Science in Service of the Child: Education, Child Welfare, and Parenting in Twentieth-Century America
Edited by Barbara Beatty, Emily Cahan, and Julia Grant
Often characterized as “the century of the child,” the twentieth century witnessed the emergence of new structures of knowledge for understanding and managing childhood. As schools and other institutions for the well-being of children proliferated, professionals—including physicians, social workers, child psychologists, and teachers—increasingly drew upon scientific language to both explain and shape children’s development. In this book, a variety of historical essays will explore the intersections between twentieth-century institutions for children and science, broadly construed. Professionals in many different institutions serving children in the twentieth century utilized scientific language in their work with children. Although there were core components of scientific thinking, different disciplinary paradigms and professional practices inevitably yielded different approaches to working with children. The difficulties that professionals and parents encountered when confronted with the realities of children in all of their complexity is one of the key themes of this book. Developmental psychologists were called upon to address the needs of twentieth-century children and their parents, a demand that all too often led to the dissemination of hastily-constructed, ill-considered advice for parents and practitioners, which nonetheless bore the imprimatur of science. Teachers, social workers, and others directly working with children often faced challenges beyond the scope of academic theory. Parents especially had a difficult task in negotiating between expert advice and the daily exigencies of child rearing. And children have remained remarkably resistant to categorization and efforts to mold them according to the dictates of prevailing social-scientific wisdom.
We invite scholars working on topics relating to the history of the human and social sciences in relation to child welfare, education, and parenting to consider contributing to this volume. We are especially interested in essays dealing with social work and child welfare. Potential authors are invited to contribute a 500 word abstract and curriculum vita to Julia Grant, 369 S. Case Hall, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48825 (or by email at email@example.com) by June 15. Scholars with questions about the volume are also welcome to contact Dr. Grant by email, Dr. Cahan at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dr. Beatty at email@example.com.
369 S. Case Hall
James Madison College
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48825-1205
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