Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Invention of the Day: Kindergarten, learning by playing.

In 1837 Friedrich Fröbel, a German educator, founded care, playing and activity institute for small children in Bad Blankenburg. Three years later he came up with a short name for his creation - Kindergarten. Fröbel's idea was based on an insight that young children learn best while playing, rather than working on specific tasks assigned by the teacher in a formal school environment. Remarkably, Fröbel himself was an orphan and never had children of his own. His entire life was devoted to educating other people's children.

Although today the concept of "learning by playing" seems obvious, in the 19th century it seemed revolutionary and even subversive. In 1851, the Prussian government banned all Kindergatens as “atheistic and demagogic” for its alleged “destructive tendencies in the areas of religion and politics”.

Most societies in the developed world have adopted the Kindergarten model as a key part of formal elementary school education. In the US, kindergarten education is compulsory from age 5 or 6. Kids must learn by playing!

From an innovator perspective, the Kindergarten education "technology" succeeded because it 1) leveraged young children's natural ability to learn by playing; 2) helped parents, especially working women who didn't have neither time nor educational background, to prepare their children for school. As education became a critical element of a person's social success, the market for Kindergarten expanded worldwide.

tags: invention, innovation, education, gaming, dominant design

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