the day, as well
in the Senior as in the Junior departments of the school, but we need a
full and deep understanding of the saying, "Man is Man only when he
plays." It is easy to say we believe it, but it needs strong faith,
courage, and wide intelligence to weave such belief into the warp of
daily life in school.







IV. FROM 1816 TO 1919
















It is an appropriate time to produce a book on English schools for
little children, now that Nursery Schools have been specially selected
for notice and encouragement by an enlightened Minister for Education.
It was Madame Michaelis, who in 1890 originally and most appropriately
used the term Nursery School as the English equivalent of a title
suggested by Froebel[1] for his new institution, before he invented the
word Kindergarten, a title which, literally translated, ran "Institution
for the Care of Little Children."

[Footnote 1: Froebel's _Letters_, trans. Michaelis and Moore, p. 30.]

In England the word Nursery, which implies the idea of nurture, belongs
properly to children, though it has been borrowed by the gardener for
his young plants. In Germany it was the other way round; Froebel had to
invent the term _child garden_ to express his idea of the nurture, as
opposed to the repression, of the essential nature of the child.
Unfortunately the word Kindergarten while being naturalised in England
had two distinct meanings attached to it. Well-to-do people began to
send their children to a new institution, a child garden or play school.
The children of the people, however, already attended Infant Schools,
of which the chief feature was what Mr. Caldwell Cook calls
"sit-stillery," and here the word Kindergarten, really equivalent to
Nursery School, became identified with certain occupations, childlike in
origin it is true, but formalised out of all recognition. How a real
Kindergarten strikes a child is illustrated by the recent remark from a
little new boy who had been with us for perhaps three mornings. "Shall I
go up to the nursery now?" he asked.

The first attempt at a Kindergarten was made in 1837, and by 1848
Germany possessed sixteen. In that eventful year came the revolution in
Berlin, which created such high hopes, doomed, alas! to disappointment.
"Instead of the rosy dawn of freedom," writes Ebers,[2] himself an old
Keilhau boy, "in the State the exercise of a boundless arbitrary power,
in the Church dark intolerance." It must have been an easy matter to
bring charges of revolutionary doctrines against the man who said so
innocently, "But I,--I only wanted to train up free-thinking,
independent men."

[Footnote 2: Author of _An Egyptian Princess_, etc.]

It was from "stony Berlin," as Froebel calls it, that the edict went
forth in the name of the Minister of Education entirely prohibiting
Kindergartens in Prussia, and the prohibition soon spread. At the
present time it seems to us quite fitting that the bitter attack upon
Kindergartens should have been launched by Folsung, a schoolmaster, "who
began life as an artilleryman." Nor is it less interesting to read that
it was under the protection of Von Moltke himself that Oberlin schools
were opened to counteract the attractions of the "godless" Kindergarten.

Little wonder that the same man who in 1813 had so gladly taken up arms
to resist the invasion of Napoleon, and who had rejoiced with such
enthusiasm in the prospect of a free and united Fatherland, should write
in 1851:

"Wherefore I have made a firm resolve that if the conditions of German
life will not allow room for the development of honest efforts for the
good of humanity; if this indifference to all higher things
continues--then it is my purpose next spring to seek in the land of
union and independence a soil where my idea of education may strike deep

And to America he might have gone had he lived, but he died three months
later, his end hastened by grief at the edict which closed the
Kindergartens. The Prussian Minister announced, in this edict, that "it
is evident that Kindergartens form a part of the Froebelian socialistic
system, the aim of which is to teach the children atheism," and the
suggestion that he was anti-Christian cut the old man to the heart.
There had been some confusion between Froebel and one of his nephews,
who had democratic leanings, and no doubt anything at all democratic did
mean atheism to "stony Berlin" and its intolerant autocracy.

For a time, at least in Bavaria, a curious compromise was allowed. If
the teacher were a member of the Orthodox Church, she might have her
Kindergarten, but if she belonged to one of the Free Churches, it was
permissible to open an Infant School, but she must not use the term

Froebel was by no means of the opinion that, if only the teacher had the
right spirit, the name did not matter. Rather did he hold with
Confucius, whose answer to the question of a disciple, "How shall I
convert the world?" was, "Call things by their right names." He refused
to use the word school, because "little children, especially those under
six, do not need to be schooled and taught, what they need is
opportunity for development." He had great difficulty in selecting a
name. Those originally suggested were somewhat cumbrous, e.g.
_Institution for the Promotion of Spontaneous Activity in Children_;
another was _Self-Teaching Institution_, and there was also the one
which Madame Michaelis translated "_Nursery School for Little

But the name Kindergarten expressed just what he Wanted: "As in a
garden, under God's favour, and by the care of a skilled intelligent
gardener, growing plants are cultivated in accordance with Nature's
laws, so here in our child garden shall the noblest of all growing
things, men (that is, children), be cultivated in accordance with the
laws of their own being, of God and of Nature."

To one of his students he writes: "You remember well enough how hard we
worked and how we had to fight that we might elevate the Darmstadt
creche, or rather Infant School, by improved methods and organisation
until it became a true Kindergarten.... Now what was the outcome of all
this, even during my own stay at Darmstadt? Why, the fetters which
always cripple a creche or an Infant School, and which seem to cling
round its very name--these fetters were allowed to remain unbroken.
Every one was pleased with so faithful a mistress as yourself,... yet
they withheld from you the main condition of unimpeded development, that
of the freedom necessary to every young healthy and vigorous plant....
Is there really such importance underlying the mere name of a
system?--some one might ask. Yes, there is.... It is true that any one
watching your teaching would observe _a new spirit_ infused into it,
_expressing and fulfilling the child's own wants and desires._ You would
strike him as personally capable, but you would fail to strike him as
priestess of the idea which God has now called to life within man's
bosom, and of the struggle towards the realisation of that
idea--_education by development--the destined means of raising the whole
human race...._ No man can acquire fresh knowledge, even at a school,
beyond the measure which his own stage of development fits him to
receive.... Infant Schools are nothing but a contradiction of
child-nature. Little children especially those under school age, ought
not to be schooled and taught, what they need is opportunity for
development. This idea lies in the very name of a Kindergarten.... And
the name is absolutely necessary to describe the first education of

For an actual definition of what Froebel meant by his Nursery School for
Little Children or Kindergarten, it is only fair to go to the founder
himself. He has left us two definitions or descriptions, one announced
shortly before the first Kindergarten was opened, which runs:

"An institution for the fostering of human life, through the cultivation
of the human instincts of activity, of investigation and of construction
in the child, as a member of the family, of the nation and of humanity;
an institution for the self-instruction, self-education and
self-cultivation of mankind, as well as for all-sided development of the
individual through play, through creative self-activity and spontaneous

A second definition is given in Froebel's reply to a proposal that he
should establish "my system of education--education by development"--in
London, Paris or the United States:

"We also need establishments for training quite young children in their
first stage of educational development, where their training and
instruction shall be based upon their own free action or spontaneity
acting under proper rules, these rules not being arbitrarily decreed,
but such as must arise by logical necessity from the child's mental and
bodily nature, regarding him as a member of the great human family; such
rules as are, in fact, discovered by the actual observation of children
when associated together in companies. These establishments bear the
name of Kindergartens."

Unfortunately there are but few pictures of Froebel's own Kindergarten,
but there seems to have been little formality in its earliest
development. An oft-told story is that of Madame von Marenholz in 1847
going to watch the proceedings of "an old fool," as the villagers called
him, who played games with the village children. A less well-known
account is given by Col. von Arnswald, again a Keilhau boy, who visited
Blankenberg in 1839, when Froebel had just opened his first

"Arriving at the place, I found my Middendorf[3] seated by the pump in
the market-place, surrounded by a crowd of little children. Going near
them I saw that he was engaged in mending the jacket of a boy. By his
side sat a little girl busy with thread and needle upon another piece of
clothing; one boy had his feet in a bucket of water washing them
carefully; other girls and boys were standing round attentively looking
upon the strange pictures of real life before them, and waiting for
something to turn up to interest them personally. Our meeting was of the
most cordial kind, but Middendorf did not interrupt the business in
which he was engaged. 'Come, children,' he cried, 'let us go into the
garden!' and with loud cries of joy the little folk with willing feet
followed the splendid-looking, tall man, running all round him.

[Footnote 3: One of Froebel's most devoted helpers.]

"The garden was not a garden, however, but a barn, with a small room and
an entrance hall. In the entrance Middendorf welcomed the children and
played a round game with them, ending with the flight of the little ones
into the room, where each of them sat down in his place on the bench and
took his box of building blocks. For half an hour they were all busy
with their blocks, and then came 'Come, children, let us play "spring
and spring."' And when the game was finished they went away full of joy
and life, every one giving his little hand for a grateful good-bye."

Here in this earliest of Free Kindergartens are certain essentials.
Washing and mending, the alternation of constructive play with active
exercise, rhythmic game and song, and last but not least human
kindliness and courtesy. The shelter was but a barn, but there are
things more important than premises.

Froebel died too soon to see his ideals realised, but he had sown the
seed in the heart of at least one woman with brain to grasp and will to
execute. As early as 1873 the Froebelians had established something more
than the equivalent of the Montessori Children's Houses under the name
of Free Kindergartens or People's Kindergartens. It will bring this out
more clearly if, without referring here to any modern experiments in
America, in England and Scotland, or in the Dominions, we quote the
description of an actual People's Kindergarten or Nursery School as it
was established nearly fifty years ago.

The moving spirit of this institution was Henrietta Schroder, Froebel's
own grand-niece, trained by him, and of whom he said that she, more than
any other, had most truly understood his views.

The whole institution was called the Pestalozzi-Froebel House. The
Prussian edict, which abolished the Kindergarten almost before it had
started, was now rescinded, and our own Princess Royal[4] gave warm
support to this new institution. The description here quoted was
actually written in 1887, when the institution had been in existence for
fourteen years:

[Footnote 4: The Crown Princess of Prussia, afterwards the Empress

"The purpose of the National Kindergarten is to provide the necessary
and natural help which poor mothers require, who have to leave their
children to themselves.

