EDLF 589-5

Fall 2006, Mondays 1:00-3:45

Professor Diane M. Hoffman






        This course focuses on how children and childhood are conceptualized cross-culturally, and the implications of differing cultural understandings of children and their development for educational practices. Using an anthropological and comparative lens, we will attempt to develop a critical perspective on the discourses that surround children in a variety of social and cultural contexts, from parental belief systems and child-rearing to research on child development, daycare, and early education. Cases will be drawn from a wide variety of cultures.

The course is divided intro three parts.  In Part I we examine cultural and societal contexts for understanding childhood,  focusing on methodological issues, notions of child development, parental goals for childrearing, and non-school based learning and socialization.  Part II explores institutional environments for children’s early education and their interaction, and their interactions with families and communities.  Part III shifts toward a wider global policy arena and considers issues of global import, such as childhood risk, violence, and consumer cultures.

The aim of this class is explicitly critical:  the readings offer food for thought concerning alternative interpretations of  children and childhood, especially those that question received knowledge or widely agreed upon ideas such as the value of parental involvement.  It seeks to problematize familiar ideas and to help students acquire the conceptual tools for a deeper, more critical cultural lens on childhood in order to encourage thinking about alternatives in research, practice and policy.




1.  Interpretive Essay:  Due Sept. 25.  Analysis of magazine article on parenting. More details provided in class.


  1. Reading Response:  Due Oct. 23. You can relate the reading or set of readings to your own experience or to other coursework you have taken or other things you have read.  This is to be submitted in hard copy only (please, no e-mails).  About 5-8 pages.  More details in class.


  1. Final Project:  You have a choice:  you can do a regular research paper, a book critique, a media presentation,  a visual documentary,  a literature review, or even a skit!!  I’m open to most ideas, including group projects. Decide on a topic at least by early November and let me know what you are planning to do or write about.   I expect everyone to share their work with the class; time will be set aside for presentations toward the end of the semester.




De Carvalho, Maria Eulina P. 2001. Rethinking Family-School Relations: A Critique of Parental Involvement in Schooling.  Mahwah NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum


Lareau, Annette. 2003.   Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race and Family Life. Berkeley: University of California.


Peak, Lois. 1991.  Learning to go to School in Japan. Berkeley: U of California.


Polakow, Valerie.1992.  The Erosion of Childhood. Chicago: University of Chicago.



COURSE PACKET of articles and book chapters

 Available from Elliewood Ave. Copy Shop.




Bloch, M. N, & Popkewitz, T. S.   2000. Constructing the parent, teacher, and child: discourses of development. In L D. Soto (Ed.) The politics of early childhood education. (pp. 7-32).  New York: Peter Lang.


Boler, Megan. 1999.  Taming the Labile Student: emotional literacy curricula. From Feeling power:  Emotions and education.   NY: Routledge.


Briggs, Jean.  1992.  Mazes of meaning: How a child and a culture create each other. In  W. Corsaro & P. J. Miller (Eds)  Interpretive Approaches to children’s socialization. (New Directions for Child Development No. 58). (pp. 25-50). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Chisholm, James S. 1996. Learning Respect for Everything: Navaho Images of Development. From  C. P. Hwang, M. E. Lamb, and I. E. Sigel (Eds.)  Images of Childhood.  NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.


Dohrn, B. 2000.  “Look out,  kid, it’s something you did”: the criminalization of  children. In V. Polakow (Ed.)  The public assault on America’s children: poverty, violence, and juvenile injustice. New York: Teacher’s College.


Glauser,  1997.  Street Children: Deconstructing a Construct.  In  A. James & A. Prout (Eds), Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood: Contemporary Issues in the Sociological Study of Childhood.  Philadelphia: RoutledgeFalmer.





James, Allison, and Alan Prout. 1997.  Introduction. Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood: Contemporary Issues in the Sociological Study of Childhood.  Philadelphia: RoutledgeFalmer.


Joseph, Suad. 2005.  Teaching rights and responsibilities: paradoxes of globalization and children’s citizenship in Lebanon. Journal of Social History 38 (no. 4), 1007-1026.


