Children in English-Canadian Society: Framing the Twentieth-Century Consensus

Children in English-Canadian Society: Framing the Twentieth-Century Consensus

Children in English-Canadian Society: Framing the Twentieth-Century Consensus

Children in English-Canadian Society: Framing the Twentieth-Century Consensus

Synopsis

"So often a long-awaited book is disappointing. Happily such is not the case with Sutherland's masterpiece." Robert M. Stamp, University of Calgary, in The Canadian Historical Review"Sutherland's work is destined to be a landmark in Canadian history, both as a first in its particular field and as a standard reference text." J. Stewart Hardy, University of Alberta, in Alberta Journal of Educational Research. Such were the reviewers' comments when Neil Sutherland's groundbreaking book was first published. Now reissued in Wilfrid Laurier University Press's new series "Studies in Childhood and Family in Canada," with a new introduction by series editor Cynthia Comacchio, this book remains relevant today. In the late nineteenth century a new generation of reformers committed itself to a program of social improvement based on the more effective upbringing of all children. In Children in English-Canadian Society, Neil Sutherland examines, with a keen eye, the growth of the public health movement and its various efforts at improving the health of children.

Excerpt

The eminent sociologist Norbert Elias postulated that no true understanding of human society is possible without a grasp of the “historicity of each individual, the phenomenon of growing up to adulthood.” According to Elias, civilizing processes involve a continual redefinition of certain forms of conduct as “child-like” and consequently not appropriate to adults, and, at the same time, a widening sense of childhood as appropriately distinct from adulthood, a realm with its own characteristics and requirements, its own peculiar culture. This is the story that unfolds in Neil Sutherland’s Children in English-Canadian Society: Framing the Twentieth-Century Consensus, which we are pleased to offer to a new generation of readers.

Looking back over the twenty years that have elapsed since its original publication, Professor Sutherland remarked that, despite ongoing public interest in childhood and family, these subjects “made but fleeting appearances in high school and university courses or in texts in national history” until very recently. His own adult sojourns in the realm of childhood, bom of his teacher training and time spent in public school classrooms, led him first to the education faculty at the University of British Columbia, and then to a doctorate in history and education at the University of Minnesota. By his recollection, Minnesota in the 1960s offered “seven or eight social historians…which was probably more than in the whole of Canada at the time.” It was there that he found inspiration in the seminal analyses of American historians of education Lawrence Cremin and Bernard Bailyn, of Robert Wiebe in his work on progressive reform and “the search for order,” and, most notably, of Philippe Ariès in his groundbreaking Centuries of Childhood (1962). He became committed to a “child-centred history”: a history that would trace shifting cultural perceptions of childhood while making salient the connections between these ideas and the programs that ensued as . . .

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