“Play stands at the centre of human development, especially in the formative years, but its importance has to be defended by each generation anew, often on different grounds”.
Sturrock, Else and Russel (2004)
As Sturrocks quote states it is important that different generations recognize the significance of play in children’s health and development and there is a growing body of evidence which illustrates the importance of play and its provision throughout history. Consequently the need to provide for better and more play opportunities has begun to filter through into Government policy and has resulted in the introduction of a Play Policy in Northern ...view middle of the document...
Like Aries, Van Den Berg (1961) argued that “childhood” is an historical invention which became necessary at a certain period in the development of Western consciousness
Shulamith Shahar (1990), by contrast, finds evidence that some medieval thinkers understood childhood to be divided into fairly well-defined stages. According to Sharar, childhood in Europe during the middle ages was a concept pretty much limited to members of the upper-class. Children of the lower-classes generally had an extended infancy period to about age seven but were then, essentially, tossed into the adult world. Given that throughout human history the end of infancy and the beginning of induction into adult life had occurred somewhere around age seven, it was natural that seven year olds should go to work in the factories and mines.
Lloyd De Mause (1974.) took a "progressive" approach to history, and concluded that the treatment of children by their parents and society have improved considerably throughout the centuries. De Mause paints a very negative image of childhood, and family life in the past and he went as far as saying that; “The history of childhood is a nightmare from which we have only recently begun to awaken." (P1) he also believed that;
"The further back in history one goes, the lower the level of child care, and the more likely children are to be killed, abandoned, beaten, terrorized, and sexually abused". (P2)
Conversely Linda Pollock (1983) criticizes all the arguments made by De Mause suggesting that "The texts reveal no significant change in the quality of parental care given to, or the amount of affection felt for infants for the period 1500-1900". (P3) Pollock argued that childhood experiences were not as grim as De Mause suggest it was. She strongly denies that there were any fundamental changes in the way parents viewed or reared their children in this period.
Cunningham (2006) observes that the twentieth century at its outset is ‘the century of the child’ and he recognizes that the future of any nation is dependent on its children. There are many positive aspects to this, as during this time, the health and education of children began to receive serious attention. From the mid-century rising standards of living enabled parents to begin to invest hopes and resources in their children on an unprecedented scale. From the 1970s onwards, children began to acquire new rights in relation to the state and to their families: the right not to be beaten in school (1982), the right to be consulted in the event of parental divorce, and the right to play.
Historians tell us that before the 19th century, child's play was seen as an intrusion into the grown ups world of work and leisure. For once the child was out of the nappy stage, he was expected to play an active role in family life along with all of its various responsibilities.
It was Arnold Gesell (1961) who recognized that, “Children reveal themselves most transparently in their...