Oct 20, 2014

On Froebel's Mother's Play

I am lucky to have a Froebel friend overseas. She's a passionate Froebelian, very kind and attentive. You can meet Tiffeni on her website or on Facebook.
She's determined to share and spread what she knows about Froebel and his philosophy and I have accepted the challenge of her first Parent/Teacher Training Class: 
Nature as inspiration
We had to choose a book written by Froebel. I've been reading the book Mottoes and Commentaries on Friedrich Froebel’s Mother Play which, despite not being written by him, it includes his Mother Plays and comments.
I must say that I have really enjoyed this assignment. As Froebel himself says, it is not a book just for children, but a "family book". I love how he constantly seeks for unity, and how he presents Nature as a mirror of human life. And, at the center of it, there are the child and her mother, the one in charge of her physical nourishment when she was a baby, but also the one in charge of feeding her soul in the same way.
There are some quotes from the book I loved, but I've chosen these fragments:

"Have you ever reflected upon the important bearing of measure, rhythm, and proportion upon man's daily life? (...) Do you desire that his life be a musical and harmoniuos one? If so, cultivate his love of song and his ability to sing."
"Higher and more important than the cultivation of man's outer ear is the culture of that inner sense of harmony (...) The importance of wakening the inner ear to this music of the soul can scarcely be exaggerated. Learning to hear it within, the child will strive to give it outer form and expresion; and even if in such effort he is only partially successful, he will gain thereby the power to appreciate the more successful effort of others" 
"Mother, try to make your child feel its music"

And here are my answers to Tiffeni's assignment:
How does the quote make you feel? I really like the metaphor of harmony, proportion and rhythm as something we can find both in nature and within ourselves. Such achievement of a harmoniuos life should be what all mothers seek for our children. I really feel in tune with Froebel's words in this passage.
Is it applicable for today? Of course, especially today when music (and arts in general) seem to be a secondary subject in the official curriculum. Cultivating a sensibility for the "outer ear" becomes a bit neglected in most schools due to a negligent education policy. Not to speak of how feelings are not usually taken into account. The "inner ear", the one which provides inner peace and balance should be carefully nurtured, educated and protected.  
Can the quote you chose be turned into a lesson? If so, what age group (Babyhood, Toddlerhood, Kindergarten, Connecting School, Academic Years, or beyond)? Many ideas come to my mind. 
One lesson could consist in a nature walk in order to find harmony, beauty and proportion in nature, what could be called "music for our eyes". Another options could be stopping at some time in our nature walk and listening to the sounds of nature, trying to recognise them.
We could learn about Buddhism and/or meditation as a means to listening to your inner music. 
We could create mandalas.
We could dance to our favourite music. Biodance?
We could listen to famous composers and try to find what inspired them, etc.
We could also listen to traditional pieces of music which are associated to a given festival.
Most of the activities proposed might be applied to one or more of the different age groups. I think there is at least one activity for each.
Do you need any materials to teach the lesson? Can you use the Froebel Gifts & Occupations in the lesson?
For the creation of mandalas, for example, we could use flowers, leafs, and natural materials. We may also use the Gifts and Occupations. 
Think about the other key factors of Froebel's philosophy: Nature Study, Music, Movement, Festivals. Can any of these be included? All of them can be included

Thanks for your comments 

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