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thing symbolized. The cube can never symbolize anything but objects at rest, and the ball, objects capable of motion.
Such a view does away with the seeming difficulty in the way of fairy stories. These stories are indispensable in the training of a child's spiritual sense by symbolizing what his mind cannot grasp, but his feelings apprehend. Every fairy story cannot do this — the majority of them are false; but a true fairy story, one that has truth for its basis, such as the pretty little tale of “Double Darling”— has a power no realistic story can ever exert. It is all the difference between truth through the mind and truth through the feeling. A literal-minded, unimaginative child, such as we often see in the free kindergarten, may need some preparation for the fairy story; he should be led to it not dosed with it because it is good; the best things are good only relatively.
The kindergartner should herself be always definitely conscious whether she is speaking after the letter or after the spirit — keeping the two distinct in the child's mind.
In a recent paper there was an article headed, “Kindergarten Ideas Applied to Sunday-School Lessons.” The following is an extract from it: “To love, to trust, to obey, are given as the conditions upon which one may become a member of God's family. As a closing exercise the three blocks of the Second Gift, the cube, the cylinder, and the sphere, are set up. The cube the foundation - is named love, the cylinder trust, the sphere obey.” Had this been headed “Kindergarten Material used in Sunday School Lessons," the title would have been a more fitting one.
If this be a right use of material, then the ball, cube, and cylinder may symbolize any idea. It is purely arbitrary, and is misleading. There is no reason why the blocks should be used to represent these ideas any more than a box, a bottle, and a marble. Do the objects make clearer to the child's mind the particular ideas? Do they not add difficulty rather than clearness? Is it not a blind, almost superstitious, use of Freebel's aids? It can only lead to materializing spiritual things instead of spiritualizing material things. How easily sentimentality may be substituted for spirituality. Freebel's idea is to see through physical relations their corresponding spiritual relations, not to put spiritual meanings haphazard and arbitrarily into some little blocks. The little blocks do typify a great truth, but do not typify all the details of truth in the universe. Is it to be wondered at that strangers to the real principles should consider kindergartens empty and trifling. The fourth gift play, and also the others given, illustrate the idea here intended of spiritualizing material things.
The intention was to lead the children to the meaning back of forms of every inanimate object especially, showing that necessity and desire are the basis of all construction -- not leaving the child in the hou, but bringing at once to grasp the why which illuminates all things with the reality back of them. Thus he is at once initiated into the difference between fact and truth.
The Baroness Marenholz von Bulow says upon this subject: “The reproach of mysticism applied to Frobel's system has a certain justification, so long as the theory lying at the foundation of his emotional idea is not completely understood and scientifically established, and thus far there is little prospect that this will really happen very soon, since the great mass of the representatives of the cause can comprehend only its outside.” This indicates that those who most impede the progress of kindergarten are among its friends. To face the fact is wholesome for all concerned, and likely to drive out any complacency unconsciously entertained regarding our possession of a broad and comprehensive gospel. Wisdom would be shown in an earnest, humble struggle to make our discipleship a reality, not a name. Self-satisfaction and self-deception shut out light and leave us in greater darkness than any we may hope to dispel. It is but just to look to the normal school to remedy the failings seen in kindergartens.
While perfect training cannot be expected, it is certainly not unreasonable to hope for such as shall prevent a violation of the cardinal principles of the system. Could the grave errors in practice exist to the extent they do if the normal training connected in the pupils' experiences the apparently irreconcilable opposites of practice and theory?
The principles of all true teaching are the same, whether for adults or children, and the same developing laws must be carried out in the normal training as are required for the children; failure in the one case brings about the same disappointing consequence as in the other. To attempt to give more principles than opportunity to assimilate through experience, is but to cram, and render skillful use of principle an impossibility. Practice is the basis of all the most important part of the normal course; for the student, even with daily experimenting, fifteen months is scarcely sufficient to give the necessary equipment. When the offer is made to graduate a kindergartner in three months, such violence is done to the principles of Freebel as shall make his prophetic vision sadly true.
Only effort and failure, repeated again and again, can possibly enable us to reconcile practically the extremes found in developing a human being. The student must learn that at every instant she must be two-sided — as Freebel expresses it, “ giving and taking, uniting and separating, dictating and following, active and enduring, deciding and setting free, fixed and movable.” Prof. Hailmann thus discriminates: The child is not to study Freebel, but to “unfold the divinity within himself.” With equal truth this may be said of the training teacher. To tell the subtle principles to the grown person is as useless as to tell them to the child. Said a kindergartner truly: “Kindergarten could be learned in a short time if we were properly prepared before we begin the study.” What is needed for our normal students, to save them from kindergarten cant and pharisaism, is not glib quoting of Freebel's phrases, but free development of faculties, balancing of powers, incarnation of truth. Until
they are trained to independence of Freebel's material, so as to be able if necessary to use in the development of a child anything at hand, instead of slavishly depending on certain forms, we shall not have done our whole duty by them. Until they are able to develop thought, rouse feeling, call forth creative power without this material, they are not free enough to properly nise it.