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emotions as the true expression of nature. It opposed
the control of intellectual aristocracy and demanded
rights for the common man.

Voltaire and the Encyclopedists. — The rationalistic
and scientific tendency was chiefly developed by Diderot,
Voltaire, Condillac, D'Alembert, and others interested
in the production of the French Encyclopedie. Of all
these 'encyclopedists' the most keen and brilliant was
Voltaire (1694-1778), who may well serve as' the type of
the whole movement. With matchless wit and Hterary
skill, in a remarkable range of poems, epistles, epigrams,
and other writings, he championed reason against the Championed

, I . . reason against

traditional institutions of State and Church. His chief traditions.
object of attack was the powerful Roman Catholic
Church, which seemed to him to stand seriously in the
way of all liberty, individuaHty, and progress, and the
slogan with which he often closed his letters was, —
"crush the infamous thing." The Protestant behefs he
likewise condemned as hysterical and irrational. While
an exile in England, as the result of a quarrel with a mem-
ber of the nobility, he became acquainted with the work

2o6 A student's history of education

of Newton, Harvey, Bacon, Locke, and others (see
and undertook pp. 164 f,), and Undertook to transplant the English
English scien- scientific movement to France, and make it the basis of

tific movement. , . . . ,. .

a new regime m society, religion, and education.

The other rationalistic writers had similar doctrines
and purposes, and, although details of their ideas are
hardly worthy of consideration here, most of them pro-
duced treatises upon education. In these they freely
criticised the traditional school systems, and proposed
education™^ °* new theories of organization, content, and method, which
must later have assisted to demolish the existing theory
and practice in France. . Thus rationalism sought to
destroy despotism and superstition, and to establish
in their place freedom in action, social justice, and reli-
gious toleration. But in casting away the old, it swung
to the opposite extreme and often degenerated into
skepticism, anarchy, and license. In their fight against
Sto^skeptfdsm ^^^spotic ccclesiasticism, the rationaUsts often failed to
and license. distinguish it from Christianity, and they opposed the
Church because it was irrational rather than because it
was not sincere. They felt that it might have a mission
with the masses who were too dull and uneducated to be
able to reason. So while rationalism wielded a mighty
weapon against the fettering of the human intellect, it
cared little about improving the condition of the lower
classes, who were sunk in poverty and ignorance, and
were universally oppressed.

Rousseau and His Times. — In opposition to this in-
tellectuahstic and rationahstic attitude, Jean Jacques
Rousseau (171 2- 177 8) developed his emotionahsm and
'naturalism.' The social and educational positions of
this reformer find a ready explanation in his antecedents


and career. From his father he inherited a mercurial

temperament, love of pleasure, and irresponsibility, and

from his mother a morbid and emotional disposition.

His tendency toward sentimentalism, idleness, and want and^i^n°t*S^"

of control was also strengthened by the indulgent aunt control.

that brought him up, and by low companions during his

trade apprenticeships in the city of Geneva. At sixteen

he ran away from the city, and spent several years in

vagrancy, menial service, and dissoluteness. A love of Love of nature.

nature was impressed upon him by the wonderful scenery

of the country in which he spent his boyhood and his

years of wandering. He also learned to sympathize with v^oth^poon

the poor and oppressed, whose condition was at this

time forced upon his attention. He received some spo- Sporadic

^ • • J education.

radic instruction, but his education was maccurate and

At twenty-nine Rousseau settled down in Paris, but
his days of vagabondage had left an ineffaceable stamp
upon him. His sensitiveness, impulsiveness, love of
nature, and sympathy for the poor were ever afterward
in evidence. These characteristics blended well with a JJth^fnchSi
body of inchoate sentiments and vague longings of this t^^TCriSd °^
period. It was the day of Louis XV and royal absolutism,
when affairs in the kingdom were controlled by a small
clique of idle and extravagant courtiers. A most artifi-
cial system of conduct had grown up in society. Under
this veneer the degraded peasants were ground down by
taxation and forced to minister to the pleasure of a vicious
leisure class. But against this oppression there had
gradually arisen an undefined spirit of protest and a
desire to return to the original beneficent state of nature
from which it was felt that man had departed. Hence

2o8 A student's history of education

it happened that Rousseau, emotional, uncontrolled,
and half-trained, was destined to bring into conscious-
ness and give voice to the revolutionary and naturalistic
ideas and tendencies of the century.

