childhood an undesirable state rather than an imperative for parents to guide

Childhood an undesirable state rather than an

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childhood “an undesirable state,” rather than an imperative for parents to guide and control their children in order for them to achieve salvation. Anita Silvey’s “The New Didacticism” (January 1992), accuses the creators of contemporary picture books of proselytizing to their audience. Citing Chris Van Allsburg’s The Wretched Stone (1991) and Susan Jeffers’ Brother Eagle, Sister Sky (1991) as examples, she argues that moralizing to children fails to “respect their right and ability to form their own opinions,” concluding, “Like the tracts of our Puritan forebears, this literature will fade and grow pale when the causes that inspired it are gone” (5).
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156 Thus, the editors of Horn Book do not express a Puritanical view of childhood although they sometimes react to their own understanding of Puritanism as a school of thought to be avoided. Although Viguers argues that the Puritans were not as bad as contemporary proponents of a materialist culture, her point cannot be considered as an endorsement of Puritanism; and Silvey’s rebuttal of moralizing to children demonstrates her rejection of this view as well. 6.4 Liberal/Enlightenment Images of Childhood in Horn Book Editorials Stables describes the Liberal/Enlightenment image of childhood (which first developed in the eighteenth century) as one characterized by a relaxation in attitudes toward children, and a rejection of the Puritan understanding of childhood (56). According to philosophers such as John Locke (1632-1704), children are a blank slate ( tabula rasa ) and the goal of education is to produce “good, rational citizens, albeit different in their capacities” (60). Later Liberals, including John Dewey (1859-1952), stressed the need for universal (public) education as a means to self-improvement and favored both “social and active” teaching methods (64). Four of the Horn Book editors (Miller, Viguers, and Paul and Ethel Heins) express Liberal images of childhood, although it is the dominant image only for Paul Heins. Bertha Mahony Miller does not often state Liberal/Enlightenment views of childhood, but on two occasions she does support these ideas with regard to education. In “What Makes Us Strong” (January 1937), Miller describes hearing educator Maria Montessori speak about her experiential teaching methods and finds much to praise in her philosophy and approach. She describes a four-year old who studies houses and draws them, concluding his activities are not “work” because they have not been demanded of him (5). In September 1942 (“The
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157 Children of God”), pondering a future after war she wonders what “kind of schools will give children hope, courage, skill, patience, and vision for all the re-building and new building?” She describes New York City’s Little Red Schoolhouse, an experimental school where “the community [is] its classroom,” and concludes that it will produce students “with knowledge, strength and vision sufficient to create . . .a . . . cooperative world” (313). Ruth Hill Viguers uses the idea of children as a tabula rasa or blank slate to argue for providing them with the best books. In “Ceiling Unlimited” (July 1958), Viguers maintains
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