What is a child?
How is the concept of childhood defined?
This book aims to explore these perennial and complex questions by looking at the way in which society constructs and understands childhood. The authors focus in particular on the school, a key location within which social and cultural notions of childhood are defined and performed.
The book is divided into three major parts:
Part 1 frames the accepted notions of childhood and schooling, and introduces ethnomethodological analysis as a tool to rethink current versions of the child.
Part 2 focuses on how school students become members of a category within the institution of the classroom. The authors explore this idea through transcripts of talk between teachers and students, and amongst students themselves in two classroom studies.
Part 3 looks at the materials of education, concentrating specifically on children's texts. The authors examine how such texts portray a notion of the child within the story, and also assume a notion of the child as reader of the story.
This important book shows how much is at stake for children in accepting adults' deep-seated notions of childhood. It will be of great interest to educational researchers and policy makers, sociologists of childhood, teachers and student teachers.
'This is a fascinating, rich account, and one which should make the reader think again about some matters that are all too often taken for granted' - Educational Review