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Lecture 1 Study Notes

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Department
Health Studies
Course Code
HLTC23H3
Professor
Jason Ramsay

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Lecture #1: Childhood
Monday, January 10th/2011
Childhood as a Cultural Artifact
Unlike infancy, childhood is a social/cultural artifact.
Infancy is a biologically driven event with a genetically timed duration.
Childhood is a different story. It can be longer or shorter depending upon several factors.
The Natural History of Childhood
Niel Postman: The Disappearance of Childhood
Greeks had no real world for “child” in the ancient world. They did invent schooling, but
childrens lives were precarious.
oPrecarious dependent on circumstances beyond one's control; uncertain; unstable;
insecure
oPlato speaks of disciplining children through Threats and blows, like a piece of warped
wood” (Protagoras)
Little concept of “child” as a category separate from “adult in the Middle Ages.
What constitutes childhood as a concept?
Niel Postman (The Disappearance of Childhood)
The concept of “shame
Children are defined as a class of people who must be sheltered from adult secrets (specifically,
sexual secrets)
This connects to the general concept of children as a group that requires Special Protection from
adults
Roman Law: Protection
Rome, 374 A.D.: Law forbidding infanticide (exposure)
Until then, the practice was acceptable, if the child was deformed, female or in some other way
undesirable.
Often used as a form of retroactive birth control (before the advent of orphanages).
www.notesolution.com
oRetroactive operative with respect to past occurrences, as a statute; retrospective
The Middle Ages
Fall of the Roman Empire to the barbarians
Postman points out four points regarding the Middle Ages and the concept of the Child:
oLiteracy disappears
oPedagogy declines
Pedagogy the art or science of teaching; education; instructional methods
oShame disappears
oChildhood disappears
Disappearance of Literacy
Literacy did not completely disappear
Social literacy disappeared for a 1000 years
Craft literacy remained (monks and noblemen, scribes)
Reading speed, even among the literate, diminished significantly (re: calligraphic fonts made
letters opaque)
Implications of Illiteracy
As a result, all business affairs were conducted aurally
All social interactions were face to face
Entertainment was aural (minstrels)
Knowledge acquired by EAR
All was talk and song
Implications for Childhood
Oral language develops much faster than written literacy
Childhood shrank down to the early years
If you could speak the Kings English” you were an adult
www.notesolution.com
Adult at age 7
In a literate world, children must become adults through learning to read, as there are mysteries
and secrets.
Implications (illustrated by Brueghel)
No culture of shame separating adults from children
Catholic church deemed age 7 to be when one can tell between right and wrong
The word “child” expressed kinship instead of age
No primary schools
Not much of a concept of pedagogy, as the Romans or Greeks had
What do the Breughel painting show?
Postman argues that they show:
oUnwillingness to hide anything from children
oAbsence of general civility (not withstanding that they were pious and religious)
oDid not have the same concept of private space as we do
oNot repelled by human behavior and odors
oNot ashamed of bodily functions
oNo evidence of toilet training for children
Medieval Childhood Sexuality
No evidence that children were considered off limits
Girls were married off and pregnant and very young ages compared by today’s standards
No sense of sexual interference” being wrong or immoral
Parenting in the Middle Ages
High rate of infant mortality
Parents did not/could not have the same level of emotional commitment as us
Children not mentioned in wills until the 14th century
www.notesolution.com

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Lecture #1: Childhood Monday, January 10 2011 Childhood as a Cultural Artifact Unlike infancy, childhood is a socialcultural artifact. Infancy is a biologically driven event with a genetically timed duration. Childhood is a different story. It can be longer or shorter depending upon several factors. The Natural History of Childhood Niel Postman: The Disappearance of Childhood Greeks had no real world for child in the ancient world. They did invent schooling, but childrens lives were precarious. o Precarious dependent on circumstances beyond ones control; uncertain; unstable; insecure o Plato speaks of disciplining children through Threats and blows, like a piece of warped wood (Protagoras) Little concept of child as a category separate from adult in the Middle Ages. What constitutes childhood as a concept? Niel Postman (The Disappearance of Childhood) The concept of shame Children are defined as a class of people who must be sheltered from adult secrets (specifically, sexual secrets) This connects to the general concept of children as a group that requires Special Protection from adults Roman Law: Protection Rome, 374 A.D.: Law forbidding infanticide (exposure) Until then, the practice was acceptable, if the child was deformed, female or in some other way undesirable. Often used as a form of retroactive birth control (before the advent of orphanages). www.notesolution.com
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