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Karen L. Taylor

The Eighteenth Century is generally regarded by historians as ushering in the modern era. In this period of intellectual transition associated with Enlightenment thought, we see increasing emphasis on education as the means to transform both the individual and society. Madame d’Épinay and Madame de Genlis each produced influential pedagogical texts (Conversations d’Émilie, 1774 and Adèle et Théodore, 1782 respectively) in which they articulate pedagogical methods designed to promote the intellectual development of the child. In the Conversations, Madame d’Épinay uses speech and conversation as the means of teaching the child to exercise her faculties of reason and judgment. In doing so, she not only conveys basic principles of Enlightenment thought but also gives ‘voice’ to herself and her child. For Madame de Genlis, the foundation of the child’s intellectual development rests on reading and writing, exercises that necessitate reflection and higher-order reasoning skills. Both writers emphasize the importance of adult role models in children’s development and encourage the child to develop his or her own ideas. The ultimate goal for each author is to provide a pedagogical method that will prepare children to lead satisfying autonomous lives as adults. In addition, d’Épinay and de Genlis reveal the dynamics of gender in the process of adolescent intellectual development. This project draws from recent trends in feminist theory and developmental psychology to explore the gendered dynamics of adolescent cognitive development in eighteenth-century pedagogical literature.

Philip Shields

It is misguided to suppose that human maturation is a matter of growing out of a temporary condition of childhood - where we are dependent on others, not only for sustenance and protection but also for linguistic, moral, and rational guidance - and growing into the state of adulthood, where we would be morally and rationally independent and autonomous. Such a dramatic change would entail a miraculous act of transcending our embodied abilities and would identify our humanity with a god-like sense of agency and creativity, a supposed ability to act on the world while remaining aloof somewhere outside and above it. In contrast to this, a striking feature of traditional Confucian ethics is that children are not supposed to grow into independent adults who transcend their family relationships. Consequently, filial relationships and obligations never end, and patterns of deference merely become more rich and subtle as children mature. Though the Confucian model of maturity disturbs our liberal egalitarian ideals, there may be good reasons to take such dependent and asymmetrical social relations seriously as paradigmatic of the human condition. Not only are these relations more empirically realistic, but they are also pre-conditions for cultivating mastery and expertise and thereby promoting human flourishing over time. Given that we are profoundly social and historical beings, we should think of childhood as a perpetual process of life-long learning that characterises the human condition as such. In this sense, all of us remain children, both of our parents and our pasts, even while we become parents ourselves. In sum, our egalitarian obsession with autonomy and equality presupposes an impossible model of self-sufficient individuals. This ultimately undermines the temporality of the human condition because it neglects our social nature and the necessary asymmetrical interdependence of intergenerational processes of perpetuating and revising normative human practices.

Paul Clarke and Keith Walker

In this chapter we share our beginning journey to better understand the notion of best interests of the child from two perspectives: a social science perspective and a jurisprudential perspective. First, to explore the best interests of the child from a social science viewpoint, an electronic Delphi survey approach was used with leading/executive human services professionals (from health, social services, education, and justice) and state-level public policy makers to ascertain their extant notions of the best interest of the child and related issues. Just over 80 intersectorial experts (by position), whose work directly or indirectly (policy or administration) related to children and their families, provided their viewpoints. Second, this chapter describes our exploration of the best interests of the child concept from a jurisprudential angle. This involves a consideration of the special nature of children’s rights along with a brief analysis of two important Supreme Court of Canada decisions where the focus is on best interests of the child.

Vicky Anderson-Patton

‘Children enter schools as questions marks and leave schools as periods.’ As this quote indicates, schools are entrenched in boundaries and rules which undermine students’ natural curiosity for learning, risk taking, and creative expression. Educators have recognised the need for social and emotional boundaries in the classroom since Maslow and Rogers’s writings. If a student does not feel psychologically safe in the classroom then it is unlikely that s/he will open up to answer questions, take risks, or even participate in the learning process. American students are frequently subjected to one standardised curricula, where teachers must be on the same page simultaneously, indifferent to students’ learning needs, multiple intelligence strengths, cultural/linguistic/socioeconomic diversity, and interests. Clearly these rigid curricula boundaries are ineffective. They undermine students’ confidence and self-esteem, forcing their creativity underground. Students become focused on extrinsic motivation - teachers’ feedback and the copious test scores inundating them (PSSAs, Terra Novas, Bench mark, SATs), which reinforce inflexible boundaries. Conversely, innovative thinking, and problem solving skills are considered the essential workplace qualities American workers currently require to remain forefront in the competitive job market. This demands students’ education be scaffolded utilising flexible curricula boundaries, where teaching can be individualised to maximise each student’s potential. Educators must understand students’ strengths, weaknesses and cultural boundaries, and how these may impact individual and group learning. Additionally, educators must recognise their own teaching and learning strengths, multiple intelligence profiles, as we all teach from our strengths. Furthermore, through careful observations, data collection, feedback, self-study and reflection educators must be aware of their own boundaries, and how these affect classroom climate. They must distinguish between boundaries that support academic and social growth and those that undermine intellectual curiosity, creative expression/problem solving, and consider how boundaries affect student learning. Educators must stretch themselves beyond their teaching comfort zones, thus modelling flexible boundaries to students.

Namrata Jain

Childhood is for every child. It is marked by age and being. However, it is also the turning of a child into a gendered subject. The privileges of innocence and ignorance also bring in tow the hegemony of the adult and its ideology. Concordantly, children become the miniature ground for adult politics. In other words, turning children into gendered subjects, the society ensures its own longevity in terms of norms and codes of behaviour and social status or space. As a result, childhood becomes a prey of gender politics. On the other hand, class politics operate upon a child, declaring childhood to be a luxury. The coupling of gender and class brings to fore the marginalised state of a working class girl child.

