The French Archbishop of Cambrai and pedagogue François Fénelon (1651-1715), was the tutor of the grandson of Louis XIV. Based on his classical education, he wrote the pedagogical books Education of Girls and The Adventures of Telemachus, The Son of Ulysses. This paper seeks to examine, according to the historical method of analysis, how the moral value and didactic spirit of these literary pieces influenced the European philosophical and pedagogical thinking, they contributed to the cultivation of moral values among young people and they are classical references for the achievement of children’s well-being.
Being both priest and pedagogue, Fénelon considered that education is key to welfare and he encouraged the cultivation of moral virtue. His contribution to the philosophy of education is worthwhile, since, in his book Education of Girls, he suggested the need to educate all children, irrespective of gender or social status, in order to obtain the best possible social behavior and to cultivate good characters. Moreover, he put forward his arguments for educating girls and he achieved to make their education a social need.
In The Adventures of Telemachus, The Son of Ulysses Fénelon prepared an action plan to help the Duke of Burgundy and throne successor get the moral training that a prince ought to take according to his beliefs. He codified instructions that would affect the personality and behavior of the prince, teaching him the devaluation of human weaknesses in order to lead him to higher spiritual level. Although Fénelon wrote this book for his student, it was welcomed throughout Europe. He promoted humanitarian education as means of prosperity, when education was not institutionalized and children did not have recognized rights yet. The aim of this presentation is to show that Fénelon’s ideas on education and moral cultivation of children contribute to their welfare; ideas which are still valid.