Volume 3, 1999
Philosophy of Education
Mark D. Gedney
Home Schooling Or Education Behind Closed Doors
Rousseau’s discussion of education in Émile has for its essential background his rejection of a truly public education in modern society on the one hand and the rejection of the possibility of modern human beings developing in a state of natural innocence on the other hand. His suggestion in Émile is that a form of private education (“home-schooling”) is possible that preserves the inherent goodness of the natural state while at the same time providing the instruction necessary for the student to become a successful social, and thus moral, person. The possibility of such an education on Rousseau’s own terms will be the central focus of this essay; though implications for education today will also be raised.