What are the aims of education according to Jean- Jacques Rousseau?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For Rousseau, the fundamental aim of education can be seen in his idea of how "Man is born free, but lives in chains."  Rousseau believes that any notion of human perfectability and success of education exists in keeping children away from the corrupting element of society.  Rousseau's theory of education is a pastoral one, driven by the need to keep children free from the "evil" elements of the urban sprawl:  “Men are devoured by our towns.”  For Rousseau, the basis of education is one in which a free love of knowledge for knowledge's sake is what drives comprehension and understanding:  “The natural man is interested in all new things."  This drive to uncover "the natural man" is one of the fundamental aims of Rousseau in his construction of education.  There is a reclamation that is a part of the learning and something that the teacher, namely him, must keep in mind as he seeks to illuminate this condition of being within the student.  

One of the aims of education has to be to ensure that this natural state is facilitated within the child, and that the sense of freedom within the individual is expanded:  “When our natural tendencies have not been interfered with by human prejudice and human institutions, the happiness alike of children and men consists in the enjoyment of their liberty.”  This drive back towards our "natural tendencies" becomes one of Rousseau's aims of education.

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