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Children in Context: Images of Childhood

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Emma Harrold Assessment 1

on 1 August 2013

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Transcript of Children in Context: Images of Childhood

Children in Context
In order to understand how constructions of childhood have changed over time, it is necessary to consider not only the historical and theoretical factors but also the social and cultural contexts. As future educators, we are challenged to re-examine ideas that influence how we see children, as well as reflecting upon our own upbringing.
How can we use this knowledge to benefit early childhood development and improve our teaching practices? We are profoundly enriched by how much we learn from children. It is imperative we preserve the time of life called childhood and try to use the eyes and ears of a child to guide our thinking and practice. 
Assessment 1: Digital presentation: Analysis of images of childhood.
Emma Harrold: Student No. 9961828. Word count 1097 words.
Historical/Contemporary Contexts:
Overview
This photo depicts children precariously balanced on an industrial machine unsupervised, shoeless and miserable. A stark contrast from my privileged and carefree childhood of building tree houses and summer holidays. In the early 1900’s, child labour was a common phenomenon, a family’s way of earning extra income. Often, children would be injured using unsafe tools or become sick due to poor working conditions (Kimm, 2011). This construct of childhood could be likened to ‘the commodified child,’ where the adult exploits the child for economic gain (Sorin and Galloway, 2006). Since that time, significant milestones such as the ‘Fair Labour Standards Act’ have been developed to improve the wellbeing of children and their right to a childhood (Kimm, 2011).
Image 1: Child Labour, United States
Created in 1954, Golding’s novel ‘Lord of the flies’ is a story about children who try to govern themselves with disastrous results (Lord of the Flies, 2013). The underlying construct depicts the child as ‘out-of-control,’ using power in a negative way, eventually feeling out-of-control them selves (Sorin and Galloway, 2006). The book gives a particularly interesting insight into what might happen should children be left unsupervised by adults. In present times, though an element of risky play is said to be beneficial to a child’s development, we have learned as childhood educators that children must be supervised at all times to ensure their safety and wellbeing (Australian Children's Education & Care Quality Authority, 2011).
Image 2: Lord of the Flies
The famous line ‘I never want to grow up’ features in the tale of Peter Pan (Peter Pan, 2013). It is a thought-provoking sentence that to many, myself included, childhood represents a happy time during which, the thought of getting older or becoming an adult is daunting, something that seems so far away. It is also important to consider the idea of Peter Pan, a boy whose age cannot be defined (Peter Pan, 2013). James and James (2008) discuss that age isn’t necessarily helpful in defining a child. In order to gain a holistic understanding, one must also acknowledge the social and cultural contexts pertaining to children and childhood (James and James, 2008).
Image 3: Peter Pan
Harry Potter, a fantasy book series released in 1997, is a modern day construct of the ‘noble /saviour child’ (Harry Potter, 2013) (Sorin and Galloway, 2006). Compared to Image 1, in which the children are devoid of power, Image 4 depicts a child who has exceptional power (Harry Potter, 2013). The story of Harry Potter is told from a child’s perspective, delving into his emotions as he overcomes childhood adversity, death and bigotry (Harry Potter, 2013). As someone who was bullied, I could relate to Potter’s childhood woes, as I think many children would. As educators, it is important to consider children’s perspectives to influence our own teaching practices (Curtis and Carter, 2003).
Image 4: Harry Potter
