It is interesting to ponder whether our children are laughing enough in their childhood and it is also interesting to think about this phase of our human growth called…. CHILDHOOD.
We have come to accept the so called”childhood” phase as a developmental process that children go through.
However historically this was not always the case. The Victorian era saw children used as cheap labour……. life expectancy was short… girls bore their babies younger and the expectations of and for children were quite different than today.
Viewed from our adult perspective childhood as a concept seems to be a simple, uncomplicated time although, it has not always been so accepted as such.
A) In traditional nomadic cultures children had to fend for them selves from a young age, as life revolved around the survival of the fittest. There were often special rituals which girls as well as boys had to go through to reach adulthood.
B) The phenomena of a “childhood” in the Western culture is historically relatively new, developing in around the late 19th century with Victorian families in the upper classes in England recognising the sanctity of the child.
C) However scholars have written about childhood in Medieval times and also pre -industrial times indicating that when infant mortality was high, special care was given to children during times of sickness or grief.
D) Those children born into noble families were groomed and schooled in matters that were of benefit to the family.
E) Religion it is thought, also played a part in nurturing the child. However in the eyes of church law and common law, children were equal to adults in some matters but not in others.
F) Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland published in 1865 began a change in writing for children.
With the advent of literacy schools began to emerge although it was not until the late 19th century however that the development of schools for children in the Western world started to become popular, particularly for the well-to-do. It was not until early in the 20th century that all children had a right to education and children began to have legal rights. This idea of literacy and education for children then began to cross pollinate into other cultures around the world.
Physicians and psychologists with Jean Piaget in particular, began to write about the cognition of the brain and demonstrated an awareness of the stages of development that a child goes through in becoming an adult. Language development along with cognitive emotional and physical development were studied and, as each physician,psychologist and educationalist added to the picture, this notion of “childhood” emerged. So …yes, children do pass through a childhood stage. Piaget’s theories were significant in the understanding of this process.
There are many eminent scholars today still refining and researching the essence of childhood. Neil Postman in a later edition to his book The Disappearance of Childhood originally written in 1982 he wrote a Preface in 1994 in which he discussed this notion of childhood, where he was interested in the thoughts of children themselves and he says
“I will stand by the theme of the book: American culture is hostile to the idea of childhood. But it is a comforting, even exhilarating thought that children are not.”
An Interesting thought,children standing up for themselves.
So how is that wearing with us today? How far have we come? Is social media affecting childhood? Have we come full circle? Do our kids have a childhood today? Can we as parents monitor everything our children are seeing on the Internet? Are we loosing this concept of childhood again by allowing our children to play inappropriate video games, allowing little girls of four … to strut sexually in a beauty pageant, watch violent news broadcasts, see x rated movies??? Or does it run deeper than that? Are we laughing enough with our children…Are we embracing the pure joy of our children’s childhood?
What are your thoughts??
Looking forward to hearing from you.
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