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Jillian Kennedy
Theorist Paper- Jean- Jacques Rousseau
ECE 1404- Tuesday AM -Tiffany Ofeimu
November 19, 2013

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Jean- Jacques Rousseau
Jean- Jacques Rousseau was a man of many talents that led to many professions. His
most famous acknowledgement is his role in early education. Jean-Jacques had a very interesting
life with lots of gains and fails. He was born in Geneva in 1712, to his father who was a
watchmaker and his mother passed away nine days after Jean-Jacques was born. Isaac Rousseau
who was a watchmaker took the time to homeschool his son until he was ten years old. His father
was facing exile from Geneva; he was placed in the care of a pastor nearby, he worked as an
apprentice to an engraver and moved when he was sixteen. A woman that had taken him in
organized for him to travel through Turin; he then decided to take religion in his life and
converted to Roman Catholicism. He also spent some time training to be a Catholic priest He
tried a few different trades out in Turin when one failed he moved on to the next one. (Bertram,
Christopher).
During that time he worked as a domestic servant in a household in the city, he falsely
accused a fellow worker of stealing and unfortunately was wrong and had to live with the shame.
He had an uncommon relationship with a Madame Louise de Warens who more or less took him
in during this time and had a mothering and a lover relationship with Jean-Jacques. She inspired
him with music and he became fascinated and took it upon himself to learn all he could about
music. He then became a tutor and a music teacher and he did not find success in those fields so
he moved to Paris. He had a good friend David Diderot their and he gave him a job to write
articles on music for the French Encyclopedie. During this same time a group of society
women sponsored him to be the personal secretary for the French ambassador to Venice, he
moved to Venice to take the job. He was fired after a very short time for not having patience with
his boss; Jean-Jacques viewed him as arrogant and stupid. He moved back to Paris in 1745, and
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took up teaching and copywriting as his profession for this time. Jean-Jacques made another
unusual relationship with a woman names Therese Lavasseur. Therese was an uneducated,
seamstress, which to others in the city appeared odd, and was made fun of. He actually defended
her in public and took her honor and thats how their relationship bloomed. They lived together
and they had five children all that were given to foundling homes, which is an orphanage for
special needs children from what the readings describe. Jean-Jacques claimed his children would
receive a better life in this institution than he could give to his children. He did not want them to
have to deal with the high society life. Also with this he claimed that because they were
brought up in poverty initially gave them a better life. It was also rumored that all five children
may or may not be Jean- Jacques children (Doyle, Smith). He still kept up on writing for David
Diderot although his writings came into question a few times.
Jean-Jacques mental health eventually was brought to life and people were very
concerned for him and his state of mind until he passed away. He had sudden changes of mood
when in public; he continued to falsely accuse people like when he was in Turin. Others around
him just tried not to associate with his hostile and odd Jean-Jacques. Although his state of mind
was in question Jean-Jacques was still able to produce his writing and he seemed to be doing that
extremely well. He had publications in the Encyclopedie, and within four years he had written
three major works titled in order by year; The New Heloise a novel, The Social Contract
written about politics, and Emile written about education. The book of Emile was
controversial and a lot of churches around Paris burned the heretic book that spoke badly
about the church. He was banned from the city of Paris until 1770, when he returned to Paris
under a false name of Renou, and with condition that he wouldnt publish any other writings.
Jean-Jacques returned to his fall back career or copying music to earn his living. Over the next
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few years he would produce his last works of Rousseau juge de Jean- Jacques, Dialogues, and
ten classic mediations of Reveries of the Solitary Walker. On July 2, 1778, Jean- Jacques died
from a hemorrhage, although some friends said he committed suicide. He is buried on his estate
outside of Paris, and later in 1794, his body was moved to the Pantheon in Paris where other
important figures were buried after French Revolution (Doyle, Smith).
Martin Luther, John Amos Comenius, and John Locke, are early philosophers who were
focused on evolving the world of education. Jean- Jacques definitely played into this field also
when he wrote Emile, a book about child rearing. God makes all things good; man meddles
with them and they become evil (Morrison, pg. 105). This is a famous quote by Rousseau in
Emile, who argued in the book that we are born good- in our natural state and that we are
capable of sensation from birth and our sensation is affected by all the objects around us. If we
attend to nature Jean- Jacques said we as a humans are more likely to live a life of virtue,
something he learned from his father (Smith, Doyle). He had two parts that helped support his
theory of natural education.
Naturalism was his first approach with education, that children shouldnt be conformed to
uniforms to be individual and learning by a natural process not having the education process
forced upon them. The childs learning environment should be as natural as possible and that
includes outdoor activities, gardening in the classroom, this did not include standardized testing
and ability grouping. Todays education incorporates this in the classroom by including families
in the classroom to help create natural environment. Including literacy programs to include
natural literature to the children, such as menus from local restaurants newspapers and ads, this
helps the children stay current with what is out in the community and helps them learn. This is
something most GSRP programs and Head start programs incorporate from my observations.
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Natural education promotes and encourages qualities such as happiness, spontaneity, and the
inquisitiveness associated with childhood, Emile helped teach this by nature, people, and
things (Morrison, pg. 105). I agree with naturalism in the fact that when a child is in a natural
environment he/she seems to be more comfortable in interacting with others or engaging in play.
I hope to incorporate natural observing inside and outside the classroom, by letting the children
plant different things and watch them grow in a science area, something as easy as changing the
sand/water table weekly to have them learn sensory skills with natural materials (Morrison, pg.
105).
Unfolding is the nature of children and what they are to be as a result of maturation
according to their innate developmental schedules (Morrison, pg. 105). Jean- Jacques believed
that parents and others had control of sensory and social educational experiences but they were
not responsible for the natural growth of the child. This can be seen today in the standardized
testing or redshirting a child so that they can develop more to meet the needs of the school.
Parents and teachers hope this process will help the child unfold to perform at their best ability
in school (Morrison, pg. 105).
Jean- Jacques believed that we learn in five steps that are all broken down by age and
category. Infancy is birth to two years, this is the stage of weaning the child and then the child
will develop its own spirit (Monterio). The age of nature is two to twelve; in this stage he
education is used to develop physical qualities and senses, but not their minds. Preadolescence is
twelve to fifteen this is when the childs strength develops faster than his/her own needs. The
child develops into activities to help the mind form. Stage four is puberty fifteen to twenty, a
person at this time is able to deal with emotions and moral issues of religion and life. The final
stage adulthood is when Sophie is introduced and that is focusing on love, society life and
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womans education (Doyle, Smith). Other theorists have taken from these developmental stages
and either add on to what they have found in research or go against Rousseaus naturalistic
ideas.
In conclusion, I enjoyed learning about Jean- Jacques life and how added to the education
movement that is still used in education settings today. He shared a lot of great ideas in Emile
and some that I dont necessarily agree with like the stages of development, I agree with a
natural environment for learning but I also believe that children should be taught the basics that
are drilled into us at a young age.











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Works Cited
Bertram, Christopher. Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2010.
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rousseau/. 11/6/13.
Doyle, Michele Erina and Smith, Mark K. Jean-Jacques Rousseau on nature wholeness and
education. the encyclopedia of informal education. 2007.
http://www.infed.org/thinkers/et-rous.html. 11/6/13.
Monteiro, Ternan. ROUSSEAUS CONCEPT OF EDUCATION
http://snphilosophers2005.tripod.com/ternan.pdf. 11/6/13.
Morrison, George S. Early Childhood Education 12
th
Edition. Upper Saddle River: Pearson
2012. Print.