Ottevanger, Catherine A. (1976)
The idea of the citizen in French educational writings of the eighteenth century 1700-1789.
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The eighteenth century was a period in which the whole aim of education was challenged: was it, as was generally accepted at the end of the seventeenth century, an institution to enable the individual to live more agreeably, both through the direct acquisition of scholastic knowledge, and, more important still, through the indirect acquisition of those qualities necessary to negotiate ones path through the complexities of 'le beau monde' or was its aim, on the other hand, more vast, embracing the whole of society? Was it not already tacitly accepted that men were being educated for the particular society existing in France at the time; could not more positive rules be formulated, for which perhaps the policies of ancient Crete, Greece, Rome and other states might prove an inspiration? How far was education a political matter, and to what extent did the current political situation in France impede the interaction of government and education? These were some of the important questions which little by little were asked as theorising on the aims, as opposed to the methods, of education developed and was gradually taken up by a wider circle of thinkers than simply those directly concerned in education.
The present study is intended to demonstrate the evolution of educational theory from the exclusive education of the princes and ruling class---an education at once ill-suited for teaching the knowledge which could be of real service to those destined to govern and morally and scholastically ideally tailored to preserve the existing social structure---to a state organised educational system providing for the education of every citizen, as by natural right, in the recognition that such a general and public education would be for the common good of the French nation.
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Institution: University of London, Bedford College (United Kingdom).