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The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 3, 1999

Philosophy of Education

Mark D. Gedney
Pages 41-50

Rousseau’s Émile
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.