Possible laugh of the Day

Monday, September 9, 2013

Child Labor and the Social Construction of Childhood by Gwen Sharp, PhD


In this article from The Society Pages, Gwen Sharp argues that "...people see childhood as a stage distinct from adulthood, and even adolescence....and should be protected from the many responsibilities of the adult life... but according to Sidney Mintz in Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood, '...childhood is not an unchanging biological stage of life but is rather, a social and cultural construct...'"

What I took from Sharp's argument in this article is that over time, we have handicapped the children of the up and coming generations. The pictures taken by Lewis Hine did help to reduce and get rid of the child labor abuse, but it may have done it to the extent to which it is taking away a chance to teach our children valuable work ethic along with their education. The child labor law has come a long way and made many changes, but I feel that we have lost many of the values in working that many of our grandparents had learned when they were growing up. Do I agree with overworking child? No, but I do believe in instilling good work ethic into the heart and mind of a child so that they will always be able to fend for themselves. Giving them that tool in life that they will forever know is critical and it also helps up from continuing a cycle of adolescences feeling like they went through 13 years of schooling and just leaving with a diploma. Many now I am finding do not even want to continue with post-secondary education because of the fear that they will be entering another useless cycle of sitting in a class being lectured at and walking away with nothing other than a pile of homework. Growing up my parents always told me I spent their money carelessly because I had not yet learned the value of a dollar and I did not have to work for it, and they were correct. When I began making my own money I realized I could just not waste money on every and anything because once it is gone it is gone until you work for more. Also, I began babysitting at a young age and working in my aunt's group home and it taught me to be very responsible, punctual, and respectful in the business world.

I did not really have any questions that sparked in my mind when reading this article but I only had comments and wondering about others opinions. I feel that allowing a child (more so adolescent) to work at an acceptable age (which varies among opinions) helps them to build work skills that sometimes I find that just being in a classroom cannot teach, especially in secondary schooling unless it is a trade school. Also, I feel that this also feeds into my interest in exploring more options for expanding trade schools. Not only will children be learning the necessary tools for comprehension and mathematical skills but they can also graduate high school certifying them in a trade they worked in. Schools like PCTA in Providence, RI is a great example of a well structured trade school.

1 comment:

  1. As I was reading your post, I was thinking about all the work I was expected to do (I made my lunch starting in kindergarten after I complained about a sandwich. Mom put down her spatula and said, well then, you make your lunch! I may have eaten peanut butter sandwiches every day, but I chose to make those sandwiches). My own kids are not yet making their own lunches completely on their own (K and 2). Maybe I need to step back and give them some space and more responsibility. Thank you for prompting my thinking!

    Your passion about trade schools makes me think of Youthbuild (maybe a good site for you to check out?!).