網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

to the Counsellor of War, Hoffmeister, the father of Froebel's first wife. In the Spring of 1813 he joined Lutzow's free corps in Dresden. While in service he became acquainted with Friederick Froebel and Heinrich Langethal—the former, " that strange owl, who goes his solitary way and reads something strange in stones and plants." He was in military service for a year. Then he was discharged with a reversionary into the Iron Cross and the place of an officer in case he should be called upon again. When Napoleon came back from Elba, he offered himself again to the corps, but was sent back to his studies by the influence of others. He returned to Berlin and became private teacher in the family of a banker. Langethal was at the same time private teacher in the family of the brother. Friederick Froebel received an appointment to the Mineralogical Museum of Berlin; he was an assistant of the well-known mineralogist, Weiss. The friendly relation between the three men was a very intimate one. The plan of founding an educational institution had been discussed by them while in service. But on account of outside obstacles the thought still slumbered in their minds. Then Froebel suddenly vanished, as he had received a call to Stockholm as Professor of Mineralogy. His friends knew nothing of him for a long time. At last he wrote to them from Griesheim and asked them to come to him. Middendorff did this in 1817, against the wish and in spite of the weeping prayers of his parents, who at last, calming their feelings, dismissed him with these words: “Heaven has richly blessed us, one must be sacrificed to the Lord !” Langethal soon followed the example of his friend, and thus began the life drama at Keilhau, which, in its trials, had a closer resemblance to a tragedy than a comedy.

In 1826 Middendorff was married, and was blessed with seven children. His family life was simple and earnest, but cheerful. He exacted from all its members an unselfish devotion to the idea which the founders of the Universal German Educational Institution were striving to realize, and would tolerate nothing useless or self-indulgent, not even in the days and weeks of customary reckless recreation. To his wife he was always tender, frank, and considerate; and his children, with whom he was strict, but not harsh, he put into the path of free development, and they always regarded him with great filial piety and tender reverence. He was a friend and example of order and neatness; and diligent and earnest, even to overworking, in his efforts to realize in the institution the idea, or disseminate a knowledge of its principles.

He was intensely patriotic and national, and to the German Parliament of 1848, he dedicated his treatise “ The Kindergartenthe need of the present time ;” and when the scarcely risen sun set again, he did not lose courage and hope. “Come let us live with our children," he cried so much the louder, with his friend Froebel, and when that friend departed this life, in 1852, he exclaimed, “Now I must be born!”

In the struggle precipitated by the Positivists, he declared himself

attached to that which, although unseen and spiritual, still was solid as the rock. “Faith sees the Infinite as the Being out of which everything that is, was, or will be, proceeds, even our own spirits. Faith is sensibility to the spirit of creation, and holds firmly and unchangeably to the Infinite, which is an immediate intuition, and manifests itself to the soul as the architype of the true, the right, and the good. Those who would imprison the spirit of Christianity in crystalized forms are the worst sort of Positivists."

On the 26th of November, 1853, Middendorff stepped to the window to look out on the fields and woods, while a deep snow was falling“Oh, how the snow enchants me!” and then returned to the group to which he was giving religious instruction, which having finished, he stepped again to the window and said: “See how nature lets everything apparently decay and fall, and seem to die; but it hides the new buds and the new life for the coming spring, only we cannot see them. So it is with human life.” He then played cheerfully with the children, and spoke in his last instruction on the immortality of the soul, suggested by his last look on the outer world. He died in the night of a nervous spasm, and his eyes were closed forever, Middendorff's motto was: Be transparent, true, and faithful.

SERVICES FOR KINDERGARTEN. Middendorff's great service to the Froebel idea, was in his unselfish devotion of himself for life to its realization in practical methods, and

the magnetic influence of his oral exposition of its principles in private, · and occasionally in public. His few printed thoughts are not of much pedagogical value.

In 1848 Middendorff published his “ Thoughts on the Kindergarten,” which he dedicated to the German Parliament (to which many appeals had gone up from the people for the improvement of the schools and of educational institutions generally), and to the beloved children, “ the budding hope of the people” to whom his whole life has been devoted.

To the inquiry “Why must the Kindergarten be?” Middendorff shows that parents generally have neither the knowledge or the leisure to look after the early development of the child's physical and mental faculties, and which will grow in some direction in spite of the indifference, ignorance, or perversity of parents or nurses. Intelligent parents gladly welcome the trained kindergartner.

To the inquiry, “How is a Kindergarten carried on,” the author describes briefly the whole process of child culture from the baby play and song to the later occupations and the Christmas festival.

To the inquiry, “What does the Kindergarten effect in the Child ?" Middendorff appeals to parents to come and see the real development of the whole being. Seeing is here—believing.

In the last division of his little treatise, the author unfolds the necessity and ways of meeting the higher and deeeper social and moral wants of the poorer classes of society, in the right beginnings of child culture which the Kindergarten offers in its plays and occupations.

First Beginning in Hamburg. Out of the stirring year, 1848, issued numerous projects of social and national reform, in some of which German women participated, particularly in the commercial city of Hamburg. Among other forms of this activity was the German Catholic Congregation, to which George Weigert was attached as the religious teacher. This society had turned its attention to Friederich Froebel, who had, in various ways, appealed to women as the true educators of the race, whose mission it was to clear the path for their own emancipation, and the elevation of humanity by a new education which should take hold of the child in the cradle and in the age of impressions when impressions are deepest and most lasting. To Froebel an invitation was extended to spend six months in Hamburg to give lectures, found Kindergartens, and train suitable persons to conduct the same.

