Childhood Essay Learning Love Psychoanalytic Return Teaching

We are beginning to hear a bitter reaction from that first generation of children to grow up in the new era - today's young adults. In a recent issue of a newsmagazine, a college student writes: ''We are the kids who were 'so adult.' ... Our parents expected us to understand their problems and frustrations ... . What we missed was the chance to be childish, immature and unafraid to admit we didn't have it all together.''

The Age of Protection did not end because of a deliberate Page 20-21 decision to treat kids in a new way; it ended out of necessity. For children's lives are always a mirror of adult life. The great social upheavals of the late 1960's and early 1970's -the so-called sexual revolution, the drug epidemic, the women's movement, the breakdown of the conventional two-parent family, the spread of psychoanalytic thinking and the proliferation of television - each of these created changes in adult life that necessitated new ways of dealing with children.

No one of these changes alone could have brought about the emergence of a brave new relationship between adults and children. It was the confluence of these factors in the beginning of the 1970's that swiftly altered children's lives. Only with the rise in twocareer families and with the mounting divorce rate did parents have cause to withdraw their close attention from children and reduce the careful supervision that had once made the very possibility of sixth graders drinking or smoking marijuana unthinkable. Only with the help of television was the actual decrease in supervision made possible: With the kids sedated into reliable passivity, parents could more easily pursue their own imperatives. Only as the fatalistic principles of Freudian psychology became part of every adult's general knowledge did parents' confidence in their basic ability to supervise their school-age children begin to fail them.

And yet a decline in supervision is not the entire story. Even in the 1950's, there were undersupervised schoolchildren, who nevertheless did not ''go all the way'' or smoke anything more than an experimental Lucky Strike. The difference is that, in those days before ''The Joy of Sex'' and X-rated movies, sex was still in the closet and drugs were unavailable outside the lower reaches of society. It took a combination of unsupervised children and a permissive, highly charged sexual atmosphere and an influx of easily acquired drugs and the wherewithal to buy them to bring about, by the mid-1970's, precocious experimentation by younger and younger children.

WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST!'' WAS ONCE the cry on the decks of a sinking ship. Just so, for at least two centuries, women's and children's lives were inextricably bound together as a symbiotic entity. In many ways, the Golden Age of Childhood owed its existence to this bond.

Before the 18th century, before industrialization and urbanization altered ancient work patterns by taking men away from the household to distant workplaces, women were as vital to the proper functioning of the economy as men. Then, as the various articles they had once produced came to be manufactured outside the household and as their agricultural chores were taken over by men and machines, women lost their direct economic function and became more and more isolated within the home. Not surprisingly, as they grew increasingly dependent on men both economically and emotionally, women came to be seen as vulnerable creatures in need of protection.

As Grace Greenwood, an advice writer of the 1850's, wrote: ''True feminine genius is ever timid, doubtful and clingingly dependent; a perpetual childhood.'' From hardy helpmates to clinging vines, women certainly had gone a long way - though not necessarily forward. Children underwent a similar metamorphosis, from expendable, relatively independent cogs in the feudal economic system to tender dependents in need of care and protection.

It must be understood that this situation did not hold true for all mothers and children. At first, only the relatively privileged classes could afford to protect and isolate women and children; older ways prevailed among the lower classes. At the height of the sentimentalization of childhood in the 19th century, great numbers of needy women and children labored in factories and mills. But, as the 20th century progressed and protective labor laws removed children from the workforce, the new family model became increasingly common among all classes of society. By the 1950's, the transformation of the family into a domestic haven was complete. Postwar prosperity and the growth of suburbia isolated childlike women and innocent children in what seemed a paradise of material comforts and almost pastoral safety. Men reserved strong language for the company of their peers; cultural media adhered to standards of purity such that the delicate sensibilities of women, to say nothing of children, would not be offended.

It was television that first penetrated the protective cocoon and thrust the long-hidden outside world into women's and children's lives. The new freedom and openness of the 1960's and 1970's allowed programs to grow more violent and sexually explicit - more adult, as they say. But soon parents made a troubling discovery: It was not easy to keep these programs out of the reach of their children; television was too hard to control. Parents consequently began to abandon some of their former protection of children - if only to prepare them to some degree for what they were bound to see on television anyway. ''Yesterday, on 'Guiding Light,' this married guy got in an argument with his wife and went to an island and had sex with another lady,'' relates a fifth-grader in upper New York State about a soap opera she watches regularly. It is easy to understand that her parents are casual about protecting her from adult knowledge.

