There were two intellectual strains of which the idea (Editor: of childhood) was composed. We might call them the Lockean, or the Protestant, conception of childhood, and the Rousseauian, or Romantic, conception. In the Protestant view, the child is an unformed person who, through literacy, education, reason, self-control and shame, may be made into a civilized adult. In the Romantic view, it is not the unformed child but the deformed adult who is the problem. The child possesses as his or her birthright capacities for candor, and understanding , curiosity, and spontaneity that are deadened by literacy, education, reason, self-control, and shame… To Rousseau, education was essentially a subtraction process; to Locke an addition process. But whatever the differences between these to metaphors, they do have in common a concern for the future. Locke wanted education to result in a rich, varied, and copious book; Rousseau wanted education to result in a healthy flower. This is important to keep in mind, for a concern for the future is increasingly missing from the metaphors of childhood in the present day. Neither Locke not Rousseau ever doubted that childhood requires future-oriented guidance of adults.


  1. Building a Bridge to the 18th Century