Special Issue "A British Childhood? Some Historical Reflections on Continuities and Discontinuities in the Culture of Anglophone Childhood"

A special issue of Genealogy (ISSN 2313-5778).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (6 May 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Pam Jarvis

Institute of Childhood and Education, Leeds Trinity University, Horsforth, Leeds LS18 5HD, UK
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Psychological wellbeing in childhood, adolescence, families and education Psychology, sociology and social policy relating to children, young people, families and education, The History of Childhood

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

This special edition of Genealogy will consider the history of childhood through a focus upon continuities and discontinuities in British and affiliated Anglophone cultures. It will begin with Not Just ‘Once’ upon a Time by Pam Jarvis, a reflection upon the changing nature of Western childhood, focusing upon traces that previous generations have left in ‘folk’ and 'fairy' tales and rhymes. Such tales, and their underpinning narratives were further disseminated across the world via British colonial culture, and currently play a large role in contemporary US multimedia products; the implications of this process are considered. The role of psychobiological and evolutionary factors in human storytelling provides an underpinning theoretical basis for this article.

Mark Malisa and Thelma Quardey Missedja pick up upon the dissemination of British culture through colonisation in their article Schooled for Servitude: The Education of African Children in British Colonies, 1910–1990, pointing out that the invaders did not introduce education into their African colonies as is frequently claimed, but instead changed and channelised it so that it carried messages of conquest and colonialism. Yinka Olusoga describes a similar process of conditioning undertaken with the working classes in England in her article Younger Infants in the Elementary School: Discursively Constructing the Under-Fives in Institutional Spaces and Practices, reflecting upon how young children were reconstructed as ‘scholars’ by Victorian industrialists.  In Margaret McMillan’s Contributions to Cultures of Childhood, Betty Liebovich considers a positive early twentieth century development upon this bleak, functional construction of the working class child, exploring the work of Christian Socialists Margaret and Rachel McMillan with working class children in London. These sisters developed a holistic pedagogy which encompassed both education and care, preparing the ground for the modern British nursery school.

in their article Does Early Childhood Education in England for the 2020s Need to Rediscover Susan Isaacs: Child of the Late Victorian Age and Pioneering Educational Thinker, Philip Hood and Kristina Tobutt question whether 21st century Britain might have much to learn from the style of practice pioneered by the McMillans, in particular, moving away from narrow 'information transmission' practice in contemporary education, and subsequently embracing a more holistic approach to child learning and development. They illustrate their article with ideas drawn from the practice of Susan Isaacs in her 1930s experimental nursery school.  Finally, in her article Child Abandonment in England, 1743-1834: The Case of the London Foundling Hospital, Claire Phillips considers the dawning of the modern conception of vulnerable childhood, documenting the increasingly conscious recognition of children's particular developmental needs over the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. She focuses upon the diligent work that 'Foundling hospitals' undertook to nurture and protect young children who had been abandoned by their parents.  

Overview of topics covered by this special issue: current and historical constructions of childhood; the development of linguistic and 'storying' skills in childhood; childhood play and recreation; childhood and ‘folk’ narratives; philosophies of childhood; childhood and industrialisation; childhood and post industrialisation; childhood education; childhood health; cultures of childcare