But television was not the whole story. The liberation movement as well, gaining momentum in the mid-1960's played a role in bringing children out of their former seclusion from the adult world. Inevitably, as mothers rejected their roles as child-women and objected to being protected and treated like little pets, they began to resist dealing with their own children in a similar manner. Recognizing that the protective circle of secrecy surrounding them was also preventing them from fully developing their strengths and abilities, they began to wonder whether such treatment might similarly hamper their children's development.

As women became less emotionally dependent upon their husbands, they began, perhaps unconsciously at first, to encourage their children to be independent and assertive. It was as if mothers could not challenge an unequal relationship with their husbands and still demand subservience or deference from their kids. It didn't seem fair. But while mothers urged the kids to express their feelings openly, just as they themselves were learning to do in their consciousness-raising groups, they nevertheless could not suppress their distress about some of the behavior that their new attitudes also seemed to be encouraging: rudeness, whiny irritability, defiance. When the 6-year-old who has been asked to go to bed looks his mother in the eye and says, ''No, I won't, and you can't make me!'' parents understand that they're involved in a different sort of relationship from the one they once had with their own parents. There was a time when parents confidently believed that as long as they fed their children properly, kept them out of harm's way and gave them the proper advantages they would grow up well. In those days, a parent's major task was to teach children to conform to the requirements of the society they were born into.

By the late 1950's, as Freudian theorists - Erik Erikson and Bruno Bettelheim, for example - as well as a host of popular child experts including Selma H. Fraiberg and Haim G. Ginott began applying psychoanalytic principles to practical aspects of child rearing, a new element of uncertainty was introduced into parents' minds. And it came at a time when uncertainty was assailing them from other directions - uncertainty about their sexuality, their marriage, their government, their economic future. Suddenly, parents were struck with the fearful knowledge that they alone stood between their child's growing up ''normal'' and his growing up to be a neurotic adult. A single false step, a traumatic experience, an inadvertent peek at the ''primal scene'' might cause a child to develop insomnia, impotence or an irrational fear of horses many years later.

The very fact that between the trauma and the neurosis could lie a seemingly normal childhood made the situation all the more unnerving. Like those long-incubating viruses that produce minor symptoms when they first enter the body and may, 20 years later, result in multiple sclerosis, so parental miscalculations, missteps, misunderstandings might lead, after a long hiatus, to the most untoward consequences.

This new knowledge, when it finally penetrated by the end of the 1960's, helped to facilitate the widespread adoption of a new childrearing style, one no longer focused on the child's socialization but on its mental health. From the benevolent despotism it had been for centuries, child rearing changed, for many parents, into a more perilous, more collaborative, more democratic process, one that they felt instinctively was beyond their powers to pull off successfully.

A mother of two preteenagers epitomizes the new parental insecurity when she confides ruefully, ''We always tell our kids to remember what happens today so that they can tell their therapist in the future. It's inevitable that they'll spend hours on the couch someday, obsessing about how awful we were and so forth.''

One has only to listen to the particular tone of so many parents today who negotiate with their children, even preschoolers, in an almost conspiratorial manner, to recognize that this is not exactly the way parents spoke to their children a generation ago.

To be sure, the good parent of the 1950's or 1960's also spent considerable time patiently explaining things to his child. But it was the ways of the world the parent clarified -the world of nature, of politics, of social relations. A great many of today's laborious parental explanations, however, refer not to the causality of natural or social phenomena but to the parent's own feelings, anxieties and insecurities.

No longer does the parent operate from a vantage point of superior knowledge, of adult convictions. Such confidence, it seems, no longer sits well with the Zeitgeist of the 1970's and 1980's. Now, the child is enlisted as an accomplice in his own upbringing. And everywhere parents are explicating the texts of themselves, pleading for their children to agree, to forgive, to understand, instead of simply telling them what to do. The child has come to seem a psychological equal.

This parity between adults and children forms a hidden base of today's less authoritative style of child rearing. It is illuminating to compare Selma Fraiberg's influential 1959 book for parents, ''The Magic Years,'' with Benjamin M. Spock's earlier child-care manual. Though published only 13 years apart, each represents a very different view of childhood.