"The establishment contains:--

"(1) The Kindergarten proper, a National Kindergarten with four classes
for children from 2-1/2 to 6 years old.

"(2) The Transition Class, only held in the morning for children about 6
or 6-1/2 years old.

"(3) The Preparatory School, for children from 6 to 7 or 7-1/2 years

"(4) The School of Handwork, for children from 6 to 10 or older.

"Dinners are provided for those children whose parents work all day away
from home at a trifling charge of a halfpenny and a penny. Also, for a
trifle, poor children may receive assistance of various kinds in
illness, or may have milk or baths through the kindness of the kindred
'Association for the Promotion of Health in the Household.'

"In the institution we are describing there is a complete and
well-furnished kitchen, a bathroom, a courtyard with sand for digging,
with pebbles and pine-cones, moss, shells and straw, etc., a garden, and
a series of rooms and halls suitably furnished and arranged for games,
occupations, handwork and instruction.

"The occupations pursued in the Kindergarten are the following: free
play of a child by itself; free play of several children by themselves;
associated play under the guidance of a teacher; gymnastic exercises;
several sorts of handwork suited to little children; going for walks;
learning music, both instrumental (on the method of Madame Wiseneder[5])
and vocal; learning and repetition of poetry; story-telling; looking at
really good pictures; aiding in domestic occupations; gardening; and the
usual systematic ordered occupations of Froebel. Madame Schrader is
steadfastly opposed to that conception of the Kindergarten which insists
upon mathematically shaped materials for the Froebelian occupations. Her
own words are: 'The children find in our institution every encouragement
to develop their capabilities and powers by use; not by their selfish
use to their own personal advantage, but by their use in the loving
service of others. The longing to help people and to accomplish little
pieces of work proportioned to their feeble powers is constant in
children; and lies alongside of their need for that free and
unrestrained play which is the business of their life."

[Footnote 5: From certain old photographs, I suppose this to have been
what we now call a Kindergarten Band.]

"The elder children are expected to employ themselves in cleaning,
taking care of, arranging, keeping in order, and using the many various
things belonging to the housekeeping department of the Kindergarten; for
example, they set out and clear away the materials required for the
games and handicrafts; they help in cleaning the rooms, furniture and
utensils; they keep all things in order and cleanliness; they paste
together torn wallpapers or pictures, they cover books, and they help in
the cooking and in preparations for it; in laying the tables, in washing
up the plates and dishes, etc. The children gain in this manner the
simple but most important foundations of their later duties as
housekeepers and householders, and at the same time learn to regard
these duties as things done in the service of others."

It is worth while to notice the order in which the necessities of this
place are described. First comes a kitchen and next a bathroom, then an
out-of-doors playground with abundant material for gaining ideas through
action--sand, pebbles, pine-cones, moss, shells and straw. Then comes
the garden, and only after all these, the rooms and halls for indoors
games, handwork and instruction. It is worth while also to note the
prominence given to play, music, poetry and story-telling pictures,
domestic occupations and gardening, all preceding the "systematic and
ordered occupations" which to some have seemed so all-important.

If we compare this with the current ideas about Nursery Schools, we do
not find that it falls much below the present ideal. There has been a
time when some of us feared that only the bodily needs of the little
child were to be considered, but the "Regulations for Nursery Schools"
have banished such fear. In these the child is regarded as a human
being, with spiritual as well as bodily requirements.

To put it shortly, the physical requirements of a child are food, fresh
air and exercise, cleanliness and rest. It is not so easy to sum up the
requirements of a human soul. The first is sympathy, and though this may
spring from parental instinct, it should be nourished by true
understanding. Next perhaps comes the need for material, material for
investigation, for admiration, for imitation and for construction or
creation. Power of sense-discrimination is important enough, but in this
case if we take care of the pounds of admiration and investigation, the
pence of sense-discrimination will take care of themselves.

Besides these the child has the essentially human need for social
intercourse, for speech, for games, for songs and stories, for pictures
and poetry. He must have opportunity both to imitate and to share in the
work and life around him; he must be an individual among other
individuals, a necessary part of a whole, allowed to give as well as to
receive service. In the National Kindergarten of 1873 no one of these
requirements is overlooked except the provision for sleep, and from old
photographs we know that this, too, was considered.

Nursery Schools are needed for children of all classes. It is not only
the children of the poor who require sympathy and guidance from those
specially qualified by real grasp of the facts of child-development.
Well-to-do mothers, too, often leave their children to ignorant and
untrained servants, or to the equally untrained and hardly less ignorant
nursery governess.

Mothers in small houses have much to do; making beds and washing dishes,
sweeping and dusting, baking and cooking, making and mending, not to
mention tending an infant or tending the sick, leave little leisure for
sympathy with the adventuring and investigating propensities natural
and desirable in a healthy child between three and five. There are
innumerable Kindergartens open only in the morning for the children of
those who can afford to pay, and these could well be multiplied and
assisted just as far as is necessary. In towns, at least, mothers with
but small incomes would gladly pay a moderate fee to have their little
ones, especially their sturdy little boys, guarded from danger and
trained to good habits, yet allowed freedom for happy activity.

Kindergartens and Nursery Schools ought to be as much as possible
fresh-air schools. They should never be large or the home atmosphere
must disappear. They should always have grassy spaces and common
flowers, and they ought to be within easy reach of the children's homes.

There must for the present be certain differences between the Free
Kindergarten or Nursery School for the poor and for those whose parents
are fairly well-to-do. In both cases we must supply what the children
need. If the mother must go out to work, the child requires a home for
the day, and the Nursery School must make arrangements for feeding the
children. All little children are the better for rest and if possible
for sleep during the day; but for those who live in overcrowded rooms,
where quiet and restful sleep in good air is impossible, the need for
daily sleep is very great. All Free Kindergartens arrange for this.

Most important also is the training to cleanliness. This is not
invariably the lot even of those who come from apparently comfortable
homes to attend fee-paying Kindergartens, and among the poor,
differences in respect of cleanliness are very great. But soap and hot
water do cost money and washing takes time, and the modern habit of
brushing teeth has not yet been acquired by all classes of the
community. The Free Kindergartens provide for necessary washing, each
child is provided with its own tooth-brush; and tooth-brush drill is a
daily practice, somewhat amusing to witness. The best baby rooms in our
Infant Schools carry out the same practices, and these are likely to be
turned into Nursery Schools.

It cannot yet be accepted as conclusively proved that a completely
open-air life is the best in our climate. We have not yet sufficient
statistics. No doubt children do improve enormously in open-air camps,
but so they do in ordinary Nursery Schools, where they are clean, happy
and well fed, and where they live a regular life with daily sleep.
Housing conditions complicate the problem, and all children must suffer
who sleep in crowded, noisy, unventilated rooms.

Up to the present time Nursery Schools have been provided by voluntary
effort entirely, and far too little encouragement has been given to
those enlightened headmistresses of Infant Schools who have tried to
give to their lowest classes Nursery School conditions. Since the
passing of Mr. Fisher's Education Bill, however, we are entitled to hope
that soon, for all children in the land, there may be the opportunity of
a fair start under the care of "a person with breadth of outlook and
imagination," the equivalent of Froebel's "skilled intelligent

In the following chapter an attempt is made to explain how it is that so
many years ago Froebel reached his vision of what a child is, and of
what a child needs, and the considerations on which he based his
"Nursery School for Little Children" or "Self-Teaching Institution."



Progress, man's distinctive mark alone,
Not God's, and not the beasts': God is, they are,
Man partly is and wholly hopes to be.

"A large bright room, ... a sandheap in one corner, a low tub or bath of
water in another, a rope ladder, a swing, steps to run up and down and
such like, a line of black or green board low down round the wall,
little rough carts and trolleys, boxes which can be turned into houses,
or shops, or pretence ships, etc., a cooking stove of a very simple
nature, dolls of all kinds, wooden animals, growing plants in boxes, an

Any Froebelian would recognise this as the description of a more or less
ideal Kindergarten or Nursery School, and yet the writer had probably
never read a page that Froebel wrote. On the contrary, she shows her
entire ignorance of the real Kindergarten by calling it "pretty
employments devised by adults and imposed at set times by authority."

The description is taken from a very able address on "Child Nature and
Education" delivered some years ago by Miss Hoskyns Abrahall. It is
quoted here, because, for her conception of right surroundings for young
children, the speaker has gone to the very source from which Froebel
took his ideas--she has gone to what Froebel indeed called "the only
true source, life itself," and she writes from the point of view of the

There exists at present, in certain quarters, a belief that the
Kindergarten is old-fashioned, out of date, more especially that it has
no scientific basis. It is partly on this account that the ideas of Dr.
Maria Montessori, who has approached the question of the education of
young children from the point of view of medical science, have been
warmly welcomed by so large a circle. But neither in England nor in
America does that circle include the Froebelians, and this for several
reasons. For one thing, much that the general public has accepted as
new--and in this general public must be included weighty names, men of
science, educational authorities, and others who have never troubled to
inquire into the meaning of the Kindergarten--are already matters of
everyday life to the Froebelian. Among these comes the idea of training
to service for the community, and the provision of suitable furniture,
little chairs and tables, which the children can move about, and low
cupboards for materials, all of which tend to independence and

It is a more serious stumbling-block to the Froebelian that Dr.
Montessori, while advocating freedom in words, has really set strict
limits to the natural activities of children by laying so much stress on
her "didactic apparatus," the intention of which is formal training in
sense-discrimination. This material, which is an adaptation and
enlargement of that provided by Seguin for his mentally deficient
children, is certainly open to the reproach of having been "devised by
adults." It is formal, and the child is not permitted to use it for his
own purposes.

Before everything else, however, comes the fact that in no place has Dr.
Montessori shown that she has made any study of play, or that she
attaches special importance to the play activities, or natural
activities of childhood, on which the Kindergarten is founded. This is
probably accounted for in that her first observations were made on
deficient children who are notably wanting in initiative.

