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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET which children and families are privileged with a positive view of who they are and thus offered more expansive possibilities, and which children and families are continually viewed as deficient, “not able” and not deserv- ing of time to play and experience the joy, rather than the stress, of learn- ing. Addressing that inequity has great potential to erase the inequities in school achievement. Finding Inspiration from Early Pioneers well do our history , How and philosophical you know and political field’s influences as that a profession: shaped the it? In theories have studying the forebears (John Dewey, Friedrich Froebel, Maria Montessori, Caroline Pratt, Patty Smith Hill, Rudolf Steiner, and others) who laid the foundation for early care and education program environments in the United States, we find important concepts that are seldom referred to by today’s practitioners outside of specialized child development circles. Perhaps this is because teacher education hasn’t included this history or much about philosophy and theory. Despite any limitations in their think- ing, there is much to learn from these pioneers. Postmodern thinkers and academics see the limitations and bias of the constructs that have shaped our US early childhood education practice. Overall, US constructs of “best practice” have focused more on individual developmental theories and less on sociocultural ones. Legitimate criticism has been leveled at some of these early thinkers—for instance, Jean Piaget—because each of them came out of a particular historical context and cultural setting with inter- nal contradictions that suggest their ideas might be less relevant or unsuit- able for today’s world. Designs for Living and Learning doesn’t advocate any strict philosophical stance or endorse a single theoretician; as authors, we acknowledge an eclectic set of influences. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, several important educators began challenging the notion of sterile, passive classroom environments and launched a movement for children to have hands-on learning materi- als and experiences. German educator Friedrich Froebel, referred to as “the father of kindergarten,” launched a far-reaching revolution in early child- hood education by offering physical objects to children as the basis of their learning. He designed blocks and other playthings to be a series of “gifts and occupations” that are part of a systematic method for teaching chil- dren through manipulatives. We agree with the criticism that his approach was too structured and limited children’s self-initiated engagement. However, the important idea of offering children aesthetically pleasing manipulative materials as “invitations to learning” has its roots in Froebel’s COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduc tion ] 3