Child labor and the social construction of childhood by Gwen Sharp
1. “Our ideas about what is appropriate for children to do has changed radically over time, often as a result of political and cultural battles between groups with different ideas about the best way to treat children”.
To me this quote means that we still have disagreements about how children need to be treated. Although we have come a long way from making children work 10 hour days for pennies. There are still gray areas in what kids should and should not do. This is relevant to the text because it shows the growth we have done from the early 1900s.
2. “Only 5 pupils present out of about 40 expected when beet work is over…Oct. 26/15, over five weeks after school opened”.
This quote means that many kids were not showing up for school due to work. This is relevant to the text because it is showing the amount of kids that were forced to give up getting an education just to work. In today’s world you go to school so you can get a job when you’re older. Back then it was more important to work and make money now, then it was to prepare for your future.
3. “While children working in factories or mines was redefined as inappropriate and even exploitative and cruel, a child babysitting or delivering newspapers for money was often interpreted as character-building”.
This quote means that there are certain jobs that were acceptable for a child to do and there were jobs that were unacceptable for a child to do. This is relevant to the text because it illustrates the slow changing in values of the people back then. Yes they agreed ok maybe kids shouldn’t be doing such labor-intensive work, but they should still work.
In class I would like to discuss the last quote “While children working in factories or mines was redefined as inappropriate and even exploitative and cruel, a child babysitting or delivering newspapers for money was often interpreted as character-building”. I would like to discuss this because I think the slow change that is happening here is very interesting. Parents are realizing that hard labor intensive jobs are taking a toll on the children. They soon agree that less labor-ridden jobs are acceptable for kids to do. Vs. today there aren’t really any jobs we see as acceptable for a child to do.