Among these "play activities" we should include the child's perpetual
imitation or pretence, a matter which Dr. Montessori entirely fails to
understand, as shown in her more recent book, where she treats of
imagination. Here she maintains that only the children of the
comparatively poor ride upon their fathers' walking-sticks or construct
coaches of chairs, that this "is not a proof of imagination but of an
unsatisfied desire," and that rich children who own ponies and who drive
out in motor-cars "would be astonished to see the delight of children
who imagine themselves to be drawn along by stationary armchairs."
Imitative play has, of course, nothing to do with poverty or riches, but
is, as Froebel said long since, the outcome of an initiative impulse,
sadly wanting in deficient children, an impulse which prompts the child
of all lands, of all time and of all classes to imitate or dramatise,
and so to gain some understanding of everything and of every person he
sees around.

The work of Dr. Montessori has helped enormously in the movement, begun
long since, for greater freedom in our Infant Schools; freedom, not from
judicious guidance and authority, but from rigid time-tables and formal
lessons, and from arbitrary restrictions, as well as freedom for the
individual as apart from the class. The best Kindergartens and Infant
Schools had already discarded time-tables, and Kindergarten classes have
always been small enough to give the individual a fair chance. Froebel
himself constantly urged that the child should become familiar with "both
the strongly opposed elements of his life, the individual determining
and directing side, and the general ordered and subordinated side." He
urged the early development of the social consciousness as well as
insisting on expansion of individuality, but it is always difficult to
combine the two, and most Kindergarten teachers will benefit by learning
from Dr. Montessori to apply the method of individual learning to a
greater extent.

We are, however, fully prepared to maintain that Froebel; even in 1840,
had a wider and a deeper realisation of the needs of the child than has
as yet been attained by the Dottoressa.[6] In order to make this clear,
it is proposed to compare the theories of Froebel with the conclusions
of a biologist. For biology has a wider and a saner outlook than medical
science; it does not start from the abnormal, but with life under normal

[Footnote 6: Her latest publication regarding the instruction--for it is
not education--of older children makes this even more plain. For here is
no discussion of what children at this stage require, but a mere plunge
into "subjects" in which formal grammar takes a foremost place.]

In the address, from which the opening words of this chapter are quoted,
it is suggested that a capable biologist be set to deal with education,
but he is to be freed "from all preconceived ideas derived from accepted
tradition." After such fundamentals as food and warmth, light, air and
sleep, the first problems considered by this Biologist Educator are
stages of growth, their appropriate activities, and the stimuli
necessary to evoke them. Always he bears in mind that "interference with
a growing creature is a hazardous business," and takes as his motto
"When in doubt, refrain."

To discover the natural activities of the child, the biologist relies
upon, first, observation of the child himself, secondly, upon his
knowledge of the nervous system, and thirdly, upon his knowledge of the
past history of the race. From these he comes to a very pertinent
conclusion, viz. "The general outcome of this is that the safe way of
educating children is by means of Play," play being defined as "the
natural manifestation of the child's activities; systematic in that it
follows the lines of physiological development, but without the hard
and fast routine of the time-table."[7]

[Footnote 7: It is in this connection that the Kindergarten is
stigmatised as "pretty employments devised by adults and imposed at set
times by authority," an opinion evidently gained from the way in which
the term has been misused in a type of Infant School now fast

It is easy to show that although Froebel was pre-Darwinian, he had been
in close touch with scientists who were working at theories of
development, and that he was largely influenced by Krause, who applied
the idea of organic development to all departments of social science. It
was because Froebel was himself, even in 1826, the Biologist Educator
desiring to break with preconceived ideas and traditions that he wished
one of his pupils had been able to "call your work by its proper name,
and so make evident the real nature of the new spirit you have

[Footnote 8: See p. 4.]

But Froebel was more than a biologist, he was a philosopher and an
idealist. Such words have sometimes been used as terms of reproach, but
wisdom can only be justified of her children.

At the back of all Froebel has to say about "The Education of the Human
Being" lies his conception of what the human being is. And it is
impossible fully to understand why Froebel laid so much stress on
spontaneous play unless we go deeper than the province of the biologist
without in the least minimising the importance of biological knowledge
to educational theory. As the biologist defines play as "the natural
manifestation of the child's activities," so Froedel says "play at first
is just natural life." But to him the true inwardness of spontaneous
play lies in the fact that it is spontaneous--so far as anything in the
universe can be spontaneous. For spontaneous response to environment is
self-expression, and out of self-expression comes selfhood,
consciousness of self. If we are to understand Froebel at all, we must
begin with the answer he found, or accepted, from Krause and others for
his first question, What is that self?

Before reaching the question of how to educate, it seemed to him
necessary to consider not only the purpose or aim of education, but the
purpose or aim of human existence, the purpose of all and any existence,
even whether there is any purpose in anything; and that brings us to
what he calls "the groundwork of all," of which a summary is given in
the following paragraphs.

In the universe we can perceive plan, purpose or law, and behind this
there must be some great Mind, "a living, all-pervading, energising,
self-conscious and hence eternal Unity" whom we call God. Nature and all
existing things are a revelation of God.

As Bergson speaks of the _elan vital_ which expresses itself from
infinity to infinity, so Froebel says that behind everything there is
force, and that we cannot conceive of force without matter on which it
can exercise itself. Neither can we think of matter without any force to
work upon it, so that "force and matter mutually condition one another,"
we cannot think one without the other.

This force expresses itself in all ways, the whole universe is the
expression of the Divine, but "man is the highest and most perfect
earthly being in whom the primordial force is spiritualised so that man
feels, understands and knows his own power." Conscious development of
one's own power is the triumph of spirit over matter, therefore human
development is spiritual development. So while man is the most perfect
earthly being, yet, with regard to spiritual development he has returned
to a first stage and "must raise himself through ascending degrees of
consciousness" to heights as yet unknown, "for who has measured the
limits of God-born mankind?"

Self-consciousness is the special characteristic of man. No other animal
has the power to become conscious of himself because man alone has the
chance of failure. The lower animals have definite instincts and cannot
fail, _i.e._ cannot learn.[9] Man wants to do much, but his instincts
are less definite and most actions have to be learned; it is by striving
and failing that he learns to know not only his limitations but the
power that is within him--his self.

[Footnote 9: This would nowadays be considered too sweeping an

According to Froebel, "the aim of education is the steady progressive
development of mankind, there is and can be no other"; and, except as
regards physiological knowledge inaccessible in his day, he is at one
with the biologist as to how we are to find out the course of this
development. First, by looking into our own past; secondly, by the
observation of children as individuals as well as when associated
together, and by comparison of the results of observation; thirdly, by
comparison of these with race history and race development.

Froebel makes much of observation of children. He writes to a cousin
begging her to "record in writing the most important facts about each
separate child," and adds that it seems to him "most necessary for the
comprehension of child-nature that such observations should be made
public,... of the greatest importance that we should interchange the
observations we make so that little by little we may come to know the
grounds and conditions of what we observe, that we may formulate their
laws." He protests that even in his day "the observation, development
and guidance of children in the first years of life up to the proper age
of school" is not up to the existing level of "the stage of human
knowledge or the advance of science and art"; and he states that it is
"an essential part" of his undertaking "to call into life _an
institution for the preparation of teachers trained for the care of
children through observation of their life_."

In speaking of the stages of development of the individual, Froebel
says that "there is no order of importance in the stages of human
development except the order of succession, in which the earlier is
always the more important," and from that point of view we ought "to
consider childhood as the most important stage, ... a stage in the
development of the Godlike in the earthly and human." He also emphasises
that "the vigorous and complete development and cultivation of each
successive stage depends on the vigorous, complete and characteristic
development of each and all preceding stages."

So the duty of the parent is to "look as deeply as possible into the
life of the child to see what he requires for his present stage of
development," and then to "scrutinise the environment to see what it
offers ... to utilise all possibilities of meeting normal needs," to
remove what is hurtful, or at least to "admit its defects" if they
cannot give the child what his nature requires. "If parents offer what
the child does not need," he says, "they will destroy the child's faith
in their sympathetic understanding." The educator is to "bring the child
into relations and surroundings in all respects adapted to him" but
affording a minimum of opportunity of injury, "guarding and protecting"
but not interfering, unless he is certain that healthy development has
already been interrupted. It is somewhat remarkable that Froebel
anticipated even the conclusions of modern psycho-analysis in his views
about childish faults. "The sources of these," he says, are "neglect to
develop certain sides of human life and, secondly, early distortion of
originally good human powers by arbitrary interference with the orderly
course of human development ... a suppressed or perverted good
quality--a good tendency, only repressed, misunderstood or
misguided--lies at the bottom of every shortcoming." Hence the only
remedy even for wickedness is to find and foster, build up and guide
what has been repressed. It may be necessary to interfere and even to
use severity, but only when the educator is sure of unhealthy growth.
The motto of the biologist on the subject of interference--"When in
doubt, refrain"--exactly expresses Froebel's doctrine of "passive or
following" education, following, that is, the nature of the child, and
"passive" as opposed to arbitrary interference.

Free from this, the child will follow his natural impulses, which are to
be trusted as much as those of any other young animal; in other words,
he will play, he will manifest his natural activities. "The young human
being--still, as it were, in process of creation--would seek, though
unconsciously yet decidedly and surely, as a product of nature that
which is in itself best, and in a form adapted to his condition, his
disposition, his powers and his means. Thus the duckling hastens to the
pond and into the water, while the chicken scratches the ground and the
young swallow catches its food upon the wing. We grant space and time to
young plants and animals because we know that, in accordance with the
laws that live in them, they will develop properly and grow well;
arbitrary interference with their growth is avoided because it would
hinder their development; but the young human being is looked upon as a
piece of wax, a lump of clay, which man can mould into what he pleases.
O man, who roamest through garden and field, through meadow and grove,
why dost thou close thy mind to the silent teaching of nature? Behold
the weed; grown among hindrances and constraint, how it scarcely yields
an indication of inner law; behold it in nature, in field or garden, how
perfectly it conforms to law--a beautiful sun, a radiant star, it has
burst from the earth! Thus, O parents, could your children, on whom you
force in tender years forms and aims against their nature, and who,
therefore, walk with you in morbid and unnatural deformity--thus could
your children, too, unfold in beauty and develop in harmony."