Dr. Pam Jarvis
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Margaret McMillan’s Contributions to Cultures of Childhood
Received: 30 April 2019 / Revised: 15 July 2019 / Accepted: 19 July 2019 / Published: 25 July 2019
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Abstract
Margaret McMillan is widely known for her open-air nursery, making it her life mission to live by the McMillan family motto, Miseris Succurrere Disco, which translates to ‘I endeavour to care for the less fortunate’. Margaret and her sister, Rachel, dedicated their [...] Read more.
Margaret McMillan is widely known for her open-air nursery, making it her life mission to live by the McMillan family motto, Miseris Succurrere Disco, which translates to ‘I endeavour to care for the less fortunate’. Margaret and her sister, Rachel, dedicated their lives to improving living conditions for the poor and working class in England and created health and dental clinics for them in Bradford, Bow and Deptford. During the 1889 Dock Strike, Margaret and Rachel supported workers by marching and demonstrating at Parliament. At the turn of the last century, they were instrumental in inspiring legislation for children’s welfare and education on both local and national levels in England. Their efforts led to campaigning for the 1906 Provision of School Meals Act and medical inspections for primary school children. In an effort to improve health conditions for the children living in the Deptford community, they created night camps for deprived children in 1908. With war impending in 1914, they created the first open air nursery in England in order to serve the disadvantaged community surrounding it, providing a safe and nurturing learning environment for the young children of the women going to work in place of the men who were called up to war. Margaret McMillan’s ideals for young children’s nurture and education continue to influence how we educate children in contemporary England and are woven into the fabric of our goals for young children’s futures. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Schooled for Servitude: The Education of African Children in British Colonies, 1910–1990
Received: 7 May 2019 / Revised: 3 July 2019 / Accepted: 5 July 2019 / Published: 11 July 2019
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Abstract
Our paper examines the education of African children in countries that were colonized by Britain, including Ghana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. We show how education plays an important role in shaping and transforming cultures and societies. Although the colonies received education, schools were [...] Read more.
Our paper examines the education of African children in countries that were colonized by Britain, including Ghana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. We show how education plays an important role in shaping and transforming cultures and societies. Although the colonies received education, schools were segregated according to race and ethnicity, and were designed to produce racially stratified societies, while loyalty and allegiance to Britain were encouraged so that all felt they belonged to the British Empire or the Commonwealth. In writing about the education of African children in British colonies, the intention is not to convey the impression that education in Africa began with the arrival of the colonizers. Africans had their own system and history of education, but this changed with the incursion by missionaries, educators as well as conquest and colonialism. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Does Early Childhood Education in England for the 2020s Need to Rediscover Susan Isaacs: Child of the Late Victorian Age and Pioneering Educational Thinker?
Received: 30 April 2019 / Revised: 8 July 2019 / Accepted: 10 July 2019 / Published: 11 July 2019
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Abstract
Since the nineteenth century, the history of childhood has been inextricably linked to the history of schooling. Throughout the period of state-provided schooling, the approach to teaching the youngest children, originally from five but currently usually from three years old, has been contentious. [...] Read more.
Since the nineteenth century, the history of childhood has been inextricably linked to the history of schooling. Throughout the period of state-provided schooling, the approach to teaching the youngest children, originally from five but currently usually from three years old, has been contentious. This article looks at Susan Isaacs as a major figure in the shaping of views about early childhood education and thus in the history of contemporary childhood. It surveys her rather special position as someone who was herself a child in the urban late Victorian school system when schooling became compulsory for all, and who later combined radical innovation in the combination of educational theory and practice. She experienced for a period the running of a small experimental primary school on a daily basis, yet also engaged in high level academic research and writing which was founded on psychological, educational and, unusually for the time, observational principles. She thus provided evidence-based thinking for policy making at a crucial point in England’s educational history (The 1944 Education Act). Her early life, her neighbourhood as shown by the 1901 census and the educational significance of her position on the value of assessment through detailed observation are discussed within the overall context of the last one hundred and thirty years of educational change. This reveals the principles which formed during her childhood and which teachers who work with young children share now even though these are challenged by current government policy. This article focuses on educational policy in England, as the other countries of the UK have at times evolved separate structures for their school systems. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Younger Infants in the Elementary School: Discursively Constructing the Under-Fives in Institutional Spaces and Practices
Received: 6 May 2019 / Revised: 2 July 2019 / Accepted: 5 July 2019 / Published: 9 July 2019
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Abstract
Expansion of state-regulation of education and care for under-fives in England has seen increasing numbers of under-fives attending primary school early years provision in the 21st century’s opening decades. However, this is not entirely novel as under-fives attending elementary school feature in numerous [...] Read more.
Expansion of state-regulation of education and care for under-fives in England has seen increasing numbers of under-fives attending primary school early years provision in the 21st century’s opening decades. However, this is not entirely novel as under-fives attending elementary school feature in numerous 19th and 20th century reports. This article examines how under-fives have been discursively constructed in three reports between 1861 and 1933. Changing conceptualizations of under-fives are reflected in these documents. Shifting discourses of schooling, child development and curriculum are deployed, adapted or silenced to frame and judge the personal, social and moral conduct of the young child and parent. This normalizing discursive gaze positions the spaces and practices of schooling as necessary interventions inculcating specific governmentally designated desirable aspects of the child. Under-fives are enmeshed in an advancing process of educational colonization that removes them from the home, coming to dominate their time and experiences as young children. Current trends towards earlier school starting ages, longer daily hours, and the forensic use of data to chart progress towards expected goals is extension of this pattern. Attending to the genealogy of the discursive rationalization of this process helps us to critique how similar contemporary policy arguments are made. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Child Abandonment in England, 1741–1834: The Case of the London Foundling Hospital
Received: 5 May 2019 / Revised: 9 June 2019 / Accepted: 27 June 2019 / Published: 29 June 2019
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Abstract
The prevailing view of abandoned children in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries comes from Dickens’ Oliver Twist. Twist was born and raised in a workhouse in nineteenth-century London. However, the workhouse was not the only, or even, the main place to which children [...] Read more.
The prevailing view of abandoned children in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries comes from Dickens’ Oliver Twist. Twist was born and raised in a workhouse in nineteenth-century London. However, the workhouse was not the only, or even, the main place to which children were abandoned. The London Foundling Hospital opened in 1741 and, although admission rules were often strict, between the years 1756 and 1760, any child presented to the Hospital was admitted. This article examines the ways in which children were abandoned to the Foundling Hospital and how these children were cared for in the period 1741–1834. It charts the children’s journeys through the Hospital, from their initial abandonment and admission to their eventual discharge—either through death, apprenticeship, or marriage—or their continued residence at the institution. This article provides insights into the multiple experiences of childhood abandonment and details the utility of the Hospital’s surviving records. It argues that children admitted to the London Foundling Hospital received life chances they would otherwise not have received. The Hospital provided nursing, clothing, medical care, both an academic and vocational education, and a living space for those unable to survive alone in adulthood. Full article

Review

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Open AccessReview
Not Just ‘Once’ upon a Time
Received: 30 April 2019 / Revised: 25 July 2019 / Accepted: 31 July 2019 / Published: 1 August 2019
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Abstract
Multidisciplinary research indicates the importance of storytelling in child development, most recently exploring the evolved nature of language and narrative. Many questions remain about how children develop competence within such a vital but highly complex process. The ‘once upon a time’ concept is [...] Read more.
Multidisciplinary research indicates the importance of storytelling in child development, most recently exploring the evolved nature of language and narrative. Many questions remain about how children develop competence within such a vital but highly complex process. The ‘once upon a time’ concept is present within nearly every human language on Earth, indicating what a powerful hold ‘storying’ has over human beings and what a central role it plays within human societies. Sue Lyle proposes that human beings are above all, ‘storytelling animals’. Emergent questions include whether and how current mass-produced storytelling products and interactive media developed by Western technology impact children’s competence in the human ‘storying’ process and, in particular, whether such rapid change should be approached with more reflection and caution than is currently the case. In this article, I will consider the process of child development with respect to language and ‘storying’, the traditional role of stories and ‘make-believe’ in the fabric of children’s lives, how this has changed in the recent past in technologically advancing societies, and how such change may impact children’s learning and development. Full article
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