Disappearance of Childhood

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Yenfu Lu
March 5 2012
The Disappearance of Childhood

In The Disappearance of Childhood, Postman uses historical perspectives to convey the notion of childhood. Postman argues that the notion of childhood is a modern phenomenon and childhood is a social construct that has disappeared and reappeared throughout the history. Postman argues that childhood is disappearing and gives an example that the game “hide and seek” was widely played among the children two hundred years ago, however it is hardly played among children nowadays. Also, the line of physical appearance between adults and children is now getting ambiguous.When Erasmus suggested that children and adults should dress differently in eighteenth century, the idea was widely accepted. Yet in medieval times, children and adults "lived in the same social and intellectual world" (36) Children dress the same as adults, share the same habits and labor. Postman believes Greek was the first to foreshadow the idea of childhood even though they didn't perceive the idea of child as we do now. Postman believes in order to develop a clear line between childhood and adulthood the awareness of shame is necessary.

Postman believes that the invention of printing press creates adulthood and compels children to create childhood in order to find their own place. The invention of printing press creates lieracy, and it requires schools to teach people how to read. “Because school was designed for the preparation of a literate adult, the young became to be perceived not as miniature adults, but as ... unformed adults” (41) These two factors created a new social hierarchy - adults now had "unprecedented control over the symbolic environment of the young" (45).

Overall I agree with Postman. He uses historical perspectives so the argument is not too theoretical. Nowadays we can see adult-like children everywhere in our societies, and this phenomenon becomes so hegemonic that we are compelled to participate. We forgot...
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