John Locke's Fables Book Review

1630 Words 7 Pages
John Locke’s esteemed publication, Some Thoughts Concerning Education, published in 1692, disseminated revolutionary ideas regarding the upbringing and instruction of children. In this book, Locke emphasized that children begin as “white paper” or blank slates (Locke 6), and that everything they become is learned from the people in their lives; namely their parents. He believed that children were capable of reason, and that parents who set a fine example would raise fine children. He instructs parents on educating their children using “entertaining” but “rewarding” stories, such as those in Aesop’s Fables (5). Following his groundbreaking publication, little by little, pedagogical stories for a child-specific audience were printed. John Newbery, …show more content…
As fairy tales came into being, entertaining, fantasy-like stories blanketed the careful, moral instruction. Marie Le Prince de Beaumont’s “Beauty and the Beast,” for example, is excellent at modelling many of Locke’s points on education. Although Locke is often more focused on the upbringing of a “gentlemen’s son” in particular, he goes on to say that he has also written some “general views in reference to the main end and aims in education” (Locke 6). “Beauty and the Beast,” in this regard, runs parallel to Locke’s original thoughts, despite that it was published several decades later for young girls. Structurally, the story itself is in the “instruction with delight” style that Locke endorsed. Furthermore, Beauty, the protagonist, possesses a reasonable and thoughtful quality of character, which, illustrating the last of Locke’s important points, was no doubt motivated by an exemplary parental figure, her …show more content…
This is directly in line with the style of education Locke believed to be most effective. Locke himself would be pleased to know so many books were later published for children in this manner, as he states that he does not know “what other books there are in English of [this] kind” (Locke 5). By this, Locke indicates the lack of stories available at the time, that were not only at the level of young readers, but ones that were also educational by means of “useful reflections” (5). Essentially, no “children’s literature” as it is known contemporarily existed at this point. If “Beauty and the Beast” had been published at the same time Locke had written his book, there is little doubt that he would have included it along with Aesop’s Fables as an “easy pleasant book, suited to [the child’s] capacity” where the child might find that “there is some use and pleasure in [reading]” (5). Furthermore, an interesting dialogue is included at the beginning and end of the story as a teaching tool for the young women who would have been reading this magazine. These dialogues are translucent in their purpose. The first dialogue sets the scene of several “young ladies of quality,” as stated on the cover page of the magazine, who are being scolded by their governess for eating too quickly in their anticipation of

Related Documents