The American Ideal of the Kindergarten. Motive for Work

Margaret E. Schallenberger
1907 The Elementary School Teacher  
Perhaps no educational department is so widely known and so pronouncedly misunderstood as to its motive as the kindergarten. Not only may this be said of its patrons, fond and often ignorant mothers at all levels of the social strata; but it is true to an enormous and, at first glance, surprising extent of educators themselves. This gross general misconception is due probably to the fact that for a long time the kindergarten was set apart from the general scheme of education. There were the
more » ... There were the primary, grammar, and high schools, and, as a climax to the series, if one went on, the university. The kindergarten was a side issue-a little play or toy school-in the narrowest sense of the word play-sometimes functioning, sometimes not, always an extra, never an essential, always a special type, or variation, never a universally recognized and accepted form of education. This being the case, the kindergarten as a factor in childdevelopment has not been seriously considered. Therefore its motive has not been seriously studied by educators at large. Here and there, to be sure, we find most careful investigators, many of whom are able writers, so that we in America now possess, aside from the contributions furnished by other countries, a kindergarten literature of our own of no mean quality; but comparatively few people have been inclined to read these publications, and a still smaller number have felt the necessity for doing so. Kindergartners themselves are partially responsible for this apathy. Their sunny child gardens were filled for long years, notwithstanding the protests of many able leaders, with ignorant, poorly paid women, who, dazzled by the bright colors and bewildered by the vast mass of novel material thrust upon them, flitted hither and thither among the little people and their
doi:10.1086/453700 fatcat:72eobe6nb5cytbz5mxsoy4rrim