Fröbel, Friedrich Wilhelm August (1782-1852).
Die Menschenerziehung, die Erziehungs-, Unterrichts- und Lehrkunst, angestrebt in der allgemeinen deutschen Erziehungsanstalt zu Keilhau.... Keilhau, Verlag der allgemeinen deutschen Erziehungsanstalt; Leipzig, A. Wienbrack, 1826.
8° (208x127 mm). , 497,  pages, plus one final leaf bearing a list of Fröbel's writing up to that date. Original printed boards. The explanatory notes of the two vignettes – 'Die Lilie im Garten' and 'Jesus im Tempel' – at the centre of the covers are pasted on the front and rear flyleaves. A very good copy, only slightly browned.
Provenance: Fröbel's friend and collaborator at Keilhau, Johann Heinrich Langethal (1792-1879; ownership inscription on the verso of the front flyleaf).
Rare first edition of Fröbel's first major work. Perhaps even more than Wie Gertrud ihre Kinder lehrte (1801) by Pestalozzi, who deeply influenced Fröbel, Die Menschenerziehung represents a milestone of modern pedagogical thought, and had an enormous impact on such later educators as Peter Petersen, Hermann Lietz, Maria Montessori, and John Dewey.
In 1816 Fröbel started his first school in the small village of Griesheim (in Hesse, Germany). A year later, the school moved a few miles away to another village, Keilhau, where his friends Wilhelm Middendorff and Johann Heinrich Langethal – the owner of the present copy – joined him to work as teachers. The number of pupils at the school soon grew, and more teachers were recruited. While at Keilhau, Fröbel had begun to publish his ideas in a weekly journal called Die erziehenden Familien, and in 1826 he privately published his Die Menschenerziehung.
The work outlines Fröbel's teaching methods and embodies a theory of education based on the principles of 'wholeness' (a child must be in harmony with nature and society), and 'activity' (in the sense that thinking and doing through play, learning, and work are the basis for a fully conscious and happy life for the individual and for society). The Prussian authorities were not enthusiastic about this eccentric man and his 'dangerous' ideas, and decided to investigate the practices at the school. Parents started removing their children; when finally only six students remained, the school had to be closed down. This, however, was not the end of Fröbel's career as school director; on the contrary, it marked only its beginning.
The present copy had once belonged to Johann Heinrich Langethal, one of Fröbel's closest collaborators at Keilhau. Born in Berlin, he first met Fröbel in 1813, and in 1817 he was among the founders of the Keilhau School.
H. Heiland, Bibliographie Friedrich Fröbel, Hildesheim-Zürich-New York, 1990, no. 0023; S. Hebenstreit, Friedrich Fröbel - Menschenbild, Kindergartenpädagogik, Spielförderung, Jena 2003; M. Berger, “Langethal, Johann Heinrich”, F. Marwinski (ed.), Lebenswege in Thüringen, Fünfte Sammlung, Jena 2015, pp. 171-176; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 267.