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Well of Being, The

Childhood, Subjectivity, and Education

David Kennedy

Publication Year: 2006

In this wide-ranging work, David Kennedy undertakes a philosophically grounded analysis of the history of childhood, the history of adulthood, and their interrelationship. Using themes and perspectives from the history of childhood, mythology, psychoanalysis, art, literature, philosophy, and education, the author locates the experience of childhood across all stages of the human life cycle, and thereby weighs its transformative potential for human culture. He offers a nuanced approach to child study that raises issues about how adults see children and how children see themselves, which could lead to a qualitatively different system of teacher preparation—a system that views the child as participant rather than object in the structure of social reproduction. This sweeping review of conceptions of and approaches to childhood yields a profound vision of what schooling should be like.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series, Early Childhood Education: Inquiries and Insights

Title page, copyright page

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pp. ix-xii

This book represents an attempt at a synthesis of the multiple realities and the discourses they spawn (or which spawn them), which have preoccupied me in one way or another for as long as I can remember. I began by putting the words “postmodern subjectivity” in the title, but decided that the new form of subjectivity, which I am at pains to tease ...

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1. Questioning Childhood

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pp. 1-26

It is now about one hundred years since the child became an official object of Western science. Child study was institutionalized in the universities, the media, and the government extension offices at the moment that the Darwinian explanatory paradigm was sweeping Western self-understanding, and the notion of Progress had not yet been ...

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2. The Primordial Child

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pp. 27-62

The passage from childhood to adulthood is one of the grand narratives of the modern West. Its subplots are various and complex, and can be traced in the history of manners, in the transition to universal literacy, in colonialism and all its hidden and explicit assumptions, in the ideology of evolutionary theory, in the eternal politics of what is knowable ...

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3. The Invention of Adulthood

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pp. 63-104

It has already been suggested that early modernism was the historical moment at which there began an increasing social separation between adult and child through age-graded institutions, economic and domestic isolation, and, over centuries, psychological theories of childhood that acted to objectify children as a separate class. One could go further and ...

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4. Childhood and the Intersubject

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pp. 105-150

Homo clausus fell slowly apart over the course of the twentieth century. The urges and tendencies that led to his deconstruction came from many quarters. The rise and ascendancy of evolutionary theory reformulated Western notions of personal/cultural development and change.The Freudian revolution coincided with the rise of multiple visions of ...

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5. Reimagining School

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pp. 151-186

The eminent philosopher of education John Dewey wrote these words in 1899. If we consider the last 100 years, that “radical change” in social life of which he spoke will be seen to have been magnified exponentially. But the school has not transformed accordingly. Most of those who work for change in public education usually satisfy themselves ...


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pp. 187-210


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pp. 211-228


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pp. 229-235

E-ISBN-13: 9780791481462
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791468258
Print-ISBN-10: 0791468259

Page Count: 247
Publication Year: 2006

Series Title: SUNY series, Early Childhood Education: Inquiries and Insights