Rousseau's Works. — In .1750 he first crystallized this
spirit of the age and resultant of his own experience in a

His discourses, discourse on The Progress of the Arts and Sciences. In
this he declared with much fervor and conviction, though
rather illogically, that the existing oppression and cor-
ruption of society were due to the advancement of civi-
lization. Three years later he wrote his discourse on The
Origin of Inequality among Men. Here again he held
that the physical and intellectual inequalities of nature
which existed in primitive society were scarcely notice-
able, but that, with the growth of civilization, most
oppressive distinctions arose. This point of view in a
somewhat modified form he continued in his remarkable

New Heloise, romance. The New Heloise, published in 1759, and three
years afterward in his influential essay on political ethics,

Soctd Contract, ]j^nown as the Social Contract, and in that most revolu-

andEmtie. tionary treatise on education, the Entile. The New
Heloise commends as much of primitive conditions as
the crystallized institutions of society will permit. In
the Social Contract, Rousseau also finds the ideal state,
not in that of nature, but in a society managed by the
people, where simplicity and natural wants control, and
aristocracy and artificiality do not exist. But the work
that has made the name of Rousseau famous is the
Emile. This, while an outgrowth of his naturalism,
assumes the modified position of the later works, and
undertakes to show how education might minimize the
drawbacks of civilization and bring man as near to nature


as possible. But the educational influence of the Emile
has been so far-reaching that we must turn to another
chapter to study the positions of Rousseau and the
effects of naturahsm in education.


Graves, During the Transition (Macmillan, 1910), pp. 311-313;
History of Education in Modern Times (Macmillan, 1913), pp. i-
10; and Great Educators (Macmillan, 191 2), pp. 77-85; Monroe,
Text-book (Macmillan, 1905), pp. 533-542. See also Boyd, W.,
The Educational Theory of Rousseau (Longmans, Green, 191 1);
Morley, J., Voltaire and Rousseau (Macmillan).




Rousseau attempts in the Emile to outline a natural education
from birth to manhood. The first book takes Emile from birth to
five years of age, and deals with the training of physical activities;
the second, from five to twelve, treats of body and sense training;
the third, from twelve to fifteen, is concerned with intellectual
education in the natural sciences; the fourth, from fifteen to
twenty, outlines his social and moral development; and the fifth
describes the parasitic training of the girl he is to marry.

The Emile is often inconsistent, but brilliant and suggestive;
and, while anti-social, the times demanded such a radical presenta-
tion. Through it Rousseau became the progenitor of the social,
scientific, and psychological movements in education.

The first attempt to put the naturalism of Rousseau into actual
practice was made by Basedow. He suggested that education
should be practical in content and playful in method, and he pro-
duced texts on his system, and started a school known as the
'Philanthropinum.' He planned a broad course, and taught lan-
guages through conversation, games, and drawing, and other
subjects by natural methods. The Philanthropinum was at first
successful, and this type of school grew rapidly, but it soon became
a fad.

The Influence of Rousseau's Naturalism, — The in-
forced educa- fluencc of Rousseau's Emile upon education in all its

tional thinking. ^

aspects has been tremendous. It is shown by the library
of books since written to contradict, correct, or dissemi-
nate his doctrines. During the quarter of a century fol-


The Emile


lowing the publication of the Emile, probably more than
twice as many books upon education were published as in
the preceding three-quarters of a century. This epoch-
making work forced a rich harvest of educational thinking
for a century after its appearance, and has affected our
ideas upon education from that day to this.

