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Tree of Childhood

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Lena McMartin

on 4 August 2013

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Transcript of Tree of Childhood

Tree of Childhood

Child as Innocent

Child as Evil
Snowballing Child
Out-of-Control Child
Noble/Saviour Child

Depicting the miniature adult (Sorin, 2005), this image shows children working as adults, in the same conditions. Comparable to the adult-in-training, but here childhood is not a recognised stage of development. This construct is culturally comparable to countries where child labour still exists; Philippines, South America, India
(Sorin & Galloway, 2006).

I would recognise the psychological effects
this construct would have; little knowledge or
social skills developed through play, I would
teach the child how to play with others and
discover their interests as identified by
UNICEF (n.d.), all children have the right to
play and relax.

The Miniature Adult
Adult-in-Training
The Commodified Child
The Child as the Victim
The Agentic Child
Tree of Childhood
Created by
Lena McMartin
995631x


Protesting against child labour; the innocent child is depicted (Sorin & Galloway, 2006), compared with Rogoff (2003), where a child would be seen as an active participant in a community. Social, economic perspectives in history and within cultures are highlighted, contrasting Rogers (2010) reflection on Froebel's view on childhood; play as the child's work, discounting beliefs children should be out working.

I would initially have low expectations
of this child’s learning development. I value
a fair start for all children and would be
conscious of how my perceptions of my
students affect my teaching; therefore I
would encourage every child to reach their
full potential.


Painting of a child from early 1900’s; the evil child is depicted (Sorin & Galloway, 2006). This historical construct arose from early Christian times; a sign of parent’s intimacy (Sorin, 2005). Children in this construct are viewed as a threat to social structure, while in contrast contemporary childhood educators recognise the social nature of this construct and consider ways to overcome situations.
I would recognise children can’t be perfect in their behaviour and draw upon their interests and strengths to engage them in learning as Laevers (2000) explains, and distract from inappropriate behaviour.


From a scene in Willy Wonka (1971), the child is spoilt and demanding of her father, who gives in; depicting the snowballing child in a contemporary context, typical of social conditions of the 21st century (Sorin & Galloway, 2006). Article 5 of UNICEF fact sheet (n.d.), outlines parental guidance as an important factor of encouraging children to understand and carry out their rights within their capabilities; clearly not seen with a snowballing child.

Within this construct there’s a lack of adult influence.
I would nurture this child’s wellbeing; build a respectful,
reciprocal relationship, providing a meaningful
connection as the Early Years Learning
Framework (EYLF, 2010) explains.


This image depicts the construct of the out-of-control child
(Sorin & Galloway, 2006). Children use power in negative ways
to get what they want, mainly as a result of failed relationships
in early childhood. Additionally, their behaviour later lands
them in trouble with authority, branding them “dysfunctional” (Sorin, 2005).

Often the educational system gives up on these children
(Sorin, 2005). I would re-evaluate my perception of the child
and consider their behaviour; perhaps they’re looking for help
and have low self-esteem. Encouraging positive emotions and building a trusting relationship, as Seligman’s PERMA model
(2012) explains, are essential to a child’s wellbeing and resilience.

This image shows a child assuming adult responsibility, caring for a younger sibling; the construct of the noble/saviour child (Sorin & Galloway, 2006). Children may be capable, but aren’t offered the choice to look after their parents who abuse drugs or have to perform adult tasks. Rogoff (2003) offers a contrasting perspective; in a cultural context, the child would be depicted as contributing to their family by caring for younger siblings, allowing parents time to work.
I would ensure dramatic play be available to the child to express themselves and allow a break from real life stresses, as described in Bateson’s Metacommunicative theory (Mellou, 1994).


A humorous image of a baby depicted as the adult-in-training. Sorin (2005) identifies this construct as childhood being a time of fine tuning skills leading to active participants of the working and social adult world; in a social context, western culture favours this method. Cognitive theories underpin this construct, recognising children develop through stages until they reach adulthood (Dockett & Fleer, 2003). The adult in this construct asserts achievement through extra curricula activities more valuable than play time.

A indication children aren’t enjoying themselves is their lack of involvement. I would be conscious of making play the priority for effective learning and ensure the child is not feeling overwhelmed or pushed.


Common of the 21st century, pageant beauty queens depict the commodified child. Adults see these innocent children as marketing tools and entertainment (Sorin, 2005). As Rogoff (2003) explains, in a social and cultural context, it is the adults within the community who decide what is best for their children, with western culture more likely to reflect this construction of childhood of vulnerable children.

Holt (2012) reminds us of the psychological implications our labelling of children can have; we need

to see them as human beings, passionate, fun and delightful rather than cute and sending the wrong message that their appearance and image is what matters. I would integrate topics of good health and healthy body image, while being conscious that end of year concerts where children perform, may also depict this construct (Sorin, 2005).
This image depicts Sorin and Galloway’s (2005) construct of the child as the victim; subjects of social, cultural and political impacts; underprivileged, poor, isolated or unknown. Comparable in a dejected way to the commodified child, these children may not be aware their photo is used to collect money or sympathy (Sorin, 2005).

Often quiet and unnoticed within a
classroom, I would pay attention to
this child and endeavour to integrate them more
within the class, school and wider community by
offering support and directing the parents toward
financial assistance. I would recognise
Psycholanalytic theory, developed by Freud (1961),
which asserts that play allows children to release
negative feelings (Mellou, 1994).


Sorin and Galloway (2006) recognise this contemporary construct as children contributing to their learning alongside educators; contrast to historical teaching methods. Teachers guide learning by offering their own knowledge and resources to the active learner rather than pushing them upon the child.

The Reggio Emilia concept is widely used within contemporary educational settings; I would plan my curriculum in similar way, integrating my own knowledge and experiences and share with the children to promote their sense of agency.



Childhood has various meanings across cultures and social circles and developed over time becoming more focused on the child itself. Following is a breakdown of the different constructions of childhood.
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