A child contestant from the American TV program ‘Toddlers and Tiaras.’ The girl’s big eyes exaggerated by her heavy makeup and littleness make her appear doll-like or cute. This ‘cuteness syndrome’ as argued by John Holt (2012), greatly undermines a child’s innocence and development. Instead, the child is seen as a commodity, her appearance used for an adult’s economic and social gain (Sorin and Galloway, 2006) (Holt, 2012). Compared to Peter Pan in Image 3, this little girl has grown up too quickly. I find society’s growing fascination with beauty in very young girls a huge concern, particularly when it may cause further contemporary health issues in later life such as poor body image and dieting (Montgomery, 2006) (Albon and Mukherji, 2008).
Image 5: Toddlers and Tiaras
As is tradition in Mayan culture, this woman was destined to be a midwife at birth (Rogoff, 2011). It is important that the community remains faithful to tradition in order to nurture their culture however, with more opportunities for education and the influence of technology, it is inevitable that the Mayan community will change and so too will the midwife’s practices (Rogoff, 2011). Upon reflection, the same notion of destiny applies to Western culture. Our parents govern the world we grow up in, it may be rich or poor, religious or not. As childhood carers, one must consider each child’s story in order to provide an adaptive and responsive educational environment.
Image 6: Mayan Midwife 1941
As was Hindu tradition in Calcutta in 1944, the youngest son assisted in the cremation of their relative (Hindu Cremation, 2013). This is an important rite of passage in childhood (Hindu Cremation, 2013). It is highly regarded and symbolises spiritual enlightenment (Hindu Cremation, 2013). As in Image 6, the cultural approach to childhood involves the child learning and developing by participating in everyday activities in the community (Rogoff, 2003). Compared to Western culture, such activities may appear risky or a health hazard however, by studying the different cultural constructions of childhood, as educators we can then provide well-rounded learning environments to suit children from all backgrounds.
Image 7: Hindu Cremation
In the Amazonian rainforest, from a young age the Yanamamo girls are expected to run their household (Montgomery, 2006). By thirteen they will often marry and start having babies (Montgomery, 2006). In contrast, the boys have few responsibilities and marry later (Montgomery, 2006). This childhood construct can be likened to ‘the adult in-training,’ where the power of the child lies in their capacity to learn and participate (Sorin and Galloway, 2006). This image provides an insight into the diverse variety of childhoods that exist across the world. Upon reflection, as a future parent and educator, it is so important to be mindful of the ideas that each society has about childhood rather than compare and criticise in order to understand the impact these views have on children’s lives (Sorin and Galloway, 2006).
Image 8: The Yanamamo children
In Nevan culture, abuse and strict disciplinary action towards children are common at home and in the community (Protecting Children in Vanuatu, 2013). Over time, the effects have seen a rise in crime and criminal behaviour exhibited by children and adolescents (Protecting Children in Vanuatu, 2013). In 2011, an intensive program was implemented in Vanuatu, providing training and support to teachers to deliver child protection policies to students, improving attendance and wellbeing (Protecting Children in Vanuatu, 2013). As an educator, when is it appropriate to seek assistance if you think a child is being abused or mistreated? It is important to refer to the childcare's policies and practices as well as being aware of community support networks (Commonwealth of Australia, 2005).
Image 9: Children in Vanuatu
Image 10 depicts Reggio Emilia, an inspirational teaching model originating from the town Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy (Rinaldi, 2001). In contrast to Image 9, the image celebrates the child’s journey of learning and development, honouring their vision (Rinaldi, 2001). This construct of childhood is likened to the ‘agentic child,’ where the child is capable and competent, sharing the power with the adult (Sorin and Galloway, 2006). The interrelatedness of this relationship is widely regarded as the foundation for future learning, health and wellbeing (Nolan, Kilderry and O’Grady, 2006).
Image 10: Reggio Emilia
Social/Cultural Contexts:
Image 1: Child Labour
Kimm, J. (2011). Childhood in the U.S. During the 1900-1914’s. Retrieved July 22, 2013, from
http://twentytwowords.com/2010/11/24/15-photographs-of-child-labor-in-america-from-the-early-1900s/