At first play is activity for the sake of activity, not for the sake of
results, "of which the child has as yet no idea." Very soon, however,
having man's special capacity of learning through experience, the child
does gather ideas. By this time he has passed through the stage of
infancy, and now his play becomes to the philosopher the highest stage
of human development at this stage, because now it is self-expression.

When Froebel wrote in 1826, there had been but little thought expended
on the subject of play, and probably none on human instincts, which were
supposed to be nonexistent. The hope he expressed that some philosopher
would take up these subjects has now been fulfilled, and we ought now to
turn to what has been said on a subject all-important to those who
desire to help in the education of young children.



Play, which is the business of their lives.

There may be nothing new under the sun, but it does seem to be a fair
claim to make for Froebel that no one before or since his time has more
fully realised the value to humanity of what in childhood goes by the
name of play. Froebel had distinct theories about play, and he put his
theories into actual practice, not only when he founded the
Kindergarten, but in his original school for older children at Keilhau.

Before going into its full meaning, it may be well first to meet the
most common misconception about play. It is not surprising that those
who have given the subject no special consideration should regard play
from the ordinary adult standpoint, and think of it as entirely opposed
to work, as relaxation of effort. But the play of a child covers so much
that it is startling to find a real psychologist writing that "education
through play" is "a pernicious proposition."[10] Statements of this kind
spring from the mistaken idea, certainly not derived from observation,
that play involves no effort, that it runs in the line of least
resistance, and that education through play means therefore education
without effort, without training in self-control, education without
moral training. The case for the Kindergarten is the opposite of this.
Education through play is advocated just because of the effort it calls
forth, just because of the way in which the child, and later the boy or
girl, throws his whole energy into it. What Froebel admired, what he
called "the most beautiful expression of childlife," was "the child that
plays thoroughly, with spontaneous determination, perseveringly, until
physical fatigue forbids--a child wholly absorbed in his play--a child
that has fallen asleep while so absorbed." That child, he said, would be
"a thorough determined man, capable of self-sacrifice for the promotion
of the welfare of himself and others." It is because "play is not
trivial, but highly serious and of deep significance," that he appeals
to mothers to cultivate and foster it, and to fathers to protect and
guard it.

[Footnote 10: _The Educative Process_, p. 255 (Bagley).]

The Kindergarten position can be summed up in a sentence from Dr.
Clouston's _Hygiene of Mind_: "Play is the real work of children."
Froebel calls activity of sense and limb "the first germ," and
"play-building and modelling the tender blossoms of the constructive
impulse"; and this, he says, is "the moment when man is to be prepared
for future industry, diligence and productive activity." He points out,
too, the importance of noticing the habits which come from spontaneous
self-employment, which may be habits of indolent ease if the child is
not allowed to be as active as his nature requires.

There were no theories of play in Froebel's day, but he had certainly
read _Levana_, and in all probability he knew what Schiller had said in
his _Letters on Aesthetic Education_. The play theories are now too well
known to require more than a brief recapitulation.

It will generally be allowed that the distinctive feature of play as
opposed to work is that of spontaneity. The action itself is of no
consequence, one man's play is another man's work. Nor does it seem to
matter whence comes the feeling of compulsion in work, whether from
pressure of outer necessity, or from an inner necessity like the
compelling force of duty. Where there is joy in creation or in discovery
the work and play of the genius approach the standpoint of the child,

Indulging every instinct of the soul,
There, where law, life, joy, impulse are one thing.

In the play of early childhood there may be freedom, not only from adult
authority, but even from the restrictions of nature or of circumstances
since "let's pretend" annihilates time and space and all material

Among theories of play first comes what is known as the Schiller-Spencer
theory, in which play is attributed to the accumulation of surplus
energy. When the human being has more energy than he requires in order
to supply the bodily needs of himself and his family, then he feels
impelled to use it. As the activities of his daily life are the only
ones known to him, he fights his battles over again, he simulates the
serious business of life, and transfers, for instance, the incidents of
the chase into a dance. In this Way he reaches artistic creation, so
that "play is the first poetry of the human being."

As an opposite of this we get a Re-creation theory, where play, if not
too strenuous, understood as a change of occupation, rests and

Another theory is that of recapitulation, which has been emphasised by
Stanley Hall, according to which children play hunting and chasing
games, or find a fascination in making tents, because they are passing
through that stage of development in which their primitive ancestors
lived by hunting or dwelt in tents.

Lastly, a most interesting theory is that which is associated with the
name of Groos, and which is best expressed in the sentence: "Animals do
not play because they are young, but they have their youth because they
must play," play being regarded as the preparation for future life
activities. The kitten therefore practises chasing a cork, the puppy
worries boots and gloves, the kid practises jumping, and so on.

A full account of play will probably embrace all these theories, and
though they were not formulated in his day, Froebel overlooked none,
though he may have laid special stress on the preparation side. Yet
another value of play emphasised by Professor Royce, viz. its enormous
importance from the point of view of mental initiative, is strongly
urged by Froebel. Professor Royce argues that "in the mere persistence
of the playful child one has a factor whose value for mental initiative
it is hard to overestimate." Without this "passionately persistent
repetition," and without also the constant varying of apparently useless
activities, the organism, says Professor Royce, "would remain the prey
of the environment."

To Froebel, as we have seen, the human being is the climax of animal
evolution and the starting-point of psychical development. The lower
animal, he maintained, as all will now agree, is hindered by his
definite instincts, but the instincts or instinctive tendencies of the
human being are so undefined that there is room for spontaneity, for new
forms of conduct.

Professor Royce says that "a general view of the place which beings with
minds occupy in the physical world strongly suggests that their
organisms may especially have significance as places for the initiation
of more or less novel types of activity." And to Froebel the chief
significance of play lies in this spontaneity.

"Play is the highest phase of human development at this stage, because
it is spontaneous expression of what is within produced by an inner
necessity and impulse. Play is the most characteristic, most spiritual
manifestation of man at this stage, and, at the same time, is typical
of human life as a whole."

These various theories seem to reinforce rather than to contradict each
other, and it is more important to avoid running any to an extreme than
to differentiate between them. In the case of recapitulation, we must
certainly bear in mind Froebel's warning that the child "should be
treated as having in himself the present, past and future." So, as Dr.
Drummond says: "If we feel constrained to present him with a tent
because Abraham lived in one, he no doubt enters into the spirit of the
thing and accepts it joyfully. But he also annexes the ball of string
and the coffee canister to fit up telephonic communication with the
nursery." He may play robbers and hide and seek because he has reached a
"hunting and capture" stage, but the physiologist points out that
violent exercise is a necessity for his circulation and nutrition, and
to practise swift flight to safety is useful even in modern times.[11]
Gardening may take us back to an agricultural stage, but digging is most
useful as a muscular exercise, and "watering" is scientific experiment
and adds to the feeling of power, while the flowers themselves appeal to
the aesthetic side of the sense-play, which is not limited to any age,
though conspicuous so soon.

[Footnote 11: An up-to-date riddle asks the difference between the quick
and the dead, and answers, "The quick are those who get out of the way
of a motor-bus and the dead are those who do not."]

Froebel recognised many kinds of play. He realised that much of the play
of boyhood is exercise of physical power, and that it must be of a
competitive nature because the boy wants to measure his power. Even in
1826 he urges the importance not only of town playgrounds but of play
leaders, that the play may be full of life. Among games for boys he
noted some still involving sense-play, as hiding games, colour games and
shooting at a mark, which need quick hearing and sight, intellectual
plays exercising thought and judgement, _e.g._ draughts and dramatic
games. One form of play which seemed to him most important was
constructive play, where there is expression of ideas as well as
expression of power. This side of play covers a great deal, and will be
dealt with later; its importance in Froebel's eyes lies in the fact that
through construction, however simple, the child gains knowledge of his
own power and learns "to master himself." Froebel wanted particularly to
deepen this feeling of power, and says that the little one who has
already made some experiments takes pleasure in the use of sand and
clay, "impelled by the previously acquired sense of power he seeks to
master the material."

In order to gain real knowledge of himself, of his power, a child needs
to compare his power with that of others. This is one reason for the
child's ready imitation of all he sees done by others. Another reason
for this is that only through real experience or action can a child gain
the ideas which he will express later, therefore he must reproduce all
he sees or hears.

"In the family the child sees parents and others at work, producing,
doing something; consequently he, at this stage, would like to represent
what he sees. Be cautious, parents. You can at one blow destroy, at
least for a long time, the impulse to activity and to formation if you
repel their help as childish, useless or even as a hindrance....
Strengthen and develop this instinct; give to your child the highest he
now needs, let him add his power to your work, that he may gain the
consciousness of his power and also learn to appreciate its

As the child's sense of power and his self-consciousness deepen he
requires possessions of his "very own." Says Froebel: "The feeling of
his own power implies and demands also the possession of his own space
and his own material belonging exclusively to him. Be his realm, his
province, a corner of the house or courtyard, be it the space of a box
or of a closet, be it a grotto, a hut or a garden, the boy at this age
needs an external point, chosen and prepared by himself, to which he
refers all his activity."

As ideas widen the child's purposes enlarge, and he finds the need for
that co-operation which binds human beings together. And so by play
enjoyed in common, the feeling of community which is present in the
little child is raised to recognition of the rights of others; not only
is a sense of justice developed, but also forbearance, consideration and

"When the room to be filled is extensive, when the realm to be
controlled is large, when the whole to be produced is complex, then
brotherly union of similar-minded persons is in place." And we are
invited to enter an "education room," where boys of seven to ten are
using building blocks, sand, sawdust and green moss brought in from the
forest. "Each one has finished his work and he examines it and that of
others, and in each rises the desire to unite all in one whole," so
roads are made from the village of one boy to the castle of another: the
boy who has made a cardboard house unites with another who has made
miniature ships from nut-shells, the house as a castle crowns the hill,
and the ships float in the lake below, while the youngest brings his
shepherd and sheep to graze between the mountain and the lake, and all
stand and behold with pleasure and satisfaction the result of their

The educative value of such play has been brought forward in modern
times in _Floor Games_ by Mr. Wells, _Magic Cities_ by Mrs. Nesbit, and
notably in Mr. Caldwell Cook's Play City in _The Play Way_.