In some complication of affairs growing out of the engagement with Carl Froebel, to establish a Girl's High School in Hamburg, Middendorff became personally known to the committee charged with that movement, and on the occasion of a visit to his daughter, in September, 1849, was invited to address the Woman's Union, to which known friends, doubters, and opposers of the new education were invited. When he closed his address all present were fused by his fervid eloquence, and-borne on the stream of his flowing narrative of work done at Keilhau, and clear statement of principles and glowing anticipations of good from the general and earnest enlistment of women in the work of their own emancipation, the ennobling of the family state, and the elevation of humanity-were united in a common feeling and purpose. On the evening of the 23d following Middendorff spoke again for two hours on the same themes to a numerous audience, with the same results, and when Froebel came, the way was open for him to begin his work.

If the immediate results in founding Kindergartens were not as marked as was anticipated by some of the original movers, this may be attributed partly to the absorption of a portion of the interest awakened by Middendorf which was personal to himself, by the Girl's High School movement; and partly to the delays in the growth of any institution, which depends on the coöperation of many independent agencies acting from different standpoints, and to the conflicting claims of other interests. One thing is certain, out of this purely accidental but always identically harmonious aimed labor of the two friends, the Kindergarten work was begun in Hamburg, and out of that beginning in 1849 has flowed a mighty stream of influence which has disseminated the Froebel idea to many countries.

CHARACTERISTIC Traits. By DR. DIESTERWEG."

The loved and lost we see no more,
But their glorious light we see,

Shining from the other shore. With these words of Goethe* I introduce the following tribute to the characteristic traits of William Middendorff. Whoever knew him will not soon forget him ; whoever came into his sphere was illuminated by the warmth and light which radiated from him; from many the benign influence has not yet passed away. To speak figuratively, he was a star that gratefully absorbed into itself the light of other stars; but he shone also with his own radiance.

A monument to Friedrich Froebel has been placed upon his grave, on the hill above Marienthal, in the beautiful church-yard that stands over the little city of Schweina, where the view of the castle of Altenstein and the ruins of Liebenstein enchants the traveler. The monument represents the cube, cylinder, and ball, the ground symbol of Froebel's intuition—and is hewn out of sandstone. A perishable monument! still it was excellently devised by Middendorff, But what need have men of the inner being of outward tokens of honor during their life time, or outward monuments after their death? Monuments are erected to the heroes of war; these men have made themselves an imperishable monument–if anything is imperishable in this world—in the hearts of men. The divine discovery of Johann Guttenberg offers itself as a fitting means of relating to their cotemporaries and successors the life of these noble friends of men. These words have this aim. May they find a receptive ear and heart !

As, according to Niebuhr's remarks, at the death of an honorable man in old Rome, there was not a sorrowful voice, but all took pains to honor his memory and to make known to a wide circle his services to his country and to life, together with his other virtues, so we, late minstrels of the dead (Epigoni), will do with our dead. An honorable remembrance is all we have to offer them. If further we are excited to emulate them, their influence extends beyond the limits of their immediate activity. I have nothing to say of Middendorff but what is good and noble. Indifferent readers might suspect that I am covering up or concealing weaknesses, exaggerating virtues, and, instead of giving historical traits, delivering a panegyric. It is not so; the truth is everything with me, but I have perceived nothing blameworthy in Middendorff. I do not think it useful to create beings of ideal perfection at the expense of truth; but it would be still more objectionable to hunt up weaknesses, if they did not present themselves. Of Middendorff it may truly be said, “He was a man whose steps may be followed, but whose place no man can fill."

*Was vergangen, kehrt nicht wieder; Doch was leuchtend ging hernieder, Leuchtet lange noch zurück.- Göthe.

Diesterweg's Püdagogisches Jahrbuch for 1855.

Lange, in his representation, does not disclaim the sentiment of a son-in-law, or daughter's husband, but far from falling into the rhetorical tone of the flatterer, he speaks only the language of a grateful son and of just veneration for a man who was not only his father, but his friend and teacher. Indeed, I am sure that he is so careful not to excite the opinion that he has said too much, that he holds back some information which I, who was not connected with Middendorff by the ties of relationship, but only (only, do I say?) of spiritual friendship, have undertaken to add. I speak, of course, not in the name of another, but in my own name.

But before I proceed I must, for the right estimate of the standpoint which I take in such a representation of another's life, repeat a saying of Wieland's, which he puts into the mouth of Diogenes of Synope: “A small mind perceives, in the narrow circle which he describes with his nose, the smallest motes. Hence the readiness with which Lilliputian minds are so much too active in perceiving little spots or little faults, while they are incapable of being touched by the beauty of a whole character. They do not consider that this sharp-sightedness for trifles is nothing but a childish trait, and that through their own inability to take in a whole and judge it correctly, they lack one of the most essential advantages by which a man may be discriminated from a creature in leading-strings.”

Unquestionably Froebel and Middendorff were both interesting men and belonged to this category. Both friends, whose friendship began in Lüzow's free corps and lasted through life, were pupils, esteemed disciples of Pestalozzi; Froebel was his immediate pupil. “The disciple is not above the master,” but the disciple works in the spirit of the master, else he does not deserve that title of honor. Rich is the creative power of the master of the world, but yet it seems, at times, that this power-ceases to act, who could think that !-manifests itself in other ways. Thus the spirit of Pestalozzi seems to vanish. Perhaps the men named were the last of his true pupils. That would be a matter of regret, for the spirit of Pestalozzi was the spirit of true ideality, and yet (or was it just for that reason the spirit of true love for the people, the lowly-born and the poor, the spirit of true pedagogy. We have, as teachers, the same right as other professions. Therefore, in modesty, we call the last century pedagogically the century of Pestalozzi, just as men in general speak of the century of Alex

« 上一頁繼續 »