What is the Principle of Self-Education?

This was another contribution to education made by naturalism. Rousseau’s negative education was another name for child’s self-education. He emphasized that it is child’s natural development which should form the basis of child’s education. For natural development self-education was the only means.

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The naturalistic educator should leave the child to himself. He should be there to only observe the child, not to give him knowledge or information. He should only provide an environment in which the child undergoes certain experiences and learns through them on his own.

Principle of Direct Experience of Things


Learning by doing or learning one’s own experience is considered important even today. This was first emphasized by the naturalist philosophers. Rousseau said, “Give your scholar no verbal lesson; he should be taught by experience alone.”

Direct observation of things around and direct contact with the persons of object was considered important for this reason. It was stressed that science, instead of being taught through lectures, should be taught through experimentation in the laboratory; Geometry by actual measurement of the places around and geography by taking the pupils to various parts of the country.

Similarly, the child should be taught concepts of responsibilities, duties and obligations by direct experience of social life. For this reason it was insisted that the schools should have practice of self- government in which students can participate and learn through their own experience, self-discipline, self-control and self-regulation.

In this way the naturalists were responsible for most of the revolutionary ideas in the field of education that are accepted widely even today.


The features of an educational system based on Naturalism.

Naturalism has been described to have three forms (a) Naturalism of physical science which has little to contribute to education, (b) Mechanical naturalism which regards man as a machine and has given us the behaviorist psychology, and (c) Biological naturalism which is founded on the notion of evolution and is most important of all forms of naturalism. The materialistic explanation of the word was the ground of naturalism in education.

According to naturalism the ultimate reality is nature which is material. The naturalists are empiricists and believe that all knowledge is acquired through sense organs. They believe in living according to nature.

“Follow nature” is their slogan. Be natural is their motto. They hold that nature has made all persons different. The most important modem naturalist thinkers are Rousseau, Bacon, Hobbes and Herbert Spencer.

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