The Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education at Maynooth University was formally established on 1 September 2013. Formerly known as the Froebel College of Education, it is the first teacher education college in the history of the state to become fully incorporated into a university campus.
Froebel’s move from its campus in Blackrock, Co. Dublin, out to Maynooth University, is a major departure. Not only is this the first time in the history of the state that primary teachers are being educated entirely on a university campus, but it is also the first time that any third-level institution in Ireland has offered the full spectrum of teacher education, encompassing pre-school, primary, post-primary, adult and further education. Additionally, for the first time, students from all religious backgrounds and none can learn alongside one another in an institution renowned for its commitment to inclusion and diversity. Studying on a university campus has proven an extremely attractive option for prospective primary school teacher as applications for places soared in the last few years since the announcement of the move to this vibrant, dynamic and energetic campus.
Froebel College was founded in 1943 and governed, until 2013, under the trusteeship of the Congregation of Dominican Sisters. Fundamentally influenced by the ideas of the German philosopher and educator Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852), it is, and always has been, a forward-thinking and outward-looking centre of learning.
Friedrich Froebel, founder of the Kindergarten movement, was a progressive and pioneering educational philosopher whose ideas about early care and education have a legacy that has spread throughout the world. In keeping with his philosophies, the Froebel Department encourages its students to nurture the harmonious and holistic development of young children. Additionally, respect for the individuality and ability of each child are emphasised by encouraging the child to become an active agent in his/her own learning.
Creating a happy, harmonious environment in which the child can grow requires Froebel teachers to be sensitive, open, and approachable. Within this environment, self-activity and play are valued as the foundations on which the integrated development of the whole person is built. Froebel taught that family and home play a central role in the child’s education and his appreciation for the interconnectedness of all nature is taking shape in the emphasis on environmental pedagogy today.
A Froebel graduate is recognisable for his/her ability to get the best from their students by nurturing their imaginations, creativity and critical faculties in an environment that respects the dignity and individuality of each child.
With seventeen full-time and two part-time staff from a range of diverse backgrounds and specialities, students learn the most appropriate methods for teaching all the subjects in the Primary School Curriculum such as Languages, Mathematics, Sciences, the Arts and Social, Personal, Physical and Religious Education. In addition, students must be conversant with educational theories found in Psychology, Philosophy, History and Sociology of Education.
The research profile of the Froebel staff reflects the multiple disciplinary nature of teacher education programmes. Much research reflects the commitment to building on evidence based in classroom practice. Hence, a strong focus has been on conducting classroom-based research within many primary schools in Ireland and abroad especially in developing countries such as Kenya and India. In recent years, the Department has hosted a number of highly successful national and international conferences on primary and early childhood education. Now at Maynooth University, there are greater opportunities than ever before.