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The Philosophy and Psychology of the Kindergarten


by James E. Russell - 1903

The American school system, as a system, is defective in that its constituent parts are not sufficiently related to each other. In theory each grade is introductory to the grade next succeeding, and we pride ourselves on having an educational ladder reaching from the kindergarten to the university.


INTRODUCTION


The American school system, as a system, is defective in that its constituent parts are not sufficiently related to each other. In theory each grade is introductory to the grade next succeeding, and we pride ourselves on having an educational ladder reaching from the kindergarten to the university. But the college overlaps the university at one end and the secondary school at the other. There is complaint of a serious break between the secondary school and the grammar school; and between the elementary school and the kindergarten is a gulf which few teachers attempt to span.


The chief cause of such defects are not far to seek. The college and its preparatory school are old foundations. Historically they form the original educational ladder in American education. The university, a comparatively recent importation, is an extension upward, the use of which we have not yet fully discovered. The public elementary school with its own high school extension and kindergarten base, is an entirely different ladder, and there be many who prefer to climb up that way. The trouble comes when those on the new ladder try to shift to the old, or when we attempt to splice the two. Perhaps the most serious difficulty of all arises from the fact that these two means of educational ascent are constructed on radically different principles. There is one theory that finds expression in the old order; another theory that underlies the new order. The college and its preparatory school were never intended for all who needed schooling. The public school excludes no normal child.


How can the two ideals be included in any well-defined system of education? But public opinion in this country demands of the American school system a solution of precisely this problem. It is obvious that no satisfactory solution can be found until we have an educational philosophy broad enough to comprehend the real needs of all the people, and teachers intelligent enough to cope with all sorts of educational conditions. Principles of education to stand the test must be good and valid everywhere. Practice cannot be justified by tradition, or eccentricity excused on appeal to authority. There is no room in American education for blind adherence to a cult or unreasoning devotion to a master. A philosophy of education, whether embodied in the practice of a good teacher or expressed in the words of a great writer, is worthy of our profoundest study. Such study is valuable for the insight it gives into that which is universally true as well as for the understanding of that which is temporary and circumstantial. A study of Froebel's philosophy, therefore, such as is presented in this number of the TEACHERS COLLEGE RECORD, has for its object an exposition of that which has permanent significance and value in his work and, from inference largely, an explanation of what belonged peculiarly to his age and environment. If he has given to the world anything that is universally true it should be known and recognized by all teachers — not merely by those in the kindergarten; and kindergartners should leam, on the other hand, that principles of education, however true and universal, will show a diversity in application corresponding to the diversity of human needs. It is the spirit, rather than the letter, that giveth life. And in it all the truth is the main thing. Whether it be reached by insight or by scientific research is of little moment. But it is of supreme importance to the teacher that he be open-minded, eager to learn what is true and ever ready to reject what is shown to be false.




Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 4 Number 5, 1903, p. 45-76
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10857, Date Accessed: 12/8/2021 10:45:46 PM

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