Most dictionaries define childhood as the period between birth and puberty; however that simple description does little to capture the many connotations of the concept. This course is designed to explore the meaning of childhood to people of differing times and of differing cultures. The content of the course will guide students through an exploration of the historical diversity in the ways in which childhood has been defined, and in the development and clarification of their own concept of the meaning of childhood. A second major course goal will be to investigate cultural variations in ideas about what constitutes childhood. Throughout the course, emphasis will be placed on assisting students to understand that there is no single set of ideas about what childhood is.
A third focus will be the impact on children's development and on society of the beliefs held by adults about childhood.
Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:
Ø describe and systematically compare concepts of childhood from a variety of perspectives (e.g., cultural, historical, psychological, philosophical)
Ø discuss the effect of differing concepts on childhood on the experiences of children
Ø identify the historical context of ideas and cultural traditions outside the United States, and how they have influenced American culture
Ø clearly articulate their own views on the concept of childhood