Educational Philosophy of Rousseau

Aim and syllabus of education according to John Jacques Rousseau

Rousseau has vital impact on modern education, because his ideas brought rose revolution in the world of the education. Although he himself was not a highly qualified educated person, yet his shrewdness and meticulous observation of the society and nature led him to know human nature and education from their very spirit.
Short introduction to Rousseau;
According to Shahid (2000) Rousseau was born in 1712 at Geneva. His father was a poor watch-maker. As a boy he acquired a habit of reading romances; this habit encouraged, in him the tendency towards sentimentalism. Khalid (2005) states that he was unable to get proper education, his father managed a little informal education for him at home. He traveled from place to place from twelve years age to twenty-nine years. This developed sympathy for the poor and the miserable in him. Eventually this experience amount in his love of nature and disliking of conventional rules of the society. Khalid (2005) says that when he was in pairs, in 1750, he took part in a competition of essay writing, which was held by the Academy of Dijon. The topic of the essay was; ‘Has the restoration of the arts and sciences contributed the purification of morals’. This attempt gave him fame and reputation and brought up his antisocial attitude. In 1753 he wrote his second book ‘The Origin of Inequality among Man.’ Rousseau’s another two books came out in 1762, namely ‘The Social Contract’ and ‘Emile’. In Emile an imaginary boy named Emile is being educated. This is famous book of Rousseau on education; in this book he has devised education for that particular child. This book gives us an opportunity to know the aims and syllabus of education as Rousseau suggests.

Aim of education according to Rousseau;
As Emile is consist of five books, Rousseau looks at education with different perspective in each book appropriate for a particular age of Emile. Rousseau suggests a particular aim for each step of his imaginary child in all books. Here those aims will be highlighted getting help from Shahid (2000) and Khalid (2005).
According to Rousseau aim of education for different stage of Emil’s age is;
v To learn how to live righteously.
v To develop the abilities of the learner.
v To develop a well regulated sense of liberty and happiness.
v Not only prepration for life, but participation in it.
v To perfect the organs and the senses that are the instruments of knowledge and development of natural powers before knowledge is actually received.
v To gain useful knowledge, which would satisfy his wants and desires and stand the test of practical needs
v To prepare him for the moral and social order in which he must live and play his part. ( shape his heart, loving and tender hearted)
Rousseau doesn’t consider education as just getting information or being prepare for life. According to him, if we analyze above mentioned aims of education, education means to participate in life righteously and in moral and social order using our senses in liberty to satisfy our wants and desires by developing our innate abilities.
The above mentioned aims are advised for Emile at various stages of his life, but in book five Rousseau suggests some aims for Sophia also, a girl in that book. Rousseau says that
her , education should be conventional, her aim in life is to please her husband, to obey him, to bring him up when he is a child, to tend him when he is a man, to counsel him, to render his life agreeable and pleasant. So, she should be given such education that can prepare her to fulfill her responsibilities.

Syllabus of education;
Rousseau has not given any pact syllabus of education, but in Emile he has discussed different kinds of educations or traits or subjects to be taught at various stages. We consider them as syllabus of education. Syllabus of education will be discussed getting help from Shahid (2000) and Khalid (2005) related with books of Emile.
Book 1;
This book is focused of education for Emile form 1 to 5 years old. Rousseau says at this stage the child should be given positive instructions from parents. Physical development of Emile is given much importance at this stage of life and child’s good health is also very important. Rousseau says that Emile’s senses are properly exercised at this stage and he is given appropriate chance to cultivate natural habits.
Some other more important points regarding syllabus are discussed in this book which are following;
• Nature wills that children should be children before they are man. If we seek to prevent this order, we shall produce forward fruits without ripeness or flavour, and they not ripe, soon rotten: we shall have young servants and old children.
• Everything is good as it leaves the hands of the Author of things; everything degenerates in the hands of man
Book 2;
This is for second stage of Emile’s life that is from six to twelve years. During this stage syllabus of education according to Rousseau should be focusing on;
• Gymnastic exercises and exercises for the training of the senses.
• Without development of senses reasoning and judgments are not possible
• Our first teachers are our hands, feet and eyes
• Reading is the curse of childhood
• Negative education no verbal lessons
• No place for moral instruction or positive education.
• Not any lesson of history or geography
• Learn by his own experiences
• Childhood is the sleep of reason
Book 3;
This stage covers age level from twelve to fifteen years. The syllabus of education during this stage is should be focused on;
• Practical science (heuristic attitude)
• Geography (observation of natural phenomenon)
• Manual work ( economically independent and recognize the dignity of labour)
• Concrete problem ( challenging situation)
• No book for Emile but Robinson Crusoe
Book 4;
In book 4 Rousseau suggests the following syllabus for Emile;
• Moral and religious education
• Aesthetic, physical culture, history with those of third stage like, music, math's, drawing, social relation etc.
• Sex instructions
Book 5;
This book is focused on Sophia’s education, syllabus for her education as Rousseau suggests is;
• A little reading and writing, sewing, cutting and embroidery, lace making the art of house decorating and religious education.
• Not allowed to choose a religious creed as allowed to Emile.
Reference list
Shahid, S. M. (2000). History and philosophy of education. Lahore: Majeed Book Depot.
Khalid, T. (2005). Education; an introduction to educational philosophy and history. Karachi:
National Book Foundation.


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