Dr. Spock's renowned book was informed by a simple but crucial presumption: Sharp boundaries exist between children and adults. Parents are adult, children are children, and different rules apply to each group. Dr. Spock's very title, ''The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care,'' emphasizes the adultness of the audience being addressed, adults having among their natural gifts enough common sense to deal successfully with those less-sensible creatures, children. The first words of the book, ''You know more than you think you do,'' stressed parental capability and established Dr. Spock's basic premise: Parents, in their ability to nurture, to protect, to use strategies of one sort or another, are a breed apart from children. (It is interesting to note that in the revised edition of the book published in 1968, the words ''common sense'' were excised from the title, making it simply ''Baby and Child Care.'' It is as if the very notion of common sense had now become alien to a new consciousness abroad in the land.)

The title of Dr. Fraiberg's book, ''The Magic Years,'' carried less reassuring overtones, implying that there is something beyond a parent's control, something irrational, weird, indeed ''magic'' about a child's development.

Consider Dr. Fraiberg's and Dr. Spock's very different opinions on that controversial child-rearing issue, to spank or not to spank. Dr. Spock is quite complaisant about spanking. ''If an angry parent keeps himself from spanking, he may show his irritation in other ways: for instance, by nagging the child for half the day, or trying to make him feel deeply guilty. I'm not particularly advocating spanking,'' he writes, ''but I think it is less poisonous than lengthy disapproval, because it clears the air, for parent and child.''

Dr. Spock's unquestioning assumption that the child is essentially different from the adult becomes clear if we try to extend the prospanking argument to adult human relations. We know perfectly well that Dr. Spock would not advocate that a husband smack his wife in order to ''clear the air.'' For adults, the ''lengthy disapproval'' strategy is clearly preferable. But different rules apply, according to Dr. Spock, in parent-child relations.

Dr. Fraiberg condemns spanking unequivocally. ''The 'lessons' which a spanking is supposed to teach somehow fail to be integrated in the form of conscience,'' she writes. ''The motive for controlling the naughty impulse is a motive that comes from the outside, a fear of external authority and a fear of punishment, and we will find that a conscience which functions on this basis is not a very reliable conscience.... But the child who is capable of developing guilt feelings when he considers doing something which is 'bad' has a signal system within himself which will warn him and inhibit the act. Unlike the child whose control system is 'outside,' this child with a conscience does not need a policeman around in order to control his behavior. The child with a conscience has his policeman inside.''

But wait a moment. This ''child'' Dr. Fraiberg describes doesn't sound much like a child. In fact, he sounds suspiciously like an adult.

Once, people expected children to be naughty, to get into trouble. Part of the definition of a child that distinguished him from a grown-up was an impulsiveness and willingness to chance punishment in order to explore or experiment or gratify a desire. For today's adult, however, it is preferable to live with a 5-year-old who doesn't need a ''policeman'' around to control his behavior, a child with an internalized conscience. And for a divorced or working parent who cannot be around in any case to monitor the child's behavior, it is less a matter of preference than of dire necessity. While the impact of Freud's ideas upon the practical realities of child rearing may have served to diminish some of the traditional boundaries between childhood and adulthood, Freud's own view of childhood, as it happens, was a highly differentiated one. Indeed, in his theoretical construct of a ''latency period,'' Freud revealed an attitude that bears a distinct kinship to the standard thinking of the era he was born into. Freud's writings introduced the startling new concept of infant sexuality and investigated the sexual realities of early childhood. But his views of the later years between toddlerhood and adolescence present a picture of childhood innocence that is as idealized as any Victorian's.

According to Freud's theoretical structure of personality development, there is a period of heightened sexuality during the first four or five years of life - the so-called Oedipal stage, when the child develops a sexual passion for the parent of the opposite sex. This, however, is followed by a period in which that sexual energy diminishes, or at least goes into deep hiding, not to reappear until adolescence. This calm between two sexual storms covers the years be-tween 5, approximately, and the onset of puberty - the very years that make up the heart of childhood.

There is something odd about this particular part of Freud's theory. Among all other creatures in the animal kingdom, development generally proceeds in a steady line from immaturity to maturity. Why, then, in the human species alone should there be this sudden interruption between two spurts of sexual growth?

Freud developed a remarkable answer to this self-created enigma. The latency period, he believed, has an evolutionary purpose. It serves the growth of civilization by allowing the child to devote his childhood to learning instead of to the development of his sexual capacities. The two, apparently, cannot go on simultaneously. In other words, if the sex drive were allowed free expression during childhood, the child wouldn't be able to apply himself to less exciting tasks such as memorizing the multiplication tables or learning the five principal products of Brazil.

