Essay on History of Childhood

2207 Words9 Pages
Childhood is usually understood as a set of experiences and behaviours, gained in the early stages of the human existence, considered as the preparation for the adult world. However, the history of childhood is a very complex topic and it has become a very influential area of study in recent years. In 1962, the ‘Centuries of Childhood’ by Philippe Ariés introduced the idea that childhood was a new creation developed in recent centuries and as a concept it was believed to be nonexistent before the seventeenth century. This concept means that there was no awareness of the process of childhood. In several studies of the medieval period, Ariés noticed that childhood was not acknowledged or even attempted to be portrayed during this period. For…show more content…
He believes that it is at that age that reason starts to develop until finally the child becomes an adult. In ‘Emile’ Rousseau emphasises that nature wants children to take advantage of being children before being adults and there is a period of acquiring knowledge before living in the real world. A theory of innocence of the child emerged giving a need to protect children from the harsh reality of the adult world. Childhood has its own ways of seeing, thinking, and feeling which are proper to it/ child’s mind considered as a blank state to be inscribed by experience: the infant is often compared to a ‘white paper’ to be written over or to a plastic substance (wax) to be molded According to Alan Richardson, childhood gained a central position through Romantic Literature, due to its artistic and reinvigorating movement during the eighteenth century. The supreme faculty of mind is reason by stressing strong emotions and imagination, which is the key reason to the shaping of creative power. Childhood acquired a sense of spirituality attached to its phenomenon; it became increasingly valued by adults, since children represented hope and progress within society. Childhood therefore became the supreme symbol of celebrating the cult of nature, the purity of the mind
Get Access