Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Naturalism and Educational Philosophy

In the history of philosophical thought in the western world naturalism is the oldest philosophy. It can be defined as ‘’Naturalism is a type of meta-physics which takes nature as the whole of reality.’’ In naturalism importance has been given to man’s natural talents and emotions (Pathak, 2007).  In other words naturalism is termed as materialism according to this philosophy the basic of the world is matter. They deny the existence of any such thing as the supremacy of God to them there is nothing else than matter which is ultimate reality and ultimate truth (Singh, 2007).
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was one of the most influential thinkers during the Enlightenment in eighteenth century Europe. He was the leader in the second Naturalistic movement. Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born in a poor family of Isaac Rousseau and Suzanne Bernard in Geneva on June 28, 1712. His father was a watch maker. Rousseau had no literary training or knowledge. It was only for some time that he received a little education by his father informally at home and at early age he read ancient Greek and Roman literature. He started his practical training with an engraver and began to learn the trade but it didn’t improve matters. From the age of twelve to twenty-nine years he travelled place to place and developed sympathy for the poor and the miserable. Thus he learns to love nature and to dislike the conventional rules of the society. In 1735 he started tutoring two sons of M. De Malby. This job engaged his interest in education and motivated him to prepare his first thesis, namely the ‘Project for the Education of M. De Sainte Maria,’ in which he has paid great attention towards the early social training (Khalid, 1998).
In1750 he got a chance to participate in an essay competition which was held by the Academy of Dijon. The topic of the essay was: Has the restoration of the arts and sciences contributed to the purification of morals?’This opportunity marked the beginning of his literary fame and of his anti social bias. That was his first major philosophical work, in which Rousseau argues that the progression of the sciences and arts has caused the corruption of virtue and morality.  . This discourse won Rousseau fame and recognition, and it laid much of the philosophical groundwork for a second, longer work, The Discourse on the Origin of Inequality. The second discourse did not win the Academy’s prize. Rousseau himself thought this work to be superior to the First Discourse because the Second Discourse was significantly longer and more philosophically daring. The judges were irritated by its length as well its bold and unorthodox philosophical claims but like the first, it was widely read and further solidified Rousseau’s place as a significant intellectual figure. The central claim of the work is that human beings are basically good by nature, but were corrupted by the complex historical events that resulted in present day civil society. Rousseau was the leader of Naturalistic Movement. His concept of education is also naturalistic. In 1762 he published two major philosophical treatises and one of his major book is Emile. The Emile was immediately banned by Paris authorities. The major point of controversy in the Emile was not in his philosophy of education, it was the claims in one part of the book, the Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar in which Rousseau argues against traditional views of religion that led to the banning of the book. The Emile is unique in one sense because it is written as part novel and part philosophical treatise. Rousseau would use this same form in some of his later works as well. The book is written in first person, with the narrator as the tutor, and describes his education of a pupil, Emile, from birth to adulthood (Khalid, 1998).
His basic principal was that everything is good as it comes from the hands of God but it degenerates gradually due to influences of the society. He was against a system of traditional or formal education. Like Plato, Rousseau believes that it cannot begin too early. ‘’The first and the most important part of education, precisely that which the entire world neglects is that of preparing a child to receive education’’. He also said that the aim of education should be the liberty and happiness of the child. Rousseau believed that the child’s education should follow the natural laws of its nature so the school programmers should centre round the child and his needs. The child’s interest must be paid proper attention. Rousseau gave high priority to the child’s needs, his thoughts and feelings, his desires and values (Pathak, 2007).  
The natural man of Rousseau (Emile) must pass through 5 stages of development as follow:
1.      Infancy 0-6 years Birth till age of reason
2.      Boy hood 7-9 age of reason
3.      Pre-adolescence 10-12 years teenage
4.      Adulthood 20 year
  According to these stages Rousseau suggested that the man must be treated as a man and the child as a child (Lobo, 1947).
The basic philosophy of education that Rousseau advocates in the Emile, much like his thought in the first two Discourses, is rooted in the notion that human beings are good by nature. The Emile is a large work, which is divided into five Books, and Book One opens with Rousseau’s claim that the goal of education should be to cultivate our natural tendencies. This is not to be confused with Rousseau’s praise of the pure state of nature in the Second Discourse. Rousseau is very clear that a return the state of nature once human beings have become civilized is not possible. Therefore, we should not seek to be noble savages in the literal sense, with no language, no social ties, and an underdeveloped faculty of reason. Rather, Rousseau says, someone who has been properly educated will be engaged in society, but relate to his or her fellow citizens in a natural way (Khalid, 1998).