In ''Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality,'' Freud spelled out his belief that the two processes - intellectual development and sexual development - would interfere with each other: ''Historians of civilization appear to be at one in assuming that powerful components are acquired for every kind of cultural achievement by this diversion of sexual, instinctual forces from sexual aims and their direction to new ones - a process which deserves the name of 'sublimation.' ''

Freud's latency theory reminds us that he was in many ways a product of the thinking of his times, an era when a fearful society believed manifestations of sexuality in childhood would lead to hideous physical deformities and inevitable mental breakdown. Freud, too, showed a deep fear of child sexuality when he wrote, in ''The Question of Lay Analysis'': ''Among races at a low level of civilization, and among the lower strata of civilized races, the sexuality of children seems to be given free rein. This probably provides a powerful protection against the subsequent development of neuroses in the individual. But does it not at the same time involve an extraordinary loss of the aptitude for cultural achievements? There is a good deal to suggest that here we are faced by a new Scylla and Charybdis.''

There is little question but that Freud chose the Scylla of repression over the Charybdis of cultural loss. For while the fearful anti-masturbationists of the 19th century predicted a population of hairy-palmed lunatics if childhood sexuality were not suppressed, Freud feared an end to civilization itself and a return to a savage state of nature if this force were unleashed during the course of childhood.

FREUD'S CONCEPT OF A LATENCY PERIOD and especially its connection to the child's educational future has been challenged in recent years. ''I reject Freud's notion that there is a relation between sexual latency and an ability to learn,'' says Anke Erhardt, a psychologist and expert on children's sexual development at Columbia University's New York Psychiatric Institute. ''Latency has never existed. Children were always, to a certain degree, sexually active. There is certainly no basic shift of energy from intellectual aspects to sexual ones, when children are not repressed sexually.''

While the physiological reality of a childhood latency period as well as the one-drive-at-a-time explanation of why sexual latency might make the child more educable are subject to debate, there is still reason to suppose that a culturally imposed period of sexual latency might have great bearing on the child's educational future.

Consider the outcome of certain progressive schools founded on misguided understandings of Freudian theories that sprang up during the early days of the psychoanalytic movement in the 1920's and 1930's. In spite of the fact that Freud accepted the need of repression in childhood, these schools hoped to prevent the development of adult neuroses by allowing the child to behave according to the dictates of his own instinctual drives. Teachers were encouraged to give sexual information freely, to place no restrictions on masturbation or sex play and to replace all authoritarian rules with permissive methods emphasizing reasoning and explanation. But the results were disastrous. According to Willi Hoffer, a founder of one such experimental institution in Vienna, the Kinderheim Baumgarten, children in these schools often showed themselves to be ''less curious about the more complicated world of objects'' and generally disinclined to learn. As he described them further in a 1945 paper, ''Psychoanalytic Education'': ''They had no perseverance...They seemed egocentric; group demands affected them little. They were extremely intolerant of the demands of adults; timetables, mealtimes, table manners, routine hygienic measures, even if leniently handled, became sources of conflict.'' None of the changes Freud ascribed to the onset of latency seemed to materialize - no greater docility, no eagerness to learn. Indeed, Hoffer observed that the children showed ''an unexpected degree of irritability, a tendency to obsession, depression and anxiety.''

Anxiety, irritability, suspiciousness - these, as it happens, are all traits we associate more with adults than with children. Children are usually angry, not irritable; persistent rather than obsessive; unhappy rather than depressed. Yet it appears that these are just as natural to children when they are unrepressed. In a state of nature, children cannot afford to be childlike, to relax, to romp and play, to explore, to be ''curious about the more complicated world of objects,'' above all to learn. Alertness, caution, as in a jungle, must be the watchwords in the unprotected world where children are given instinctual and emotional freedom.

Although few children today are exposed to the dangerous freedom of schools such as the Kinderheim Baumgartner, for certain children, an equivalent world without rules and repressions looms large: the children of divorce. Inevitably, in the course of a marital breakup, as parents' attention turns away from matters of child rearing and toward their own suddenly imperative needs, the familiar structure of family life is suspended. At such times, children are often casually included in adult situations once considered unsuitable for the young -taking on advisory roles, for example, in their newly single parents' sex lives.

