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in use in the; schools ; and so scholars should never be struck
with the band or the foot."

In other words, the teacher should never strike except
with the authorized instruments, and according to the official


298. Mutual Espionage. — We may say without exag-
geration that the Conduct recommends mutual espionage : —

" The inspector of schools shall he careful to appoint
one of the most prudent scholars to observe those who make
a noise while they assemble, and this scholar shall then
report to the teacher what has occurred, without allowing the
others to know of it."

299. Rewards. — While La Salle devotes more than forty
pages to corrections, the chapter on rewards comprises two
small pages.

Rewards shall be given " from time to time." They shall
be of three kinds : rewards for piety, for ability, and for
diligence. They shall consist of books, pictures, plaster
casts, crucifix and virgin, chaplets, engraved texts, etc.

300. Conclusion. — We have said enough to give an
exact idea of the Institute of the Christian Brethren in its
primitive form. Its faults were certainly grave, and we can-
not approve the general spirit of those establishments for
education where pupils are forbidden " to joke while they
are at meals" ; to give anything whatsoever to one another ;
where children are to enter the school-room so deliberately
and quietly that the noise of their footsteps is not heard ;
where teachers are forbidden "to be familiar" with the
pupils, " to allow themselves to descend to anything com-
mon, as it would be to laugh ..." But whatever the dis-
tance which separates those gloomy schools from our modern
ideal, — from the pleasant, active, animated school, such as
we conceive it to-day, — there is none the less obligation to
do justice to La Salle, to pardon him for the practices which
were those of his time, and to admire him for the good
qualities that were peculiarly his own. The criticism that is


truly fruitful, is that which is especially directed to the
good, without caviling at the bad. 1

[301. Analytical Summary. — 1. This study exhibits the
zeal of the Catholic Church in the education of the children
of the poor. The motive was not the spirit of domination,
as in the case of the Jesuits, but a sincere desire to engage
in a humane work.

2. A proof of the multiplication of schools, and so of the
diffusion of the new educational spirit, is the wretched
quality of those who were allowed to teach. There must be
schools even if they are poor ones.

3. The need of competent teachers led to the establish-
ment of the Teachers' Seminary, the parent of the modern
normal school. The two elements in this professional
instruction seem to have been a knowledge of the subjects
to be taught and of methods of organization and discipline.

4. The severe discipline and enforced silence of La Salle's
schools permit the inference that the school of the period
was the scene of lawlessness and disorder. The reaction
went to an extreme ; but considering the times, this excess
was a virtue.

5. The scarcity of teachers and the abundance of pupils
led to the expedient of mutual and simultaneous instruction.
While this method is absolutely bad, it was relatively good.

6. To the benevolent and inventive spirit of La Salle is
due the organization of industrial schools.]

1 The influence of the teaching congregations in general, and of this one
in particular, on puhlic education as administered by the State, is very
strikingly exhibited by Meunier in his Lutte cht Principe Clerical et du
Principe Laique dans V Enseignement (Paris: 1861). There is also inter-
esting information concerning La Salle. See particularly the introductory
Letter and Chaps. I. aud II. (P.)




teacher; general principles of the emile; its romantic
and utopian character ; division of the work j the first two
books j education of the body and of the senses ; let nature
act j the mother to nurse her own children j negative edu-
cation ; the child's right to happiness, the third book of
the emile j choice in the things to be taught j the abbe
de saint pierre and rousseau j emile at fifteen; education of
the sensibilities ) the fourth book of the emile j genesis
of the affections; moral education; religious education;


302. The Pedagogy of the Eighteenth Century. —
The most striking of the general characteristics of French
pedagogy in the eighteenth century, is that in it the lay spirit
comes into mortal collision with the ecclesiastical spirit.
What a contrast between the clerical preceptors of the seven-
teenth century and the philosophical educators of the eight-
eenth ! The Jesuits, all-powerful under Louis XIV., are
to be decried, condemned, and finally expelled in 1762.
The first place in the theory and in the practice of education
will belong to laymen. Rousseau is to write the Emile.
D'Alembert and Diderot will be the educational advisers of
the Empress of Russia. The parliamentarians, La Chalotais


and Rolland, will attempt to substitute for the action of the
Jesuits the action of the State, or, at least, one of the powers
of the State. Finally, with the Revolution, the lay spirit
will succeed in triumphing.

