Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s was born on the 28th June 1712 and died on the 2nd July 1778. He was a Francophone Genevan philosopher of the 18th century. His political philosophy influenced the Enlightenment in France and across Europe. He also influenced aspects of the French Revolution and the overall development of modern political and educational thought. The Age of Enlightenment was the primary source of legitimacy and authority. The biggest effect that the Enlightenment made in the period was the division between the state, the church and liberty which all lead to some progress in a way. One of his most important and famous works is Emile, a book that helped define some of the teaching methods used nowadays. Rousseau believed that human beings are good by nature. This book was very controversial due to such methods of how the main character of the book was taught and mostly about how Rousseau presented religious views. Rousseau got banned both from Paris and Geneva due to the publication of Emile. Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Philosophical Critical Thinking in Early Childhood Education Curriculum Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s educational philosophy is the basis of teaching children through hands-on situations, which today, this method of teaching can also be called ‘natural consequences’ teaching. Although this was in a way a disciplinary method of teaching, Rousseau made sure that none of his students gets harmed through the process. Education for Rousseau is about perceiving needs around us. He understands the human cognitive operation through need, reason and freedom. As a person understands the need, the person finds a reason for the need and the action for the need comes from their freedom. Rousseau divided childhood into three stages which were reflected by the evolution that he was living at the moment. He used to argue that children from birth till the age of twelve are guided mainly by their emotions and impulses, from the age of twelve till the age of sixteen their reasons start to develop and the last stage is that from the age of sixteen the child can start to develop into an adult. When the child starts to develop into an adult, it is vital for Rousseau that a manual skill where thought and creativity are involved is thought of the child. This skill should be enough to the young adult to make a living out of if they find themselves in some crisis later on. When the child reaches the third stage, according to Rousseau the child is also able to have a (preferably) opposite-sex partner. Rousseau believed that the males should dominate the females as in his book ‘Emile’, Sophie was the ideal figure of womanhood while Emile was the ideal figure for manhood. Sophie was educated to be governed by her husband Emile, and the male himself was educated to be independent. It was a remarkable feature that Rousseau believed in, the distinction between the personal, private relations and the public world of political relations. He believed that women should stay at home taking care of the household and taking responsibility for childcare and early childhood education. The fact that woman supposed to stay at home and take care of all the household was ideal for a functional household. Rousseau was criticised by people, mostly by feminists like Mary Wollstonecraft for this philosophical thought. Rousseau’s educational method of teaching was very child-centred and criticised by other philosophers. A child centred-education approach is when children control their learning instead of being guided by the teacher. Children get to choose what they will learn and explore, while the teacher takes clues from them and create an exciting environment for them by making it appropriate both for them and the curriculum. This initiative by the teacher is the contrast of the traditional teaching method where the teacher is the superior adult in the class who teaches the children a predetermined curriculum. Even though Rousseau was criticised for such teaching method, other philosophers like John Dewey were influenced by his thoughts and used them in the modern educational practices. In fact, this new method is taught to be more efficient than the traditional kindergarten teaching method. In the 19th century, the kindergarten was believed to be “a garden for children”. It was considered to be the place where children could grow at their own pace and develop skills by exploring their unique interests.Jean-Jacques Rousseau did not create any particular teaching technique which ensures that is best for children to learn through. The most important feature of his philosophical thought was that children get to develop sense-worthy and morality. His philosophical thought on education was to be carried out by getting the child away from the hassle of the country and taking the child into the countryside. Taking the child away from the core of a country, helped the child to learn from hands-on experiences. The child needs to move away from the country so that they are further away from the bad habits that can develop from being raised in the country. The usage of books was reduced and instead, he prefers to teach children through learning experiences. He raised the woman to be governed instead of being governed(mostly by males) while the child’s emotions are an essential lesson amongst all. The child needs to know the reason for doing such emotion.His most famous work where he explains his educational, philosophical thought is the book of ‘Emile’, half treatise and a half novel which tells the story of a fictional man named Emile. In this book, Rousseau unearths the development of Emile and the education he received which help him develop into the ideal man for Rousseau