Naturalistic Basis of the Emile. — In the Emile Rous-
seau aims to replace the conventional and formal educa-
tion of the day with a training that should be natural
and spontaneous. Under the existing regime it was cus-
tomary for boys and girls to be dressed like men and
women of fashion (Fig. 25), and for education to be largely
one of deportment and the dancing master. On the
intellectual side, education was largely traditional and
consisted chiefly of a training in Latin grammar, words, The subsUtu-
and memoriter work. Rousseau scathingly criticises these urai education
practices, and applies his naturalistic principles to an tionai type m
imaginary pupil named Emile "from the moment of his ^°^^'
birth up to the time when, having become a mature
man, he will no longer need any other guide than him-
self." He begins the work with a restatement of his basal
principle that "everything is good as it comes from the
hands of the Author of Nature; but everything degener-
ates in the hands of man." After elaborating this, he
shows that we are educated by " three kinds of teachers —
nature, man, and things, and since the cooperation of
the three educations is necessary for their perfection, it
is to the one over which we have no control (i. e., nature)
that we must direct the other two." Education must,
therefore, conform to nature.

The Five Books of the Emile. — Now the natural ob-
jects, through which Emile is to be educated, remain the


Emiie's im- same, but Emilc himself changes from time to time. In

pulses ex- ' ■ , .

amined and go far, therefore, as he is to be the guide of how he is to

trained at dif- , . , . . ,

ferent periods: be educated in a natural environment, his impulses must
be examined at different times in his Hfe. Hence the
work is divided into five parts, four of which deal with
Emiie's education in the stages of infancy, childhood,
boyhood, and youth respectively, and the fifth with
the training of the girl who is to become his wife. The
characteristics of the different periods in the life of
Emile are marked by the different kinds of things he

In the first book, which takes him from birth to five
^h skaf'^c- years of age, his main desire is for physical activities,
tivities. and he should, therefore, be placed under simple, free,

and healthful conditions, which will enable him to make
the most of these. He must be removed to the country,
where he will be close to nature, and farthest from the
contaminating influence of civilization. His growth and
training must be as spontaneous as possible. He must
have nothing to do with either medicine or doctors,
"unless his Hfe is in evident danger; for then they can
do nothing worse than kill him." His natural move-
ments must not be restrained by caps, bands, or swad-
dling clothes, and he should be nursed by his own mother.
He should likewise be used to baths of all sorts of tem-
perature. In fact, the child should not be forced into
any fixed ways whatsoever, since with Rousseau, habit
is necessarily something contrary to impulse and so
unnatural. "The only habit," says he, "which the child
should be allowed to form is to contract no habit what-
soever." His playthings should be such simple products
of nature as "branches with their fruits and flowers, or a


poppy-head in which the seeds are heard to rattle."
Language that is simple, plain, and hence natural, should
be used with him, and he should not be hurried beyond
nature in learning to talk. He should be restricted to a
few words that express real thoughts for him.

The education of Emile during infancy is thus to be
'negative' and purely physical. The aim is simply to
keep his instincts and impulses, which Rousseau holds
to be good by nature, free from vice, and to afford him
the natural activity he craves. Next, in the period of
childhood, between the years of five and twelve, which ^b^n^^'^n'
is treated in the second book, Emile desires most to development,
exercise his legs and arms, and to touch, to see, and in
other ways to sense things. This, therefore, is the time
for training his Hmbs and senses. *'As all that enters
the human understanding comes there through the
senses, the first reason of man is a sensuous reason. Our
first teachers of philosophy are our feet, our hands, and
our eyes. ... In order to learn to think, we must
then exercise our limbs, our senses, and our organs,
which are the instruments of our intelhgence." To ob-
tain this training, Emile is to wear short, loose, and
scanty clothing, go bareheaded, and have the body
inured to cold and heat, and be generally subjected to
a 'hardening process' similar to that recommended by
Locke (see p. i8i). He is to learn to swim, and prac-
tice long and high jumps, leaping walls, and scaling
rocks. But, what is more important, his eyes and ears
are also to be exercised through natural problems in
weighing, measuring, and estimating masses, heights,
and distances. Drawing and constructive geometry are
to be taught him, to render him more capable of observ-


A student's history of educatton

no geography,
history, or

ing accurately. His ear is to be rendered sensitive to
harmony by learning to sing.

