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Montessori and Froebel: A Comparative Study

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Montessori and Froebel: A Comparative Study

[Name of the Writer]

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Montessori and Froebel-A Comparative Study


Maria Montessori and Friedrich Froebel are two of the most important and influential educational pioneers who developed their kindergarten educational methods that most influential during the childhood programs and also established as it today both in practically and theoretically.

In this paper we are going to critically evaluate and compare these two educational pioneers, their works as well as their ideas. Madame Montessori name was introduced in public by an American magazine through her very interesting articles and also created a widespread interest in her educational methods for minor and young children, while Friedrich Froebel had founded his passion in childhood education and also was the founder of first kindergarten in 1840 (Tornar, 2001).

This article is written merely to start a discussion with regard to the possible combination of Montessori and Froebelian materials and methods. In this paper not any definite conclusions can be reached yet, for several reasons:

1. Mme. Montessori herself feels that her system is not thoroughly worked out;

2. there are few schools even among those called by her name which have accepted the most fundamental principle of the Dottoressa's teaching, the right of the child to liberty;

3. It takes the sifting of time and the judgment of many minds to discover the truly permanent in any system.

Critical Analysis: Montessori and Froebel

We can easily believe that Froebel would be in hearty sympathy with the physical and social training as advocated by Mme. Montessori, but where in her system the physical education would merely make provision for the exercise of the muscles and through these influence the human side of the child, Froebel would see a more direct spiritual effect in the experience itself(Pendleton, 2002).

In the social education there would probably be the same difference. The Montessori training, by having the children do necessary things together, is fundamental but would lack the exercise of the imagination which would be given by the social game of Froebel. In the game the child would see in epitome the forms and results of social co-operation and so have these ideas brought to consciousness with much more distinctness. Muscle exercise is developing and lessons in serving our neighbors are ethical, but these can be given the highest significance by cultivating the imagination at the same time.

Brehony, (2000) stated that Maria Montessori has a twofold advantage over Froebel in that she is living at a time when she can make use of the results of the experimental psychology and child-study of the last half- century, and in that her own training and experience have been of the broadest.

The first Montessori materials, those for fastening cloth together, are not duplicated in any way by the Froebelian materials. They give a child an opportunity to repeat some of the operations which he sees carried on around him and which often relate to him very personally. For this reason he is much interested in them. By isolating these operations and giving them under conditions which make it possible for him to practice them and test whether he can do them properly, the first step is taken in the scientific study of the environment, which is by isolating and concentrating on particular problems(Pendleton, 2002). Attention is paid to material and its limitations, there is only one correct solution, and there can be no intermediates between right and wrong in working out the problem. The very simplicity of having only two alternatives, but one of which is right, gives a little child a series of security in solving the problem and of mastery when the definite, easily seen end is accomplished.

Comparatively Maria Montessori's preparation was so much broader than that of Froebel, as her genius-creative and intuitive like his-had a severer, more scientific training; so, it seems to me, is the point of view of each essentially different.

According to Grewal, (1995) Froebel saw the universe in which he wished to interest the child in its unity and yet infinite variety. By means of the gifts, occupations, and games which his genius devised, the child is led into the different worlds which make up his environment-the world of sense, that of the family, the social organism in all its occupations, the world of Nature, and finally of the moral and spiritual life. While Froebel sees first the universe, then the child, Montessori's point of view is essentially and wholly that of the child. Frobel said: "Let us live with our children, play with them, direct them into this manifold life of the universe." (Pendleton, 2002, p. 85)

Madame Montessori says: "Let the child live, free to develop all his powers; let him create his own world" (Montessori, 1948, p. 74). Froebel's teachers are in front of their children, leading them, directing them; Montessori's are behind theirs, watching them, quietly removing all obstacles to their development, silently placing within their reach all helps to their progress, but leaving the initiative entirely to the children. Conciseness, simplicity, objectivity are their watchwords. The Froebelian training of the senses is too much that of the eye, by it perception is developed, through analysis, not synthesis; too much use is made of the instinct of imitation, not enough that of creation. Froebel's system stimulates too soon the reasoning powers of the child and does not strengthen the nervous system and muscular memory.

Perhaps a comparison of the materials employed in each system will explain this difference. The first exercises in the Montessori system are those of practical life. The child is taught to love cleanliness and order.

Children of three learn to button, hook, lace, tie bow knots, so that they are soon dressing and undressing themselves and others. The material for sense-training develops discrimination and exact use of language. Differences in shades of color, weight, and sound of objects are made without a mistake by very young children. For example, a child shakes, with her hand held to her ear, ten cylindrical cardboard boxes-like dice boxes-in which are pebbles or shot graded so as to make a series of five pairs; then deftly places them in order


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