Tag Archives: Emile

Lesson Learned

In 1968, a third grade teacher named Jane Elliott decided to take an unconventional approach to teaching about inequality. She divided her students into brown-eyed and blue-eyed groups. Each day, she told one group they were more superior than the other. The children learned an important, enduring lesson over those two days about the injustice of discrimination, which was documented by PBS Frontline.

This approach allowed the children to learn directly from experience, a type of education our philosophers touted. Continue reading

Rousseau on Politeness

There is a quote by Fred Astaire that has to do with parenting and that also ties into the Emile readings that we’ve had. He said, “The hardest jobs kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any.” Now, I personally agree with this statement. Having good manners means that you treat others as well as yourself with respect. There are many things in the world today that are constantly in childrens’ lives that affect their manners. It could be a television show that they saw their parents watching, or it could be one of their friends that always gets their way, or it could be a video game that has disrespectful characters. Children learn from these things/people that are constantly in their life.

In Emile, Rousseau distinguishes the rich from the poor, saying that, “The artificial education of the rich never fails to make them politely imperious, by teaching them the words to use so that no one will dare to resist them.” (Pg. 68) Rousseau is rejecting politeness, which is a central part of having manners. He believes that havng a different social status from one person can make you polite but also “fake”, so it is not something that people should teach their children about. He believes that children should be taught on how to “preserve” their life, and that adults should not try to keep preserving them. (pg. 42). Basically, what he believes is that children should be taught how to do things for themselves, and that adults should have a hands-off method in teaching them, letting them explore and do what they want until they reach a consequence.

Now, I don’t agree with Rousseau and his rejection of teaching politeness because I personally think that learning how to be polite, or to be respectful, especially in certain situations, can help people a lot in life. However, he is correct to an extent. Teaching your children how to be polite is not always the most important thing, because politeness can be faked. I do believe that teaching your children how to preserve their life and do things for themselves takes precedence over teaching them how to be polite, but I don’t think that Rousseau should completely write politeness out of the books. What do you guys think? Should we even be polite anymore?

No Gods or Kings, Only Man

Upon entering the city, Rapture, "No Gods or Kings Only Man."

Upon entering the city, Rapture, “No Gods or Kings Only Man.”

“No Gods or Kings, only Man”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s work, “Emile, or On Education”, is a piece regarding his opinion on social institutions and how they affect the education of a person. Within the first sentences, he gives his two cents on the role of humans: “…everything degenerates in the hands of Man…” (37). He feels that there is a disparity between those who live in “…the abyss of the human species” (59), or, cities, are placed with a huge disadvantage to education when compared to those who live in the country. “Men are made not to be crowded in Continue reading

The similarities between Dewey and Rousseau

Throughout the reading, I noticed many similarities in how children should be educated between Dewey and Rousseau. The idea of a child experiencing what he is learning is something that can help in the development of the child’s knowledge. However, Dewey believes that not all experiences are equally educative, and some experiences can even damage the child’s understanding. On page 25, Dewey states that “Any experience is mis-educative that has the effect of arresting or distorting the growth of further experience.”(25) Rousseasu has similar ideas regarding experience. Rousseau gives the example of the ice feeling hot on Emile’s lip and the seemingly broken stick in the water of how experiences that can deceive us. But, experiences can solidify one’s knowledge. When Rousseau takes Emile to observe the sun set and the sun rise, Emile is able to eventually understand the concept. This is a case where experience is beneficial to education.

Dewey believes that without the probable application of education to the real world, students become disinterested in the material. So, I believe that Dewey would appreciate the aspect of Emile’s education where Emile interacts with real objects, and uses prior knowledge to try and deduce a solution. An example of that would be Emile learning about magnetism. Rousseau and Emile would gather stones, some being magnetic, and see which ones stuck. Through this, Emile was able to apply knowledge in a real situation when they were at the fair. Emile became overjoyed about what he learned and was excited about education. Even though this eventually became an embarrassing situation, Rousseau was able to give Emile an engaging education on the topic.

Another similarity in ideals is that, both Rousseau and Dewey do not want students to learn when they have become bored. Dewey asks “How many came to associate the learning process with ennui and boredom?”(27) Rousseau clearly understands this notion, and it is clearly seen in the text that Rousseau gives Emile freedom, and, eventually Emile become interested in learning. Rousseau’s ability to create an enjoyable education process for Emile seems to be one of his curriculums strongest points.

Rousseau and Dewey on Education

While reading Experience and Education, I couldn’t help but notice how Dewey’s discussion of education directly connects to Rousseau’s discussion of raising a child. This comparison first became clear when Dewey began discussing the negative qualities and the consequences of habit formation when he stated, that some “experience[s]” may “generate” “habits,” which he suggests creates the “inability to control future experiences,” a similar stance to Rousseau (26). Continue reading