Childhood and education
In this chapter we shall examine and appraise what are by common consent some of the problems of childhood, as well as the role that education
and schools play in addressing these problems. However, we shall tackle this by asking a number of important questions that include: where our ideas about children and childhood come from; why we hold these ideas; and whether the ways we think about children contribute to some of the problems we identify. Furthermore, we shall ask why it is that children and childhood have become closely identified as means to solve society’s problems and even as a hope for human salvation. I should say from the outset that our approach will be that of social construction. This proceeds from a view that, by questioning our taken-for-granted assumptions, even about things that seem to be certain and solid, we might be able to assess whether they are, indeed, so certain or solid and, therefore, unchangeable. This is done not merely as an academic exercise but because it may enable us to understand some of the knotted roots of the social problems that confront us and thereby help to find means of addressing them. But first it will be helpful to examine how the ways in which we think about children, childhood and education might contribute, for good or ill, to the way we construct these problems.