Studies such as the National Association of Elementary School Principals' longitudinal survey of children growing up in one-parent families clearly attest to the negative impact of divorce on children's school careers. Children of divorce show lower achievement in school than do their two-parent classmates. The same study uncovered a statistical increase in tardiness among single-parent children, as well as a higher rate of absenteeism, expulsion and truancy.

The connection between family breakdown and the child's educational outcome is becoming ominously clear. Writing last month in the New England Journal of Medicine, the psychiatrist Armand M. Nicholi Jr., in an article on the drug epidemic in America, says, ''The accelerating divorce rate in the United States has closely paralleled the rise in drug use... Moreover, poor academic performance, susceptibility to peer influence and delinquent behavior (all characteristic of drug users), as well as suicide and homicide, have been found to be more pronounced among children from homes with one or both parents missing or frequently absent.'' There may be another, less obvious advantage to preserving sexual latency: It may profoundly influence adult behavior toward children. That is, if cultural influences encourage repression of children's sexuality, the child's consequent appearance and behavior may inspire the adults around him to act in a more protective manner. Some biological evidence lends strength to the idea that the way adults perceive children does profoundly affect the way they behave toward them.

As Konrad Lorenz has observed, the young of all species possess certain physical characteristics unique to them that disappear as they grow older - ''neotenic traits,'' Lorenz has called them. Among humans, neotenic traits are the child's outsize head relative to the rest of the body, his outsize eyes relative to the size of the head, the short, rounded proportions of his arms and legs. Lorenz proposed that these juvenile differences serve an evolutionary purpose: They act as ''innate releasing mechanisms,'' causing adults instinctively to nurture and protect the child.

In addition to these special physical neotenic characteristics, Lorenz describes certain neotenic behavior traits displayed by the young that have a powerful, genetically programmed effect on the adults of that species. The wide-beaked clamor of baby birds in the nest, for instance, so different from the normal singing of mature birds, has been shown to trigger especially attentive feeding behavior from the parent birds. Experiments have demonstrated that when baby birds are prevented from opening their beaks extra wide, their parents do not feed them with reliability, and the fledglings perish.

There are obvious neotenic behavior patterns among humans just as there are among birds or beasts, things children do that differ significantly from things adults normally do. Among them might be classified young children's ''cute'' mispronunciations that adults have long smiled at, as well as the romping and playing children spontaneously engage in. And just as young animals have programmed into their behavior patterns certain signs of dependence and submissiveness that they display to older and stronger animals in order to avoid being treated aggressively - laying the ears back, dropping the head, placing the tail between the legs - so children not so long ago were obliged to show submissive and dependent behavior to adults: certain formulas of ''respect,'' such as the use of ''sir'' and ''please'' and ''thank you'' - learned behaviors that also fall into the neotenic category.

All these ''childish'' ways - not only deferent manners, but distinctively childlike styles of walking, talking and playing - have an importance in children's lives that goes beyond simple tradition: They promote among adults a particular kind of protectiveness toward the child. This, in turn, allows the child to pursue his various activities, his exploration, and play - indeed, his entire education -in safety. There are those who see childhood as a form of deprivation. The literary critic Helen Vendler, for instance, refers in passing to ''the poverty of every child's restricted early life'' when she describes ''the passage from a sequestered childhood to a forcibly socialized adulthood.'' The implication of the word ''poverty'' in conjunction with the idea of a ''sequestered'' childhood is this: Were the child to be offered the full wealth of experience that is available to the adult, he would be enriched by it. Because he is protected from it, however, the child must be seen as poor and incomplete. Yet there is reason to think that this is a misguided sentiment.

Part of that wealth from which children were once sequestered was a questionable enrichment: the knowledge of evil, violence, human helplessness, futility, injustice, misery, death. Today, as parents struggle for economic survival and search for sexual fulfillment, as they divorce, remarry, work out their primitive conflicts with their ''shrinks,'' rail against political corruption, agonize over depleting natural resources and ecological destruction, tremble at the nuclear threat, many do not try to shield their children from these complex affairs. It is not always because they are no longer capable of hiding these difficult subjects, but also because they believe it is harmful to do so.

