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A discussion on the theories of the child and the inextricable link to education

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The modern conception of childhood.
  3. The German educator Friedrich Froebel.
  4. Froebel's continuous studies of the ideas concerning 'the child'.
  5. A time of individualism and creativity.
  6. The first Waldorf School.
  7. Teaching children between the ages of six and fourteen.
  8. The observation of nature.
  9. Bibliography.

Educational provision has always involved much more than the ways of accumulation of academic knowledge. It has been central to the processes by which ideas of childhood has been socially constructed and, therefore, its history has much to tell us about the development of different educational systems in the context of changing ideologies in a changing society. At all times there was a very close connection between beliefs about childhood and educational provision of the society within which those beliefs had been held. Until sometime around the twelfth century, European society did not see childhood as a distinct period of development the way that we do now. Children were viewed as miniature adults and participated fully in adult life.

[...] The dominating factor of a child's education at that stage is based on a play, but the play is not limited only by toys: it includes painting, cooking, learning nursery rhymes and action songs, little plays, festivals everything that helps to develop imagination and nature of the child. Teaching children between the ages of six and fourteen are different both in content and method: it becomes an education of the feelings and of the heart. There is no competition between pupils, no marks, no rewards, but there is always help and correction if necessary. [...]

[...] In contrast to this perception, a second perception of the child arose among groups that stood in opposition: the church, the moralists, and the pedagogues, who felt responsible for the spiritual development of the child. They believed that children need education and discipline, and simultaneous with the new interest in the psychology of the child, they drafted a demand for an educational system that would satisfy these needs: the child was perceived as a delicate creature, who must be protected, educated, and moulded in accordance with the current educational beliefs and goals?. [...]

[...] In the Waldorf School children feel themselves at home and they learn better in a warm and cosy atmosphere of colour, movement, repetition, imitation and imagery: ?Through imitation of what is beautiful and meaningful a child will learn purpose and initiative.? (Steiner p.26) New century brought new ideas into the educational system. Despite that, the practical application of Freidrich Froebel and Rudolf Steiner's work continues apace, proving its relevance to the modern world. Today, literally thousands of organizations based on his philosophy are in existence. [...]

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