Rights and childhood

Discuss the part made by Locke and Rousseau to altering thoughts on child care and instruction during the seventeenth and 18th centuries.

The late 17th century marked a alteration in society known as enlightenment. The Puritans had taught the absolute authorization of the church and believed kids were born iniquitous. Harmonizing to E. J. Hundert in Ashcraft ( 1991 ) Mercantilist authors believed the working categories were lazy and work shy because of their familial lazy nature. They did non believe anything could be done to alter them. ‘The 18th century ushered in new attacks to childhood ‘ Cunningham ( 2006 p102 ) . Growth of industry in England raised it to planetary laterality, which changed the manner kids were perceived. The theories of Locke and Rousseau on child care and instruction had a major impact on altering attitudes to childcare and instruction that still impact on how kids are viewed in the twenty-first century. David Archard ( 2004 ) says that John Locke and J.J. Rousseau were ‘the foremost to propose a pronunciamento for a kid centred instruction ‘ .

The argument about the best manner to raise and educate kids was down to Locke ‘s ‘tabula rasa ‘ or Rousseau ‘s thought that kids are of course born inexperienced person. These positions were in crisp contrast to the Puritan position. Inborn wickedness or Godliness were no longer considered factors that molded persons. Muller suggests that Locke believed in educating kids to assist them get the better of troubles they would confront in the altering societal environment. He saw kids as clean slates to be written on to suit them for a good life. This was non really a new thought harmonizing to Cunningham ( 2006 ) . He tells us that Erasmus had spoken approximately kids being ‘moulded like wax ‘ two centuries earlier but this thought still endures to the present clip.

Locke wrote in his book ‘Some Ideas on Education ‘ ( 1693: subdivision 54 ) ) that the footing for developing good grownups was all down to ground ; that is reasonable believing based on sensible logic. He was against the rough whippings but alternatively suggested that parents should ground with their kids and recognize their demands and involvements. Locke believed that a individual ‘s character was formed in the early old ages. Harmonizing to Archard ( 2004 p1 ) Locke denied that cognition was inborn and larning depended on ground. However, Archard ( 2004 ) believes there would be jobs seeking to learn ground to a clean slate so the kid must be born with the inherent aptitude to seek pleasance and avoid hurting.

Cunningham ( 2006 ) says Locke believed that the parents should supply the instruction in the place. It was all down to larning good wonts. Harmonizing to Houswitschaka in Muller, the Lockean kid ‘s instruction was based on larning to believe sanely by being set a good illustration by parents but he rejected the position that parents ‘owned ‘ their kids. He did, nevertheless, think parents should be ‘Absolute Governors ‘ ( Cunningham 2006: p110 ) .

Learning was based on utilizing logic, ‘we are born with modules and powers capable of about anything ‘ Locke ( Archard p3 ) . Children could see things during centripetal drama. Like Piaget, Locke believed that the first acquisition experiences are linked to the senses and these give the baby the chance to develop sound thought. He did non believe in holding ‘rules ‘ because they stifle freedom of idea. Alternatively he advocated that good behavior would be achieved by larning good wonts. He was against giving kids books with narratives that might scare them. He recommended Aesop ‘s Fables as suited reading stuff. He thought the incorrect books could pervert kids but Cunningham says parents still bought inexpensive books and bask them every bit much as kids and in-between category male childs were covertly introduced to books about sex. This would hold met with blessing by Rousseau but Locke was against any cognition that might do male childs less than perfect.

Locke believed there should be a prohibition on bodily penalty as it trains kids to look for things that give pleasance and avoid state of affairss that cause hurting. It was better for kids to act because they reasoned that it was the lone manner frontward and they understood why some things were out. However, Cunningham ( 2006 ) says that kids continued to be beaten during this period but it was less severe so non everyone took notice of Locke ‘s theory.

Locke ‘s believed ‘knowledge is cumulative and progressive, the necessity of communicating and wonder about cultural assortment ‘Aarsleff ( Muller p83 ) . ‘As kids will non hold clip and strength to larn all things, most strivings should be taken about that which is most necessary ‘ ( Ashcroft p452 ) . This has endured today with the National Curriculum being developed. Children should be allowed tonss of clip to play so that they do non go world-weary. He said kids should ‘be tenderly used… must play, and have toies ‘ Locke, but parents should take attention non to botch their kids by giving them excessively many playthings. Cunningham believes Locke was one of the first to discourse ‘pester power ‘ .

