Jean-Jacques Rousseau, born in Calvinist Geneva to Bourgeois parents in 1712, captured the imagination of early modern Europe. His ideology, writings and revolutionary concept of childhood is to be the subject of my conceptual small-scale study. Throughout this literary review I hope to explain to the reader why this man has captivated my imagination also, and, why I would like to dedicate my time to researching his work. Beginning with a brief outline of Rousseau's main concerns with education.
Rousseau, self-taught genius of the age of enlightenment (J. Palmer 2001: 55), changed the genre in which education was to be viewed through the eighteenth century to modern day. He unknowingly gave rise to several European reformists, in agreeance or not with his approaches to child rearing, they are all indebted to his boldness. Of these people include Pestalozzi and Froebel through to Piaget, Montessori and Neill.
Throughout his life Rousseau produced many major literary works, controversial and revolutionary, including the Discourse on the Origins of Inequality (1755), The Social Contract (1762), Emile (1762) and Confessions (published post 1778).
The first of his fundamental works called to the emphasis of the natural goodness of human beings, and suggested the corrupting influences on institutionalised life. The Social Contract had major repercussions during the French Revolution signifying that many people agreed with his fundamental principles in which society ought to signify. His Confessions produced an intimate portrait of his life, contradicting some of his earlier views on society and education. Then Emile, some would say his most controversial work, is what the study will surround. Although it must be noted that his other works will also be held as significant and an important tool in understanding Rousseau's thoughts.
Childhood, for Rousseau, represented the human potential for forfillment. Children were not...