The principles and practices of modern early childhood education have their ori+00AD gins in the past. As Evelyn Weber ( 1984) states, "contemporary theory has its roots in the past in a very real sense. In education tradition lingers long; ideas from the past intermingle with newer insights."
One of the founders of modern early childhood education is Johann Amos Comenius , a Moravian bishop who believed in social reform through education. His General Postulates of Teaching and Learning, which appeared in his book The Great Didactic ( 1657), can be considered one of the first descriptions of a system of education designed specifically for young children. Comenius advocated learning through the senses by direct experience because sense impressions would be internalized and stored for future interpretation. According to Curtis and Boultwood ( 1961), Comenius believed that "the acquisition of knowledge is essentially based on activity followed by reasoning. Rudolph and Cohen ( 1964) apply Comenius' idea to kindergarten curriculum: only by building on what the senses contact, will the child be ready for the symbolic learning that will come in time. We provide the experiences that children store for an understanding of concepts they will encounter later.
Comenius believed in education for all regardless of gender or social standing because, as Randolph Pounds ( 1968) states, his was a ladder system in which all children would "take the same route and would . . . stop at different levels. Comenius also believed in individual differences among children. As Keating ( 1921) translates, the same method cannot be applied to all alike. Each one will develop in the direction of his natural inclinations. His system of education was divided into four levels, from infancy to adulthood, outlining the types of educational experiences required at each stage of development from "the School of the Mother's Knee, using nursery school and kindergarten methods, to university and travel for the youth and adult. This division of the educational experience with recognition of the special needs of young children was new. Other scholars built on the work done by Comenius to further the concept of early education.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau advocated naturalism in education, believing that children were good if they were raised away from the evils of society. According to Bayles and Hood ( 1966), Rousseau believed that if a child were protected from society, his/her own "innate tendencies would have the opportunity to grow and unfold in accordance with its own nature.
In order to allow children to grow and learn naturally, Rousseau envisioned a system of education radically different from the prevailing practices. Émile, Ou Traité de L'Éducation, was published in 1763 in novel form as a plea for the right of children to be children. Rousseau based his theory on the belief that each child is