Education Rousseau Jean Jacques Rousseau Term Paper

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To impart knowledge and to make a child invulnerable to harshness of the world, it was important to connect him to nature and make him an active learner through natural means. The author maintains that "The [rapport] of nature does not depend on us... The one of things depends on us only to some extent...the one of men is the only one of which we are the masters" (Emile 247). He combined nature and education claiming:

What is [the] aim of [education]? It is [the aim] of nature itself.... Since the participation of the three educations is necessary... one must direct the other two toward [nature] about which we can do nothing" (Emile 247)

The few things I truly admire about this theory include the use of nature for familiarizing the child with various objects. I feel that while exposing a child to harshness of nature is synonymous with cruelty, taking him out for walks through fields and parks to expose him to the beauty of nature is certainly useful. This helps him in development of his senses that usually lie dormant when world is shown through illustrations in a book. "We are born with the use of our senses, and from our birth we are affected in various ways by the objects surrounding us. As soon as we have, so to speak, consciousness of our sensations, we are disposed to seek or avoid the objects which produce them, at first according to whether they are pleasant or unpleasant to us, then according to the conformity or lack of it that we find between us and these objects, and finally according to the judgments we make about them on the basis of the idea of happiness or of perfection given us by reason." (p. 139)

Another note-worthy point in Emile's education is the use of lessons based on ancient wisdom. Rousseau maintains that a while needs to be wise and virtuous and must therefore be repeatedly told to do the right thing. However the way this lesson is imparted makes all the difference. Rousseau feels that it is better to teach the child to 'Do No Harm" than to instruct him to do good since the first lesson contains more wisdom.

The only lesson of morality appropriate to childhood, and the most important for every age, is never to harm anyone. The very precept of doing good, if it is not subordinated to this one, is dangerous, false, and contradictory." (p. 104)

However while most of the lessons taught in the book would make sense, there are some observations made by the author that are controversial and thus need more research. For example we must find out what child psychologists or theorists would say about exposing the child to the rough world at an early age. Similarly it is important to conduct deeper research into some other observations made including the argument on 'stupidity' being a sign of genius. Rousseau argues that a young quiet child is always more intelligent than loud and aggressive ones. He notes:

From giddy children come vulgar men. I know of no observation more universal and more certain than this one. Nothing is more difficult in respect of childhood than to distinguish real stupidity from that merely apparent and deceptive stupidity which is the presage of strong souls. It seems strange at first that the two extremes should have such similar signs. Nevertheless, it is properly so; for at an age when man as yet has nothing that is truly an idea, the entire difference between one who has genius and one who does not is that the latter accepts only false ideas, and the former, finding only such, accepts none. Thus the genius resembles the stupid child in that the latter is capable of nothing while nothing is suitable for the former." (p. 106)

Hence we can safely conclude that while Emile is certainly a great resource for educationists, it has its share of flaws since the observations and arguments are not based on scientific research on child development. It is based on one man's personal views and experiences and thus may or may not prove effective when applied to real-life situations. Rousseau applied his lessons on an imaginary child and therefore what happened to this child in the world of our imagination doesn't…[continue]

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