Yet those who believe that to protect children is to impoverish them, are making a questionable assumption: that children have the same capacity as adults to assimilate and utilize knowledge and experience. Annie Hermann, former educational director of New York's Child Development Center, disagrees. Indeed, she connects some of the problems that seem almost to define today's youth with just this failure to differentiate children's needs from those of adults:

''Trying to do away with the discrepancies between children and adults is more prevalent in America than in Europe. We rather feel it is helping to promote equality and democracy to treat children as equal, and for this reason we feel obliged to share all our adult knowledge with them. But it's like feeding a 2-day-old child a delicious steak, justifying our action by saying that we love to eat steak and therefore it's only fair to give it to our child. The trouble is that the child has no teeth and cannot eat the steak. He chokes on it.''

Moreover, Annie Hermann continues, ''innocence, once considered the right of children, may be seen as simply the absence of weight and burden. Maturity, meanwhile, may be defined as the capacity to carry a burden successfully. But if you are given the heavy burden of knowledge before you have the capacity to deal with it -and knowledge is burdensome, because it requires mental and psychological work to deal with it - the results may be those distressing signs parents and teachers are observing among children today: confusion, fear, feelings of incompetence. Children grow up not really able to deal with difficulties, and they learn that the best way to deal with problems is to escape, through drugs or drink or whatever.''

Because of the precocious knowledge, independence, assertivenesss and ''adultness'' that characterize so many children today - especially, it appears, those who have had to ''grow up faster'' because their parents have divorced or are both absorbed in their careers, it is easy to get the impression that children are also more mature these days. Indeed, the child growing up under more protective, old-fashioned circumstances may seem more ''bratty,'' more ''spoiled,'' more demanding than the hardy, self-sufficient child of absent parents. But while a certain level of sophistication is inevitably achieved when a child is forced to take care of himself much of the time, it is not the same thing as maturity. As the child grows older, true maturity, defined by an ability to share, to sacrifice, to be generous, to love unselfishly, and to nurture and care for children of his own, may prove elusive, and in its place, attention-seeking and narcissism become the characteristics that define his adult life. While those children whose childhoods are enriched by a bounty of adult experiences end up the poorer for it, those ''poor'' protected children have received a treasure in disguise - one, however, that will reveal itself only when they have grown up.

A 13-year-old girl whose parents divorced when she was 9 points out the connection between an unprotected childhood and subsequent difficulties achieving maturity: ''When my parents split, things were a mess. They were too upset to pay much attention to me, and I guess in a lot of ways I had to bring myself up. I really did grow up very fast. But actually this didn't make me end up more mature. If anything, it worked the other way. I need a lot of attention - really a lot more than most of my friends who grew up more slowly.'' It would be foolish to suggest that childhood in the bygone Age of Protection was a continuously happy state. Rare indeed was the child whose childhood was completely free of jealousy or shame or anger or any of the other forms of human misery. In his prize-winning memoir ''Growing Up,'' Russell Baker describes his childhood during the Depression years, darkened by poverty, marital discord, illness and death. And yet he is able to write: ''The occasional outbursts of passion that flickered across my childhood were like summer storms. The sky clouded suddenly, thunder rumbled, lightning flashed and I trembled a few moments, then just as swiftly the sky turned blue again and I was basking contentedly in the peace of innocence.''

It is not by chance that when Baker paints a scene of his childhood days he fills it with adults sitting on a porch, pronouncing beliefs such as, ''Children should be seen and not heard,'' adults who interrupt their gossip with reminders that ''little pitchers have big ears.'' For it was not the complete absence of unhappiness that allowed him to look back on his childhood as an island of peace and innocence. It was the secure certainty that he was a child and that adults were adults, and that in spite of the wretchedness he might glimpse in their world he could still remain, in his different state, untouched by it. This is the essence of adult protectiveness: transmitting to children the sense that they are separate and special and under the adults' careful supervision. This understanding allowed children of the past, even those growing up a mere 10 or 15 years ago, to enjoy the simple pleasures of childhood - of play, imagination, curiosity, and pursuit of adventure - in the most adverse circumstances.

Can the boundaries between adulthood and childhood be once again restored? Can parents today, sensing uneasily that something is missing, try to recreate the different sort of childhood that they themselves once were granted? In an Age of Preparation, can individual parents hope to buck the tide and try to bring their children up protectively?