Joining together for a common purpose does not only belong to younger
boys. "What busy tumult among those older boys at the brook! They have
built canals, sluices, bridges, etc.... at each step one trespasses on
the limits of another realm. Each one claims his right as lord and
maker, while he recognises the claims of others, and like States, they
bind themselves by strict treaties."

"Every town should have its own common playground for the boys. Glorious
results would come from this for the entire community. For, at this
period, games, whenever possible, are in common, and develop the feeling
and desire for community, and the laws and requirements of community.
The boy tries to see himself in his companions, to weigh and measure
himself by them, to know and find himself by their help."

"It is the sense of sure and reliable power, the sense of its increase,
both as an individual and as a member of the group, that fills the boy
with joy during these games.... Justice, self-control, loyalty,
impartiality, who could fail to catch their fragrance and that of still
more delicate blossoms, forbearance, consideration, sympathy and
encouragement for the weaker.... Thus the games educate the boy for
life and awaken and cultivate many social and moral virtues."

In England we have always had respect for boys' games and more and more,
especially in America, people are realising the need for play places and
play leaders. But all this was written in 1826, when for ten years
Froebel had been experimenting with boys of all ages. At Keilhau play of
all kinds had an honoured place. We read of excursions for all kinds of
purposes, of Indian games out of Fenimore Cooper, and of "Homeric
battles." It was "part of Froebel's plan to have us work with spade and
pick-axe," and every boy had his own piece of ground where he might do
what he pleased. Ebers, being literary, constructed in his plot a bed of
heather on which he lay and read or made verses. The boys built their
own stage, painted their own scenery, and in winter once a week they
acted classic dramas. Besides this, there was a large and complete
puppet theatre belonging to the school. Bookbinding and carpentry were
taught, and at Christmas "the embryo cabinet-maker made boxes with locks
and hinges, finished, veneered and polished."

In England in 1917 we have given to us _The Play Way_, in which one who
has tried it gives the results of his own experiments in education
through play. Mr. Caldwell Cook was not satisfied with the condition of
affairs when "school above the Kindergarten is a nuisance because there
is no play." His dream is that of a Play School Commonwealth, where
education, which is the training of youth, shall be filled with the
spirit of youth, namely, "freshness, zeal, happiness, enthusiasm."

The next chapter will show that it has taken us exactly a hundred years
to reach as far as public recognition of the Nursery School where play
is the only possible motive. It is for the coming generation of teachers
to act so that the dream of the Play School Commonwealth shall be
realised more quickly. It is a significant fact that the lines quoted as
heading for the next chapter are written by a modern schoolmaster.


FROM 1816 TO 1919

Poor mites; you stiffen on a bench
And stoop your curls to dusty laws;
Your petal fingers curve and clench
In slavery to parchment saws;
You suit your hearts to sallow faces
In sullen places:
But no pen
Nor pedantry can make you men.
Yours are the morning and the day:
You should be taught of wind and light;
Your learning should be born of play.


Had England but honoured her own prophets, we should have had Nursery
Schools a hundred years ago. In 1816, the year in which Froebel founded
his school for older boys at Keilhau, Robert Owen, the Socialist,
"following the plan prescribed by Nature," opened a school where
children, from two to six, were to dance and sing, to be out-of-doors as
much as possible, to learn "when their curiosity induced them to ask
questions," and not to be "annoyed with books." They were to be
prevented from acquiring bad habits, to be taught what they could
understand, and their dispositions were to be trained "to mutual
kindness and a sincere desire to contribute all in their power to
benefit each other." They "were trained and educated without punishment
or the fear of it.... A child who acted improperly was not considered an
object of blame but of pity, and no unnecessary restraint was imposed on
the children."

But the world was not ready. Owen's "Rational Infant School" attracted
much notice, and an Infant School Society was founded. But even the
enlightened were incapable of understanding that any education was
possible without books, and the promoters rightly, though quite
unconsciously, condemned themselves when they kept the title Infant
School but dropped the qualifying "Rational." Still, Infant Schools had
been started and interest had been aroused. When the edict abolishing
Kindergartens was promulgated in Germany, some of Froebel's disciples
passed to other lands, and Madame von Marenholz came to England in 1854.
Already one Kindergarten had been opened by a Madame Ronge, to which
Rowland Hill sent his children, and to which Dickens paid frequent
visits. In the same year there was held in London an "International
Educational Exposition and Congress," and to this Madame von Marenholz
sent an exhibit, which was explained by Madame Ronge, and by a Mr.
Hoffmann. Dickens, who had watched the actual working of a Kindergarten,
gave warm support to the new ideas, and wrote an excellent article on
"Infant Gardens" for _Household Words_, urging "that since children are
by Infinite Wisdom so created as to find happiness in the active
exercise and development of all their faculties, we, who have children
round about us, shall no longer repress their energies, tie up their
bodies, shut their mouths.... The frolic of childhood is not pure
exuberance and waste. 'There is often a high meaning in childish play,'
said Froebel. Let us study it, and act upon the hints--or more than
hints--that Nature gives."

Dr. Henry Barnard represented Connecticut at this Congress, and he took
the Kindergarten to America, in whose virgin soil the seed took root,
and quickly brought forth abundantly. But the soil was virgin and the
fields were ready for planting, for America in these days had nothing
corresponding to our Infant Schools. The Kindergarten was welcomed by
people of influence. Dr. Barnard found his first ally in Miss Peabody,
one of whose sisters was married to Nathaniel Hawthorne, while another
was the wife of Horace Mann. Miss Peabody began to teach in 1860, but
eight years later, after a visit to Europe, she gave up teaching for
propaganda work. Owing to her efforts the first Free Kindergarten was
opened in Boston in 1870. Philanthropists soon recognised its importance
as a social agency, and by 1883 one lady alone supported thirty-one such
institutions in Boston and its surroundings. In New York, Dr. Felix
Adler established a Free Kindergarten in 1878, and Teachers' College was
influential in helping to form an association which supports several.
Another name well known in this country is that of Miss Kate Douglas
Wiggin,[12] who was a Kindergarten teacher for many years before she
became known as a novelist. It is Miss Wiggin who tells of a quaint
translation of Kindergarten heard by a San Francisco teacher making
friendly visits to the mothers of her children. While she stood on a
door-step sympathising with one poor woman she heard a "loud, but not
unfriendly" voice from an upper window. "Clear things from under foot!"
it pealed in stentorian accents. "The teacher o' the _Kids' Guards_ is
comin' down the street."

[Footnote 12: Writer of _Penelope in England_, etc., and of a capital
collection of essays entitled _Children's Rights_.]

In England things were very different, because of the Infant Schools
which had already been established, but which had fallen far below the
ideal set up by Robert Owen. As every one knows, the education given in
those days to teachers of Elementary Schools was but meagre, and the
results were often so bad that, to justify the expenditure of public
money, "payment by results" was introduced. In 1870 came the Education
Act, and the year 1874 saw a good deal of movement. Miss Caroline Bishop
was appointed to lecture to the Infants' teachers under the London
School Board; Miss Heerwart took charge of a training college for
Kindergarten teachers in connection with the British and Foreign School
Society; the Froehel Society was founded, and Madame Michaelis took the
Kindergarten into the newly established High Schools for Girls. For the
children of the well-to-do Kindergartens spread rapidly, but for the
children of the poor there was no such happiness; the Infant School was
too firmly established as a place where children learned to read, write
and count, and above all to sit still. Infants' teachers received no
special training for their work; their course of study, in which
professional training played but a small part, was the same as that
prescribed for the teachers of older children. Some colleges, notably
The Home and Colonial, Stockwell, and Saffron Walden, did try to give
their students some special training, but it was not of much avail, and
the word Kindergarten came to mean not Nursery School, as was the idea
of its founder, but dictated exercises with Kindergarten material, a
kind of manual drill supposed to give "hand and eye training," and with
this meaning it made its appearance on the time-table.

Visitors from America were shocked to find no Kindergartens in England,
but only large classes of poor little automatons sitting erect with
"hands behind" or worse still "hands on heads," and moving only to the
word of command. One lady who ultimately found her way to our own
Kindergarten told me that she had been informed at the L.C.C. offices
that there were no Kindergartens in London.

It was partly the scandalised expressions of these American teachers
that stimulated Miss Adelaide Wragge to take her courage into her hands,
and in the year 1900 to open the first Mission Kindergarten in England.
She called it a Mission, not a Free Kindergarten, partly because the
parents paid the trifling fee of one penny per week, and partly because
it was connected with the parish work of Holy Trinity, Woolwich, of
which her brother was vicar. The first report says: "The neighbourhood
was suitable for the experiment; little children, needing just the kind
of training we proposed to give them, abounded everywhere.... The
Woolwich children were typical slum babies, varying in ages from three
to six years; very poor, very dirty, totally untrained in good habits.
At first we only admitted a few, and when these began to improve,
gradually increased the numbers to thirty-five. They needed great
patience and care, but they responded wonderfully to the love given
them, and before long they were real Kindergarten children, full of
vigour, merriment and self-activity."

As is done in connection with all Free Kindergartens, Parents' Evenings
were instituted from the first, and the mothers were helped to
understand their children by simple talks.

