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The last decade of the 20th century saw keen interest by researchers in changing concepts of childhood, stimulated in part by the translation into English in the 1970s of Philippe Aries' influential book, 'Centuries of Childhood'. The subsequent research has drawn on insights from various disciplines, including history, philosophy, education, the arts, literature, law and medicine. This subject examines the questions raised by this continuing body of research and relates them to current understandings of childhood and to recent changes in policies regarding children in diverse local and international contexts.
An indicative list of topics in this subject is as follows: the Aries thesis; 'tabula rasa' views of children, in particular Locke and Skinner; the devleopmental model of childhood, in particular the contribution of Darwin, Freud and Piaget; childhood innocence and responsibility; the Confucian child; the child as sexual being; the child as a spritiual being; the child as consumer; the postmodern child as active agent in the construction of its own identity. There will be particular attention to the different types of evidence used to substantiate claims about the nature of childhood, such as cultural products including paintings, children's clothing, literauterfor and about children, educational and toehr institutions for shildren and research about children and childhood. In this subject, The united Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is a starting point for broad investigations into the changing nature of childhood (from someone in need of protection to soemone with rights) and the universality of children's right.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- Identify and understand changing historical and contemporary theoretical perspectives on conceptualising childhood;
- Analyse the changing role of specific institutions in constructing contemporary childhoods;
- Explore and understand the ways in which different disciplines have studied and constructed childhood;
- Critically evaluate diverse claims about the nature of chidlhood draawing from differnt evidentiary sources.
On completing this subject, students should be able to:
- Sharpen their analytical skills by identifying and analysing diverse contemporary and historical influences on the study of childhood;
- Enhance their skills of scholarly critique through reading widely in diverse journals and texts;
- Gain improved problem-solving skills through critical engagement with diverse evidentiary sources and their claims about childhood;
- Gain reflective knowledge and understanding of cross-cultural concepts in the study of childhood.
Last updated: 5 August 2020