Childhood in Medieval Times Essay

Childhood in Medieval Times Essay

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The view of childhood in the 21st Century is that children are only ‘real children’ if their life experiences accord with a particular set of ideas about childhood. The society in medieval and industrial England didn’t have the knowledge or understanding of childhood which was probably due to not being educated hence why they exploited children through hard labour.
The Oxford dictionary defines ‘childhood’ as “the state or period of being a child.” Childhood from the medieval period is often represented in paintings however historians argue that this type of representation through the centuries is particularly based on the changes of art rather than changes in which children were portrayed. Aries believed that in the Middle Ages the concept of childhood did not exist ( Aries in Cunningham, 1995). According to Aries, medieval civilisation failed to distinguish a transition period between infancy and adulthood, suggesting that society saw children as small versions of adults even though the churches distinguished childhood from adulthood based on whether they had reached puberty or not. This ideology continued to occur until the 18th Century, which changed the thoughts of childhood. The re-invention of childhood came alongside the introduction of legislations during the industrial revolution.
According to Bayne-Powel (1939), Locke and Rousseau were considered the two great educational authorities of the 18th Century. Rousseau believed that a child is born innocent but is influenced by society therefore blames the environment which makes them ‘bad.’ This proposes that society believed that children were born with stain of sin upon them, although the notion of innocence and weakness is believed to be truth about childhood. Rousseau’s ...

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... Schools of Medieval England, London & New York: Methuen and Co. Ltd.
Nardinelli (1990) Child Labour and the Industrial Revolution, The Association of American University Presses.
Nicholas, D. (1991) Children in Medieval Europe, in: J. Hawes & N. Hiner (Eds.) Children in Historical and Comparitive Perspective, New York, Wesport & London: Greenwood Press.
Orme, N. (2001) Medieval Children, New Haven & London: Yale University Press.
Oxford Dictionary, Definition of Childhood. Accessed Online:
Purser, T (2013) Childhood in Medieval Times – An Overview, Lecture Notes to Lecture 2, Edu2026, University of Northampton.
Simon, B (1969) Studies in the History of Education 1780-1870, London: The Camelot Press Ltd.
West, E. (1975) Education and the Industrial Revolution, London: Willmer Brothers Ltd.

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