            At first glance, this may seem impossible: If human beings are not social by nature, how can one properly speak of more or less natural ways of socializing with others? The best answer to this question requires an explanation of what Rousseau calls the two forms of self-love: amour-propre and amour de soi. Amour de soi is a natural form of self-love in that it does not depend on others. Rousseau claims that by our nature, each of us has this natural feeling of love toward ourselves. By contrast, amour-propre is an unnatural self-love and is a negative product of the socialization process. Unlike amour de soi, amour-propre is a love of self that depends on comparing oneself with others. Essentially it consists in someone basing his or her self-worth on a perceived superiority to another. It breeds contempt, aggression, and lighthearted competition. In fact, it is precisely these negative consequences that are under attack in the Discourse on the Sciences and Arts (Khalid, 1998).
Rousseau’s philosophy of education, therefore, is not geared simply at particular techniques that best ensure that the pupil will absorb information and concepts. It is better understood as a way of ensuring that the pupil’s character be developed in such a way as to have a healthy sense of self-esteem and morality and goodness. This will allow the pupil to be virtuous and honest even in the unnatural and imperfect society in which he lives. The character of Emile begins learning important moral lessons from his infancy, thorough childhood, and into early adulthood. His education relies on the tutor’s constant supervision. The tutor must even manipulate the environment in order to teach sometimes difficult moral lessons about humility, chastity, and honesty (Khalid, 1998).
Rousseau has introduced a new method of education and a new type of curriculum. He has also out lined the education of woman. According to Rousseau curriculum should consist of subjects and items which reflect the in born tendencies natural interests, natural activities, individual differences and sex problems of children so that they develop their individuality  naturally and normally as such curriculum should contain games, sports, physical culture or activities with all major subjects like Biology, Physics, Nature Study, Language, History, Geography and other allied subjects in short Rousseau was the first one to give childhood in its rightful place that’s why Rousseau has suggested the child centered curriculum (Singh, 2007).
In the filed of methodology naturalism has played very significant contribution in the traditional system of education the same type of education was imparted to agrap of individuals at time naturalistic education opposed this traditional system by providing conducive experience and the children imbibing knowledge according to their interest and amplitudes by their own efforts, observations and experimentation. Discarding the old system as stagnant naturalism prescribed
Ø  Learning  by Doing
Ø  Learning by experience
Ø  Learning in by play as the basis of teaching
 To the Naturalistic book reading is un psychological the child engages him self in those      activities and experiences which appear to him interesting and joyful. He does all learning by his own intrest and efforts as Emile of Rousseau used to do (Singh, 2007).
All these methods are self learning methods and as such they are very effective and purposeful they give full freedom to the child for free expression which leads to creative and constructive activities (Singh, 2007).
Correct evaluation of naturalism will be possible only when we review its merits and demerits because every thing has positive and negative prospective Rousseau most emphasized on the freedom of child and development by nature that’s make child less socialized because if the child is develop according to his nature in the lap of nature then the child will become un social in fact the child will develop into a pure animal this is harmful for society and totally one sided an unsatisfying. Rousseau’s naturalism emphasize on activity and learning by experiences but in other hand they ignored books and doesn’t gave any importance to teacher although he gave ultimate freedom to child. This may lead him to self oriented and anti social person. But when we analyzing the situation from another prospective then Naturalism is the one that emphasizing on psychological development of child according to his natural interests and capacities. Naturalism has shifted from a subject centered curriculum to an experience centered curriculum which is the essential need of modern life and society. Because it gives better chance to explore new things. Naturalism brought revolutionary change in the field of methodology, learning by doing, play way method, observation method and other practical methods of teaching are the chief contribution of naturalism. Even Idealism, pragmatism and realism are indebted of naturalism for these effective methods of teaching .the above discussion gives us some very valuable conclusions as to the merits of naturalism as applied in the field of education. In short Rousseau’s naturalism is the fore runner of the educationist of the modern times (Singh, 2007).            

Singh ,Y.K . (2007). Philosophical foundation of education .Delhi : APH Publishing Corporation 
Pathak , R. P. (2007). Philosophical and sociological perspectives of education. New Delhi:                       Atlantic publishers & distributors (P) LTD.                                                             
Khalid , T. (1998). Education: An introduction to educational Philosophy and History. Karachi:                 S.M printers.
Lobo , A. T . (1947). Educational ideas and their impact . Karachi : Rotti Press

No comments: