The birth of childhood: A brief history of the European child - Deepstash

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The birth of childhood: A brief history of the European child

bigthink.com

Children as objects

It took thousands of years for the European culture to realise that a child is not an object but a human being.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote in Emile, or On Education (1762), that "nature wants children to be children before they are men." He did not see ch...

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  • In ancient Greece, babies were often left by the road or in the garbage. If a passer-by took the child, it was often raised for the slave market. This is because children were considered private property.
  • The Romans followed the custom to ...

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Christians condemned the practice of abandonment of newborns and ordered followers to care unconditionally for every child. This trend became so strong that it survived the fall of the Empire. Unwanted children ended up in shelters opened by monasteries.

Legal provisions ...

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During the Middle Ages, families decided the fate of the children. The canon law of the Catholic Church stated that a bride had to be older than 12 and the groom, 14. But the father, desiring to increase his resources and prestige, looked for a daughter- or son-in-law immediately after a child's ...

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At first, corporeal punishment was the primary tool in the education process. In the 17th century, philosopher John Locke urged parents to use praise to stimulate children to learn and behave well.

The fashion then was for a wet nurse to feed a newborn, and then the child was passed on to ...

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In the 18th century, it became the norm again to abandon unwanted children. They usually went to care facilities, but few survived into adulthood. Condemnation by the Catholic and Protestant churches did not help.

The Industrial Revolution turned out to be more effective. In Great Britain,...

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German educator Friedrich Fröbel gave lectures on returning children to their childhoods and encouraged adults to provide children with care and free education.

In 1839, the Prussian government reacted by banning the employment of minors. France followed two years later. Britain only adopt...

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In April 1874, under the guidance of social activist Etty Wheeler, 10-year-old Mary Ellen Wilson told a New York court of her almost daily whipping by her stepmother. The request for intervention was repeatedly refused, and Wheeler turned to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to A...

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Towards the end of the 19th century, the custom of entrusting the care of offspring to strangers fell away. Parents were urged to provide their offspring with love and a sense of security.

But the pioneering work by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels proposed that home education ought to be re...

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