PHILOSOPHERS AND THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS TO ECDE (Early Childhood Development and Education)
5a i). Explain the outlook of various philosophers and how they have impacted Early Childhood Development and Education.
In the previous lesson, we have learned about the branches of philosophy. In this lecture, we are going to learn about different philosophers and the contributions they made to early childhood development and education. The philosophers to we shall learn about in this lecture are; John Commenius, John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi.
5.2 Unit Objectives
By the end of this lecture you should be able to:
By the end of this lecture you should be able to:
- Describe Comenius’ philosophy.
- Describe Locke’s philosophy.
- Describe Rousseau’s philosophy.
- Explain the disadvantages of Rousseau’s education for children.
- Describe Pestallozzi’s philosophy.
- Describe Pestallozzi’s ECE.
5.3 JOHN COMENIUS
He was born in 1592 in America. He was a teacher, writer, bishop and philosopher, all in one. Comenius believed that children learn by doing that is they learn to speak by speaking, learn to read by reading, and learn to write by writing. He also believed that schools should be places where children work.
His beliefs about children.
- He believed that children are like young plants, which can be planted, transplanted, pruned and bent in any way without breaking. He further says that when it has become a tree the processes are not possible.
- He believed that education of children should follow the order of nature that is the timetable for growth and learning.
- Children should be taught when they are ready to learn. They should not be forced to learn.
- All senses should be involved in the process of education (teaching and learning). He says visible things to be brought to the sense of sight, audible before that of hearing etc.
5.4 JOHN LOCKE
He was born in 1632 and died in 1704. He was a teacher and philosopher. He developed the theory of environmentalism. Environmentalism is the belief that it is the environment and not the innate characteristics in a person which determines what children became.
His belief about children and mind.
- He believed that when children are born their minds are blank. It is education, which fills the blank minds.
- Environment determines what children became and not the innate characteristics According to him it is the environment that forms the mind of the child.
- All children are born with the same capacity for mental development and learning. Differences in learning, achievements, and behaviour are attributes to environmental factors Like home and family conditions, socioeconomic factors, early education, and experiences. Some children when they come to school, they come with insufficient experiences.
- Importance of sensory training. Children learn best when several senses are involved in teaching and learning.
5.5 JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU
He was born in 1712 in Switzerland. He was a writer and naturalist. He believed that teachers should understand the nature of children so that they can base their decisions on that knowledge. The nature of children include: Children are active, inquisitive and always exploring. Before him children were treated as miniature adults. He wrote a book called “Emile” in which he talks about children and how they should be educated.
His beliefs about children and how they should be educated.
- Children are born good but corrupted by adults.
- Children should be taught by nature.
- He believed that children should grow without unnecessary interference or restrictions.
- Adults have no control over natural growth of children. This is the process of unfolding, in which the nature of the child unfolds as a result of maturation.
- Teachers should observe the child’s growth and development in order to provide appropriate activities at the right time.
- Early childhood is a special period of development, during which different aspects of development flowers according to nature’s plan.
- Children were to learn through natural experiences and not from books. Children were to learn what they want.
- He believed that mothers played a very important role in the education of children.
- He believed that parents were to provide the child with opportunities of learning through discovery.
- Rousseau believed that the child should not know anything because he has been told but because he was learned it for himself.
- He was against children punishment, because it caused suffering and darkened childhood.
Criticisms of Rousseau’s education for children.
- Children were indiscipline due to uncontrolled freedom. The system relied on nature for discipline.
- Provided limited scope of experiences due to shielding from adults.
- Cognitive a ability was sacrificed at the expense of freedom.
- Ignored the nature of children.
5.6 JOHANN HEINRICH PESTALOZZI (1746-1827).
He was born in Switzerland in 1746. He was a philosopher and teacher. He was greatly influenced by Rousseau’s philosophy. He had a great interest in children. He was against school practices of his time which encouraged rote learning. He established a school for children where he integrated home life and vocation. His education consisted of three elements: language, number work, and forms. He believed that schools should be child centered and learning activities and experiences should be selected according to interests and needs of children. He believed that informal education was insufficient for children and they should be engaged in real and meaningful activities and education for children should cater for the whole child.
His beliefs about education and how children should be educated.
- He believed that children were born good and innocent.
- He believed that all education is based on sensory impressions.
- He believed that sensory experiences enable children to achieve their natural potential.
- He believed that education should consider the nature of the child.
- He believed that children learn concepts by manipulating materials for example counting, measurements, feeling and touching.
- He believed that parents had a significant role to play in the education of children.
- He believed that children learn by doing.
- He believed that education should meet all the needs of children.
Aspects of Pestalozzi’s ECE
- Completely free child- directed, exploratory learning. Children were allowed to explore their environment freely.
- Teachers directed learning. Teachers were to plan activities to integration home life and school. They included vocation and education for reading and writing. The reason for his second aspect of ECE sprang from his experiences with his son, Jacques named after Rousseau. Pestalozzi believed that their were some aspects of learning which children cannot learn on their own.
- Object Lessons. Pestalozzi believed that through active manipulation of objects children learned many important concepts like counting, and measuring by manipulating objects.
- Spiritual education. He advocated for spiritual education for children. He believed that children need knowledge about God.
Differences between Rousseau’s and Pestallozzi’s ECE
- Rousseau’s never advocated for infant’s education while Pestallozzi did.
- Rousseau advocated for complete freedom of the child while Pestalozzi advocated for controlled or limited freedom of the child.
- Rousseau was against books while Pestalozzi advocated for the use of books.
- Pestalozzi advocated for human interference in the education of children while Rousseau did not. Rousseau advocated return to nature and an approach to educating children called naturalism. To Rousseau, naturalism meant abandoning society’s artificiality and pretentiousness. A naturalistic education permits growth of the child without undue interference or restrictions.
- Rousseau believed that the child should be trained or disciplined by nature while Pestalozzi did not trust nature because nature failed to train his child to speak. By the age of twelve his child could not speak.
- Pestalozzi believed the role of adults was important in the education of children while Rousseau did not believe that the role of adults was important.
Role of teachers according to Pestalozzi
- Guide. Teachers to take children outside the classrooms so that children can learn from nature.
- Facilitate. Provide environment to allow the natural powers of the child to develop.
Methods of teaching
- Individualized instruction
- Observation. Children to observe real objects. Teachers to take children outside the classrooms so that children can learn from nature.
- Sensory approach. All senses of the child should be involved in teaching and learning.
- Direct method. Providing firsthand experiences and real objects.
- Practical: Children to be trained how to do basic activities to equip them with life skills like farming, housekeeping, cleaning, cooking.