In the old days, before children, I used to love taking classes at the Newberry Library in Chicago (okay let’s face it, there aren’t many places I don’t like taking classes at). There is one class there I will never forget. The teacher was a Philosophy of Education teacher at Depaul University nd he was delightful! We are still in touch! The 6 week class explored early childhood educators and I was fascinated!
In the end, I came up with my own theory on childhood educators! They all seemed to base their ideas on what is good for children on what was good for themselves as children. Some said nature, some said play, some said spirituality. Maria Montessori said work!
My teachers name was Gerald Gutek and his books was Histocial and Philosohical Foundations of Education: A Biographical Introducation (Pearson Publishers 2005). We explored the trans-Atlantic connections in educations through the lives, philosophies and contributions of four significant educational theorists: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Heinrich Pestalozzi, Friedrich Froebel and Maria Montessori.
We looked at their ideas on education and how they were brought to the US in the 19th and 20th centuries. The analysis of Rousseau’s ideas establishes the theme of natural education here; Pestalozzi’s ideas on simultaneous instruction and object lessons can still be traced in American public education; Froebel’s ideas on kindergarten education started the movement here and Montessori’s ideas on a structured learning environment are quite interesting as are Steiner’s (Waldorf) views on nature and the soul of man.
I’m always fascinated by the history and roots of things. To know how we came to the educational system we have is fascinating to me. But even more so is how these influential people came to their ideas about what children need!