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Unit information: Children in Society I: An introduction in 2016/17

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Unit name Children in Society I: An introduction
Unit code SOWK10001
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Jo Staines
Open unit status Open
Pre-requisites

None

Co-requisites

None

School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description

This is a first year mandatory unit on the BSc Childhood Studies programmes, which is open to students from across the university who may have an interest in history, psychology, social policy, or childhood. Drawing on multiple disciplines, including history, sociology, psychology and social policy, this unit examines how the concept of childhood has evolved over the past 400 years, from Puritanical ideas of children as bearers of original sin, to Romantic notions of childhood innocence, and to current views of children as rights-holders. Using an ecological framework, the experiences of children are explored, analysing the impact of religion, science, philosophy, politics, employment, educational pedagogy, and philanthropy on their lives and how these influences are mediated by the child’s social position, gender and ethnicity. The unit considers how and why constructions of childhood have changed during this period exploring children’s position with the family, their involvement in the labour market, the provision of education, health care and leisure for children, and the work of child philanthropists and ‘child savers’. A wide range of resources including official documents, local and national statistics, diaries, novels, artwork, child care manuals, and oral histories will be used to compare different representations and experiences of childhood. Students are supported to develop their research and essay-writing skills through formative and summative assignments, including conducting and analysing an oral history interview.

The unit aims to consider:

  • The concept of childhood and the interaction of many factors in its construction.
  • The use of historical sources, such as art, literature and oral histories, to study childhood.
  • The development of philosophies of children’s rights, education, family life and the role of the State since the 18th century
  • The implementation of these ideas in legislation and societal norms.
  • The influence of theorists, philosophers, writers and innovators, such as: Aries, Locke, Rousseau, Carpenter, Froebel, Montessori and the McMillan sisters.
  • The effects on children of inequalities and strain (poverty, class, gender, ethnicity) and the role of the State in children’s lives since the 18th century

After successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to demonstrate:

  • An understanding of the development of the concept of childhood over the last 400 years
  • Knowledge and understanding of the variety of perspectives on childhood, children’s rights and the role of family and state in that historical period
  • Knowledge and understanding of a range of educational theorists

An understanding of the appropriate use of historical and other sources to investigate childhood.

Intended learning outcomes

After successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to demonstrate:

  • An understanding of the development of the concept of childhood over the last 300 years
  • Knowledge and understanding of the variety of perspectives on childhood, children’s rights and the role of family and state in that historical period
  • Knowledge and understanding of a range of educational theorists
  • An understanding of the appropriate use of historical and other sources to investigate childhood.

Teaching details

Lectures and classes. Study of primary sources. Group work and presentations of assigned topics including own primary research.

Assessment Details

Formative assessment is by:

(a) a seminar presentation of a small group project which has been jointly researched, and

(b) an essay of not more than 2,000 words

Summative assessment is by 3,000 word essay

Reading and References

  • Cunningham, H. (2005) Children and Childhood in Western Society Since 1500, ( 2nd ed), Essex: Pearson.
  • Hendrick, H. (1997), Children, Childhood and English society 1880-1990, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hendrick, H. (2003), Child Welfare: Historical dimensions, contemporary debates. Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Kassem D, Murphy L and Taylor E (eds) (2010) Key Issues in Childhood and Youth Studies, London: Routledge
  • Kehily M J (ed) (2009) An Introduction to Childhood Studies (2nd ed), Maidenhead: Open University Press
  • Qvortrup J, Corsaro W A and Honig M-S (2011) (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Childhood Studies, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

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