Synopsis / Director's statement

Rousseau published "Emile, or on Education" in 1762, which led to his exile from France and contributed to the French Revolution of 1789–1799.

The ideas expressed in the book challenged monarchy, aristocracy and religious authorities: Rousseau advocated simplicity of lifestyle, return to nature, and introduced the idea of "noble savage" (children and savages are essentially good, and it's civilization that corrupts men). His idea of education was to bring children close to nature, to educate them in simplicity, to teach them practical things by encouraging their natural curiosity, which makes them interested in learning. This would bring them up as good people and citizens.

At the same time, Rousseau failed to educate his own children (which he acknowledged in "Confessions" with regret). His educational ideas were adapted by leading philosophers and educators, and they flourished during the 19th-20th centuries. In certain cases, they were pushed to the extremes. The film addresses different aspects of Rousseau's educational theory and examines its relevance in the contemporary society.

"Emile in the 21st Century" is recommended as a presentation material for classrooms, to open discussion.
Areas of study: philosophy, education, critical thinking, child development, history, literature.

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