《The Disappearance of Childhood》的笔记-第36页
- 页码：第36页 2013-03-14 22:07:44
In 1982's The Disappearance of Childhood, Postman argues that what we define as "childhood" is a modern phenomenon. He defines "childhood" as the period from around age 7 – when spoken language is usually mastered – to around age 17 – when written language is mastered. Not coincidentally, these ages correspond to the typical school years.The word "child" originally meant "son or daughter"; only in modern times did it gain its second meaning - "a person between birth and full growth". Prior to modern times, children were considered "little" adults, rather than today's conception of them as "unformed" adults.In medieval times, children and adults "lived in the same social and intellectual world" . Children dressed the same as adults, shared the same labor and past times (gambling was considered a normal childhood pursuit), and with literacy confined to special classes (the monks, for example) had similar intellectual levels. Few children attended school. Children weren't shielded from the harsh realities and shameful secrets of the adult world. Adults didn't conceal their sexual drives, nor was there a high level of “civilized” mores defining certain behavior, body functions and characteristics as distasteful. "Without a well-developed idea of shame, childhood cannot exist". To Postman, the absence of literacy, education and shame explains the absence of the conception off childhood.Postman credits the invention of movable type printing to the idea of childhood. With literacy came adult "secrets,” information available only to adults who could read. And literacy required schools to teach people how to read. "Because school was designed for the preparation of a literate adult, the young became to be perceived not as miniature adults, but as ... unformed adults": (41). These two factors created a new social hierarchy - adults now had "unprecedented control over the symbolic environment of the young" (45). For Postman, 1850-1950 was the "high-water mark of childhood. Children's birthdays began to celebrated, and their welfare became viewed as something special that needed protection. Children gained specialized clothing and literature - different from adults. Childhood became viewed as an idyllic time of innocence.
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