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The Politics of Education

In Emile (1762), Rousseau tackles some fundamental questions about the nature of the relationship between the individual and society. In particular, he is concerned with how 'natural man' might retain his innate qualities while operating as part of a corrupting collective. Emile was part of a wider 18thc debate over the nature of education, a debate which had political as well as pedagogical implications, as disputes over the education of women and public vs private education show. In the lecture, I'm going to focus on the educational systems of 17th and 18thc Europe. For class, I would like you to read:

Rousseau, Emile, books I, IV, V (online here). Books IV and V are quite long, but do try to skim through at least one of them.

Catherine Macaulay, Letters on Education, especially letters II and XXII (avaliable online via the library catalogue)

Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Woman, especially chapters 5 and 12 (also online via library)

If you have time, you could also have a look at Wollstonecraft's Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (1787) (online via lib catalogue) and Hester Chapone, 'Letters on the improvement of the mind addressed to a young lady' in The Works of Mrs Chapone
(online via lib catalogue)

Class slides here

Questions to consider

What kind of education does Rousseau propose? Why? How far is this text intended to be a practical guide to education?

What arguments do these writers present in favour of, and also against, public education?

To what extent are Wollstonecraft and Macaulay's ideas similar?

How radical are these theories of education?

In what ways does the deabte on education intersect with the wider political and philosophical concerns of the 18thc?

Suggested Secondary Reading

Several relevant chapters in The Cambridge Companion to Mary Wollstonecraft (2002) - avaliable as an ebook via library

Relevant chapters in Joy Palmer Cooper, The Routledge encyclopaedia of educational thinkers (2006) - ebook via library

Jean Bloch, Rousseauism and education in eighteenth-century France (1995) - at 370.1 BLO

F.M.L. Thompson, The Cambridge social history of Britain, 1750-1950, ´╗┐ch on education - aval as an ebook