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The Transatlantic KindergartenEducation and Women's Movements in Germany and the United States$
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Ann Taylor Allen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190274412

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190274412.001.0001

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Who Is the Child? Science and Pedagogy

Who Is the Child? Science and Pedagogy

(p.87) 4 Who Is the Child? Science and Pedagogy
The Transatlantic Kindergarten

Ann Taylor Allen

Oxford University Press

Around 1890, the new science of child psychology transformed views of child development and education. Psychologists objected that the kindergarten’s pedagogy was based on ideas that they considered unscientific and outdated. Whereas Fröbel had emphasized children’s spiritual development, psychologists shifted the emphasis to their physical growth. Experts in child development wanted kindergarten teachers to eliminate Fröbel’s games, which they thought were too intricate and complex, to permit more spontaneous play, and to base their curriculum on everyday activities and work skills. In both the United States and Germany, these new ideas caused deep tensions within the kindergarten movement. Gender was an issue, for male academics’ criticisms of women teachers and theorists carried overtones of misogyny. The proving ground for any kind of pedagogy was the kindergarten classroom, which in the United States often included children of many ethnic backgrounds. Kindergarten teachers struggled to adapt their teaching to this diverse group.

Keywords:   child psychology, kindergarten, pedagogy, misogyny, ethnic diversity

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