Academic journal article Global Media Journal

Views on the Concept of Childhood and Its Representation on Children's Theatre: A Brief Analysis

Academic journal article Global Media Journal

Views on the Concept of Childhood and Its Representation on Children's Theatre: A Brief Analysis

Article excerpt


The questions such as who is a child and what is childhood are quite solemn for a researcher interested in subjects related to childhood to probe into. Many scholars in the past have tried to define the term child and the idea of childhood. In terms of biology science or in any of those perspectives, the term childhood can be defined as the initial stage in the physical and mental growth of a human being. But the term has got a deeper significance where it means more than how it is defined in scientific terms. It is indeed a fact that there is no concept such as a universal childhood and the definition and explanation for the terms and concepts such as child and childhood vary across each culture, place and time. It is completely depended upon the way in which the society deals with their young population and it is very much evident that organizations like children's theatre and films for children came into prominence during the twentieth century only when the society started identifying child as a young adult.

However it is a widely accepted fact that theatre does have a deeper impact upon the children especially in their learning process.

Views on Childhood: A Review

Among the philosophers who tried to define the concept of child and childhood, the English renaissance philosopher John Locke (1689) demands a special mention. His celebrated book 'Essay Concerning Human Understanding' throws light into the philosophical outlook to human life. He defines the mind of a new born child as tabula rasa (clean slate). More than developing a new outlook to childhood, Locke's attempt mainly was to destroy the universally adopted notions about childhood by the adults [1]. One of the important personalities to conduct a solemn discussion about childhood is Phillippe Aires [2]. He realized that the concept of childhood is only of recent origin and nowhere in the history either during old age or middle ages that the childhood of a person is looked upon with any significance. His renowned book 'Centuries of Childhood' could be identified as a path breaker to serious studies about childhood. He believes that child is a social construct and there undergoes a series of changes in the term between infancy and adolescence. Even the term 'child' was not properly defined during those ages and the conditions were no different even during the early ages of seventeenth century, which is also considered as the early stage of the modern period [2]. Following the studies of Aires there occurred plenty of studies and views related to children and childhood. Peter Stearns [3] is another scholar who has come up with his own definitions on childhood. According to him, children tend to imitate the world they see around them and as a result when these children grow up as adults they become a part of that life that is around them without disturbing the repetitive structure of the social life [3]. Patrica Pace's [4] conducted a significant study that tends to identify childhood from more than mere biological reality. Pace's argument is that, childhood identity is as similar as gender identity as far as the construction of the former is concerned. More than being an essential biological reality, Pace insists that childhood has got a different existence. In his opinion while associating it to biological reality, child's body is not that expressive [4].

The focus of childhood takes a different turn in Althusser's [5] concept of interpellation. When most of the theorists and followers of Aires focused on childhood as a separate entity, Althusser discusses how an adult goes back to his/her childhood. Althusser's [5] concept of interpellation argues that the experience of the child is not just a void to the study of history, but also a void to society. Adults can only ever reexperience childhood through the imperfect lens of their memories, conditioned by good experiences and bad, modified by trauma and repression, and made hazy by distance. …

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