Norman Brosterman

“The charismatic German educator Friedrich Froebel (1782–1852) created the first kindergarten, a groundbreaking educational program for kids, in the 1830s. By the end of the nineteenth century, it had spread around the world and become a well-known institution. It recreates the most effective system for educating young children about art, design, mathematics, and natural history ever created using outstanding visual material.
Aside from nature study, singing, dancing, and storytelling, kindergarten—a Froebel invention combining the German words for children and garden—involved playing with the so-called Froebel gifts, a series of 20 educational toys that gained enormous popularity in the nineteenth century and included building blocks, parquet tiles, origami papers, modeling clay, sewing kits, and other design projects.
Norman Brosterman, an architect and artist, narrates Froebel’s life story, explains his objectives and educational philosophy, and – most impressively – describes each gift, illustrating it with numerous examples of artwork created by nineteenth-century kindergarten teachers and students as well as diagrams from long-forgotten kindergarten textbooks.
Brosterman demonstrates how this extensive training program might have impacted the development of art history in a part of the book devoted to the history of abstract art and modern architecture. He shows how the design principles of kindergarten anticipated modern conceptions of the aesthetic power of geometric abstraction by using examples from the works of significant artists who attended kindergarten, including Georges Braque, Piet Mondrian, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Le Corbusier, among others.”