Half of Children Won't Live to Adulthood, So Why Torture them With Unnecessary Education

Nothing is more uncertain than the life span of individual man; very few men reach old age. The greatest risks are incurred at the beginning of life: the less we have lived the less we may expect to live. Of the children that are born half at most grow to adolescence; thus it is probable that your pupil will not attain the age of manhood.

What must we think then of the barbarous education which sacrifices the present for an uncertain future, which surrounds a child with all sorts of fetters and begins by making him wretched in order to prepare him for a hypothetical future happiness that he will probably never live to enjoy? Even if I supposed this educational objective to be reasonable, how could I behold without indignation poor unfortunates bowed beneath an insupportable yoke and condemned like galley-slaves to perpetual labor, with no assurance that all this attention will ever be of service to them? The age of gaiety is passed over amid tears, chastisement, threats and slavery. We torment the poor child for his own good and do not see that we are summoning death, which will seize him in the midst of this sad business. Who knows how many children perish the victims of a father’s or tutor’s extravagant wisdom? Happy to escape their cruelty, the only advantage children derive from the ills they have been made to suffer is to die without regretting life, of which they have tasted only the sorrows.

Men, be humane, that is your first duty: be so for all conditions, all ages, all that is germane to man. What does wisdom avail you except as it concerns humanity? Cherish childhood, look with favor on its games, its pleasures, its friendly instincts. Who of you has not at times longed for that age when laughter is always bursting forth and the soul is ever at peace? Why do you want to rob these young innocents of the pleasures of such brief and fleeting hours and of such precious gifts, which they are too young to misuse? Why wish to fill with bitterness and grief these early years that pass so quickly and will not return for them any more than for us? Fathers, do you know the moment that death awaits your child? Do not prepare for yourselves a life of sorrow by robbing them of the brief moment that nature gives them: as soon as they are able to sense the pleasure of existing, see to it that they enjoy themselves, see to it that at whatever hour God calls them, they do not die without having tasted of life....

Let us not forget our human condition and pursue idle fancies. Humanity has its place in the general order; childhood, too, in the span of human life; we must look upon man in manhood and the child in childhood. To assign to each one his place and establish him in it, to order the human passions in accordance with man’s constitution, that is all we can do for his well being. The rest depends on extraneous circumstances that are beyond our power to control....


Folksonomies: education humanity

/family and parenting/children (0.995988)
/society/social institution/divorce (0.914743)

Child (0.934876): dbpedia_resource
Personal life (0.909507): dbpedia_resource
Childhood (0.906822): dbpedia_resource
Death (0.886914): dbpedia_resource
Man (0.870725): dbpedia_resource
Human (0.848198): dbpedia_resource
Life (0.750700): dbpedia_resource
Meaning of life (0.690204): dbpedia_resource

 Emile, Or On Education
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Rousseau, Jean-Jacques (1762), Emile, Or On Education, Retrieved on 2021-10-17
  • Source Material [www.gutenberg.org]
  • Folksonomies: education philosophy