PLAY AFORE

We should not teach children the sciences; but give them a taste for them – Rousseau
Jean Jack Rousseau’s philosophy was one among the first to talk about play and also in influencing the ideas of other philosophers about play and education. A peek into Rousseau’s life history will help us understand better about his views on education and play. Rousseau is very famous for his writings in the book ‘Emile – or On Education’, which is about a boy named Emile, which portrays a child’s life at different stages of development. In his book Rousseau gives insights in the upbringing of children, which emphasises on the importance of education and experiences. Rousseau was of the opinion that children must be kept away from books and interactions must happen with the world.
 Literature review throws light upon the fact that, Rousseau never went to school nor had any formal education,or proficiency in reading and writing. He was never allowed to play among children of his own age, all the interactions he had were from his father. To add more Rousseau had five children whom he left for foster care as he felt he was not capable of rearing them, which he regretted later.
Rousseau’s ideas arouse out of his own life experiences and as well because of his proficiency in botany, music and philosophy. The main crux of Rousseau’s philosophy is that children must be left alone to explore the natural world, and believed that play is a child’s right which cannot be contended. According to Rousseau play gave freedom to children, giving way for releasing pent up energy and emotions. Play helps in the development of the senses, and helps children experience world through sensory experiences and being in connection with things. Rousseau believed in learning by doing, rather than learning by reading. One important aspect to note is that it  was Rousseau who was the first to explain the stages in human development.
Rousseau’s work influenced Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, a Swiss writer, philosopher and defender of the poor also known as “Father of Modern Education” who valued play as central to human fulfilment and achievement at each stage of development (cited in Free Play in Early Childhood). Pestalozzi was influenced by Rousseau’s philosophy and sought to put it into practice.”Imagine a school where children attend 10-hour-long classes, six days a week. Where students teach each other and there are no marks or exams. Children work with saws, hammers, and planes. They operate lathes, a printing press and a bookbindery. Weekends are for hiking (children must have memorised the maps and collected the equipment in advance), swimming, and ice-skating. Core subjects include Chemistry, Physics, Zoology, and Botany. This school wasthebrainchildofPestalozzi.”

Pestalozzi believed in providing public education for poor children. He insisted that every child is innately educable and deserves to be raised as a contributing member of society. And he had actions to match: Pestalozzi took poor children into his own home, and eventually created the YverdonSchool (Citied from Community Play Things by Miriam LeBlanc).

Pestalozzi believed that education should develop the power of ‘head, heart and hand’, the three H’s. Pestalozzi believed in following a curriculum, which fulfils the needs of a child, controlled by the child( child centred approach), developmentally appropriate, linking home and school (association between teachers and parents), using love and not authority in dealing with children and finally teacher training. This work of Pestalozzi, affected the philosophy of Frobel, a German philosopher, who was proposed the kindergarten philosophy and experimented it too.

Let’s look at the kindergarten philosophy in depth the next blog. Until then I would suggest that please do take some time to read up a little on the life histories of Rousseau and Pestalozzi, which I promise will be worth while.
By Dr.Srividya.K