ideology. Contrastingly, the character of Emile is in the form of a man which was decidedly not accepted in the 18th century. Rousseau creates an ideal pedagogy for each developmental stage that the child goes through while developing. The book of Emile has five sections that represent different stages. Books one and two are about the Age of Nature up to the age of twelve, books three and four describe the transitional stages of adolescence and book five described the Age of Wisdom between the ages of twenty and twenty-five. Although Rousseau claims that there is another stage, this stage is not included in Emile. The other final stage is the Age of Happiness. The first stage which is the Age of Nature focuses on the physical education the children get. The children should be freed and let to play outside while being breastfed by their mothers. Being let to play freely and being breastfed helps the children to develop their physical senses like hand and eye coordination which are important later on in puberty while acquiring the skill of manual trading. When Emile reaches the teenage period, he gets introduced to the formal education. The formal education Rousseau introduced meant having a private tutor and reading only about what he was curious about and used. Through formal education, Emile will be engaged more in learning and educate himself. Rousseau states that teenage is the best time for studying in this way as when the child gets out of puberty is fully developed. The young adult is now able to develop his expressions with a reason behind although still having a tutor to help in the development of the child’s characteristics. At this stage, Emile should get the religious education which in fact in the book Rousseau describes Emile getting a lesson from the priest of Savoyard. Emile had to learn what relationship the human being must have to God, the scripture and the church. The most prominent lesson the priest wanted Emile to learn was that he should still be a freethinker and wanted him to discover the greatness and truth of God through his studies, not through the church’s dogma. In book five, Emile encounters a female representative with the name of Sophie which Rousseau describes some of how the education for females should be. All-in-all, Rousseau believed that formal education should not start until the child reaches the age of adolescence. Emile aims to show that many of the best characteristics of that natural man can coexist with the obligations of citizenship in civil society(SparkNotes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau). The part where Emile is told to understand religion freely by himself rather than how the priests teach religions was a shock for the time being which caused significant critiques. Emile’s religion was the knowledge of God through observations made of the natural order and one’s place in it and any organised religion that correctly identifies God as the creator and preaches virtue and morality are true. In Emile Rousseau stated that every citizen should dutifully practice the religion of his or her own country as long as it is in line with the religion, thus with the morality of nature. Although the book of Emile was criticised, it helped change some of the ways children where though in western Europe. This book helped mothers realise how children were affected when breastfeed, when not keeping children constrained in their clothes and the importance of playing outside even when reaching such age. The tutor’s role in this book was to manipulate the environment to teach sometimes tricky moral lessons about humility, chastity and honesty. He believed that the role of the teacher is to create an environment for the student to learn certain things.During the Enlightenment period, European politics, philosophy, science and communications changed a lot. This period question authority and the nature of the human beings. Rousseau and John Locke are two philosophers that created influential works in education throughout this period, which both emphasised on shaping the mind of a young child early. Throughout the Enlightenment period, the natural law was becoming more popular rather than the divine law. The natural law is when nature started to govern. Also, throughout this period, they discovered that science could also come through experiments and observation, not only through practice and praxis. ConclusionJean-Jacques Rousseau helped a lot in changing and reshaping educational methods. Thus, this created chaos and many people questioning their techniques. Personally, I think that giving a chance to the child to be free and natural is very healthy for the development of the child. On the other hand, restricting the child to read what is interesting and useful only can develop a very narrow-minded person. When a person reads about a new subject, a new interest could get prompted. Getting a new interest prompted cannot be done if the child is restricted to specific readings. According to Rousseau, the teacher’s job is to follow the students not to make them follow the teacher, to see the diversity of the students and follow that, to manipulate the environment around not the children themselves which is a method I agree with and would like to use in my class with children. The fact that the child must learn a manual skill only also creates restriction as some children are better in different skills rather than physical skills. Some children can be better at creative and imagination works rather than physical works. Finally, Jean-Jacques Rousseau made a significant impact on how children should learn and helped to create interest for new methods, which in my opinion were a great start to teach children through hands-on experiences.
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