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Images of childhood

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Amanda Browning

on 4 August 2013

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Transcript of Images of childhood

Images of childhood
Amanda Browning
Student id: 6202101

At play
Figure 11. (4 Perspectives, 2011)
Childhood is constructed throughout history and around the world in social and cultural contexts. This presentation identifies 10 images of the child depicted in a time and place in childhood. When our views consider these constructs, we can fully understand the many images of the child.
Froebel’s words were written during the Intrusive mode, where according to de Maus (1995), children were viewed as different from adults. Froebel’s view of children was similar to Rousseau around the same period. Rousseau believed children should learn from the environment, not from the teacher (Cunningham, 2006). In contrast to the image of child behaviour, Froebel’s words are positive and express respect for the unique character of every child.
Despite the viewpoint of Canella (2008), believing viewing children as individuals is limiting (p.38), as a teacher I will view the child as an individual within a group of learners.

Theories of child behaviour have changed throughout history, from the viewpoint of Rousseau (1712-1772), believing children were “corrupted by society”, to the “training of children” in the 19th – 20th century (deMause, 1974).
Contemporary theory supports children’s behavioural responses stem from their experiences and development (Mathieson, 2013). Rogoff (2003), explains theories of childhood development differs across communities (p.23). Therefore, approaches towards child behaviour vary, depending on social, religious and cultural beliefs.
I believe children do not set out to misbehave. As a teacher I will respect the child, be empathetic and understand all behaviour has a meaning.

Working alongside adults, this child may be performing adult work as a result of cheap labour or poverty. Sorin and Galloway (2006) describe the child labourer as the mini-adult (p.17). The child worker is not dissimilar to the image of the Nepalese child caring for a younger child.
I do not agree with young children working under harsh conditions to support their families, but I respect in some communities they have no choice. As a teacher I will promote a sense of identity, therefore respecting diversity, honouring the beliefs of each family.

The United Nations Children's Fund [UNICEF] Rights Overview, states “children have the right to develop and survive” (Article 6, n.d). Despite the existence of these rights, children are victims across many cultures and my research has revealed images of child abuse, children at war and neglect. Sorrin and Galloway (2006), explain child victims are usually a result of poverty, war or famine (p.18). In view of this, the child victim can be viewed throughout history.
As a teacher, I may encounter signs of childhood neglect and I will fulfil my care responsibilities to ensure children are supported.

The image of a child being responsible for another may be viewed as irresponsible in the eyes of a Westerner, but is culturally acceptable for children in Nepal. Rogoff (2003), explains the responsibilities given to children will be dependent on the time and culture within a community (p.3-4). Children caring for younger children may be compared to the construct of a mini-adult.
Having cared for my younger brothers throughout my childhood, I feel this is a natural contribution to the family structure. Respecting the culture of families from different communities will assist me in not making judgements about responsibilities imposed on a child.

The capable child, constructing knowledge from meaningful activities, is described by Sorrin and Galloway (2006), as the agentic child (p.18-19). The agentic child is an active learner alongside adults (Sorrin & Galloway, 2006, p.19). The opposite of children ‘trained’ by adults in the 19th century, the agentic child’s learning is not directed by an adult, rather supported and extended.
Fraser, as cited in Sorrin and Galloway (2006), links the construct of the agentic child to the Reggio Emilia approach (p.19), which I admire for the opportunity to learn alongside children, responding to their interests and experiences. Parents may question the extent of learning based on children’s interests.

Wood, as cited in Sorrin and Galloway (2006), explains the commodifed child promotes products targeted at adults, via the media (p.8). This child is fuelled by the interests of adults, thus questioning the interest of the adult (Woodrow, as cited in Sorrin & Galloway, 2006, p.18). This power over children, which is often hidden (Canella, 2008), is a stark contrast to the respectful image of Froebel’s words.
I believe the media should present children as children. The text further adds to the sexualisation of the child in this image. By focusing on the self-esteem of children, I can promote healthy attitudes towards self-respect.

Despite the 15th century being a time when medieval children were seen as miniature adults (de Maus, 2003), they engaged in play across Europe and England (Orme, 1995). The activities in this setting are a stark contrast to today, where technology is a common activity of children. In comparison, this image is significantly opposite of the child worker, working alongside adults. I believe childhood should include time for play and social connections with other children.
Parents that focus on their child’s academic achievements may not value the learning play can provide. I will need to confidently express my beliefs about play based learning.

Throughout history, education was seen to raise communities out of poverty and introduce primal communities to modern thinking (Rogoff, 2003, p.22). In a cultural context, communities determine the skills children should be proficient in (Rogoff, 2003, p.4). In contrast, the social skills of Norwegian children learning in outdoor schools will differ from the social skills of the child working alongside adults.
I believe childhood should include engaging in social relationships with other children through play or educational environments. Parents may have their own ideas about what their children should be learning and communication will contribute to identifying the best learning outcomes.

Our image of the child can affect the relationships we have with them. Learning alongside children we must appreciate the child, value family structure and respect family culture, therefore enabling genuine responses to the development of every child.

Throughout history carers of children have included extended family, wet-nurses, younger siblings, child care educators and governesses. In contrast to care, children were often left on their own at home, during the industrial age of America (Washington State Child Care Resource and Referral Network [video], 2009). Who cares for a child, how and when, creates conflicting views across community’s worldwide (Montogomery, 2006, p.3).
I believe if children are supported, the position of the carer is not important. By accepting the constructions of family in a child’s life, I can support the development and identity of the child.

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