chapter  3
16 Pages

THE CHILD AND SOCIETY

In both political and educational theory there is a well established assumption that society stands opposed to the individual; that social education is a threat to individual integrity. In accord with his belief that society was the source of human corruption, Rousseau, the prophet of child-centred education, sought the education of his pupil, Emile, in an environment virtually emptied of social relationships. Thus, it seems a paradox that child-centred educationists have often also emphasized the importance of social education. Dewey1 once observed that many visitors left his laboratory school convinced that it differed little from other progressive schools in existing 'in order to give complete liberty to individuals' and in being "childcentred" in a way which ignores, or at least makes little of social relationships and responsibilities'. In fact, Dewey believed this school differed from other progressive schools in being 'community-centred'. Indeed, critics of Dewey's emphasis upon social education have argued that the apparently individualistic methods which his visitors observed were adopted for technical rather than ethical reasons, since Dewey believed a particular type of individuality to be a means of achieving a particular kind of society.2