Again, the pedagogy of the eighteenth century is distin-
guished by its critical and reformatory tendencies. The
century of Louis XIV. is, in general, a century of content ;
the century of Voltaire, a, century of discontent.

Besides, the philosophical spirit, which associates the
theory of education with the laws of the human spirit, which
is not content to modify routine by a few ameliorations of
detail, which establishes general principles and aspires to an
ideal perfection, — the philosophical spirit, with its excel-
lencies and with its defects, — will come to the light in the
Eraile, and in some other writings of the same period.

Finally, and this last characteristic is but the consequence
of the others, education tends to become national, and at the
same time humane. Preparation for life replaces preparation
for death. During the whole of the eighteenth century, a
conception is in process of elaboration which the men of the
Revolution will exhibit in its true light, — that of an educa-
tion, public and national, which makes citizens, which works
for country and for real life.

303. Precursors of Rousseau. — The greatest educational
event of the eighteenth century, before the expulsion of the
Jesuits and the events of the French Revolution, is the pub-
lication of the Emile. Rousseau is undeniably the first in
rank among the founders of French pedagogy, and his influ-
ence will be felt abroad, especially in Germany. But what-
ever may be the originality of the author of the Emile, his
system is not a stroke of genius for which no preparation
had been made. He had his precursors, and he profited by
their works. A Benedictine, who might have spent his


strength to better advantage, has written a book on the
Plagiarisms of J. J. Rousseau. 1

We do not propose to treat Rousseau as a plagiarist, for be
surely has inspiration of his own, and his own boldness in
invention ; but however much of an innovator be may be, he
was inspired by Montaigne, by Locke, and without speaking
of those great masters whom he often imitated, he had his
immediate predecessors, whose ideas on certain points are in
conformity with his own.

304. The Abbe de Saint Pierre (1658-1743). — Among
the precursors of Rousseau, a place among the first must be
assigned to the Abbe* de Saint Pierre, a dreamy, fantastic
spirit, fitted more to excite curiosity than to deserve admir-
ation, whom Rousseau himself called " a man of great pro-
jects and petty views." His projects in fact were great,
at least in number. Between " a project to make sermons
more useful, and a project to make roads more passable,"
there came, in his incoherent and varied work, several pro-
jects for perfecting education in general, and the education
of girls in particular.

The dominant idea of the Abbe" de Saint Pierre is his
anxiety in behalf of moral education. In proportion as we
advance towards the era of liberty, we shall notice a grow-
ing interest in the development of the moral virtues.

The Abbe de Saint Pierre requires of man four essential
qualities : justice, benevolence, the discernment of virtue or
judgment, and, lastly, instruction, which holds but the lowest
rank. Virtue is of more worth than the knowledge of Latin.

" It cannot be said that a great knowledge of Latin is not
an excellent attainment ; but in order to acquire this knowl-

1 Doca Joseph Cajet, Les Playiats de J. J. R. de Geneve sur I'e'ducation,


edge, it is necessary to give to it an amount of time that
would be incomparably better employed in acquiring great
skill iu the observation of prudence. Those who direct edu-
cation make a very great mistake in employing tenfold too
much time in making us scholarly in the Latin tongue, and
in employing tenfold too little of it in giving us a confirmed
use of prudence." 1

But what are the means proposed by the Abbe de Saint
Pierre ? All that he has devised for organizing the teaching
of the social virtues is reduced to the requirement of reading
edifying narratives, of playing moral pieces, and of accus-
toming young people to do meritorious acts in the daily inter-
course of the school. When the lessons have been recited
and the written exercises corrected, the teacher will sa}- to
the pupil : " Do for me an act of prudence, or of justice, or
of benevolence." This is easier to say than to do. College
life scarcely furnishes occasion for the application of the
social virtues.