Greenfield, Patricia. 1994. Independence and Interdependence as Developmental Scripts: Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice.  In P. Greenfield and R. Cocking (Eds.), Cross-cultural Roots of Minority Child Development. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.


Harkness, Sara, & Super, Charles. 2006.  Themes and Variations: Parental Ethnotheories in Western Cultures.  In K. H. Rubin & O. B. Chung (Eds.)  Parenting Beliefs, Behaviors, and Parent-Child Relations.  (pp. 61-79).  New York: Psychology Press.


Honwana, Alcinda. 2005.  Innocent and Guilty: Child soldiers as interstitial and tactical agents. In A Honwana & F. De Boeck (Eds), Makers and breakers: Children and youth in postcolonial Africa. (pp. 31-52).  Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.


Jenks, Chris. 2005.  Constituting Childhood. From:  Childhood. 2nd Ed. New York: Routledge.


Kessen, William.  1983.  The Child and other cultural inventions. In F. S. Kessel & A. W. Siegel (Eds), The child and other cultural inventions.  (pp. 26-39).


Kincheloe, J. 2004. McDonald’s, power and children:  Ronald McDonald/Ray Kroc dies it all for you.  In S. R. Steinberg & J. L. Kincheloe (Eds.)  Kinderculture: the corporate construction of childhood. (pp. 120-149).  Boulder, CO: Westview.


Kos, Raylene. 1993.  “Nobody knows my life but me!” The story of Ben, a reading disabled student. In R. Donmoyer & R. Kos (Eds.)  At-Risk students: portraits, policies, programs and practices.  Buffalo: SUNY.


Leavitt, Robin, & Power, Martha.  1989.  Emotional socialization in the postmodern era: children in day care. Social Psychological Quarterly 52(No. 1), 35-43.



Lee, Dorothy. 1987.  Individual Autonomy and Social Structure. From:  Freedom and Culture. Long Grove, IL:  Waveland.


LeVine, Robert A.  2003.  A cross-cultural perspective on parenting. In R. A. LeVine, Childhood socialization: comparative studies of parenting, learning, and educational change.  Hong Kong: Comparative Education Research Centre.

McDermott, R. P. 1993.  The acquisition of a child by a learning disability. In S. Chaiklin & J. Lave (Eds), Understanding practice: perspectives on activity and context. (pp. 269-305). New York: Cambridge University Press.



Mason, Mary A. 2005.  The U.S. and the international children’s rights crusade: Leader or laggard?  Journal of social history 38 (no. 4), 955-964.


New, Rebecca.  1998.  Social competence in Italian early childhood education. In D. Sharma & K. W. Fischer (Eds.), Socioemotional development across cultures. (New Directions for child development No. 81). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Polakow, V. 1993.  Poor children’s pedagogy: the construction of at-risk students. In V. Polakow, Lives on the edge: single mothers and their children in the other America.   Chicago: University of Chicago.


Prout, A. & James, A.  1997.  A new paradigm for the sociology of childhood? Provenance, promise, and problems.  In  A. James & A. Prout (Eds), Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood: Contemporary Issues in the Sociological Study of Childhood.  Philadelphia: RoutledgeFalmer.


Rogoff, B. 2003.  Development as transformation of participation in cultural activities. From B. Rogoff,  The cultural nature of human development.  Oxford University.


Scheper-Hughes, Nancy.  1990.  Mother love and child death in Northeast Brazil. In Cultural Psychology: Essays in Comparative Human Development. James W. Stigler, R. A. Shweder, and G. Herdt (Eds). (pp. 542-565).


Shweder, R. A, Jensen, L. A., & Goldstein, W. M.  1995.  Who sleeps by whom revisited: a method for extracting the moral goods implicit in practice. InJ. J. Goodnow, P.J. Miller, F. Kessel (Eds). Cultural practices as contexts for development.  (New Directions for Child Development, No. 67).  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Steinberg, S. &  Kincheloe, J. 2004. Introduction: kinderculture, information saturation, and the socioeducational positioning of children. In S. R. Steinberg & J. L. Kincheloe (Eds.)  Kinderculture: the corporate construction of childhood. (pp.1-47).  Boulder, CO: Westview.


