Here’s my fourth extract from the book ‘Noah’s Children’ by Sara Stein. Here she reflects on how we seem to have increasingly excluded children from working alongside adults, and by cossetting or trying to protect them from harm, can delay (prevent?) their passage into adulthood:
‘In our and other cultures, formal education begins at age six. During the following six years, roughly corresponding to elementary school, sons and daughters were traditionally expected to learn not only what in the environment was there to be used, but also how to use it. At the age of twelve, they were expected to be ready to pass from childhood to membership in the adult culture. Although we still mark that passage ritually in ceremonies of bar mitzvah and confirmation, I say these are empty passages now, and I am being very serious:
Children who can’t obtain, produce, nourish, maintain, earn, or in any other way be of use to their family remain juvenile compared to their peers in other cultures and in former times. They don’t deserve to be kept useless, and they don’t like it, and they show by their behaviour toward their elders that they blame us for swaddling them in childish ignorance.
Dessert can wait. It comes at the end of the day, and there is work to do.’
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and the wider issues raised…