But the Abb6 de Saint Pierre should be credited with his
good intentions. He is the first in France to give his thought '
to this matter of professional instruction. The mechanic
arts, the positive sciences, the apprenticeship to trades, —
these things he places above the study of languages. Around
his college, and even in his college, there are to be mills,
printing offices, agricultural implements, garden tools, etc.

Was it not also an idea at once new and wise, to establish
a continuous department of public instruction, a sort of per-
manent council, charged with the reformation of methods
and with establishing, as far as possible, uniformity in all
the colleges of the kingdom ?

Finally, we shall commend the Abbe de Saint Pierre for
having persistently urged the necessity of the education of

1 (Euvrcs diverses, Tome I. p. 12.


women. From Fenelon to the Abbe 1 de Saint Pierre, from
1680 to 1730, great progress was made in this question. We
seem already to hear Condorcet when we read the following
passage : —

"The purpose should be to instruct girls in the elements
of all the sciences and of all the arts which can enter into
ordinary conversation, and even in several things which re-
late to the different employments of men, such as the history
of their country, geography, police regulations, and the prin-
cipal civil laws, to the end that they can listen with pleasure to
what men shall say to them, ask relevant questions, and easily
keep up a conversation with their husbands on the daily
occurrences in their occupations."

For the purpose of sooner attaining his end, the Abb6 de
Saint Pierre, anticipating the centuries, demanded for women
national establishments, colleges of secondary instruction.
He did not hesitate to cloister young girls in boarding-schools,
and in boarding-schools without vacations ; and he entreated
the State to organize public courses for those who, he said,
" constitute one-half of the families in society."

305. Other Inspirers oe Rousseau. — With the eight-
eenth century there begins for modern thought, in education
as in everything else, an era of international relations, of
mutual imitation, of the action and reaction of people on
people. The Frenchman of the seventeenth century had al-
most absolutely ignored Comenius. Rousseau knows Locke,
and also the Hollander Crousaz, 1 whom, by the way, he treats
rather shabbily, speaking of him as "the pedant Crousaz."

Crousaz, however, had some good ideas. He criticised
the old methods, which make "of the knowledge of Latin

1 De Veducation des enfants, la Haye, 1722; Pense'es libres sur les in-
structions publiques des bas colleges, Amsterdam, 1727.


and Greek the principal part of education " ; and he preached
scientific instruction and moral education.

In the Spectacle of Nature, which was so popular in its
day, the Abbe Pluche also demanded that the study of the
dead languages should be abridged l : —

" Experience with the pitiable Latiuity which reigns in the
colleges of German}", Flanders, Holland, and in all places
where the habit of alwa3"s speaking Latin is current, suffices
to make us renounce this custom which prevents a young
man from speaking his own tongue correctly."

The Abb6 Pluche demanded that the time saved from
Latin be devoted to the living languages. On the other
hand, he insisted on early education, and on this point he
was the complement to his master, Rollin, who, he said,
wrote rather ' ' for the perfection of studies than for their

Still other writers were able to suggest to Rousseau some
of the ideas which he developed in the Entile. Before him,
La Condamine declared that the Fables of La Fontaine are
above the capacity of children. 2 Before him, Bonneval, much
interested in physical education, violently criticised the use of
long clothes, and claimed for children an education of the
senses. He demanded, besides, that in early instruction, the
effort of the teacher should be limited to the keeping of evil
impressions from the childish imagination, and that instruc-
tion in the truths of religion should be held in abeyance.

We shall discover in the Emile all these ideas in outline
revived and developed with the power and with the brilliancy
of genius, sometimes transformed into boisterous paradoxes,
hut sometimes, also, transformed into solid and lasting

i Spectacle di hi nature, Paris, 1732, Vol. VI. Entretien sur V Education.
2 Lettre critique sur V Education, Paris, 1751.


