The current absurd obsession with test scores is destroying schooling and childhood. Nowhere is the devastation more visible than in state and local policies turning kindergarten and nursery school into academically rigorous boot camps. Pre-K is supposed to get children ready for kindergarten. Kindergarten is a time to learn reading and writing and math. Kindergarten prepares the child for first grade. It is the first step towards “college and career readiness.”

But kindergarten has been warped beyond all recognition from what it is supposed to be. The founder of the kindergarten was Friedrich Froebel. His ideas were first brought to America by William Torrey Harris, the superintendent of schools in St. Louis (later the U.S. Commissioner of Education for 18 years under various presidents) and a devotee of Hegel.

To learn more about what kindergarten should be, go to the Froebel website.

Here is an excerpt from the opening page:

“The name Kindergarten signifies both a garden for children, a location where they can observe and interact with nature, and also a garden of children, where they themselves can grow and develop in freedom from arbitrary imperatives.

“In 1837, having developed and tested a radically new educational method and philosophy based on structured, activity based learning, Froebel moved to Bad Blankenburg and established his Play and Activity Institute which in 1840 he renamed Kindergarten.

“Kindergarten has three essential parts:

*creative play, which Froebel called gifts and occupations)
*singing and dancing for healthy activity
*observing and nurturing plants in a garden for stimulating awareness of the natural world

“Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul.

“To Froebel belongs the credit for finding the true nature of play and regulating it to lead naturally into work. The same spontaneity and joy, the same freedom and serenity that characterise the plays of childhood are realised in all human activity. The gifts and occupations are the living connection which makes both play and work expressions of the same creative activity. ” W N Hailmann

“Friedrich Froebel introduced the concept of gardens for children, where they could participate in all aspects of growing, harvesting, and preparing nutritious, seasonal produce. As educational tools, these gardens provide real world applications of core mathematical concepts. The Edible Schoolyard educates children about the connections between food, health, and the environment through activities which are fully integrated into the curriculum.”