Naturalism as Philosophy of Education

The word naturalism believes that people are restricted to the phenomenal world of a scientific education (Morrish, 1967). The term naturalism can also be called materialism (Singh, 2007).  Jean Jacques Rousseau was one of the famous nature philosophers of the 18th century. The theory of naturalism revolves around nature. 
The naturalists emphasised the nature of the child. According to the naturalists education should be according to the nature of the child, Rousseau has played a great role in this regard (Sahu, 2002). In 1759, Rousseau published his famous book “Emile” which contained Rousseau’s ideas on naturalism. Emile means boy in French. In this novel Rousseau focuses on the private education of the boy (Shahid, 2000). Rousseau considered world as an artificial, autocratic, egotistic and arrogant place and Rousseau believed that education should be given according to the natural interest of the child aiming at a holistic development of the personality . Nature is the best teacher and means of education according to Rousseau (Singh, 2007).
Philosophy of Education:
Rousseau's philosophy of education is naturalistic (Shahid, 2000). According to naturalists education is the process of development of a natural life (Seetharamu, 2004).  Rousseau believed that education does not only mean to memorize or store information and knowledge rather it is the process which results in the development of the child’s nature and personality internally. Rousseau’s philosophy of education best ensures that the pupil will absorb information and concepts.  (Shahid, 2000). Naturalism states that parents are natural teachers and there is no need for the institutions such as school (Pathak, 2007). 

