Froebel Societies

Froebel Societies

 

in Russia, associations that advocated the adoption of the preschool education system developed by F. Froebel. Such societies were first established in the 1870’s in a number of large cities, including St. Petersburg, Kiev, Kharkov, Odessa, and Tbilisi. The kindergartens founded by the Froebel societies usually charged tuition fees, although a limited number were free public kindergartens supported by private contributions. The Froebel societies also organized pedagogical courses, on a fee basis, to introduce teachers to the Froebelian system; such courses were taught in year-round schools (in one- to three-year programs of study) as well as in temporary summer schools. Both the Froebel societies and the teacher-training schools sponsored public lectures for the improvement of children’s family upbringing.

By the 1870’s and 1880’s, such progressive teachers as P. F. Kapterev and A. M. Kalmykova were beginning to recognize the negative effects of accepting Froebel’s entire system as dogma and mechanically transplanting it into Russia; they became aware of the formalistic quality and lack of variety in Froebel’s system of “gifts.” The women being trained as teachers were increasingly responsive to the views of progressive Russian preschool educators who did not participate in the work of the Froebel societies; such educators as E. N. Vodovozova, E. I. Konradi, and A. S. Simonovich, while not rejecting Froebel’s creative concept of the kindergarten, developed his ideas on the basis of the pedagogical theories of K. D. Ushinskii and P. F. Lesgaft.

The best-known Froebel societies were those of St. Petersburg and Kiev. St. Petersburg had a society to promote early childhood education, founded in 1871, which offered year-round courses and practice teaching in an associated kindergarten. The Froebel Society of Kiev, founded in 1908, organized a Froebel pedagogical institute for women—a three-year college for the training of highly qualified teachers; the institute, which charged tuition fees, had pedagogical and psychological laboratories, associated kindergartens, consultation services, and summer courses in preschool education.

In prerevolutionary Russia, most of those who were trained for preschool work—whether in the Froebel schools or in the few other existing institutions for preschool training—ended up teaching in the homes of wealthy families. An insignificant number worked in kindergartens: the number of preschool institutions in 1914 was no more than 150, including those attended by paying pupils as well as those supported by contributions from social and educational organizations such as the Froebel societies. After the October Revolution of 1917, the Froebel school in Petrograd became the Institute of Preschool Education, and the Froebel institute in Kiev was renamed the Kiev Institute of Public Education.

REFERENCES

Istoriia pedagogiki: Uchebnoe posobie dlia doshkol’nykh pedagogi-cheskikh uchilishch, 3rd ed. Edited by M. F. Shabaeva: Moscow, 1961. Pages 126–28, 138–44, 163–83, 186–88, 191–93, 196–201, 217–25, and 229.
Chuvashev, I. V. Ocherki po istorii doshkol’nogo vospitaniia v Rossii (Do Velikoi Oktiabr’skoi sotsialisticheskoi revoliutsii). Moscow, 1955. Pages 87–93,129–55, and 161–239.
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The kindergarten movement spread through the establishment of Froebel Societies worldwide; the current International Froebel Society is housed in the School of Education Studies at Roehampton University.