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Images of childhood
Transcript of Images of childhood
Today, in our modern societies, it is undoubtedly that children and childhood are seen as distinct from adults and adulthood. In fact, the state about childhood was far different with what we think today, and has dramatically changed over time. In this presentation, I base on the dominant Western beliefs and draw from the historical, theoretical and philosophical perspectives to introduce the various kinds of constructions of children and childhood.
It is horrifying to modern people that infanticide and child abandonment were common practices in the ancient world. (DeMause, 1974). The exposure of infants was considered legal by the society and the practice was seen as solutions to eliminating unwanted children, poverty or family crises.
Infant mortality rate was very high, which “prevented parents from investing emotionally in their children.” (Aries, as cited in Classen, 2005).
At the time Christianity took hold of Europe, there was a change in the attitude toward killing an unwanted child. The first Christian emperor, Constantine, considered “infanticide” as a crime, but “authorized the sale of the infants”. (Gill,n.d.) Some infants were sold for slaves or picked up by rich families in need of work.
Photo: The evil helps a mother commit infanticide (My history 132 blog, 2012)
Middle Ages: the small-scale adults
Ancient World: infanticide and child abandonment
According to Aries, the concept of child didn’t exist before the 15th century, neither was childhood recognised as a distinct period of life.
Children were perceived to be small-scale adults. They (especially girls) were driven into adult roles as soon as they could survive without care and attention, usually around the ages of 5 and 7. (Aries, as cited in Heywood, 2001).
This can also be analysed in art works: “children were often dressed in smaller versions of adult-like clothing” (Woodbury, 2013)
However, drawing on evidence of children’s toys, games, songs and depiction, researchers debate on Aries’s conception of the absence of childhood in the Middle Ages.
Photo: Medieval children (Quora, n.d)
In this painting, the various stages of childhood were clearly illustrated.
16-18 Century: “tabula rasa”
“The belief in childhood as a unique and distinct period of humanity appears to have largely emerged in the Enlightenment and Modem historical periods.” (Cannella, 1997)
As printing was invented and spread, more people became to read bible for themselves. Catholic Church was then challenged for its abuses in education. One of the significant contributions of the Protestant Reformation was the emphasis on “the notion that childhood was a period of nurture, discipline, and learning.” (Spierling, n.d.)
Philosopher John Locke was a key figure in the Enlightenment Period, who insisted that children should be instilled good habits and guided by means of reason. (Cunningham.H., 2006) The concepts of childhood during that time started to be connected with child-rearing practices.
Photo: The Bermuda Group (Smibert, n.d.)
19 Century: individual mode
In the 19th century, child labour became much more common in the industrial revolution. Enforced by the individual mode, children were encouraged to be independent and competent. (Cannella, 1997. P.37)
Industrialisation was responsible for damaging children in many ways, such as mistreatment and abuse, lack of education and threat to health and safety. Children lost their childhood and many were raised in single-parent families (fathers abandoned the family for work). (Keys, 2010)
This is opposed to today’s belief that children have the right to education and should be protected from any activities that are harmful to them.
20 Century: new rights in child
From the 1950s onwards, with more and more mothers’ participation in work, child care centres increasingly developed. (Stearns, 2010)
When child welfare emerged in the late 20th century, “children began to acquire new rights in relation to the state and to their families: the right not to be beaten in school (1982), the right to be consulted in the event of parental divorce, and so on.”
Dramatic changes took place in children’s life in the 20th century. Education became universal; increased attention was paid to child health, safety, parenting, and education.
Photo: Child factory labour (Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute, 2011)
Photo: First church of God location (Shorefront, 2013)
The Original sin
According to the Christian theory, children were born basically bad as evil beings, and "intrinsically driven by their own needs, desires, nature and pleasure”. (Sorin&Galloway, 2006)
People saw them as “a threat to the social order and its reproduction”, rather than taking real social conditions, such as “poverty and unemployment, conditions under which some children live”, into account. (Sorin&Galloway, 2006)
Parental discipline was emphasised, so that beatings and flesh punishment should be given to get rid of the original sin. Children were treated as useless, properties of parents, but not human beings.
The innocent child
Seen as the counterpart to the evil child, the innocent child presents a vulnerable, weak, in need of protection image of child.
Organizations and policies are set out as responses for defending, promoting and protecting children's rights, such as the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
Nevertheless, Holt argues that adults sentimentally defining children as cute and innocent in fact ignore children’s own feeling and willing. Driven by this idealized notion, adults use children as their love and help objects. It in turn teaches children to exploit adults for their need and rewards. (2012) The child is likely to turn into a snowballing child.
Photo: Mother Whips Her Child "To Break His Will" (psychohistory, n.d.)
Photo: Why parents "spoil" their kids (Isakova, 2012)
The child as victim
Children who live through war or terror, famine or poverty are seen as victims of social and political forces. (Sorin&Galloway, 2006, p.18) From a narrow perspective, children are vulnerable as victims of crimes of physical assault, child abuse and neglect.
Maltreatment can increase risk factors for delinquency, damage children’s self-esteem, demolish families and destroy futures. (Wilson, 2000) Special help should be given to help child victims physically and psychologically recover and reintegrate into society. (UNICEF, n.d.)
Photo: US soldier cradles child victim of terrorists (Yon, 2005)
According to Piaget’s development theory, children need to go through four stages of cognitive development to reach adulthood. This idea is often reflected in today’s professional trainings and parenting courses. (Morrow, 2011, p.12)
The adult-in-training emphasizes adult’s capacity to harness the ability of child to suit their or societal imperative, rather than counting their individual roles into the society. (Sorin&Galloway, 2006, p.17)
Vygotsky’s theory of Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) is also consistent with this construct, within which adults provide scaffolding to assist children in learning. Reggio Emilia approach is a good evidence of these roles.
