Sunday, April 21, 2013

Today in Labor History: April 21

Friedrich Froebel, 1897

April 21, 1782—Friedrich Froebel was born. Froebel was a German pedagogue who coined the term “kindergarten” and produced the first educational toys, known as Froebel Gifts. Froebel was one of the first to recognize of the importance of activity and play in early childhood (Freiarbeit, or free work), as well as the notion that one learns by doing. Thus, kindergarten was not simply a poetic “garden” of children, but a literal garden for them to observe and interact with the natural world. Froebel’s kindergartens were suppressed by the Prussian government for its supposed denigration of religion and politics. He rejected the notion of original sin and promoted and practiced the coeducation of boys and girls. He also felt children should be able to grow and develop without the influence of arbitrary political and social priorities—ideas that would endear him to anarchists like Francisco Ferrer and others in the Modern School movement. (For more on Froebel, click here)

April 21, 1834 – 30,000 marched for the freedom of trade unionists transported to Australia from Tolpuddle, Britain. The Tolpuddle struggle, which began in 1832, for the repeal of the “Combination Laws,” marked the beginning of British trade unionism. (From the Daily Bleed
Caricature of the Bonnot Gang
Victor Serge
April, 21, 1913Andre Soudy and Raymond Callemin, members of the anarchist Bonnot Gang, were executed. Callemin had started the individualist paper "L'anarchie" with Victor Serge. The Bonnot Gang was a band of French anarchists (plus Serge, who was Russian) who tried to fund their movement through robberies in 1911-1912. The Bonnot Gang was unique, not only for their politics, but for their innovative use of technology, too. They were among the first to use cars and automatic rifles to help them steal, technology that even the French police were not using. While many of the gang members were sentenced to death, Serge got five years and eventually  went on to participate in (and survive) the Barcelona and Soviet uprisings. Later, while living in exile, Serge wrote The Birth of Our Power. (From the Daily Bleed and Wikipedia)
Jules Bonnot, Dead
 April 21, 1921 – Police fired on striking miners in Butte, Montana. (From the Daily Bleed)

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