chapter  13
11 Pages


In Europe the disciples of Froebel were spreading his teaching, or various aspects of it, throughout such countries as Finland and Sweden. In Finland, Uno Cygnaeus (1810-88) did his utmost to permeate the elementary schools with Froebelian principles, and in 1886 'sloyd' (slojd) entered Finnish schools as a compulsory subject or occupation. This was a form of manual training which saw in the utilization of the knife, or penknife, a means of creativity. The word 'sloyd' meant the process of slicing or slashing, and the process derived from the fact that much of normal life involved the creation of useful, as well as beautiful, objects by use of the knife. Cygnaeus found that this manual form of activity was pragmatic in many ways; there is something therapeutic about cutting up in order to create since it combines two of man's diametrically opposed tendencies, namely, to destroy and to build. Europe generally was going through a period in which many of the old home industries were on the decline, and 'sloyd' at least provided children with the necessary skill to create as a hobby even if the total effect did little to arrest the general decline. Moreover, of course, educational ideas are amongst the most infectious in the world, however mangled and mismanaged they become in the process of transportation.