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Friedrich Froebel
by [?]

Froebel was not disappointed in Pestalozzi, and certainly Pestalozzi was delighted and a bit amused at the earnestness of the young man. Pestalozzi was working in a very economical way, but all the place lacked Froebel, in his exuberant imagination, made good.

Froebel found much, for he had brought much with him.

* * * * *

Froebel returned to Frankfort from his visit to Pestalozzi, full of enthusiasm, and that is the commodity without which no teacher succeeds. Gruner allowed him to gravitate. And soon Froebel’s room was the central point of interest for the whole school. But trouble was ahead for Froebel.

He had no college degrees. His pedagogic pedigree was very short. He hoped to live down his university record, but it followed him. Gruner’s school was under government inspection, and the gentlemen with double chins, who came from time to time to look the place over, asked who this enthusiastic young person was, and why had the worthy janitor and ex-forester been so honored by promotion.

In truth, during his life, Froebel never quite escaped the taunt that he was not an educated man. That is to say, no college had ever supplied him an alphabetic appendage. He had been a forester, a farmer, an architect, a guardian for boys and a teacher of women, but no institution had ever said officially he was fit to teach men.

Gruner tried to explain that there are two kinds of teachers: people who are teachers by nature, and those who have acquired the methods by long study. The first, having little to learn, and a love for the child, with a spontaneous quality of giving their all, succeed best.

But poor Gruner’s explanation did not explain.

Then the matter was gently explained to Froebel, and he saw that in order to hold a place as teacher he must acquire a past. “Time will adjust it,” he said, and started away on a second visit to Pestalozzi. His plan was to remain with the master long enough so he could secure a certificate of proficiency.

Again Pestalozzi welcomed the young man, and he slipped easily into the household and became both pupil and teacher. His willingness to work–to do the task that lay nearest him–his good-nature, his gratitude, won all hearts.

At this time the plan of sending boys to college with a tutor who was both a companion and a teacher, was in vogue with those who could afford it. It will be remembered that William and Alexander von Humboldt received their early education in this way–going with their tutor from university to university, teacher and pupils entering as special students, getting into the atmosphere of the place, soaking themselves full of it, and then going on.

And now behold, through Gruner or Pestalozzi or both, a woman of wealth with three boys to educate applied to Froebel to come over into Macedonia and help her.

It was in Eighteen Hundred Seven that Froebel became tutor in the Von Holzhausen family. He was twenty-five years old, and this was his first interview with wealth and leisure. That he was hungry enough to appreciate it need not be emphasized.

He got goodly glimpses of Gottingen, Berlin, and was long enough at Jena to rub the blot off the ‘scutcheon. A stay at Weimar, in the Goethe country, completed the four years’ course.

The boys had grown to men, and proved their worth in after-years; but whether they had gotten as much from the migrations as their teacher is very doubtful. He was ripe for opportunity–they had had a surfeit of it.

Then came war. The order to arms and the rush of students to obey their country’s call caught Froebel in the patriotic vortex, and he enlisted with his pupils.

His service was honorable, even if not brilliant, and it had this advantage: the making of two friends, companions in arms, who caught the Pestalozzian fever, and lived out their lives preaching and teaching “the new method.”