Sunday, February 14, 2016

Reading Glassie's Folk Housing in Middle Virginia using Fröbel's Kindergarten Gift

This week, two classes I am taking this semester converged in interesting ways. In Constructionism our task was to explore one of Fröbel's gifts. My gift was number 6, a square shaped box containing wooden blocks that can be explored through various spatial and pattern arrangments. Gift 6 is an extension of Gift 4 and 5, which all represent simple play things that are intended to foster a child's creativity. The solid parts teach relativity, metamorphosis, and unity: as the child assembles different shapes out of the parts, she notices that various formations can be created our of the same building blocks (Brosterman, 1997).

For my Material Culture course we are reading one book each week. This week, we read Henry Glassie's work on Folk Housing in Middle Virginia, in which he is presenting a structural analysis of architectural structures. In short, Glassie is drawing on semiotics and a language metaphor for the study of materials by suggesting that there is a certain grammar that underlies the architectural competence of the builders. In his analysis Glassie presented specific rule for building deduced from close observations. The rules are detailed and it is at times challenging to imagine the way they represent themselves in buildings and how some rules seem to be presented as dependent one others or necessarily have other rules follow them.

To better understand Glassie's structural analysis, I used Fröbel's Gift 6 as a way to layout the rules on my kitchen table. By making the rules visible and tangible, I was able to better connect to Glassie's analysis. Here is a picture essay that lays out the main rules using the building blocks in Fröbel's gift 6:
I laid out an approximation of the scale of the basic shapes.
I used base shape "X" to start my structure. To extend my base shape built up in 3 dimensions by treading the shape equally, meaning that I did not change the base shape as I built upwards. 
 I explored rules of massing and piercing, by adding windows to my 1 story tall structure
Here a backward expansion is shown, to illustrate the way the structure would be pierces to create an opening between the first and second base shape. 
I added roofing onto the shape in order to further extend upwards.

This is the final presentation of the rules combined. 

Lastly, I tried to construct a Type 1 house with the building blocks of Fröbel's Gift 6. It was actually quite complicated to construct the house with the materials available, and I had to employ mathematical reasoning related to geometry and fractions to make this simple structure.

This exploration helped me appreciate the value of the gifts in a practical way beyond early childhood education. The shapes themselves made it possible for me to approach complex analysis of a field that I am new to in more concrete ways. I think that it would be wonderful to include more concrete, yet simple tools like the Fröbel's gifts throughout educations rather than only during Kindergarten and doctoral studies. 

No comments:

Post a Comment