Sesame House for Home Life Training had been opened six months before
this Mission Kindergarten. It was founded by the Sesame Club, and at its
head was Miss Schepel, who for twenty years had been at the head of the
Pestalozzi Froebel House. The idea of Home Life Training attracted
students who were not obliged by stern necessity to earn their daily
bread. Though the methods were not quite in line with progressive
thought, the atmosphere created by Miss Schepel, warmly seconded by Miss
Buckton,[13] was one of enthusiasm in the service of children. The
second Nursery School in London had its origin in this enthusiasm. Miss
Maufe left Sesame House early in 1903, and started a free Child Garden
in West London. Four years later she moved to Westminster to a block of
workmen's dwellings erected on the site of the old Millbank Prison. This
"child garden" has a special interest from the fact that it was carried
on actually in a block of workmen's dwellings like The Children's
Houses of a later date. The effort was voluntary and the rooms were
small, but, if the experiment had been supported by the authorities, it
would have been easy to take down dividing walls to get sufficient
space. Miss Maufe gave herself and her income for about twelve years,
but difficulties created by the war, the impossibility of finding
efficient help and consequent drain upon her own strength have forced
her to close her little school, to the grief of the mothers in 48 Ruskin
Buildings. Another Sesame House student, Miss L. Hardy, in her charming
_Diary of a Free Kindergarten_, takes us from London to Edinburgh, but
the first Free Kindergarten in Edinburgh began in 1903 and had a
different origin. Miss Howden was an Infants' Mistress in one of the
slums, and knew well the needs of little children in that wide street,
once decked with lordly mansions, which leads from the Castle to
Holyrood Palace. Some of the fine houses are left, but the inhabitants
are of the poorest, and Miss Howden left her savings to start a Free
Kindergarten in the Canongate. The sum was not large, but it was seed
sown in faith, and its harvest has been abundant, for Edinburgh with its
population of under 400,000 has five Free Kindergartens, in all of which
the children are washed and fed and given restful sleep, as well as
taught and trained with intelligence and love. London with its
population of 6,000,000 had but eight up to the time of the outbreak of
the war.

[Footnote 13: Author of the beautiful mystery play of _Eager Heart_.]

In 1904 the Froebel Society took part in a Joint Conference at Bradford,
where one sitting was devoted to "The Need for Nursery Schools for
Children from three to five years at present attending the Public
Elementary Schools." The speakers were Mrs. Miall of Leeds, and Miss K.
Phillips, who had wide opportunities for knowledge of the unsuitable
conditions generally provided for these little children. Among those who
joined in this discussion was Miss Margaret M'Millan, so well known for
her pioneer work in connection with School Clinics, and more recently
for her now famous Camp School. Miss M'Millan had already done yeoman
service on the Bradford Education Committee, but was now resident in
London, and she had been warmly welcomed on the Council of the Froebel
Society. It was from the date of this Conference that the name Nursery
School became general, though it had been used by Madame Michaelis as
early as 1891. In the following year, 1905, the Board of Education
published its "Reports on Children under Five Years of Age," with its
prefatory memorandum stating that "a new form of school is necessary for
poor children," and that parents who must send their little ones to
school "should send them to nursery schools rather than to schools of
instruction," to schools where there should be "more play, more sleep,
more free conversation, story-telling and observation." It would seem
that the recommendations of 1905 may begin to be carried out in 1919, a
consummation devoutly to be wished.

In the meantime voluntary effort has done what it could. Birmingham had
good reason to be in the forefront, since many of its public-spirited
citizens had in their own childhood the benefit of the excellent works
of Miss Caroline Bishop, a disciple of Frau Schrader. The Birmingham
People's Kindergarten Association opened its first People's Kindergarten
at Greet, in 1904, and a second, the Settlement Kindergarten, in 1907.
Sir Oliver Lodge spoke strongly in favour of these institutions, calling
them a protest against the idea of the comparative unimportance of

Miss Hardy opened her Child Garden in 1906, and that work has grown so
that the children are now kept till they are eight years old. The
Edinburgh Provincial Council for the Training of Teachers opened another
Free Kindergarten as a demonstration school for Froebelian methods, a
practising school for students, and also as an experimental school,
where attempts might be made to solve problems as to the education of
neglected children under school age. It was the Headmistress of this
school, Miss Hodsman, who invented the net beds now in general use. She
wanted something hygienic and light enough to be carried easily into the
garden, that in fine weather the children might sleep out of doors.

Another Sesame House student, Miss Priestman, opened a Free Kindergarten
in the pretty village of Thornton-le-Dale, where the children have a
sand-heap in a little enclosure allowed them by the blacksmith, and sail
their boats at a quiet place by the side of the beck that runs through
the village.

It was in 1908 that Miss Esther Lawrence of the Froebel Institute
inspired her old students to help her to open The Michaelis Free
Kindergarten. Since the war, the name has been altered to The Michaelis
Nursery School, which is in Netting Dale, on the edge of a very poor
neighbourhood, where large families often occupy a single room. As in
the Edinburgh Free Kindergartens, dinner is provided, for which the
parents pay one penny. The first report tells how necessary are Nursery
Schools in such surroundings. "The little child who was formerly tied to
the leg of the bed, and left all day while his mother was out at work,
is now enjoying the happy freedom of the Kindergarten. The child whose
clothes were formerly sewn on to him, to save his mother the periodical
labour of sewing on buttons, is now undressed and bathed regularly. The
attacks on children by drunken parents are less frequent. When the
Kindergarten was first opened, many of the children were quite listless,
they did not know how to play, did not care to play. Now they play with
pleasure and with vigour, and one can hardly believe they are the
listless, spiritless children of a year ago."

In 1910 Miss Lawrence succeeded in opening what was called from the
first the "Somers Town Nursery School," where the same kind of work is
done. One of the reports says: "It is interesting to see the children
sweeping or dusting a room, washing their dusters and dolls' clothes,
polishing the furniture, their shoes, and anything which needs
polishing. On Friday morning the 'silver' is cleaned, and the brilliant
results give great pleasure and satisfaction to the little polishers.
'Have you done your work?' was the question addressed to a visitor by a
three-year-old child, and the visitor beat a hasty retreat, ashamed
perhaps of being the only drone in the busy hive. At dinner time four
children wait on the rest, and very well and quickly the food is handed
round and the plates removed."

There are other Free Kindergartens at work. One is in charge of Miss
Rowland, and is in connection with the Bermondsey Settlement. It is Miss
Rowland who tells of the "candid mother" she met one Saturday who
remarked, "I told the children to wash their faces in case they met

The Phoenix Park Kindergarten in Glasgow is interesting because the site
was granted by an enlightened Corporation and the Parks Committee laid
out the garden, while the real start came from the pupils of a school
for girls of well-to-do families. By this time other social agencies
have been grouped round the Kindergarten as a centre.

The Caldecott Nursery School was opened in 1911 and has grown into the
Caldecott Community, which has now taken its children to live altogether
in the country. This Nursery School was never intended to be a
Kindergarten; it was started as an interesting experiment, "chiefly
perhaps in the hope that the children might enjoy that instruction which
is usually absorbed by the children of the wealthy in their own
nurseries by virtue of their happier surroundings."

And in the very year in which we were plunged into war Miss Margaret
M'Millan put into actual shape what she had long thought of, and opened
her "Baby Camp" and Nursery School, with a place for "toddlers" in
between, the full story of which is told in _The, Camp School_. In the
Camp itself the things which impress the visitor most are first the
space and the fresh air, the sky above and the brown earth below, and
next the family feeling which is so plain in spite of the numbers. The
Camp existed long before it was a Baby Camp and Nursery School, for Miss
M'Millan began with a School Clinic and went on to Open-Air Camps for
girls and for boys, before going to the "preventive and constructive"
work of the Baby Camp. Clean and healthy bodies come first, but to Miss
M'Millan's enthusiasm everything in life is educative.

The war has increased the supply of Nursery Schools, because the need
for them has become glaringly apparent. Many experiments are going on
now, and it seems as if experimental work would be encouraged, not
hampered by unyielding regulations. The Nursery School should cover the
ages for which the Kindergarten was instituted, roughly from three to
six years old. Already there are excellent baby rooms in some parts of
London, and no doubt in other towns, and the only reason for disturbing
these is to provide the children with more space and more fresh air, or
with something resembling a garden rather than a bare yard.

One school in London has a creche or day nursery, not exactly a part of
it, but in closest touch, established owing to the efforts of an
enthusiastic Headmistress working along with the Norland Place nurses.
Its space is at present insufficient, but the neighbouring buildings are
condemned, and will come down after the war. They need not go up again.
Then the space could be used in the same way as in the Camp School. That
would be to the benefit of the whole neighbourhood, and there could be
at least one experiment where from creche to Standard VII. might be in
close connection.

Miss M'Millan's ideal is to have a large space in the centre of a
district with covered passages radiating from it so that mothers from a
large area could bring their little ones and leave them in safety. It
would be safety, it would be salvation. But, as the Scots proverb has
it, "It is a far cry to Loch Awe."

Another question much debated is, who is to be in charge of these
children. The day nursery or creche must undoubtedly be staffed with
nurses, but with nurses trained to care for children, not merely sick
nurses. There are, however, certain people who believe that the "trained
nurse" is the right person to be in charge of children up to five, while
others think that young girls or uneducated women will suffice. We are
thankful that the Board of Education takes up the position that a
well-educated and specially trained teacher is to be the person

We certainly want the help both of the trained nurse and of the motherly
woman. The trained nurse will be far more use in detecting and attending
to the ailments of children than the teacher can be, and the motherly
woman can give far more efficient help in training children to decent
habits than any young probationer, useful though these may be. But there
is always the fear that the nurses may think that good food and
cleanliness are all a child requires, and, as Miss M'Millan says, "The
sight of the toddlers' empty hands and mute lips does not trouble them
at all."

But every man to his trade, and though the teacher in charge must know
something about ailing children, it is very doubtful if a few months in
a hospital will advantage her much. Here she trenches on the province of
the real nurse, whose training is thorough, and the little knowledge,
as every one knows, is sometimes dangerous. One Nursery School teacher,
with years of experience, says that what she learned in hospital has
been of no use to her, and it is probable that attendance at a clinic
for children would be really more useful. Certainly the main concern of
the Nursery School teacher is sympathetic understanding of children.
There must be no more of _Punch's_ "Go and see what Tommy is doing in
the next room and tell him not to," but "Go and see what Tommy is trying
to accomplish, and make it possible for him to carry on his
self-education through that 'fostering of the human instincts of
activity, investigation and construction' which constitutes a



A box of counters and a red-veined stone,
A piece of glass abraded by the beach,
And six or seven shells.

If early education, consist in fostering natural activities, there can
be no doubt that Froebel hit upon the activity most prominent of all in
the case of young children, viz. the impulse to investigate. For his
crest, the little child should share in the "motto given to the mongoose
family, in Kipling's _Rikki-Tikki_, 'Run and find out.'"

