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Education, parenting and concepts of childhood in England, c. 1945 to c. 1979.

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Laura Tisdall


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Both education and parenting became increasingly ‘child-centred’, or ‘progressive’, in post-war England. This article contends that the impact of this shift for concepts of childhood, and for children themselves, was equivocal. Progressive methods were physically and emotionally demanding for both teachers and parents, and popularised versions of developmental psychology and psychoanalysis shaped a limiting concept of the child. This article also suggests, in line with recent work by Thomson and Shapira, that changing concepts of childhood map democratic selfhood because the capabilities that children lacked were those that must be possessed by the adult citizen. By exploring how children were defined in relation to adults, and how adults’ needs were increasingly subordinated to those of the child, this article also begins to question how we might usefully use age as a ‘category of historical analysis’.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Tisdall L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Contemporary British History

Year: 2017

Volume: 31

Issue: 1

Pages: 24-46

Print publication date: 01/01/2017

Online publication date: 20/09/2016

Acceptance date: 01/01/2016

ISSN (print): 1361-9462

ISSN (electronic): 1743-7997

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/13619462.2016.1226808

Notes: Published Gold Open Access.


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