Reclaiming Childhood: Freedom
and Play in an Age of Fear

Routledge January 2009

by Helene Guldberg

‘Helene Guldberg offers a fresh and invigorating challenge to the gloomy conservatism that informs so much contemporary discussion of childhood.‘
Professor David Buckingham, Institute of Education, University of London
Reclaiming Childhood: freedom and play in an age of fear is not only an important book, it is groundbreaking’
Israel C. Kalman in American Journal of Education
‘This is a powerful and passionate book that explains why so much of what we say about children is so wrong.‘
Professor Frank Furedi, author of Paranoid Parenting
‘Guldberg has the ability to look at the whole weird world of what we now call parenting, and figure out how this natural stage of life got to be so strange, so stilted and so difficult. Luckily her writing is anything but! A clear and illuminating look at our parental foibles and their effect on our kids.‘
Lenore Skenazy, founder, Free Range Kids
‘A lovely blend of developmental theory and up-to-date research, a deep knowledge of children, and good old common sense. This bracing book is a gift to children everywhere.‘
David Anderegg PhD, author of Worried All the Time and Nerds: Who They Are and Why We Need More of Them
‘Should be read by every student teacher, teacher trainer and teacher. It will be a ‘must’ for every parent. It is of more value than any parenting course! Politician and the press who are paranoid about parenting should be made to read it.‘
Dr Dennis Hayes, Canterbury Christ Church University
‘Guldberg provides an excellent study of the changing perception of childhood in the context of current technological, security-conscious society in the UK and the US.‘
Choice, Editors’ pick
‘an impassioned, lively and thought-provoking polemic’
Nursery World
‘Drawing on her experiences as a free-ranging child in Norway, as a primary school teacher in Manchester and her research as a developmental psychologist, Guldberg provides a well-argued and spirited challenge to the “institutional suspicion and state-authorised scare mongering” that has fostered a climate of mistrust around contemporary parenting.‘
Community Care

 

A book that exposes the stark consequences on child development of both our low expectations of fellow human beings and our safety-obsessed culture.

Children are cooped up, passive, apathetic and corrupted by commerce’ or so we are told. Reclaiming Childhood confronts the dangerous myths spun about modern childhood. Yes, children today are losing out on many experiences past generations took for granted, but their lives have improved in so many other ways. This book exposes the stark consequences on child development of both our low expectations of fellow human beings and our safety-obsessed culture. Rather than pointing the finger at soft ‘junk’ targets and labelling children as fragile and easily damaged, Helene Guldberg argues that we need to identify what the real problems are - and how much they matter.

We need to allow children to grow and flourish, to balance sensible guidance with youthful independence. That means letting children play, experiment and mess around without adults hovering over them. It means giving children the opportunity to develop the resilience that characterises a sane and successful adulthood. Guldberg suggests ways we can work to improve children’s experiences, as well as those of parents, teachers and ‘strangers’ simply by taking a
step back from panic and doom-mongering.

Table of contents

Part 1: The Good, The Bad, and The History: A Balance-Sheet of Modern Childhood

1. A childish panic about the next generation
2. Cocooning children
3. Childhood in historical perspective

Part 2: Freedom and Child Development

4. Growing up: why risk-taking is good for kids
5. Play: what is it good for?
6. The bullying bandwagon
7. Virtual lives? Media, brands and the MySpace generation

Part 3: Taking Real Responsibility: The Role of Adult Society

8. Let parents be parents: the myth of infant determinism
9. Let teachers be teachers: not social workers and ‘happiness counsellors’
10. Let strangers be friends: how the ‘stranger danger’ panic is creating a hostile adult world

         

January 2009: Pb: 978-0-415-47723-9: £16.99

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