Archive for July 18th, 2009

Kinder-Garten: Using the “Object Method”

July 18, 2009
Painting by D Lacey Derstine (Image from www.dailypainters.com)

Painting by D Lacey Derstine (Image from http://www.dailypainters.com)

The Kinder-Garten.

Some of our citizens are talking up the matter of organizing a Kinder-garten with the opening of spring or summer.

Kinder-garten is a German word, and means a children’s garden, or nursery, a primary school in which young children are taught the rudiments of education by what is known as the object method. It is a school in which it is sought to promote the physical growth of the child by judicious exercise under the supervision of an instructor, to teach proper forms of speech, the correct use and meaning of works from their application to familiar objects. The Kinder-gaertnerin takes the place of the mother in directing the child in its mental and physical growth, and prepares it for the more abstract studies of the school room.

This method was first introduced by Pestolotzi, an eminent educator of Switzerland, nearly a century ago, and has been in vogue in that country and Germany ever since, and of late years has been introduced into the primary schools of this country in the imperfect form of object lessons, which at one time had attained a high degree of popularity in the primary grades of our Union Schools, but soon lost ground, and in most places has been entirely abandoned, mostly for want of proper skill on part of the teachers, for no one can become a good instructor of children by the objective method without natural fitness and acquired tact. It is a method of teaching in which there is no text book to depend upon, and the teacher cannot be a machine run by books, but must be a living intellectual model and guide to the pupil in leading the way to the discovery of knowledge.

In a Swiss city, a Kinder garten, as the name implies, is a real garden, with its flower beds, its walks, its fountains, its shade trees, its play houses, and rooms for instruction supplied with an endless variety of objects. The children are not required to curve their spines over books, and memorize what is to them meaningless forms of words, for hours at a time, but are taught living ideas by observation, by means of objects and charts, and after half an hour’s in-door instruction, they accompany their teacher to enjoy the open air in health-giving exercise and observation.

It is very common in Switzerland to see a teacher and his pupils out upon the streets, in the parks, or climbing the mountains, rambling through the forest, studying the paragraphs and looking at the grand pictures of the book of nature learning here a lesson in botany by observing the tiny flower, the lofty pines, and spreading beeches, and studying the mosses and the lichens, and learning to trace the foot prints of the Creator o’er the rocks, through the gullies, along the babbling brooks, up the mountains, by dashing waterfalls, to the massive glaciers, and up to the eternal snows.

Our educational method deals too much with the abstract; our children ought to learn more about the material world, and plants, animals and insects, and above everything else they ought to learn the human organism and the laws of health — but we are digressing. In conclusion we bid God speed to the Kinder-garten project and hope the undertaking may prove successful.

Elyria Constitution, The (Elyria, Ohio) Jan 24, 1878

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The Wesley Center Online has an interesting  article from 1863, that describes several “object method” lesson ideas:

The Methodist Quarterly Review
October, 1863

ART. VII.-OBJECT TEACHING AS APPLIED TO PRIMARY EDUCATION.
Calkin’s Object-Lessons. New York: Harper & Brothers.