HISTORY OF THE DAY … from the Writer’s Almanac for today, 8/24/20:
On this date in 1873, the St. Louis, Missouri, school board authorized the first public kindergarten in the United States. The driving force behind the kindergarten was Susan Blow. She was a highly intelligent but mostly self-educated woman who had grown up in a wealthy St. Louis family. When she took a trip to Germany after the American Civil War, she was impressed by the work of Friedrich Froebel. Froebel had developed what he dubbed a “kindergarten” — a garden of children, with teachers as the “gardeners.” Blow saw that in Froebel’s kindergartens, young children were learning language, math, and science concepts through play. She began studying everything she could get her hands on, intending to bring the kindergarten concept to the United States. “If we can make children love intellectual effort,” she wrote, “we shall prolong habits of study beyond school years.”
Blow’s father approached Dr. William Torrey Harris, the St. Louis school superintendent, about opening an experimental kindergarten. He agreed, and sent Susan Blow to New York to study for a year. She offered to direct the kindergarten for free, if the school board would provide her with a classroom and a teacher. She set up a bright, colorful classroom with kid-sized tables and benches. The kindergarten was a rousing success. Blow directed the kindergarten for 11 years, at her own expense and at the cost of her health; when she retired, the St. Louis schools were serving 9,000 kindergarteners. And by the time she died in 1916, more than 400 cities offered public kindergarten in their schools.
Image: woodleywonderworks, “kindergarten, in session” via Flickr
I wonder if churches need something like kindergarten, with “soul gardeners” to help people move on from spiritual infancy to spiritual learning …