Photo: Beginnings-nursery (Mclaren, 2009)
The agentic child
According to Giddens, agency refers to “ the capability of the individual to ‘make a difference’ to a pre-existing state of affairs or course of events” (as cited in Morrow, 2011, p.11 ). Agentic children are believed to have the capability to influence adults’ behaviour, for example, adults using children’s language in communication with them. (Postman, as cited in Sorin&Galloway, 2006, p.19)
This construct affirms children’s power and “rejects the view of the child as passive and innocent” (Fasoli &Woodrow, as cited in Sorin&Galloway, 2006, p.19)
Photo: parent new year solution (The heart link network, 2011)
Benetton,(n.d.)Advertisements[Image]. Retrieved from:http://nihiliana.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/innocence-revisited.html
Cannella.G.S., (1997), The genealogy of childhood., New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Retrieved from: librarysearch.swinburne.edu.au
Classen.A. (Ed), (2005), Childhood in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance: The Results of a Paradigm Shift in the History of Mentality. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, Retrieved from: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=22822
Cunningham.H., (2006), Re-inventing childhood, Retrieved from: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/re-inventing-childhood
DeMause, L. (Ed), (1974), The History of Childhood, Broadway, New York: The Psychohistory Press
Department for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, (2009), Belong, being, &becoming, The early years learning framework for Australia.
Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute, (2011, Jan 23), Child factory labour[Image]. Retrieved from: http://www.gandhiforchildren.org/child-labour-the-worst-menace-of-all-time.html
Gill.N.S., (n.d.), Roman Exposure of Infants, Retrieved from: http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/familyanddailylife/qt/072707exposure.htm
Heywood.C., (2001), A history of childhood: children and childhood in the west from Medieval to Modern Times, UK: Polity Press, Retrieved from: http://books.google.com.au/
Holt.J., (2012), The cuteness syndrome, kitchie-kitchie-coo and other problems, Retrieved from: www.hol tgws.com
Isakova.V., (2012. Jun 28), Why parents "spoil" their kids[Image]. Retrieved from: http://shine.yahoo.com/blogs/author/valerie-isakova-shine-parenting-editor-ycn-1586348/
Keys.D., (2010, Aug 2), Revealed: Industrial Revolution was powered by child slaves, The independent, Retrieved from: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/revealed-industrial-revolution-was-powered-by-child-slaves-2041227.html
Mclaren.W., (2009, Jul 8), Beginnings nursery school wants what you don’t[Image]. Retrieved from: http://www.treehugger.com/culture/beginnings-nursery-school-wants-what-you-donatmt.html
My history 132 blog, (2012, May 27), The evil helps a mother commit infanticide [Image]. Retrieved from: http://alexrhis132.wordpress.com/2012/05/27/infanticide-in-european-history/
Morrow.V., (2011),Understanding children and childhood, Centre for Children and Young People: Background Briefing Series, no. 1, Retrieved from: http://epubs.scu.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1027&context=ccyp_pubs
Psychohistory, (n.d.), Mother Whips Her Child "To Break His Will"[Image]. Retrieved from: http://www.psychohistory.com/originsofwar/09_bipolar.html
Quora, (n.d.), Medieval children[Image]., Retrieved from: http://www.quora.com/Tim-ONeill-1/answers/Middle-Ages
Shorefront, (2013), Class at first church of God[Photo]. Retrieved from: http://shorefrontjournal.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/caring-for-the-future-the-history-of-the-child-care-center-of-evanston/
Smibert.J., (1729), The Bermuda Group[Plainting], Retrieved from: http://b-womeninamericanhistory18.blogspot.com.au/2013/06/paintings-of-18th-century-american.html
Sorin.R.& Galloway.G., (2006), Constructs of childhood: constructs of self, Children Australia, 31, 12-21.
Spierling.K.E.,(n.d.), Protestant Reformation, Retrieved from: http://www.faqs.org/childhood/Pa-Re/Protestant-Reformation.html
Stearns.P.N., (2010), Childhood in world history(2nd ed.), Retrieved from: http://www.swin.eblib.com.au.ezproxy.lib.swin.edu.au/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=614725
The heart link network, (2011), Parent new year solution[Image]. Retrieved from: http://www.theheartlinknetwork.com/blog/?p=2090
The United Nations Children's Fund, (n.d.), Fact Sheet: A summary of the rights under the convention on the rights of the child, Learning materials on Blackboard, Swinburne University of Technology
Wilson.J.J., (2000), Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 1999National Report, Retrieved from: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/180753.pdf
Woodbury.s.,( 2013, Jan 3), Child Rearing In The Middle Ages
[Web log post], Retrieved from: http://www.sarahwoodbury.com/child-rearing-in-the-middle-ages/
Yon.M., (2005) Us soldier cradles child victim of terrorists[Image]., Retrieved from: http://jamespdb.edublogs.org/2009/12/16/jarius-faith-and-his-dead-child/
The constructions of children and childhood were varied over time. Even in our contemporary society, children are seen and treated differently in different social and cultural context. However, it is narrow to consider children as the property of parents. They are independent human beings, and “shaped by many different events and circumstances.” (DEEWR, 2009, p.8) Thus there is one thing we can ensure is that “the best interests of children must be the primary concern in making decisions that may affect them”.(UNICEF, n.d.)