This body and sense training should be the nearest
approach to an intellectual training at this period.
Rousseau condemns the usual unnatural practice of
requiring pupils to learn so much before they have
reached the proper years. In keeping with his 'nega-
tive' education, he asks rhetorically: "Shall I venture to
state at this point the most important, the most useful,
rule of all education? It is not to gain time, but to lose
it." During his childhood Emile is not to study geog-
raphy, history, or languages, upon which pedagogues
ordinarily depend to exhibit the attainments of their
pupils, although these understand nothing of what they
have memorized. "At the age of twelve, Emile will
hardly know what a book is. But I shall be told it is
very necessary that he know how to read. This I grant.
It is necessary that he know how to read when reading
is useful to him. Until then, it serves only to annoy

Incidentally, however, in order to make Emile toler-
able in society, for he cannot entirely escape it, he must
though moral be given the idea of property and some ideas about con-
through 'nat- duct. But this is simply because of practical necessity,
quences.' and no moral education is to be given as such, for, "until

he reaches the age of reason, he can form no idea of moral
beings or social relations." He is to learn through 'nat-
ural consequences ' until he arrives at the age for under-
standing moral precepts. If he breaks the furniture or
the windows, let him suffer the consequences that arise
from his act. Do not preach to him or punish him for
lying, but afterward affect not to beheve him even when


he has spoken the truth. If he carelessly digs up the
sprouting melons of the gardener, in order to plant beans
for himself, let the gardener in turn uproot the beans,
and thus cause him to learn the sacredness of property.
As far as this moral training is given, then, it is to be
indirect and incidental.


However, between twelve and fifteen, after the de-
mands of the boy's physical activities and of his senses j°jgfi°^Jj°^7*'
have somewhat abated, there comes "an interval when training

. through cun-

his faculties and powers are greater than his desires, osity concem-
when he displays an insistent curiosity concerning nat- phenomena,
ural phenomena and a constant appetite for rational
knowledge. This period, which is dealt with in his third
book, Rousseau declares to be intended by nature itself
as the time for instruction. But as not much can be
learned within three years, the boy is to study only those
subjects which are useful and not incomprehensible and
misleading, and so is limited to the natural sciences.
Later in this third book, in order that Emile may in-
formally learn the interdependence of men and may
himself become economically independent, Rousseau
adds industrial experience and the acquisition of cabinet-
making to his training. The most effective method of
instruction, Rousseau holds, comes through appealing
to the curiosity and interest in investigation, which are
so prominent in the boy at this time. He contrasts the
current methods of teaching astronomy and geography
by means of globes, maps, and other misleading repre-
sentations, with the more natural plan of stimulating
inquiry through observing the sun when rising and set-
ting during the different seasons, and through problems
concerning the topography of the neighborhood. Emile

2i6 A student's history of education

is taught to appreciate the value of these subjects by
being lost in the forest, and endeavoring to find a way
out. He learns the elements of electricity through meet-
ing with a juggler, who attracts an artificial duck by
means of a concealed magnet. He similarly discovers
through experience the effect of cold and heat upon
solids and liquids, and so comes to understand the ther-
mometer and other instruments. Hence Rousseau feels
that all knowledge of real value may be acquired most
clearly and naturally without the use of rivalry or text-
books. But he finds an exception to this irrational
method in one book, Robinson Crusoe, "where all the
natural needs of man are exhibited in a manner obvious
to the mind of a child, and where the means of providing
for these needs are successively developed with the same

