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Designing Modern Childhoods


Designing Modern Childhoods (2008) by Marta Gutman and Ning de-Connick-Smith is a collection of essays that is concerned with evaluating and discussing the growing interest in childhood in our globally conscious 21st century. From fears about the demise of the childhood we know in the Western world since the beginning of the 20th century, as well as from developments within a variety of disciplines. Studies on the material culture of children - their spaces, toys and furnishings have grown with this interest - and in fact, observing the spaces and material objects of childhood, which are designed by adults based on their understandings of childhood is important to this critique in helping to define children's worlds, their experiences and their imaginations.

The underscore thesis of the book is that: 'spaces and settings made for children are pivotal to the construction of modernity in global society; and that children are social actors in their own right who use and interpret material culture on their own terms'.

As the book says, analysing the architecture of childhood is important as 'the architecture of childhood frames, just as it is framed by, culturally constructed views of ideal childhood'.

The book provides a wonderful collection of essays covering a number of themes that have arisen in early childhood scholarly attention including matters on health, education and consumerism. Drawing from a variety of locations from all over the world, including an essay about a kindergarten in Auckland, New Zealand. (See previous post on this.)


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