Talle, Aud.  1995. A Child Is a Child: Disability and Equality among the Kenyan Maasai. In Ingstad, B. & S. R. Whyte (Eds.)  Disability and Culture. Berkeley: U. of California Press. 


Tobin, Joseph.  1995.  The irony of self-expression.  American Journal of Education 103 (no. 3), 233-258.


White, M. & LeVine, R. A. 1986.  What is an Ii Ko? In H. Stevenson, H. Azuma, & K. Hakuta (Eds). Child Development and Education in Japan.  New York: W.H. Freeman & Co.


Woodhead,   1997.  Psychology and the Cultural Construction of Children's Needs.  In  A. James & A. Prout (Eds), Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood: Contemporary Issues in the Sociological Study of Childhood.  Philadelphia: RoutledgeFalmer.





Aug 28:  Introduction to the Course.




Sept. 4:   Social construction of childhood: Culture, Nature, and Society in Understanding Childhood


  CP: James & Prout, Introduction

Ch.1,  Prout & James, A New Paradigm for the Sociology of Childhood

                        Jenks, Constituting Childhood

                        Kessen,  The child and other cultural inventions


                        Parenting article hand-out.


Sept 11:  Development and Culture: Ideas and Ideals


CP:      Greenfield,  Independence and Interdependence as Developmental Scripts

                        Rogoff,  Development as transformation of participation                        

Bloch & Popkewitz,  Constructing the Parent, Teacher and Child: Discourses of development

                        White & Levine,  What is an Ii Ko?

                        Lee, Individual autonomy and social structure



Sept. 18:  Parental Ethnotheory:  Culture and Child-rearing

Note:  Interpretive Essay Due/CLASS discussion of essays


            CP:  Chisolm, Learning Respect for Everything

                    Shweder, Who sleeps by whom revisited

                    LeVine,  A Cross-cultural perspective on Parenting

                    Harkness & Super,  Themes and variations: parental ethnotheories




Sept. 25:   Emotional Socialization and Social Emotional Learning in Childhood:

CP:  Briggs,  Mazes of Meaning

         New,  Social competence in Italian

                     Leavitt & Power,  Emotional socialization

         Tobin,  Irony of Self-expression

          Boler, Taming the Labile Student: Emotional literacy curricula


Oct. 9:   No Class (Reading Day)




Oct.  16:   Preschools and Daycare:  A Critical Cultural Perspective


Text:  Polakow,   Erosion of Childhood  



Oct. 23:   Preschool in Japan


Text:  Peak,  Learning to Go to School in Ja pan



Oct. 27:   Families and Schools I:  Cultural capital and social inequality


                        Text:  Lareau,  Unequal Childhoods



Oct. 30:    Families and Schools II:  Conceptualizing Parental Involvement


                        Text:  de Carlvaho,  Rethinking Parent Involvement






Nov. 6:  Childhood and Risk; Constructions of disability


CP:    Woodhead,  Psychology and the Cultural Construction of  Children’s needs

Talle, Aud,  A Child is a Child      

                        Kos,  Nobody knows my life but me

                        Polakow,  Poor Children’s pedagogy

                        McDermott,  Acquisition of a child by a learning disability






Nov. 13:   Childhood and Societal Violence


CP:     Honwana,  Innocent and guilty

                        Scheper-Hughes,  Mother Love and Child Death         

                        Dohrn, “Look out kid, it’s something you did”

Glauser,  Street Children


Nov. 20:  No Class/Thanksgiving Break


Nov. 27:     Globalization and Childhood:  ideologies,  youth cultures and global consumerism,  international rights discourses


CP:   Steinberg & Kincheloe, Introduction: Kinderculture, information saturation

          Kincheloe, McDonald’s, Power, and Children

          Yeh & Tobin, Chinese educator’s perspectives on a crying child

           Mason,  The U.S. and the International Children’s Rights Crusade

                        Joseph,  Teaching Rights and Responsibilities: Paradoxes of globalization



Dec.  4   Class Wrap-up;  Student Presentations