Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cultivating Individuality?

I am reading a Kindle book called Guide to the Kindergarten and Intermediate Class and Moral Culture of Infancy. I thought this was interesting, from the preface to the second edition:

The only mistake in idea which I see that I made in my "Guide," was making it the object of the teacher to cultivate the individualities of each pupil especially. This is not even desirable, and would require the intuitive genius of Froebel in every single teacher. In a true art of education, individualities will be tenderly respected; but it is not what is individual, but what is common to all (or that universal of[v] human nature which rises into the divine creative), which is to be cultivated especially. Every process of Froebel's Kindergarten is good for all children, and, interfering with nothing original, leaves their individualities free to express themselves sufficiently. For individual varieties are irrefragable, and give piquancy and beauty to human life, except they are pampered,—when they become deformities. To follow universal laws in their orderly development, ensures a necessary harmony with others, while a margin is always to be left for invention, which is what gives conscious freedom, and makes obedience no longer blind and passive, but intelligent and active; every healthy instinct and affection becoming at last spiritual law.

By the way, looking up the authors, Mary Mann and Elizabeth Peabody, I find they were quite eminent people.   Mary Mann was married to Horace Mann, and Elizabeth Peabody worked at Bronson Alcott's Temple School, while their younger sister Sophia married Nathaniel Hawthorne.  As well as having interesting connections, they were also well known as educationists and publishers in their own right.   

What I thought about this quote was the distinction between teaching directly to individualities and teaching what is common to humans, with respect for individualities.   It seems related to something Charlotte Mason said about not letting children too narrowly follow their own bent.   Though one might find his meat in Plato and another in Peter Pan, it is good to be given access to both.

I think this probably speaks to the learning styles, too.   One child may be more auditory and another more kinesthetic, but keeping everything directed mostly to one learning style seems to do the child a disservice in not giving him practice with the other areas.

I am not sure how much more I'll read of the book -- you see in the quote that there is some of that soft Transcendental type of language.   It takes a lot of energy to read practical books where the philosophy might be out of whack with one's own.    But it was sort of fun to find out that the authors were sisters and had such interesting lives and connections. 

1 comment:

I would love to hear your thoughts on this!