Michel De Montaigne On The Edu

1028 words - 4 pages

The Dynamics of the "Education of Children" The purpose of Montaigne's "Education of Children" is to lay down the philosophical groundwork for a new and innovative way of teaching children. The purpose of this new system is to foster the child's intellectual growth as opposed to filling the child's head with facts that he regurgitates, but does not understand. In Montaigne's words, the education should put a child "through its paces, making it taste things, choose them, and discern them by itself" (110). As well as encouraging intellectual growth, Montaigne also intends to promote wisdom, character and physical development as a way of education the entire person. Montaigne's assertion is that the purpose behind education should not be for the sole aim of the increase in knowledge, but "to have become better and wiser by it" (112). The overall effect of the education should be to produce an individual that is both wise and happy; according to Montaigne the two are irreconcilably bound, as "the surest sign of wisdom is constant cheerfulness" (119).The methods used to achieve Montaigne's ideal education are a mixture of the ability and talent of the tutor; the individual attention paid to a student and the well-rounded nature of the curriculum. Montaigne asserts that a pupil is only as good as the skill of his tutor. The ideal tutor in Montaigne's eyes would be one that is more wise than learned, having "a well made rather than a well filled head" (110). The tutor should not have the student repeat what is told to him, as the goal of the education is not to memorize, but rather to learn. The tutor should be a guide in order to offer the ideas of great authors to the student and then "let him know how to make them his own" (111). Furthermore, the tutor is only responsible for one student at a time and without interference from parents. Being alone with the student allows the tutor to truly become aquatinted with the student's aptitudes and allows for the formulation of an individual and personal education for the one pupil.The actual subjects to be learned are divided by not only the discipline of study, but also the development of physical ability, moral fiber and interpersonal skills. The development of mind, body and spirit together leads to the transformation of a child to a well-rounded man. Montaigne believes in the training of the body as well as the mind, a typically Greek concept. The tutor, therefore, is responsible for physical training as "it is not enough to toughen his soul; we must also toughen his muscles" (113). The training of body serves a duel purpose, to ease the burdened mind by giving it something else to think about and by building up the pupil's body in order to fight off injury and disease. It is only after his body has been trained that the intellectual education can begin.Intellectually, Montaigne believes in beginning the students formal education with the sciences, in order to foster the understanding of the world's...

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