306. Publication of the Emile (1762). — Rousseau has
made striking statements of nearly all the problems of edu-
cation, and he has sometimes resolved them with wisdom,
and always with originality.

Appearing in 1762, at the moment when the Parliament
was excluding the Jesuits from France, the Emile came at
the right moment in that grand overthrow of routine and
tradition to disclose new hopes to humanity, and to announce
the advent of philosophic reason in the art of educating men.
But Rousseau, in writing his book, did not think of the
Jesuits, of whom he scarcely speaks ; he wrote, not for the
man of the present, but for the future of humanity ; he com-
posed a book endowed with endless vitality, half romance,
half essay, the grandest monument of human thought on the
subject of education. The Emile, in fact, is not a work of
ephemeral polemics, nor simply a practical manual of peda-
gogy, but is a general system of education, a treatise on
psychology and moral training, a profound analysis of human

307. Was Rousseau prepared to become a Teacher? —
Before entering upon the study of the Emile, it is well to
inquire how the author had been prepared by his character
and by his mode of life to become a teacher. The history of
French literature offers nothing more extraordinary than the
life of Jean Jacques Rousseau. Everything is strange in the
destiny of that unfortunate great man. Rousseau com-
mitted great faults, especially in his youth ; but at other
moments of his life he is almost a sage, a hero of private
virtues and civic courage. He traversed all adventures and
all trades. Workman, servant, charlatan, preceptor, all in
turn ; he lodged in garrets at a sou, and experienced days
when he complained that bread was too dear. Through all


these miseries and these humiliations a soul was in process
of formation made up, above all else, of sensibility and

Rousseau's sensibility was extreme. The child who,
unjustly treated, experienced one of those violent fits of'
passion which he has so well described in his Confessions,
and who writhed a whole night in his bed, crying " Camifex,
carnifex!" was surely not an ordinary child. "I had no
idea of things, but all varieties of feeling were already
known to me. I had conceived nothing ; I had felt every-
thing." Even a mediocre representation of Alzire made him
beside himself, and he refused witnessing the play of trage-
dies for fear of becoming ill.

The sentiment of nature early inspired him with a passion
which was not to be quenched. His philosophic optimism
and his faith in providence were never forgotten. Other
pure and generous emotions filled his soul. The study of
Plutarch had inspired him with a taste for republican virtues
and with an enthusiasm for liberty. Falsehood caused him I
a veritable horror. He had the feeling of equity in a high
degree. Later, to the hatred of injustice there was joined in
his heart an implacable resentment against the oppressors of
the people. lie had doubtless received the first germ of this
hate when, making the journey afoot from Paris to Lyons,
he entered the cabin of a poor peasant, and there found, as
in a picture, the affecting summary of the miseries of the

At the same time he was an insatiable reader. He nour-
ished himself on the poets, historians, and philosophers of
antiquity, and he studied the mathematics and astronomy.
As some one has said, " That life of reading and toil, inter-
rupted by so many romantic incidents and adventurous
undertakings, had vivified his imagination as a regular course


of study in the College of Plessis could uot possibly have

It is iu this way that his literary genius was formed, and,
in due order, his genius for pedagogy. We need not seek in
the life of Rousseau any direct preparation for the composi-
tion of the Emile. It is true that for a time he had been
preceptor, in 1739, in the family of Mably, but he soon
resigned duties in which he was not successful. A little
essay which he composed in 1740 l does not }^et give proof
of any great originality. On the other hand, if he loved to
observe children, he observed, alas, only the children of
others. There is nothing sadder than that page of the Confes-
sions in which he relates how he often placed himself at the
window to observe the dismission of school, in order to listen
to the conversations of children as a furtive and unseen
observer !

The Emile is thus less the result of a patient induction and
of a real experience than a work of inspiration or a brilliant
improvisation of genius.

308. General Principles of the Emile. — A certain
number of general principles run through the entire work, and
give it a systematic form and a positive character.