Image 2: Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies. In Wikipedia. Retrieved 22 July, 2013 from http://thisisjustaroughdraft.com/2011/10/10/book-review-lord-of-the-flies-by-william-golding/

Image 3: Peter Pan
Peter Pan. In Wikipedia. Retrieved 23 July, 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Pan

Image 4: Harry Potter
Harry Potter The Daily Prophet. In Wikipedia. Retrieved July 22, 2013, from http://members.outpost10f.com/~lindax/harrypotter/wallpaper.html

Image 5: Toddlers and Tiaras
Toddlers & Tiaras. (2012). Shirley Temple chest bump. Retrieved September 12, 2013, from: http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/tv/toddlers-tiaras/videos/shirley-temple-chest-bump-video.htm

Image 6: Mayan Midwife
Rogoff, B. (2011). Developing destinies-a mayan midwife and town. Retrieved March 25, 2013, from

Image 7: Hindu Cremation
Hindu Cremation. In Wikipedia. Retrieved 23 July, 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cremation

Image 8: The Yanamamo children
Montgomery, H. (2006). Different cultures, different childhoods. Retrieved March 25, 2013, from http://www.open.edu/openlearn/body-mind/childhood-youth/childhood-and-youth-studies/childhood/different-cultures-different-childhoods#blank

Image 9: Children in Vanuatu
Protecting Children in Vanuatu. WorldNomads.com. Retrieved 23 July, 2013 from http://footprints.worldnomads.com/project/66.aspx

Image 10: Reggio Emilia
Rinaldi, C. (2001). 'Reggio Emilia: the image of the child and the child's environment as a fundamental principle' in Gandini & Edwards (Eds.) Bambini: the Italian approach to infant/toddler care. New York: Teachers college press.
Albon, D. and Mukherji, P. (2008). Food and Health in Early Childhood a Holistic Approach – Food, Eating and Emotion.

Australian Children's Education & Care Quality Authority. (2011). Quality area 2, Children's Health and Safety. pp. 47-80. Guide to National Quality Standard. Creative Commons. Australia.

Commonwealth of Australia. National Health and Medical Research Council. (2005). Staying Healthy in Childcare: Preventing Infectious Diseases in Childcare (4th ed). Retrieved 21 January 2012, from http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines/publications/ch43.

Cunningham, H. (2006). Re-inventing childhood. Retrieved April 17, 2013, from http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/re-inventing-childhood

Curtis, D. & Carter, M. (2003). Through the eyes of a child. Retrieved July 15, 2013, from http://www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/early_childhood_news/aug_2003_through_the_eyes_of_a_child.html

DeMause, L. (1995). The history of childhood. Broadway, NY: The Psychohistory Press.

Harry Potter The Daily Prophet. In Wikipedia. Retrieved July 22, 2013, from http://members.outpost10f.com/~lindax/harrypotter/wallpaper.html

Hindu Cremation. In Wikipedia. Retrieved 23 July, 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cremation

Holt, J. (2012). The cuteness syndrome; kitchie-kitchie-coo and other problems. Retrieved July 15, 2013, from http://www.holtgws.com/Resources/The Cuteness Syndrome by John Holt.pdf

James, A. & James, A. (2008). Key concepts in childhood studies (pp.14-16) London: SAGE Ltd.
Kimm, J. (2011). Childhood in the U.S. During the 1900-1914’s. Retrieved July 22, 2013, from
http://twentytwowords.com/2010/11/24/15-photographs-of-child-labor-in-america-from-the-early-1900s/
Lord of the Flies. In Wikipedia. Retrieved 22 July, 2013 from http://thisisjustaroughdraft.com/2011/10/10/book-review-lord-of-the-flies-by-william-golding/
Montgomery, H. (2006). Different cultures, different childhoods. Retrieved March 25, 2013, from http://www.open.edu/openlearn/body-mind/childhood-youth/childhood-and-youth-studies/childhood/different-cultures-different-childhoods#blank

Nolan, A. Kilderry, A. & O'Grady, R. (2006). Young children as active learners. Research in practice series 13(1). ACT: Early Childhood Australia

Protecting Children in Vanuatu. WorldNomads.com. Retrieved 23 July, 2013 from http://footprints.worldnomads.com/project/66.aspx

Sorin, R. & Galloway, G. (2006). Constructs of childhood: constructs of self (pp. 12-21). Children Australia, 31(2).

Rinaldi, C. (2001). 'Reggio Emilia: the image of the child and the child's environment as a fundamental principle' in Gandini & Edwards (Eds.) Bambini: the Italian approach to infant/toddler care. New York: Teachers college press.

Rogoff, B. (2003). Cultural Nature of Human Development. Oxford University Press.

Rogoff, B. (2011). Developing destinies-a mayan midwife and town. Retrieved March 25, 2013, from
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