Jean-Jacques Rosseau (1712-1778) was a model builder. Rosseau’s Emile was an imaginary educational experiment. His goal was to show how it is possible to raise an individual that could function as an independent.
According to Palmer (2003), Rousseau took a naturalistic approach to education in Emile, maintaining that the child is naturally good and made wicked only by its environment. He believed that knowledge comes from the senses, and that children should engage actively with a ordered environment and learn by interacting with it.
Rousseau held that children are incapable of moral (as opposed to instrumental) behavior until puberty (Palmer, 2003). Some believed that the teaching of the Emile are more fantasy, and not applicable to reality. According to Palmer (2003), Emile might be best understood as an exercise in model building.
Palmer, J. A. (Ed.). (2003). Fifty major thinkers on education: From Confucius to Dewey. New York, NY: Routledge.