The first of these is the idea of the innocence and of the
perfect goodness of the child. The Emile opens with this
solemn declaration : —

' ' Everything is good as it comes from the hands of the
Author of nature ; everything degenerates in the hands of
man." And iu another place, " Let us assume as an incon-
testable maxim that the first movements of nature are always
right ; there is no original perversity in the human heart."

Without doubt Rousseau was right in opposing the pessi-

1 Projet pour V education cle M. de Ste~3Iarie.


mism of those who see in the child a being thoroughly wicked
and degraded before birth ; he is deceived in turn when he
affirms that there is no gerrn of evil in human nature.

Society is wicked and corrupt, he says, and it is from
society that all the evil comes ; it is from its pernicious
influence that the soul of the child must be preserved ! But,
we reply, how did society itself happen to be spoiled and
vitiated ? It is nothing but a collection of men ; and if the
individuals are innocent, how can the aggregate of individu-
als be wicked and perverse ? But let the contradictions of
Rousseau pass ; the important thing to note is that from his
optimism are derived the essential characteristics of the
education which he devises for Emile. This education will
be at once natural and negative : —

" Emile," says Gr£ard, " is a child of nature, brought up/
by nature, according to the rules of nature, for the satisfac-
tion of the needs of nature. This sophism is not merely in-
scribed at random on the frontispiece of the book, but is its
very soul ; and it is by reason of this sophistry that, sepa-
rated from the body of reflections and maxims that give it so
powerful an interest, Rousseau's plan of education is but a
dangerous chimera."

Everything that society has established, Rousseau con-
demns in a lump as fictitious and artificial. Conventional
usnges he despises ; and he places Emile at the school of
nature, and brings him up almost like a savage.

On the other hand, the education of Emile is negative, at
least till his twelfth year ; that is, Rousseau lets nature have
her way till then. For those who think nature evil, educa-
tion ought to be a work of compression and of repression.
But nature is good ; and so education consists simply in let-
ting her have free course. To guard the child from the shock
of opinions, to form betimes a defence about his soul, to


assure against every exterior influence the free development
of his faculties — such is the end that he proposes to himself.

Another general principle of the Emile, another truth
which Rousseau's spirit of paradox quickly transforms into
error, is the idea of the distinction of ages : —

"Each age, each state of life, has its proper perfection,
and a sort of maturity which is its own. We have often
heard of a man grown ; but let us think of a child grown.
That sight will be newer to us, and perhaps not less agree-

"We do not know infancy. With the false ideas we have,
the further we go, the more we are astray. The most learned
give their attention to that which it is important for men to
j know without considering what children are in a condition to
comprehend. The}' always look for the man in the child,
without thinking of what he was before he became a man."

' ' Everything is right so far, and from these observations
there proceeds a progressive education, exactly conforming
in its successive requirements to the progress of the faculties.
But Rousseau does not stop in his course, and he goes be-
yond progressive education to recommend an education in
fragments, so to speak, which isolates the faculties in order
to develop them one after another, which establishes an abso-
lute line of demarkation between the different ases, and
which ends in distinguishing three stages of progress in the
soul. Rousseau's error on this point is in forgetting that
the education of the child ought to prepare for the education
of the young man. Instead of considering the different ages
as the several rings of one and the same chain, he separates
them sharply from one another. He does not admit that
marvellous unity of the human soul, which seems so strong in
man only because God has, so to speak, woven its bands into
the child and there fastened them." (Greard).


309. Romantic Character of the £mile. — A final ob-
servation is necessary before entering into an analysis of the
Emile ; it is that in this, as in his other works, Rousseau is
not averse to affecting singularities, and with deliberation
and effrontery to break with received opinions. Doubtless we
should not go so far as to say with certain critics that the
Emile is rather the feat of a wit than the serious expression
of a grave and serious thought ; but what it is impossible
not to grant is that which Rousseau himself admits in his

Online LibraryGabriel CompayréThe history of pedagogy → online text (page 23 of 48)