What Was the Impact of the Enlightenment on Ideas About Childhood and Youth? Discuss with Reference to Historians Views.

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3. What was the impact of the Enlightenment on ideas about childhood and youth? Discuss with reference to historians views. The period of enlightenment introduced a whole new scope of ideology in terms of children and youth. “Children can be classed alongside slaves and animals as the recipients of sentimentalism and humanitarianism that characterised the latter part of the eighteenth century.”(Cunningham, 1995: p61). Locke, his successor Rousseau and the Romantics were pioneers of this new world of childhood, with their ideas, concepts of children and methods of child-rearing in the very late seventeenth and eighteenth century proving to be pivotal in the history of youth. Locke especially, had a huge influence over methods of education and corporal punishment, and he broke convention and tradition as he moulded the English gentleman into what it is today. Rousseau though was hugely influential in his methods of child-rearing. He helped redefine stereotypical maternal and paternal roles, bringing the child closer to its family whilst nourishing and supporting the natural and imaginative side of childhood, these precedents were carried on under the influence of romanticism. Throughout this period the perception of the child gradually developed out of a negative concept of ‘original sin’; being born carrying the sin of the previous generation, into and angelic, almost godlike figure, with ‘childhood’ becoming recognisable as a major life stage to be looked onto with envy. The child was no longer seen as a ‘small adult’ and had gained an identity that was to be embraced. Up until the seventeenth century, harsh mistreatment and discipline was not uncommon. “Harsh discipline was the child's lot, and they were often terrorized deliberately and, not infrequently, sexually abused”(Plumb, 1975: p66). The Age of Enlightenment swept a vast range of ideas over Europe as

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