How Childhood Has Changed over the Centuries Essay

1224 Words Dec 12th, 2012 5 Pages
In relation to the changing ideas about childhood over the centuries, there are several points of discussion that arise. Many ideas surrounding the change and evolved over the centuries, ideas such as the views towards education and the impact of the industrial revolution on westerns societies views towards childhood, due to the limited space, this essay will focus on two underlying issues which have contributed greatly to the changing ideas about childhood over the centuries, which are; the recognition of childhood and innocence in western society and the extent to which childhood throughout history has been socially constructed. This essay will argue how the concept of childhood has changed over the centuries. Furthermore, this essay …show more content…
It can however be argued that childhood was recognised as being non-existent due to the attitudes towards children of this era.

In direct contrast, the innocence of a child was not socially recognised during medieval times, childhood was thought to be a stage of life which we as humans pass through. Austin (2003) states that during the 18th and 19th century, the concept of childhood innocence was not so much recognised, but something that was looked back upon and was something that was lost. It was apparent that it was preserved, but due to corruption from the adult world, childhood nostalgia was now more prominent. This is evident in two literary works, Rousseau (1762) took a view, as did Wordsworth (1802) that from a Neo-Platonist interpretation, it was possible to look back to childhood as a period of innocence during which children are born pure but corrupted through the guidance of the adult world. They further emphasised the need for freedom of children and for their protection by adults. As a result, this concept of childhood innocence and the preservation of it led to the development of the recognition of childhood and the role it plays within society. It is further led to development of compulsory schooling and the move away from child labour as a result of the industrial revolution.

A second key and underlying

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