Playthings were to be carefully chosen and given one at a clip. Thingss like smooth rocks or keys were all that was needed. The plaything should be exchanged before the kid got bored. Locke ‘s positions on playthings were supported by the educationist Maria Edgeworth the undermentioned century. Cunningham ( 2006 ) says, nevertheless, there is grounds that many playthings were commercially produced during this clip so non all parents took any notice of Locke. He says there is grounds to propose that Locke ‘s positions really encouraged toy makers to do more playthings though playthings like playing cards and saber saws that taught kids about maths and geographics were introduced. Using setup to assist kids larn accomplishments are still used as valuable instruction AIDSs. Cunningham says kids were given wooden letters to assist larn reading. We still use these today. Locke believed kids would return to their surveies with renewed enthusiasm after a interruption and schools follow this theory today. Locke believed that instruction must be for the good of society as a whole so at that place was still no complete freedom of idea.

Cunningham ( 2006 ) besides says Locke had some suggestions about child care. He advocated rinsing kids ‘s pess in cold H2O every twenty-four hours and supplying them with thin places that let in H2O. This was presumptively to toughen them up but Cunningham believes there is small grounds to demo many parents followed this recommendation. Today this would be considered neglect. He besides had strong positions on how kids were clothed. Clothing was for heat non amour propre. Leting kids to take apparels that were considered stylish was incorrect.

Rousseau besides had some suggestions for rearing accomplishments. He believed kids were born guiltless and should be raised to be at one with nature. They should non hold their artlessness tainted by society. They should be allowed to make anything they wanted and to larn from experience. Piaget would back up this. Rousseau had an fanciful male child called Emile who broke a window and learnt by experience that this made him cold. Children would shortly larn that fire Burnss. Rousseau tells us that it was common to swathe babes from birth, ‘man was born free and he is everyplace in ironss ‘ ( Rousseau in Grimsley 1973 ) . They could non utilize their custodies to touch things. Babies were bound so tightly that they could hardly breath and it hindered growing and strength. He was concerned that the first feelings an baby experienced were hurting and stiffness. It led to babies being frustrated and bad tempered. The hurting from seeking to travel warned them non to seek traveling. This was unnatural as it stifled natural inherent aptitudes. The pattern besides enabled adult females to hang babies out of the manner from maulerss so that they could acquire on with other occupations. Today we would see this pattern as maltreatment.

Rich female parents frequently claimed they were excessively weak to breast feed their babies and used moisture nurses. Rousseau said kids needed their female parents attention and that there was no replacement for a female parent ‘s love. Schaffer conducted research in 1976 and found that kids bond to female parents who respond to their demands rapidly. Rousseau appears to hold discovered this in the 18th century. He said the female parent should breast-feed the baby. Milk from wet nurses might be in short supply because the deficiency of feelings for the kid would impede the flow. Rousseau claimed that when the moisture nurse left, the female parent could non anticipate the kid to all of a sudden bond with her. The infant decease rate could hold reduced in the eighteenth century because more female parents took Rousseau ‘s advice to breast- provender. Rousseau, like Locke, warned female parents against botching their kids by making everything for them. This would impede developing them to get by with unexpected dangers in the hereafter. This statement would propose that female parents did love their kids even though rearing accomplishments were questionable.

It was common pattern at the clip for the wealthy to direct male childs to a coach at age seven to hold their caputs ‘filled with cognition ‘ ( Rousseau ) . Rousseau advocated that coachs should make the occupation for the love of it instead than for money. Many would see this as reasonable advice. Education should be natural. Coachs needed to be able to go kids themselves, that is, able to associate to the kid. The kid must be taught as an single but like Locke, he besides advocated learning accomplishments that are for the common good.