The social processes that helped bring about children's new integration into adult life - changes in family stability and employment patterns, most notably, along with the increasing dominance of television in children's lives -cannot be reversed. We will never return to the old-style family with the bread-earning father and the childlike, stay-at-home mother minding the house and kids. Nor would we desire such a step backward. The liberation movement has brought a new maturity and independence to women, impelling them to seek fulfillment of a greater potential than they had understood in the past. The hope of a simple turning of the tide is an unrealistic and indeed a retrogressive one.

Nevertheless, while social change cannot be reversed, it may indeed be modified and made to work better for families.

Perhaps an understanding of the irreversible consequences of family breakdown on children's lives will cause parents to readjust some of their original goals for marriage, and to focus greater attention on their children's well-being than on those ambitions, desires and dreams of personal fulfillment they had when they were single. The future holds the possibility of a variety of partnerships for men and women, only some of which will be seen as conducive to the raising of children.

Perhaps an understanding that children and adults are not equal, and that children do not prosper when treated as equal, will encourage parents to take a more authoritative - authoritative, not authoritarian - position in the family.

Perhaps the recognition that a highly complicated civilization cannot afford to shorten the period of nurture and protection of its immature members will restore a real childhood to the children of coming generations.

Continue reading the main story

Education

B.A., Fordham University, 1981
M.A., Wesleyan University, 1983
Ph.D., University of Rochester, 1989

Courses Taught

Curriculum Theory/Foundations of Education (Doctoral Level)
EDUC 991: Curriculum Theory I
EDUC 992: Curriculum Theory II
EDUC 985: Philosophy of Education
EDUC 905: Critical Inquiry in Educational Studies
EDUC 897: The Literature Review in Educational Research: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
EDUC 902: Doctoral Pro-Seminar
EDUC 897: Socio and Historical Studies on Adolescence in Education
EDUC 998: Readings in Psychoanalysis and Education

Literacy Studies (Undergraduate and Masters Level)
EDUC 7/833: Teaching Writing in the 21st Century
EDUC 7/806: Introduction to the Teaching of Reading and Writing
EDUC 907: Foundations of Literacy
EDUC 700: Education Structure and Change
EDUC 834: Children’s Literature
EDUC 500: Exploring Teaching

Specialties

curriculum theory and philosophy of education, teaching and learning in the context of transitional justice, public pedagogy and feminist theory, the impact of traumatic historical events on teaching and learning, aesthetic responses to war and conflict

Bio

Paula  M. Salvio is a professor of education in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of New Hampshire. She writes and lectures on the cultural and historical foundations of education with a specialization in psychoanalysis, life-writing, and the impact that marginalization, trauma and war have on women, children and youth in formal and informal  educational settings. She explores transitional moments in history and society – reform, wars and revolution and their aftermaths- and how these affect the relations of education, culture and politics.

Her books and numerous essays reflect her dedication to interdisciplinary inquiry. They combine research in digital and conventional archives with analyses of visual and literary sources and interviews and engage critically with feminist and post-colonial theories of education.  Her work has been supported by the Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council, The United States Department of Education, The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the Verizon Foundation and other fellowships.

Along with her numerous articles and book chapters, she is the author of Anne Sexton: Teacher of Weird Abundance, (SUNY Press, 2007) which was  awarded a Critics Choice Award by the American Educational Studies Association. Professor Salvio co-edited (with Gail Boldt) Love’s Return: Psychoanalytic Essays on Childhood, Teaching and Learning (Routledge, 2006).  Her latest book, The Story-Takers: Public Pedagogy and Contemporary Italy’s Non-Violent Resistance Against the  Mafia is under contract  with the University of Toronto Press. She is also working on a new book with Professors Bronwen Low and Chloe Brushwood-Rose,  Community-based Media Pedagogies: Listening in the Commons, (under contract with Routledge Press).  

A recipient of the Julius Silberger Fellowship at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, the Roland and Charlotte Kimball Faculty Fellowship from the University of New Hampshire Department of Education,  and a Faculty Scholar in Education, Culture and Sustainability at the UNH Sustainability Institute, she brings the study of psychoanalysis to education as well as the knowledge and creative inquiry of the humanities to the challenges facing sustainability studies. An active public speaker who also writes for non-academic audiences, she also publishes on cookbooks and food blogs as acts of public pedagogy that play out in hegemonic and counter-cultural ways. She has extensive administrative experience, including program and faculty development, capacity building in middle and high schools, designing shared governance policies and practices in educational settings, and qualitative assessment of academic programs. She enjoys mentoring students and faculty and planning events that generate intellectual synergy.  

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