1st Edition

Fröbel’s Pedagogy of Kindergarten and Play
Modifications in Germany and the United States

ISBN 9780367180454
Published February 12, 2020 by Routledge
222 Pages

USD $160.00

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Book Description

This text provides a comprehensive analysis of historical archives, letters, and primary sources to offer unique insight into how Fröbel’s pedagogy of kindergarten and play has been understood, interpreted, and modified throughout history and in particular, as a consequence of it’s adoption in the US.

Tracing the development, modification, and global spread of the kindergarten movement, this volume demonstrates the far-reaching impacts of Fröbel’s work, and asks how far contemporary understandings of the kindergarten pedagogy reflect the educationalist’s original intentions. Recognizing that Fröbel’s pedagogy has at times been simplified or misunderstood, the book tackles issues caused by translation, or transfer to non-German speaking countries such as the US, and so demonstrates how and why contemporary research and Froebelian practice is in the danger of diverging from the original ideas expressed in Fröbel’s work. By returning to original documents produced by Fröbel, Wasmuth traces various interpretations, and explains how and why some of these understandings established themselves in the context of US Early Childhood Education, whilst others did not.

This insightful text will be of great interest to graduate and postgraduate students, researchers, academics, professionals and policy makers in the fields of early childhood education, history of education, Philosophy of Education and Teacher Education.

Table of Contents



Part I: Friedrich Fröbel and his pedagogy of kindergarten and play

Chapter 1: Friedrich Fröbel on his way of becoming an educator of young children

Chapter 2: The Invention of Kindergarten

Chapter 3: The Challenge of Finding the "Authentic" Fröbel and Translating his Work

Chapter 4: Fröbel’s worldview and his pedagogy of kindergarten and play

Part II: The Fröbelianer and their modification of Fröbel’s pedagogy of kindergarten and play

Chapter 5: The organizational development of the Fröbel movement

Chapter 6: The evolution of Fröbel’s pedagogy of kindergarten and play

Part III: How kindergarten came to the United States

Chapter 7: The kindergarten movement in the US and the openness to Fröbel

Chapter 8: The transfer of Fröbel’s pedagogy of kindergarten and play to the US

Chapter 9: Conclusion: The history of Fröbel’s pedagogy of kindergarten and play and its modification


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Helge Wasmuth is Associate Professor in the Department of Childhood Education at Mercy College, USA.


"With Fröbel’s Pedagogy of Kindergarten and Play Helge Wasmuth, based on own new translations of original German texts, opens a window into a complex, multifaceted and fascinating world. [...] The book is an invaluable resource for any scholar or educator interested in roots and legacy of Fröbel’s life and work – which are more relevant than ever for orienting our thoughts and practice in early childhood education in our troubled times."

Mathias Urban, Desmond Chair of Early Childhood Education, Dublin City University, Ireland, and past President of the International Froebel Society.

"Fröbel’s Pedagogy of Kindergarten and Play is a readable ‘go-to’ book for us on nineteenth century kindergarten peoples and pedagogies across Germany and the US, both key staging posts for the international export of kindergarten. Such a book is long overdue; weaving a pathway through a complex story, sifting through myriads of archival trails and revealing new insights into the way Fröbel’s original kindergarten pedagogy was modified and indeed forgotten or lost."

Helen May, Professor Emerita, University of Otago, New Zealand, past President of the International Froebel Society, and Co-Editor of Kindergarten Narratives on Froebelian Education: Transnational Investigations

"Helge Wasmuth’s Fröbel’s Pedagogy of Kindergarten and Play offers an enlightening and fittingly ‘all-sided’ analysis of the Kindergarten as philosophical-pedagogical entity. [...] This book is a must-read for students of the Kindergarten, for the many who consider themselves twenty-first-century Fröbelians, and for those interested in the spread and evolution of educational innovations more generally."

Dr. Kristen Nawrotzki, Vice President of the International Froebel Society, Co-Editor of Kindergarten Narratives on Froebelian Education: Transnational Investigations; and Co-Editor of The Development of Early Childhood Education in Europe and North America, Historical and Comparative Perspectives

"At a time when play is under threat in American kindergartens, Fröbel’s Pedagogy of Kindergarten Play is a must-read for understanding how ideas about play developed and evolved. [...] As public support for preschool education rapidly grows, we need to take a close look at what types of play-based pedagogy are being promoted and implemented. This well-written book will help us do just that."

Barbara Beatty, Professor Emerita of Education at Wellesey College, US, and author of Preschool Education in America: The Culture of Young Children from the Colonial Era to the Present.

"Helge Wasmuth provides a profound history of Fröbelian pedagogy in Germany and the United States. His historical study shows, like no other, the changes Fröbel’s authentic ideas have undergone as a result of the work of kindergarten teachers in both countries."

Ulf Sauerbrey, Co-author of Friedrich Fröbel und seine Spielpädagogik: Eine Einführung, and Executive Board Member of the International Froebel Society Section in Germany.

"Helge Wasmuth shows how Froebel's complex ideas laid the foundation of the kindergarten, an approach to early childhood education that rapidly gained world-wide acceptance and popularity. Wasmuth sheds light on an important chapter in educational history."

Ann Taylor Allen, Professor Emerita of German history at the University of Louisville, US and author of The Transatlantic Kindergarten: Education and Women's Movements in Germany and the United States.