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Educational relationships: Rousseau, Wollstonecraft and social justice

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    Rights statement: © Educational relationships : Rousseau, Wollstonecraft and social justice. / Griffiths, Morwenna. In: Journal of Philosophy of Education, Vol. 48, No. 2, 05.2014, p. 339-354

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-354
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Philosophy of Education
Issue number2
Early online date14 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2014


I consider educational relationships as found in Rousseau's Émile (and elsewhere in his writing) and the critique of his views in Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Women. Wollstonecraft's critique is a significant one, precisely because of her partial agreement with Rousseau. Like Rousseau, her concern is less to do with particular pedagogical techniques or even approaches, more to do with the full complexity of educational relationships. The educational relationships they consider include those between human beings now and in the future, between teacher and student(s), between students, and between human beings and the rest of the natural world, the more-than-human. Both Rousseau and Wollstonecraft wanted education to produce social justice in the future as well as being a benefit to young people in the present, but while he specified that future, she wanted to create the conditions in which future generations could construct it for themselves, when sex equality was put into practice. Gender relations are key to understanding their differences, as I discuss, with particular emphasis on Wollstonecraft's understanding of our human relationship to the rest of the natural world, the more-than-human. These relationships are seldom recognised as contributing to a more socially just education, so I consider them at a little more length, drawing from observations by Kathleen Jamie and using an example from outdoor education to suggest possible implications for educational practices.

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