George Walford: Hegelian Children

HEGEL occasionally weakens, relaxing enough to become comprehensible. Then one can see that he’s usually talking good sense, as here:

The necessity for education is present in children as their own feeling of dissatisfaction with themselves as they are, as the desire to belong to the adult world whose superiority they divine, as the longing to grow up. The play theory of education assumes that what is childish is itself already something of inherent worth and presents it as such to the children; in their eyes it lowers serious pursuits, and education itself, to a form of childishness for which the children themselves have scant respect. The advocates of this method represent the child, in the immaturity in which he feels himself to be, as really mature and they struggle to make him satisfied with himself as he is. But they corrupt and distort his genuine and proper need for something better, and create in him a blind indifference to the substantial ties of the intellectual world, a contempt of his elders because they have thus posed before him, a child, in a contemptible and childish fashion, and finally a vanity and conceit which feeds on the notion of its own superiority.

(Hegel, G. W. F. 1965 (1821) Philosophy of Right, Translated with Notes by T. M. Knox Oxford: Clarendon).

from Ideological Commentary 63, February 1994.