rousseau theory education
Discourse on the Arts and Sciences (essay)
Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality
La Nouvelle Heloise
Lettre sur les spectacles
The Social Contract
Rousseau, juge de Jean Jacques
Les Muses galantes (opera)
Harrison, P. (1996). Rousseau: The first romantic. [On-line] , http://members.aol.com/Heraklit1/rousseau.htm
Roopnarine, J. L. , & Johnson, J. E. (Eds. ) . (1987) . Approaches to early childhood education. New York: Merrill.
Kreis, S. (1998). The history guide: Lectures on twentieth century europe. [On-line] , http://www.pagesz.net/
Briefly re-examining the main concepts of this paper, we see that Jean-Jacques Rousseau spun his web of ideas with threads that had far-reaching effects, leading ultimately to the educational systems that are extant today, certainly in the United States, Europe, and Russia. His influence on Pestalozzi, Tolstoy, and John Dewey was direct and profound, as each of them attempted to put into practice what they had interpreted, correctly or incorrectly, from reading Rousseaus Emile, forming the basis of progressive, or child-centered, education. Pestalozzi in turn instructed Froebel, who created the kindergarten and taught the concept to many, including Elizabeth Peabody who founded one of the early ones in America. She was also a close associate of Bronson Alcott who claimed not to have read Rousseau, although he was familiar with the works of both Pestalozzi and Froebel. Alcott was a teacher and an administrator in the progressive, child-centered mode. He also had an intimate relationship with Henry Brockmeyer and Willam Torrey Harris who, along with Dewey, were disciples of Hegel and instrumental in bringing his ideas to the United States.
He set forth his ideas about citizenship in The social contract (1762) and, much later, in “A letter to the government of Poland” (1772), proposed a national system of education charged with the responsibility of producing a competent body of voters. Much of that education would have as its goal the subjugation of personal interests to communal ones:
CE – Collier Encyclopedia, Vol 20:245
Educate to be a man, not one profession, he will be able to do whatever is needed in any situation B 18:37
Darling, J. (1994) Child-Centred Education and its Critics, London: Paul Chapman.
Rousseau’s is sometimes described as a romantic vision. ‘Romanticism’ is not an easy term to define – it is best approached as an overlapping set of ideas and values.
Amour de soi, amour propre and pitié are not the full complement of passions in Rousseau’s thinking. Once people have achieved consciousness of themselves as social beings, morality also becomes possible and this relies on the further faculty of conscience. The fullest accounts of Rousseau’s conception of morality are found in the Lettres Morales and in sections of the Confession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar, a part of Emile. In the most primitive forms of human existence, before the emergence of amour propre, pitié balances or restrains self-interest. It is, to that extent, akin to a moral sentiment such as Humean sympathy. But as something that is merely instinctual it lacks, for Rousseau, a genuinely moral quality. Genuine morality, on the other hand, consists in the application of reason to human affairs and conduct. This requires the mental faculty that is the source of genuinely moral motivation, namely conscience. Conscience impels us to the love of justice and morality in a quasi-aesthetic manner. As the appreciation of justice and the desire to act to further it, conscience is based on a rational appreciation of the well-orderedness of a benign God’s plan for the world. However, in a world dominated by inflamed amour propre, the normal pattern is not for a morality of reason to supplement or supplant our natural proto-moral sympathies. Instead, the usual course of events in civil society is for reason and sympathy to be displaced while humans’ enhanced capacity for reasoning is put at the service, not of morality, but of the impulse to dominate, oppress and exploit. (For recent discussion of Rousseau on conscience and reason, see Neidleman, 2017, ch. 7.)
Rousseau argues that in order for the general will to be truly general it must come from all and apply to all. This thought has both substantive and formal aspects. Formally, Rousseau argues that the law must be general in application and universal in scope. The law cannot name particular individuals and it must apply to everyone within the state. Rousseau believes that this condition will lead citizens, though guided by a consideration of what is in their own private interest, to favor laws that both secure the common interest impartially and that are not burdensome and intrusive. For this to be true, however, it has to be the case that the situation of citizens is substantially similar to one another. In a state where citizens enjoy a wide diversity of lifestyles and occupations, or where there is a great deal of cultural diversity, or where there is a high degree of economic inequality, it will not generally be the case that the impact of the laws will be the same for everyone. In such cases it will often not be true that a citizen can occupy the standpoint of the general will merely by imagining the impact of general and universal laws on his or her own case.