Childs who were sent off to be educated would return to see the household as aliens. Rousseau, like Locke, believed that parents should learn the immature kid. Children should hold freedom of natural idea. ‘The hapless may come to manhood without our aid ‘ , ( Rousseau 1792 ) . Learning could non be speeded up in the same manner that larning to walk can non be hurried. ‘It affairs small to me whether my student is intended for the ground forces, the church or the jurisprudence… Life is the trade I would learn him. When he leaves me, I grant you, he will be neither a magistrate, a soldier, nor a priest ; he will be a adult male ‘ ( Rousseau 1762 ) . However, this would merely be possible for the rich. Muller says that Rousseau believed pleasant experiences would equilibrate out unpleasant experiences. This would use to all. ‘Make the citizen good by developing and everything else will follow ‘ ( Rousseau 1792 ) .

Grimsley ( 1973 ) says that Rousseau believed that instruction could keep the original artlessness of the kid. The instructor should be a facilitator ( as in Piaget ‘s theory ) . Like Freud and Piaget, Rousseau thought childhood passed through age related phases and cognition should non be above the kid ‘s appreciation. Children should ground their manner to their ain decisions. Darling ( 1994 ) argues that today ‘s ‘child centred ‘ instruction theory is a consequence of Rousseau ‘s thoughts. We besides believe the same theory today that Rousseau advocated in the 18th century, that kids need good, healthy nutrient, ‘the organic structure must be strong plenty to obey the head ‘ ( Rousseau 1792 ) . He stressed that kids should hold good hygiene and plentifulness of exercising. These theories are the same as those promoted today by wellness professionals. Cunningham ( 2006 ) says a figure of ushers on how to convey up kids were published and this could hold contributed to the autumn in the infant decease rate.

One thing that would be argued today is Rousseau ‘s ideas on books. ‘Reading is the expletive of childhood ‘ ( Rousseau ) . He thought we should non excite the imaginativeness because it can take to unhappiness. The purpose in the twenty-first century is to excite kids. Cunningham tells us that kids were taught from early in the forenoon until late into the eventide. “ The thought of perfectibility by instruction marked a important alteration to modern society ” ( Muller p82 ) .

Harmonizing to Cunningham ( 2006 ) the alterations in how kids were reared might hold been political because the state saw itself as ‘free ‘ and this would hold rubbed off on parents but the instructions of Locke and Rousseau have had a major impact on how kids are looked upon in the twenty-first century. Neither Locke nor Rousseau had first manus experience of raising kids and their thoughts were really different, yet the thoughts were land breakage. Locke was a unmarried man and Rousseau gave away all his kids to a foundling infirmary. It is universally agreed that kids must be educated to be good citizens and the best manner to make this is for parents to learn them accomplishments for the good of society. Rousseau saw kids as being of course born free from wickedness but tainted by society. ‘It is no portion of a kid ‘s concern to cognize right and incorrect ‘ Rousseau ( Cunningham p114 ) . Rousseau ‘s suggestion of go forthing kids to happen things out for themselves could set kids in danger and might be considered child neglect today but many of his instructions are still followed. Locke ‘s thoughts on toughening kids up like rinsing pess in cold H2O would besides be frowned upon.


  • Archard, D. ( 2004 ) 2nd Edition Children: Rights and Childhood, Chapter 1, John Locke ‘s Children, Oxford: Routledge.
  • Ashcraft, R ( erectile dysfunction. 1991 ) : Locke: Critical Appraisals, ‘The Making of Homo Faber: John Locke between Ideology and History ‘ , E. Hundert ( pp438-457 ) , London: Routledge.
  • Cunningham, H. ( 2006 ) The Invention of Childhood ( pp79-130 ) , London: BBC Books
  • Cunningham, H. ( 2005 ) 2nd Edition, Children and Childhood in Western Society Since 1500 pp58-72, London: Pearson Education
  • Grimsley, R. ( 1973 ) Doctrine of Rousseau ( pp45-51 ) , Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Muller, A. ( Ed 2006 ) Fashioning Childhood in the eighteenth Century: Age and Identity, ‘Locke ‘s Education or Rousseau ‘s freedom ‘ C. Houswitschaka ( pp81-88 ) , Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing
  • Rousseau J.J. ( 2007 ) Emile: Or on Education, Nu Vision Publications: Google Books www.infed.org/thinkers/et-rous.htm ( accessed 15.02.2010

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