Emile Or, Concerning Education

Emile Or, Concerning Education

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Excerpt: ...nothing without the ideas of the things they represent. We, however, limit children to these signs, without ever being able to make them understand the things represented. We think we are teaching a child the description of the earth, when he is merely learning maps. We teach him the names of cities, countries, rivers; he has no idea that they exist anywhere but on the map we use in pointing them out to him. I recollect seeing somewhere a text-book on geography which began thus: "What is the world? A pasteboard globe." Precisely such is the geography of children. I will venture to say that after two years of globes and cosmography no child of ten, by rules they give him, could find the way from Paris to St. Denis. I maintain that not one of them, from a plan of his father's garden, could trace out its windings without going astray. And yet these are the knowing creatures who can tell you exactly where Pekin, Ispahan, Mexico, and all the countries of the world are. I hear it suggested that children ought to be engaged in studies in which only the eye is needed. This might be true if there were studies in which their eyes were not needed; but I know of none such. A still more ridiculous method obliges children to study history, supposed to be within their comprehension because it is only a collection of facts. 13 But what do we mean by facts? Do we suppose that the relations out of which historic facts grow are so easily understood that the minds of children grasp such ideas without difficulty? Do we imagine that the true understanding of events can be separated from that of their causes and effects? and that the historic and the moral are so far asunder that the one can be understood without the other? If in men's actions you see only purely external and physical changes, what do you learn from history? Absolutely nothing; and the subject, despoiled of all interest, no longer gives you either pleasure or instruction. If you intend to estimate...
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Product details

  • Paperback | 48 pages
  • 189 x 246 x 3mm | 104g
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1236684699
  • 9781236684691