Neringa Grigutytė

The goal to improve the procedure of child’s participation in legal proceedings was set in Lithuania in 2005. The interdisciplinary group at the Ministry of Justice was formed to explore the issue and to prepare the suggestions. The conclusions were that children as victims and witnesses may be traumatised once more in the legal proceedings because of multiple interviews by different persons; meeting the suspect in legal proceedings; interviewing a child without video or audio recording; overlong process of investigation; inadequate child representation in legal proceedings; insufficient qualification of interviewers (officers); lack of specialists of Child rights protection service and psychologist for assisting a child, etc. The complex proposals, how to improve the interviewing process and to prevent children from second trauma in legal proceedings, were settled. The aim of the chapter is to review what have changed in the children’s participation in legal proceedings and how effectively criminal justice system deal with children victims and witnesses after the implementation of improvements of child’s participation in legal proceedings. The main changes such as the amendments of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the implementation of child interview room system, the establishment of main requirements for child interviewing in pre-trial investigation and others are discussed. Definitive achievements and still remaining problems, as well as made mistakes and learned practical lessons are presented in the article.

Ilze Dinka

Development in politics, economy and technology has resulted in transformation of the idea of children’s room and their upbringing. The play environment and transformation of the play itself have altered due to several changes. This has impacted family, culture and values, consequently leading to changes in the conditions of a child’s development. The opposite has also occurred, as a result of the societal development children’s play environment, their toys, play and all related processes have transformed. The first children’s rooms in Latvia largely differ from those of the 21st century; not only with respect to their arrangement and toys but also by the change in the world of the child’s symbolic notions which form her/his experience as a result of the interaction of a human being and the surrounding world. Media is an integral part of the 21st century children’s room affecting the child’s world vision which becomes a reality in a child’s room at an early age. This research study focuses on the analysis of the experience of 3 people from the same family representing upbringing habits - during the period between the wars, in the Soviet and in the post-Soviet period. The research provides an insight into how the construction of a child’s experience and the world outlook has changed as a result of the development of children’s rooms and their upbringing.

Jacqueline Hayden, Zinnia Mevawalla, Clare Britt and Sanobia Palkhiwala

Complexity theory provides a framework by which traditional conceptualisations of childhood and participation can be challenged and re-contextualised. In this chapter we describe how a complexity theory lens is useful in illuminating the interplay of early childhood development (ECD) with democracy and social justice. Aspects of complexity such as emergence and recurrency can be used to challenge pervading notions of marginalisation and vulnerability, especially for young children in low and middle-income (LAMI) contexts. This framework allows for alternate conceptualisations of childhood that incorporate children’s power, participation and agency.

Kay Bennett

Concepts of childhood have evolved over time and continue to alter as society learns and readjusts its theories of this un-defined, immeasurable stage. Without the benefit of quantification or the presence of a clearly definable, biological domain, concepts of childhood remain fluid and inconsistent often wholly dependent on social, cultural, generational and political themes. The subjective conclusions drawn about children and childhood are rarely neutral as it is difficult for us to separate the facts from our own pre-conceived ideals stemming from our backgrounds, our moral beliefs, cultural norms or past experiences. Many would argue that concepts of childhood have evolved; making reference to the fact we no-longer put our children to work but in reality does a family or society who allows their young to work equal a society that does not respect or value childhood? Concepts of childhood in the UK are often based on Western ideals but this narrow mindedness leaves us guilty of excluding what is in actual fact the majority world’s culture of child-rearing. We may, as evidence of our evolvement, point to our developed education system whereby we gather 4 year olds into strange environments that are at odds with their pre-school years and childish natures, providing behaviour plans when they struggle to conform. Our civilised society where we force our young to sit crossed legged, in silence for relatively long periods of time. Where deviants are labelled problematic if they stand when expected to sit and permit their youthful enthusiasm and excitement to allow them to ‘call out’ when they have not been asked. The birth of education has heralded a change in the status of the child from ‘active workers and industrial participants’ to ‘passive pupils and learning subordinates.’ A fair exchange?

Vickii B. Jenvey

There is an ever-expanding literature in the social and behavioural sciences about the contemporary and long-term effects on the development of children who grow up in poverty. Studies of poor children frequently attempt to attribute childhood poverty to poor parenting and dysfunctional family circumstances which, in turn, transmit adversity and personal and social dysfunction to children who grow up in such families. While there is evidence to support the adverse effects of significant levels of poverty on children’s growth and development, many studies that investigate developmental trajectories of poor children do not support intergenerational transmission of personal and social dysfunction from parent to offspring. There are also other research findings that have not supported the widespread contention that the poor, both adults and children, are disconnected from their communities. With increasing evidence to challenge common assertions about origins of childhood poverty, it is surprising that there are few challenges to the underlying premises upon which many studies of childhood poverty are based. It will be argued that common research questions that underlie much research into childhood poverty reveal the persistence of stereotypical constructs about the undeserving poor and about what constitutes a typical childhood and family that, in turn, influence both theory and empirical research and affect policy development and interventions that impact poor children and their families. The historical origins of stereotypes of the poor generally and poor children particularly, will be discussed. Contemporary theory, research findings, public policy and intervention programmes with poor children and their families will be used to exemplify this viewpoint. Outcomes for poor children of prevalent stereotypes that underpin research, policy and practice in childhood poverty will be discussed.