A child is a child and not an adult in the making. This is believed by the naturalistic education (Singh, 2007). The focus of Emile is upon the individual tuition of a boy in line with the principles of 'natural education'. The character of Emile begins learning important moral lessons from his infancy, thorough childhood, and into early adulthood. Emile is divided into five main sections which are briefly explained below (Morrish, 1967):
Stage 1: Infancy (birth to two years): The first stage is infancy, from birth to about two years. Infancy finishes with the weaning of the child. Child sets a number of beliefs, children are given more real liberty and less power, children are first taught to confine their wishes within the limits of their powers and children learns that everything is not in their power (Morrish, 1967).
Stage 2: Boyhood (from two to ten or twelve): This is 'the age of Nature'. During this time, the child receives only a 'negative education': no moral instruction, no verbal learning. He sets out the most important rule of education that is freedom and happiness. The mind should be left undisturbed till its faculties have developed'. The purpose of education at this stage is to develop physical qualities and particularly senses, but not minds (Morrish, 1967).
Stage 3: Early-adolescence (12-15). Emile in Stage 3 is like the 'noble savage' who learns through direct experience in different practical activities connected with the child’s interest and needs. Rousseau describes it as a pre-social stage. 'About twelve or thirteen the child's strength increases far more rapidly than his needs'. The urge for activity now takes a mental form; there is greater capacity for sustained attention. The educator or the teacher has to respond accordingly (Morrish, 1967).
Stage 4: Adolescence (15-20). The adult Emile is introduced to the society. There will e more stress on social studies, history, politics, the problems of the government so that a person may become intelligent and effective citizen. At this stage the Emile inner light is sufficient to give directions that needs in religion and morally (Morrish, 1967).
Stage 5: Marriage: He at this stage Emile learns about love, and is ready to return to society. Emile was introduced to the ideal partner, Sophie, who is to be educated to please and care the man. The final task of the tutor or the instructor is to instruct the young couple in their marital rights and duties (Morrish, 1967).
Rousseau believed that educational should be a natural process. Education should be for the happiness and liberty of the child and it should be through experience. Education should be for individual development and to spread social awareness (Morrish, 1967).
Naturalism and the Curriculum:
According to naturalists curriculum must be child centered according to the present and future needs of the child (Pathak, 2007). Naturalists have divided curriculum under two stages, earlier stage and later stage. In the early stage sensory training is given to the child. The child senses are properly exercised; the child develops physically and also develops the natural habits. At the later stage the naturalists included in the curriculum subjects as physical sciences, language, mathematics, social studies, anatomy and other subjects (Seetharamu, 2004). Manual work, trade, history aesthetics, physical culture, music and drawing are also included in the curriculum. Moral education also begin part of the curriculum is given through activities and occupations but not through lectures on ethics (Shahid, 2000).
Stages of Education:
According to Rousseau there are four stages in education:
        i.            Infancy: When the child is at this stage, the child is not mature. Infants’ psychology is totally different from the adults. At this stage the child can be taught through normal conversation (Chandra and Sharma, 2006).
      ii.            Childhood: Rousseau believed that child should not be given books up till the age of twelve. The child must learn through experience. The child learns naturally through his own actions and starts developing the ability of reasoning (Chandra and Sharma, 2006).
    iii.            Adolescence: At this stage the child can be taught formal education. The child is exposed to various subjects such as physical sciences, language, mathematics, social studies and music and drawing and some kind of professional training. According to Rousseau, education should be given through activities and not by books because activities give more knowledge than books (Chandra and Sharma, 2006).
    iv.            Youth: At this stage special emphasis is laid on moral and religious education. Moral education can also be derived through actual experience.  Religious education can be taught through the teachings of history, mythological stories and religious stories (Chandra and Sharma, 2006).
Aims of Education:
Naturalism gives different ideas about the aims of education. In the opinion of Rousseau, education aimed at the inner faculties, capacities and powers of the child (Shahid, 2000). According to Rousseau, aim of education is not preparation for life, but participation in it. Each stage through which a child passes has a specific aim of education and these aims differ according to the stage. The aim of education during the first stage of a child is to gain knowledge and all the wants and needs of a child are to be fulfilled. The second aim of education is to provide the child with the strength that the child lacks of the ability of being free (Khalid, 1998). At the third stage the aim of education is to enable the child to acquire useful knowledge which would satisfy the child’s wants. The aim of education is to develop the child emotionally and morally according to the child’s needs (Shahid, 2000). 
Methods of Teaching:
Naturalists follow a naturalistic philosophy of teaching. According to naturalists people learn more through direct experience that is by doing rather than by reading the books. Rousseau argued not to use any book in the childhood and boyhood stage (Shahid, 2000). Another method is Heuristic method which means to find or to discover, the children are provided with situation and opportunities and the children search. Naturalists stress upon direct method of teaching. Teaching through things rather than words is given importance (Saho, 2002). Rousseau emphasized two-way play method of teaching, learning by doing, during play also child learns a lot and is educated (Khalid, 1998).
Assessment of naturalism can be done by looking at the merits and demerits of it. The demerits of naturalism are that it emphasizes too much on nature and natural development. The aims of education of naturalism are one sided and unsatisfying. So much emphasis is given on present needs which will avoid the preparation of the people for the future. Books are given no emphasis which is not good because books play a great role in the development of the personality (Shahid, 2000).  .
The merits of naturalism are that it is a child centered process of education. It emphasizes on the natural interests and capacities of the children. It focuses on the learning from experience of the children, so that the child is educated to solve all the problems of the life successfully. Naturalism brings a variety in teaching methods which are effective (Shahid, 2000).  .
There are many merits of naturalism in the field of education and provides many valuable conclusions. Rousseau through Emile has given the complete set of education from infancy till adulthood but in a naturalistic way (Shahid, 2000).
List of References
Chandra, S. S. & Sharma, R. K. (2006). Philosophy of education. New Delhi: Atlantic.
Khalid, T. (1998). Education: An introduction to educational philosophy and history.
            Karachi: S. M. Printers.
Morrish, I. (1967). Disciplines of education. London: George Allen & Unwin.
Pathak, R. P. (2007). Philosophical and sociological perspectives of education. New Delhi:
Sahu, B. (2002). The new educational philosophy. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons.

Seetharamu, A. S. (2004). Philosophies of education. Delhi: J. N. Printers.

Shahid, S. M. (2000). History and philosophy of education. Lahore: Majeed Book Depot.
Singh, Y. K. (2007). Philosophical foundation of education: New Delhi: APH Publishing     


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Mohammad Jamal said…
A very detailed and well composed article on naturalism as philosophy of education. i would appreciate your research on stages of life span of children up to marriage. However, it needs to shed light on the implications for education of the given stages.
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