A man who considers himself, not as a professional man of letters but as an independent writer with a message for humanity.
The book titled “Emile”
This is not just a manual on education but ‘a philosophical treatise on the goodness of human nature’ as he himself points out. It describes the fundamental principles which has to do with the whole of man’s development from infancy to maturity. It has rural environmental settings which allows the child to grow in accordance with his nature.
Nature is very important to man nature being important to man involves man growing normally taking every step that is important for his growth, is natural process is education according to Rousseau “plants are improved by cultivation and men by education[1]
Education comes to us through nature, other men and circumstances which require personal effort so as to grasp it whole and entire. Education through nature trains us to be men of that will master different vocation, men that will withstand the hardships of life.
He among us who best knows how to bear the good and evil fortunes of this life is in my opinion the educated”
He condemned early education. According to him, it is negative insofar as it is mainly concerned with removing obstacles that might hinder the development.
During the earliest years of the child should be allowed to fend for himself. They should not be pampered. He argued that the child’s first impression is that of feelings: they perceive only pleasure and pain. The child should not form habit, he should desire food and sleep not out of habit but out of necessity. In fact Rousseau argued “that the only habit the child should form is to contract no habit whatever”[2] by doing this the child is left under the bent of nature, fitting g him too be the master of himself, courageous and fearless. He went further to say “that they should be given in to nature, because while memory and imagination are still inactive the child pays attention only to what affect his senses”[3]
He stressed more on the progressive education in the sense that each stage of the process must be carefully adapted to the individual’s developing needs and then follow the nature process of human heart. Truly progressive education will recognize that a child has his own special needs as being who exists in his own right:
“Nature wants every child to be children before being men…childhood has its own way of seeing, thinking and feeling”[4]
This second book studies the child from about the age of five to twelve. According to Rousseau this age is very important because from now on the child could be able to speak out his mind and do not cry more often unless confronted with a more challenging emotional problem. Also the child should not be taught how to walk because through natural process they learn that on their own accord. He says thus:
“Teach children what they can learn far better for themselves, and to lose sight of what we alone can teach them. Is there anything more absurd than the pains we take in teaching them to walk?[5]
The child must be educated through contacts of things because of his incapability of dealing with abstraction and a valid basis and aim of sound education is thus provided by well-regulated freedom. He began by saying that the children should be group under their very area of expertise. And he without wisdom will perform very well out obedience. For him experience matters in tutoring children. He says thus,
“Do not give your pupil any sort of lesson verbally: he ought to receive none except from experience”[6]
According to Rousseau quickness in learning ruin the children. Their smooth and polished brain reflects like a mirror the objects presented to it, but nothing abides there, nothing penetrates it.
For him memory and reason are two different faculties in a child, none develop without the other. Before the age of reasoning the child receive not ideas but images. He says thus:
There is this difference between the two, those images are only absolute representations of objects of sense, and ideas are notions of objects determined by their relations.
An image may exist alone in the mind that represents it, but every idea supposes other ideas”[7]
In the last book of Emile, Rousseau Jean Jacque made it clear that man must be educated for society though not necessary for society in its present form.
[1] J.J Rousseau, Emile (Boston C Heath and Company,1889), pg12

[2] Ibid., P. 24
[3] Ibid., P. 26
[4] Ibid., P. 52
[5] Ibid., P. 41
[6] Ibid., P. 56
[7] Ibid., P.76