Friedrich Froebel - Keilhau

Universal German Education

Letter to Karl Christoph Friedrich Krause 1828

. . . After the war of the spring of 1813 had interrupted my studies, I returned to Berlin in 1814 to resume them and take up a scientific post. My work was to classify and partly to research into crystals. I worked under Weiss as an assistant in the mineralogical museum of the university. I had then attained my aim; for me now theory and its application, life, nature and mathematics were all to be studied in a single formation, the crystal, and a world of symbols opened to me.

It has long been my dearest wish to devote myself to an academic career, for I thought to find in it my vocation, the meaning of my life. But the opportunity to get to know students and see their slight knowledge of the subject, their small feeling for it, and still more their true lack of scientific spirit made me go back on my purpose. I became all the more strongly aware of man's claims to a life which should express his essential being, and so I began to think earnestly again about education and teaching. Therfore I stayed at my post only for two years, but meanwhile the stones in my hand and under my eyes became forms of life which spoke a language which I understood. The world of crystals clearly proclaimed the structure of man's life to me and spoke of the real life of his world.

I gave up everything and went back to education. I had to go back and try to apply to the education of man those laws of development of being which I glimpsed and seen reflected in nature. I had to educate man in accordance with th elaw of development to a realisation of his essential nature. So I gave up my position and left Berlin. Late in the autumn of 1816 I founded the educatiuonal work which, though it still exists under my influence and guidance, in the highest degree stands on its own.

I founded it by myself without any material resources at all, trusting to the eternal truth on which it was based and in God who has let the whole idea flower in my heart - he who has let me look into his world and gave me energy and courage to risk all for its realisation. I conceived this work - even if I could not put it into words - as of cosmic scope and lasting importance for mankind. Yet I connected it for this very reason with my owm personal life. Since I had no family of my own, I associated my enterprise with my beloved nephews and with my own native land of Schwartzburg and Thuringia and so with my real fatherland.

. . . But if on the contrary I had announced that I would educate them specifically to be servants, shoemakers or tailors, merchants or businessmen, soldiers or even noblemen, the I should certainly have won praise for the usefulness of my institution, and everyone would have loooked on it as somnething desrving adequate support from the State. I should have become a State machine; I should have become busy pressing out other machines. But I wanted to educate men to be free, to think, to take action for themselves

. . . Man should not be satisfied with an education which meets his needs only as a creature of this world but must be thoroughly prepared for all the phases of development in the natural world with which he is confronted, for the eternal here and beyond of each new moment of life, for eternal activity and life in God.

source: letter written in 1828 by Friedrich Froebel to Karl Krause

site map -

Copyright © 2002 All rights reserved.