Contextual research ; The Routledge history of childhood in the western world.

The Routledge history of childhood in the western world.  

(Taken from original post created 23.03.20 )

This book has been like a bible on education to me since starting this module. Discovered by accident on the Falmouth uni website, I originally focused on four chapters –

Introduction ; (Paula s fass)

9 ; Children and the state, (James Schmidt)

11 ; Age schooling and development, (Stephen Lassonde)

13 ; The physical spaces of children, (Marta Gutman)

16 ; picturing modern childhood in the modern west by Anne Higgonnet.

Chapter 11 by Lassonde was by far the most influential of the essays for me, discussing the birth of modern day schooling, it’s connection to the state and the church, it’s failures and practices, contextualising my work, and informing my thoughts on education more than any other text I had read up until that point.

“The beginning of the 20th century on both sides of the Atlantic witnessed the convergence of interest in the systematic study of human growth, of children’s physical health, and of children’s cognitive, emotional and sexual development. The cooccurance of these areas of scientific inquiry was made possible , to a large extent, by the creation of mass schooling in Europe and North America , which contributed to the delineation of the “normal child”, and forged increasingly precise links between the identification of children’s development and the notion of “age exactitude”. (pg 211)

This age exactitude is why many parents remove their children from school, the inability for the way the state education system is run to make it possible to see children as individuals who progress and learn at different rates is infuriating, and nothing short of depressing for many. We are trained from birth to see this as normal, but seeing someone as a collective and not an individual to the detriment of their physical, mental, emotional health and well being is never normal.

“Indeed , age has become such an important framework for accessing the capacities, right, and obligations of children that it is difficult for contemporary societies to comprehend a time when this was not so.” (pg 212)

“In pre-modern Europe the aristocracy and the church controlled most forms of education” (pg 212)

“The perceived necessity for mass schooling had a very long gestation period because the impetus to shape all children’s development depended first upon a fundamental reorientation of the individual to the state.”

 “The distinction between children (who lack reason) and those with ‘sufficient years of understanding’ established the border between those did or didn’t qualify for a whole range of privileges and responsibilities in Anglo-American common law after the 17th c


Fass, S. Paula. 2013 . The Routledge History of Childhood in the Western World. London, Routledge.

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This blog is written as part of my studies on the Falmouth University photography ma, an accredited educational programme.