Émile, or On Education
In his pioneering treatise on education, the great French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) presents concepts that had a significant influence on the development of pedagogy in the eighteenth century, and yet many of his ideas still sound radical today. Written in reaction to the stultifying system of rote learning and memorization prevalent throughout Europe at the time, Emile is a utopian vision of child-centered education, full of the sentiments of Romanticism, a movement that Rousseau inspired. Imagining a typical boy named Emile, Rousseau creates an ideal model of one-on-one tutelage from infancy to manhood with himself as the child’s mentor. As in so many of his other famous works, here, too, Rousseau asserts his main thesis that human beings are by nature good; it is only the distorting influences of civilization that have corrupted them.
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