Most writers on the education of young children have emphasised the
importance of what is most inadequately called sense training, and it is
here that Dr. Montessori takes her stand with her "didactic apparatus."
Froebel's ideas seem wider; he realises that the sword with which the
child opens his oyster is a two-edged sword, that he uses not only his
sense organs as tools for investigation, but his whole body. His pathway
to knowledge, and to power over himself and his surroundings, is action,
and action of all kinds is as necessary to him as the use of his senses.

"The child's first utterance is force," says Froebel, and his first
discovery is the resistance of matter, when he "pushes with his feet
against what resists them." His first experiments are with his body,
"his first toys are his own limbs," and his first play is the use of
"body, senses and limbs" for the sake of use, not for result. One use
of his body is the imitation of any moving object, and Froebel tells the

If your child's to understand
Action in the world without,
You must let his tiny hand
Imitative move about.
This is the reason why
Baby will, never still,
Imitate whatever's by.

At this stage the child is "to move freely, and be active, to grasp and
hold with his own hands." He is to stand "when he can sit erect and draw
himself up," not to walk till he "can creep, rise freely, maintain his
balance and proceed by his own effort." He is _not_ to be hindered by
swaddling bands--such as are in use in Continental countries--nor, later
on, to be "_spoiled by too much assistance_," words which every mother
and teacher should write upon her phylacteries. But as soon as he can
move himself the surroundings speak to the child, "outer objects
_invite_ him to seize and grasp them, and if they are distant, they
invite him who would bring them nearer to move towards them."

This use of the word "invite" is worthy of notice, and calls to mind a
sentence used by a writer on Freud,[14] that "the activity of a human
being is a constant function of his environment." We adults, who are so
ready with our "Don't touch," must endeavour to remember how everything
is shouting to a child: "Look at me, listen to me, come and fetch me,
and find out all you can about me by every means in your power."

[Footnote 14: _The Freudian Wish_, Edwin Holt.]

If we have anything to do with little children, we must face the fact
that the child is, if not quite a Robinson Crusoe on his island, at
least an explorer in a strange country, and a scientist in his
laboratory. But there is nothing narrow in his outlook: the name of this
chapter is deliberately chosen, the whole world is the child's oyster,
his interests are all-embracing.

From his first walk he is the geographer. "Each little walk is a tour
of discovery; each object--the chair, the wall--is an America, a new
world, which he either goes around to see if it be an island, or whose
coast he follows to discover if it be a continent. Each new phenomenon
is a discovery in the child's small and yet rich world, _e.g._ one may
go round the chair; one may stand before it, behind it, but one cannot
go behind the bench or the wall."

Then comes an inquiry into the physical properties of surrounding
objects. "The effort to reach a particular object may have its source in
the child's desire to hold himself firm and upright by it, but we also
observe that it gives him pleasure to touch, to feel, to grasp, and
perhaps also--which is a new phase of activity--to be able to move
it.... The chair is hard or soft; the seat is smooth; the corner is
pointed; the edge is sharp." The business of the adult, Froebel goes on
to say, is to supply these names, "not primarily to develop the child's
power of speech," but "to define his sense impressions."

Next, the scientist must stock his laboratory with material for

"The child is attracted by the bright round smooth pebble, by the gaily
fluttering bit of paper, by the smooth bit of board, by the rectangular
block, by the brilliant quaint leaf. Look at the child that can scarcely
keep himself erect, that can walk only with the greatest care--he sees a
twig, a bit of straw; painfully he secures it, and like the bird carries
it to his nest. See him again, laboriously stooping and slowly going
forward on the ground, under the eaves of the roof (the deep eaves of
the Thuringian peasant house). The force of the rain has washed out of
the sand smooth bright pebbles, and the ever-observing child gathers
them as building stones as it were, as material for future building. And
is he wrong? Is he not in truth collecting material for his future life

The "box of counters, and the red-veined stone," the brilliant quaint
leaf, the twig, the bit of straw, all the child's treasures--these are
the stimuli which, according to the biologist educator, must be supplied
if the activities appropriate to each stage are to be called forth.
Every one knows for how long a period a child can occupy himself
examining, comparing and experimenting.

"Like things," says Froebel, "must be ranged together, unlike things
separated.... The child loves all things that enter his small horizon
and extend his little world. To him the least thing is a new discovery,
but it must not come dead into the little world, nor lie dead therein,
lest it obscure the small horizon and crush the little world. Therefore
the child would know why he loves this thing, he would know all its
properties. For this reason he examines the object on all sides; for
this reason he tears and breaks it; for this reason he puts it in his
mouth and bites it. We reprove the child for naughtiness and
foolishness; and yet he is wiser than we who reprove him."

This experimenting is one side of a child's play, and the things with
which he thus experiments are his toys, or, as Froebel puts it, "play
material." Much of this is and ought to be self found, and where the
child can find his own toys he asks for little more. The seaside
supplies him with sand and water, stones, shells, rock pools, seaweed,
and he asks us for nothing but a spade, which digs deeper than his naked
hands, and a pail to carry water, which hands alone cannot convey.

The vista of the sand
is the child's free land;
where the grown-ups seem half afraid;
even nurse forgets to sniff
and to call "come here"
as she sits very near
to the far up cliff
and you venture alone with your spade....

Even indoors, a child could probably find for himself all the material
for investigation, all the stimuli he requires, if it were not that his
investigations interfere with adult purposes. Even in very primitive
times the child probably experimented upon the revolving qualities of
his mother's spindle till she found it more convenient to let him have
one for himself, and it became a toy or top.

Froebel, who made so much of play, to whom it was spontaneous education
and self realisation, was bound to see that toys were important. "The
man advanced in insight," he said, "even when he gives his child a
plaything, must make clear to himself its purpose and the purpose of
playthings and occupation material in general. This purpose is to aid
the child freely to express what lies within him, and to bring the outer
world nearer to him, and thus to serve as mediator between the mind and
the world." Froebel's "Gifts" were an attempt to supply right play
material. True to his faith in natural impulse, Froebel watched children
to see what playthings they found for themselves, or which, among those
presented by adults, were most appreciated. Soft little coloured balls
seemed right material for a baby's tender hand, and it was clear that
when the child could crawl about he was ready for something which he
could roll on the floor and pursue on all fours. As early as two years
old he loves to take things out of boxes and to move objects about, so
boxes of bricks were supplied, graded in number and in variety of form.
Not for a moment did Froebel suggest that the child was to be limited to
these selected playthings, he expressly stated the contrary, and he
frequently said that spontaneity was not to be checked. But from what
has followed, from the way in which these little toys have been misused,
we are tempted to speculate on whether these "Gifts" supplied that
definite foundation without which, in these days, no notice would have
been taken of the new ideas, or whether they have proved the sunken
rock on which much that was valuable has perished. The world was not
ready to believe in the educational value of play, just pure play. Nor
is it yet. For the new system in its "didactic" apparatus out-Froebels
Froebel in his mistake of trying to systematise the material for
spontaneous education. Carefully planned, as were Froebel's own "gifts,"
the new apparatus presents a series of exercises in sense
discrimination, satisfying no doubt while unfamiliar, but suffering from
the defect of the "too finished and complex plaything," in which Froebel
saw a danger "which slumbers like a viper under the roses." The danger
is that "the child can begin no new thing with it, cannot produce enough
variety by its means; his power of creative imagination, his power of
giving outward form to his own ideas are thus actually deadened."

"To realise his aims, man, and more particularly the child, requires
material, though it be only a bit of wood or a pebble, with which he
makes something or which he makes into something. In order to lead the
child to the handling of material we give him the ball, the cube and
other bodies, the Kindergarten gifts. Each of these gifts incites the
child to free spontaneous activity, to independent movement."

Froebel would have sympathised deeply with the views of Peter as
expressed by Mr. Wells in regard to Ideals, which he, however, called

"The theory of Ideals played almost as important a part in the early
philosophy of Peter as it did in the philosophy of Plato. But Peter did
not call them Ideals, he called them 'toys.' Toys were the simplified
essences of things, pure, perfect and manageable. Real things were
troublesome, uncontrollable, over-complicated and largely irrelevant. A
Real Train, for example, was a poor, big, clumsy, limited thing that was
obliged to go to Redhill, or Croydon, or London, that was full of
unnecessary strangers, usually sitting firmly in the window seats, that
you could do nothing with at all. A Toy Train was your very own; it
took you wherever you wanted, to Fairyland, or Russia, or anywhere, at
whatever pace you chose."[15]

[Footnote 15: _Joan and Peter_, p. 77.]

Froebel asks what presents are most prized by the child and by mankind
in general, and answers, "Those which afford him a means of developing
his mind, of giving it freest activity, of expressing it clearly." For
her ideas as to educative material Dr. Montessori went, not to normal
life, not even to children, but to what may he called curative
appliances, to the material invented by Seguin to develop the dormant
powers of defective children. She herself came to the study of education
from the medical side, the curative. Froebel, with his belief in human
instinct, naturally went to what he called the mother's room, which we
should call the nursery, and to the garden where the child finds his
"bright round smooth pebble" and his "brilliant quaint leaf." No one
would seek to under-value the importance of sense discrimination, but it
can be exercised without formalism, and it need not be mere
discrimination. It is in connection with the Taste and Smell games that
Froebel tells the mother that "the higher is rooted in the lower,
morality in instinct, the spiritual in the material." The baby enjoys
the scent, thanks the kind spirit that put it there, and must let mother
smell it too, so from the beginning there is a touch of aesthetic
pleasure and a recognition of "what the dear God is saying outside." As
to how sense discrimination may be exercised without formality, there is
a charming picture in _The Camp School_:

"And then that sense of _Smell_, which got so little exercise and
attention that it went to sleep altogether, so that millions get no
warning and no joy through it. We met the need for its education in the
Baby Camp by having a Herb Garden. Back from the shelters and open
ground, in a shady place, we have planted fennel, mint, lavender, sage,
marjoram, thyme, rosemary, herb gerrard and rue. And over and above
these pungently smelling things there are little fields of mignonette.
We have balm, indeed, everywhere in our garden. The toddlers go round
the beds of herbs, pinching the leaves with their tiny fingers and then
putting their fingers to their noses. There are two little couples going
the rounds just now. One is a pair of new comers, very much astonished,
the other couple old inhabitants, delighted to show the wonders of the
place! Coming back with odorous hands, they perhaps want to tell us
about the journey. Their eyes are bright, their mouths open."

