“Historians of childhood have debated whether a concept of the child, as an individual with unique needs as opposed to a miniature adult, actually existed.”
This quote from Patricia Demers’s From Instruction to Delight: An Anthology of Children’s Literature to 1850 really struck me the first time I read it. So much so that I read it out loud to my boyfriend (then had him read it to himself when he didn’t hear me the first time). It makes sense, however, that there may not have originally been any idea of what we would consider childhood. Children for the longest time were “miniature adults”, as we talked about last week. They started out working right away and the stories began as a way to learn about the world around them.
Stories moved into a more education based eventually teaching what we would see as things of importance: the alphabet, math, sciences, etc to children and nowadays books are usually entertainment based for children. However, since children are becoming more adult-like ever maybe our stories should be returned to our original fairytale format: teaching children how to survival in the way of the world.
More and more of our youth are returning to how society used to be or acting as adult as they feel possible: sex and pregnancies at pre-teen years, becoming violent, doing drugs, drinking alcohol etc. We can see this through multiple examples from the internet, like Millie. Are we returning to our past where children had no childhood? Is childhood becoming unneeded or even perhaps, unwanted?
If this is the case, will our youth’s stories and readings return to their original fairy tale state?
We already know that several countries never had childhood for their youths, because the children still work immediately or must fight to survive in a harsh world. Does this mean their stories and literature are still much different from ours? Admittedly, I would love to learn more about it myself. Below are some articles are today’s childhood or the lack of it.
Childhood in Britain ‘ruined by lack of outdoor play and aggressive advertising’
Children with no childhood
Theories of Childhood
Children Without Childhood