Studies in Philosophy and Education

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 427–444

Froebel and the Rise of Educational Theory in the United States


DOI: 10.1007/s11217-004-4453-0

Cite this article as:
Sophia Baader, M. Stud Philos Educ (2004) 23: 427. doi:10.1007/s11217-004-4453-0


This contribution compares entries on Friedrich Froebel and the kindergarten in German and United States’ histories of education from 1857 to 1933. In the American histories, Froebel appears as the great “hero” of education of the 19th century, whereas in the German histories, Pestalozzi is the “hero.” This difference in the perspectives goes back to fundamental differences in the political culture and political traditions of the two countries, which differed greatly as to the shaping of the public and private spheres. Consequently, there were also different views on public education. In the immigration society of the United States, it was important to integrate children with various language and cultural backgrounds. As families could not do this alone, public kindergartens were needed. In Germany, in contrast, Froebel’s idea of the kindergarten was seen as an attack on family ties, and Pestalozzi was highly esteemed, because he made home education central. The American interest in “making citizens” produced Froebel as the hero; the German interest in leaving the education of young children to mothers and in the family lauded Pestalozzi. This case study of the reception of Froebel in Germany and the United States illustrates the high context-dependence of the construction of educational “heroes.”


comparative pedagogical historiography family Froebel German and American histories of education kindergarten in Germany and the United States making citizens Pestalozzi public and private sphere public school system the revolutionary movements of 1848/49 in Germany 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für PädagogikUniversität PotsdamPotsdamGermany

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