The fourth book takes Emile from the age of fifteen
In youth, sex to twenty. At this period the sex interests appear and
basis of ' should be properly guided and trained, especially as

sodai training, they are the basis of social and moral relationships.
Emile's first passion calls him into relations with his
species, and he must now learn to live with others. "We
have formed his body, his senses, and his intelligence; it
remains to give him a heart." He is to become moral,
affectionate, and religious. Here again Rousseau insists
that the training is not to be accomplished by the formal
method of precepts, but in a natural way by bringing
the youth into contact with his fellowmen and appealing
to his emotions. Emile is to visit infirmaries, hospitals,
and prisons, and witness concrete examples of wretched-
ness in all stages, although not so frequently as to become
hardened. That this training may not render him cynical



or hypercritical, it should be corrected by the study of
history, where one sees men simply as a spectator without
feeling or passion. Further, in order to deliver Emile
from vanity, so common during adolescence, he is to be
exposed to flatterers, spendthrifts, and sharpers, and
allowed to suffer the consequences. He may at this
time also be guided in his conduct by the use of fables,
for "by censuring the wrongdoer under an unknown
mask, we instruct without offending him."
Emile at length becomes a man, and a life companion The passive

ii-i" A 11- ^°'i parasitic

must be found for him. A search should be made for a education of
suitable lady, but "in order to find her, we must know
her." Accordingly, the last book of the Emile deals with
the model Sophie and the education of woman. It is
the weakest part of Rousseau's work. He entirely mis-
interprets the nature of women, and does not allow them
any individuality of their own, but considers them as
simply supplementary to the nature of men. Like men,
women should be given adequate bodily training, but
rather for the sake of physical charms and of producing
vigorous offspring than for their own development.
Their instinctive love of pleasing through dress should
be made of service by teaching them sewing, embroidery,
lacework, and designing. They ought to be obedient
and industrious, and they ought early to be brought
under restraint. Girls should also be taught singing,
dancing, and other accomplishments. They should be
instructed dogmatically in reUgion, and in ethical mat-
ters they should be largely guided by public opinion.
A woman may not learn philosophy, art, or science, but
she should study men. "She must learn to penetrate
their feelings through their conversation, their actions.

2i8 A student's history of education

their looks, and their gestures, and know how to give
them the feelings which are pleasing to her, without even
seeming to think of them."

Estimate of the Emile. — Such was Rousseau's notion
of the natural individualistic education for a man and
the passive and repressive training suitable for a woman,
and of the happiness and prosperity that were bound to
ensue. To make a fair estimate of the Emile and its
Defects out- influence is not easy. It is necessary to put aside all of

weighed by ... .

merits. one's prejudices against the weak and offensive person-

ality of the author, and to forget the inconsistencies and
contradictions of the work itself. The Emile has always
been accounted a work of great richness, power, and
underlying wisdom, and each of its defects is more
than balanced by a corresponding merit. Moreover,
the most fundamental movements in modern educa-
tional progress — sociological, scientific, and psycholog-
ical — may be said to have germinated through the Emile.
The Sociological Movements in Modem Education. —
The most marked feature of the Rousselian education
and the one most subject to criticism has been its ex-

Reyolt from treme revolt against civilization and all social control.
A state of nature is held to be the ideal condition, and
all social relations are regarded as degenerate. The
child is to be brought up in isolation by the laws of brute
necessity and to have no social education until he is
fifteen, when an impossible set of expedients for bringing
him into touch with his fellows is devised. One should
remember, however, that the times and the cause had

but extreme need of just SO extreme a doctrine. Such radical in-

doctnne . . ,

needed, dividuaHsm alouc could enable him to break the bondage

to the past. By means of paradoxes and exaggerations

and those who


he was able to emphasize the crying need of a natural
development of man, and to tear down the eflfete tradi-
tions in educational organization, content, and methods.
And many of the social movements in modern educa-
tional organization and content were made possible and
even suggested by him, after having thus cleared the
ground. He held that all members of society should be
trained industrially so as to contribute to their own sup-
port and should be taught to be sympathetic and benevo-
lent toward their fellows. Thus through him education
has been more closely related to human welfare. The in- fonowed"Rous^
dustrial work of Pestalozzi and Fellenberg, the moral aim IH^J ^^^^^
of education held by Herbart, the ' social participation ' in ^'^^^'^es.
the practice of Froebel, and the present-day emphasis

Online LibraryFrank Pierrepont GravesA student's history of education → online text (page 16 of 34)