In Chapter II. we quoted the biologist educator's ideal conception of
the surroundings best suited to bring about right development. Let us
now visit one or two actual Kindergartens and see if these conditions
are in any way realised by the followers of Froebel.

The first one we enter is certainly a large bright room, for one side is
open to light, with two large windows, and between them glass doors
opening into the playground. There is no heap of sand in a corner, nor
is there a tub of water; for the practical teacher knows how little
hands, if not little feet, with their vigorous but as yet uncontrolled
movements would splash the water and scatter the sand with dire effects
as to the floor, which the theorist fondly imagines would always be
clean enough to sit upon. But there is a sand-tray big enough and deep
enough for six to eight children to use individually or together. As
spontaneous activity, with its ceaseless efforts at experimenting,
ceaselessly spills the sand, within easy reach are little brushes and
dustpans to remedy such mishaps. The sand-tray is lined with zinc so
that the sand can be replaced by water for boats and ducks, etc., when

The low wall blackboard is there ready for use. Bright pictures are on
the walls, well drawn and well coloured, some from nursery rhymes, some
of Caldecott's, a frieze of hen and chickens, etc. Boxes for houses and
shops are not in evidence, but their place is taken by bricks of such
size and quantity that houses, shops, motors, engines and anything else
may be built large enough for the children themselves to be shopkeepers
or drivers, and there are also pieces of wood to use for various
purposes of construction. There is no cooking stove, but simple cooking
can be carried out on an open fire, and when a baking oven is required,
an eager procession makes its way to the kitchen, where a kindly
housekeeper permits the use of her oven. There is a doll's cot with a
few dolls of various sizes. There are flowers and growing bulbs. There
are light low tables and chairs, a family of guinea pigs in a large
cage, and there is a cupboard which the children can reach.

Water is to be found in a passage room, between the Kindergarten and the
rooms for children above that stage, and here, so placed that the
children themselves can find and reach everything, are the sawdust, bran
and oats for the guinea pigs, with a few carrots and a knife to cut
them, some tiny scrubbing-brushes and a wiping-up cloth. Here also are
stored the empty boxes, corrugated paper and odds and ends in constant
demand for constructions.

In the cupboard there are certain shelves from which anything may be
taken, and some from which nothing may be taken without leave. For the
teacher here is of opinion that children of even three and four are not
too young to begin to learn the lesson of _meum_ and _tuum_, and she
also thinks it is good to have some treasures which do not come out
every day, and which may require more delicate handling than the
ordinary toy ought to need. For this ought to be strong enough to bear
unskilled handling and vigorous movements, for a broken toy ought to be
a tragedy. At the same time it is part of a child's training to learn to
use dainty objects with delicate handling, and such things form the
children's art gems, showing beauty of construction and of colour.
Children as well as grown-ups have their bad days, when something out of
the usual is very welcome. "Do you know there's nothing in this world
that I'm not tired of?" was said one day by a boy of six usually quite
contented. "Give me something out of the cupboard that I've never seen
before," said another whose digestion was troublesome. The open shelves
contain pencils and paper, crayons, paint-boxes, boxes of building
blocks, interlocking blocks, wooden animals, jigsaw and other puzzles,
coloured tablets for pattern laying, toy scales, beads to thread,
dominoes, etc., the only rule being that what is taken out must be
tidily replaced. This Kindergarten is part of a large institution, and
the playground, to which it has direct access, is of considerable
extent. There is a big stretch of grass and another of asphalt, so that
in suitable weather the tables and chairs, the sand-tray, the bricks and
anything else that is wanted can be carried outside so that the children
can live in the open, which of course is better than any room. In the
playground there is a bank where the children can run up and down, and
there are a few planks and a builder's trestle,[16] on which they can be
poised for seesaws or slides, and these are a constant source of

[Footnote 16: See p. 55.]

In another Kindergarten we find the walls enlivened with Cecil Aldin's
fascinating friezes: here is Noah with all the animals walking in
cheerful procession, and in the next room is an attractive procession of
children with push-carts, hoops and toy motor cars. When we make our
visit the day is fine and the room is empty, the children are all
outside. The garden is not large, but there is some space, and under the
shade of two big trees we find rugs spread, on which the children are
sitting, standing, kneeling and lying, according to their occupation.
One is building with large blocks, and must stand up to complete her
erection; another is lying flat putting together a jigsaw; another, a
boy, is threading beads; while another has built railway arches, and
with much whistling and the greatest carefulness is guiding his train
through the tunnels. The play is almost entirely individual, but very
often you hear, "O Miss X, _do_ come and see what I've done!" After
about an hour, during which a few of the children have changed their
occupations, those who wish to do so join some older children who are
playing games involving movement. This may be a traditional game like
Looby Loo, or Round and round the Village, or it may be one of the best
of the old Kindergarten games. After lunch the washing up is to be done
in a beautiful new white sink which is displayed with pride.

Our next visit is to a Free Kindergarten. The rooms are quite as
attractive, as rich in charming friezes as in the others, and the
furnishing in some ways is much the same. But here we see what we have
not seen before, for here is a large room filled with tiny hammock beds.
The windows are wide open, but the blinds are down, for the children are
having their afternoon sleep.

Here, as in all Free Kindergartens, the children are provided with
simple but pretty overalls which the parents are pleased to wash. House
shoes are also provided, partly to minimise the noise from active little
feet, but principally because the poor little boots are often a
painfully inadequate protection from wet pavements. The children are
trained to tidy ways and to independence. They cannot read, but by
picture cards they recognise their own beds, pegs and other properties.
They take out and put away their own things, and give all reasonable
help in laying tables and serving food, in washing, dusting and sweeping
up crumbs, as is done in any true Kindergarten.

In the garden of this Free Kindergarten there is a large sand-pit,
surrounded by a low wooden framework, and having a pole across the
middle so that it resembles a cucumber frame and a cover can be thrown
over the sand to keep it clean when not in use.

Froebel's own list of playthings contains, besides balls and building
blocks, coloured beads, coloured tablets for laying patterns, coloured
papers for cutting, folding and plaiting; pencils, paints and brushes;
modelling clay and sand; coloured wool for sewing patterns and pictures;
and such little sticks and laths as children living in a forest region
find for themselves. Considered in themselves, apart from the traditions
of formality, these are quite good play material or stimuli, and Froebel
meant the time to come "when we shall speak of the doll and the hobby
horse as the first plays of the awakening life of the girl and the boy,"
but he died before he had done so. In the _Mother Songs_, too, we find
quite a good list of toys which are now to be found in most

Toys for the playground should be provided--a sand-heap, a seesaw, a
substantial wheel-barrow, hoops, balls, reins and perhaps
skipping-ropes. Something on which the child can balance, logs or planks
which they can move about, and a trestle on which these can be
supported, are invaluable. It was while an addition was being made to
our place that we realised the importance of such things, and, as in
Froebel's case, "our teachers were the children themselves." They were
so supremely happy running up and down the plank roads laid by the
builders for their wheel-barrows, seesawing or balancing and sliding on
others, that we could not face the desolation of emptiness which would
come when the workmen removed their things. So, for a few pounds, all
that the children needed was secured, ordinary planks for seesawing,
narrower for balancing and a couple of trestles. One exercise the
children had specially enjoyed was jumping up and down on yielding
planks, and this the workmen had forbidden because the planks might
crack. But a sympathetic foreman told us what was needed: two planks of
special springy wood were fastened together by cross pieces at each end,
and besides making excellent slides, these made most exciting

For representations of real life the children require dolls and the
simplest of furniture--a bed, which need only be a box, some means of
carrying out the doll's washing, her personal requirements as well as
her clothes; some little tea-things and pots and pans. A doll's house is
not necessary, and can only be used by two or three children, but will
be welcomed if provided, and its appointments give practice in dainty
handling. Trains and signals of some kind, home-made or otherwise;
animals for farm or Zoo; a pair of scales for a shop, and some sort of
delivery van, which, of course, may be home-made.

There must also be provision for increase of skill and possibility of
creation. If the Kindergarten can afford it, some of the Montessori
material may be provided; there is no reason, except expense, why it
should not be used if the children like it, and if it does not take up
too much room. But it has no creative possibilities, and even at three
years old this is required. Scissors are an important tool, and an old
book of sample wall-papers is most useful; old match-boxes and used
matches, paste and brushes and some old magazines to cut. Blackboard
chalks and crayons, paint-boxes with four to six important colours, some
Kindergarten folding papers, all these supply colour. Certain toys seem
specially suited to give hand control, _e.g._ a Noah's Ark, where the
small animals are to be set out carefully, tops or teetotums and
tiddlywinks, at which some little children become proficient. The puzzle
interest must not be forgotten, and simple jigsaw pictures give great
pleasure. It is interesting to note here that the youngest children fit
these puzzles not by the picture but by form, though they know they are
making a picture and are pleased when it is finished. The puzzle with
six pictures on the sides of cubes is much more difficult than a simple

All sorts of odds and ends come in useful, and especially for the poorer
children these should be provided. Any one who remembers the pleasure
derived from coloured envelope bands, from transparent paper from
crackers, and from certain advertisements, will save these for children
to whose homes such treasures never come. A box containing scraps of
soft cloth, possibly a bit of velvet, some bits of smooth and shining
coloured silk give the pleasure of sense discrimination without the
formality of the Montessori graded boxes, and are easier to replace.
Some substitute for "mother's button box," a box of shells or coloured
seeds, a box of feathers, all these things will be played with, which
means observation and discrimination, comparison and contrast, and in
addition, where colour is involved, there is aesthetic pleasure, and
this also enters into the touching of smooth or soft surfaces. Softness


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