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Inventing Kindergarten Hardcover – February 1, 1997

4.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Adults over a certain age probably have similar memories of their first taste of school--the half-day kindergarten that featured singing, finger-painting, stories, and naptime. Whatever lessons we absorbed during those halcyon hours were not obvious ones, but we developed confidence, exercised our imaginations, and learned the basic schoolroom drill concerning school buses, milk money, and raising our hands before asking or answering a question. These days, kindergarten is a far departure from its earlier incarnation; instead of a loosely structured time to play and discover, modern kindergartens are more like First Grade 101, in which children are taught their numbers and letters and even assigned homework. Norman Brosterman, author of Inventing Kindergarten, doesn't approve.

Inventing Kindergarten is partly Brosterman's views about the importance of the traditional kindergarten in shaping the hearts and minds of children, partly a biography of an almost-forgotten educator, Friedrich Froebel, the inventor of kindergarten. In tracing Froebel's life and beliefs about education, Brosterman makes a strong case for returning to Froebel's original model in order to encourage the development of "a sensitive, inquisitive child with an uninhibited curiosity and a genuine respect for nature, family and society." Even if you don't agree with Brosterman's belief that kindergarten is responsible for many of modern art's geniuses, it's hard to argue with a philosophy that makes room for the importance of play in early education.

From The New Yorker

... the juxtaposition here of nineteenth-century kindergarten work with the work of Braque, Klee, Mondrian, and Frank Lloyd Wright will make you gasp. This is a revelatory book, and one that gives new meaning to the derisive snort "My kid could do that."
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (February 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810935260
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810935266
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 0.8 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #514,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A thorough tracing of the ideas and uses of materials (gifts/occupations) in the early kindergarten movement. The juxtaposition of pictures of the kindergarten exercises and manipulatives with the adult abstract art of 20th century Cubism, Constructivism, and architectural planning is stimulating and thought provoking. This book is both delightful reading and browsing, and intellectually fresh in probing connections between childhood experience and adult art expression. The respect paid to Froebel is also gratifying. Many books in education leave the impression that he was an irresponsible dreamer and was a victim of lifelong misunderstanding and harrassment. This book acknowledges the personal and political problems he experienced without making them a focus of the text. Professionals in child development will find this a rewarding reading experience.
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Format: Hardcover
Although everyone knows what kindergarten is, so few understand how it came to be.
Brosterman carefully shows the reader the background and takes us on a tour
of Froebel's "Gaben" or educational "gifts."
The book is gull of gorgeous photos of the games which Brosterman has
been collecting over the years. Fascinating is his research which
connects the creations of Kandinsky, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, etc.
to their childhood exposure to the then revolutionary
educational activities. This book is informative and beautifully
photographed. For all elementary teachers, parents, school libraries and everyone
who has ever wondered about kindergarten.
As a Froebel family member, teacher, and art dealer I found the book exceptional at all those levels
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Format: Hardcover
The kindergarten is ubiquitous, but how many of its former pupils really know how it came about and what philosophies it is based upon.
Norman Brosterman lovingly and meticulously studies the background of this 19th century invention, spurned by conservatives, embraced by those who wanted child-centered
education for their young children, and which influenced 20th century painters and architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Kandinsky, Paul Klee and many others.
Brosterman leaves no stone unturned . Through carefully written text and rich photographs of actual educational games ("Gaben" in German) by Kiyoshi Tagashi, he explains the goal of each "Gabe", its aesthetic value and then illustrates for the reader how these
influenced a generation of artists who had been schooled with them. As an educator, gallery director, and Froebel descendant, I can say unequivocably that Brosterman's book is perhaps the best book written about Froebel in this century. Surely it is the most thought provoking book about art history that I have read in a very long time
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Even though I worked for years as a kindergarden aide and later taught art (following California standards) in the first and second grades, I had very little knowledge of Friedrich Froebel's legacy as the inventor of kindergarten and none whatsoever of his influence on modern art. In this little review I cannot begin to explain the complexity of Froebel's philosophy and how it tied into his instructional system. If you are an artist, an educator, a parent, or someone who cares deeply about learning you must read this book. Norman Brosterman,the author,is to be praised for his understanding and appreciation of Froebel's genius. His book enables the reader to go back in time and see how kindergarten developed and it's developmental effect on the child. I'm sorry to say that today, in many schools, kindergarten is simply a place where children are prepared to move on to first grade with a knowledge of the alphabet, the ability to print letters, introduction to math, etc. Something got lost.
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By A Customer on July 28, 1997
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book on the repercussions Froebel's invention of kindertgarten had on artistic sensibility does an excellent job of tying its premise to quotations and examples from artists of the period in which these effects would surface. However, it's not a great read, and once you accept the premise, the book becomes an exercise. None of the comparisons were all that astounding. As an aside, this book probably contains the best interpretation of the term "zeitgeist" I've ever seen in print
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