Social Problems - Childhood & Education

Social Problems - Childhood & Education - student project

Assembling the fundamental significance of Childhood and Education, there are vital key aspects we need to first address in order to fully comprehend the organizational construction of working models. One of the founding fathers of Sociology; Max Weber birthed a well-known phenomenon in today’s civilized world called ‘Ideal Types’. Weber’s (1864-1920) creation of ideal types aided the understanding of social institutional construction by means of universal rationalised logic. Individuals who posed susceptible degrees of authoritarianism (Leadership qualities) were the founding founders of structural establishments, organisations, and even the methodology of conveying informational understanding. It is the ideas of individuals who end up formulating logistic word meanings (E.g. Capitalism, Collectivists, Feminism, Education). Although, Ideal types also share the notion that individuals bringing forth social attributes and attitudes that also reinforce their domain identity. In this constructional sense, the institutional focus centres around interpretation of Childhood and Education. Nurseries, Schools, Colleges all share similar working models in the understanding of objectivity, focus and determination. However, the approach applied by these subclass institutions are significantly different. Questions have been raised about the safety of a prolonged use of Ideal types, sociologist Chris Jenks investigated a body line of research which involved the conceptualization two ideal types named after the Greek mythological Gods ‘Apollo’ and ‘Dionysius’ The ‘apollonian child’ represents the perfectionist child, good, positive, childlike behaviour. On the contrary, the ‘dionysian child’ represents obnoxiousness, disobedience and mischief (Jenks, 2005). The aim of this research was to understand that children (regardless of age, gender, race, class) would become vastly categorised by contemporary society and thereby be dealt with accordingly. These iconic representatives emit an indirect understated construction of not only a social problem, but also issues that can cascade further into other educational fields causing Economic, Politic, and even individual problems that will cause mass disruption for (mostly) children. Overall, rupturing the social welfare of the nation (social instability). Historically speaking, children have been the face of judgement for decades, their value of importance insignificant, meaningless and small. Because of this, society’s rules and regulations were improper and unmatched for the attentive care and support of children. In former times, traces of history shown a society unsupportive of childhood development would be considered the ‘norm’ due to antecedent acclaims of children being denounced unworthy and degenerate. Contemporary society supports the social welfare of children more than ever by the implementation of 1870 Act formulated by Gladstone’s Liberal government designed purposely for the mainstream focus of providing adequate education for young pupils/children. This than got enhanced by a following legislation in 1880’s stating that school attendance is mandatory. These laws had the gradual and subtle influence on refining the model of the child as schools and places of education were agreed upon by governmental authority that they were the best, most suit places for children to spend most of their time. Ideal mythological stereotypes (Apollonian child, Dionysian child) does bring forth pre-concluded agendas which in future could either aid the contribution of reducing social problems through educational sequential measures or exceed existing social problematical concern through carelessness and naivety. These social characters represent consequential outcomes and raise public concern in the eyes of child authorities reinforcing that ideological presidential discourses should highly be considered if we are to prevent the escalation of this issue. From a hypothetical stance, two theological constructs were brought forth encourage food for thought and to also evaluate risk and reward.           



  1. Apollonian discourse: education will become a commodity for hope and change/improvement.


  1. Dionysian discourse: sanctioning educational facilities disciplining children against their will.

However, as a collective society we should recognise the neutrality in children and not use ideal types to sensitize or reward social behaviour.

Readings on subsequent field research, Sociologists have acknowledged the ambiguous unclarity in regard to social care towards child. Throughout the last decade social scientist Henry Hendrick produced an instructive coherent account of childhood constructions displaying the diversity of sub cultural conditions that children adopt through the nurturement of different cultural societies (Hendrick, 1990). This research also sparked inquisitiveness and interest to other intellectual domains that held challenging expert opinion on defining child/children/childhood. Counteracting fields such as Developmental Psychology, Health & Social care, Politics etc. Developmental Psychology in particular, is one of the strongest conflicting academic fields when discussing Child Development. Developmental Psychologists quite often tend to dismiss the social constructional contribution that the environment has had upon the child and strictly focuses on the biological process. Emphasis are consistently placed on the mental biological facilities of the child furthermore, it is vital that we properly distinguish the differences between these two scientific disciplines and at the same time give the factual credibility and respect they deserve. Scientific discipline of Developmental psychology holds the microscopic focus of anatomical physical change which is described as ‘Growth’ through the social transition of stage development. Swiss psychologist, Jean Piaget (1896-1980) well known for his pioneering work in child psychology birthed a well-known cognitive developmental procedure which helped understand the naturalistic physiological changes within children, this was known as Piaget's Four Stages of Cognitive Development. However, his statements were heavily critiqued by various scholars (Archard, 1993 p. 65-66).  

This passage illustrates Piaget’s overstatement of generalised facts. In retrospect, societies comprise of different cultures, beliefs, religions and environments and Piaget only touches upon a Westernised phenomenon dismissing other children of different regional location. Therefore, this statement is inaccurate and undervalues the localised importance of multi-culture. Furthermore, Piaget describes the oncoming metamorphosed transformation derives from a ‘theory of learning’. A cognitive term called ‘decentring’ is the witnessed ongoing change a child experiences through the intellectual growth stages of maturation. According to Piaget, the severe importance of this intellectual change is invaluable and implicit to the natural development of task competence. Examples of this; ‘solipsistic subjectivism to a realistic objectivity’ ‘affective response to cognitive evaluation’ (Jenks, 2009 p.97). If this procedure is successfully it is then identified as ‘scientific rationality’ (Jenks, 2009 p.97). In sociology, the process of socialisation, environments of education can help accelerate and achieve scientific rationality within children and society at large, the overall potential effects of this action can be overwhelmingly positive to counteracting social problems, hypothetically nurturing more ‘apollonian’ likeminded children to lead and govern British society. This logical paradigm forwarded by Piaget strongly correlates with empiricists’ view of experience and reality and therefore, diverse academics empathises and corroborate this explanation of change. Scientific rationality is the agentic shift from subjective value to objective fact, the recognitional understanding of logic and emotion and having the ability to distinguish semantic meaning. However, the ‘facts’ of reality constructed by adults will almost every time oversee the subjective ‘values’ of social worlds imagined by children. Thereby tethering and supressing the mobility of change stagnating the probabilities of a utopian goal orientated society.                        


Addressing a more prevalent contemporary concern, throughout the last few decades of childhood an ongoing unavoidable threat has begun to emerge. Within a subtopic section of ‘Social Problem in the UK: An introduction’ numerous academics such as Postman et al., Palmer and Louv introduce the probability of detrimental modern dangers that can (if not careful) slowly impede the betterment of our future children stagnating childhood (Palmer,2006; Louv, 2005; Postman et al, 1983, p.125-126). Louv uncovered an on occurring disorder known as ‘Natural Deficit Disorder’ (NDD) which would describe the dissociative characteristic contemporary children would develop through long term absence of pursuing a natural active childhood. He argued, the overuse of watching television, playing video games, remaining indoor throughout most stages of your childhood would undoubtingly produce unhealthy habits and addictions such as; lack of concentration, following direction, focusing on tasks and even anti-socialism. This is highly detrimental to fully functioning growth of school children. Furthermore, all this can lead to a miasmal demotivating result of academia failure intervening with formal education and success, further along causing a social problem. Louv research correlates with various scholars such as Don Tapscott who published a book ‘Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation’ speaking about how digital media and technology negatively effects children and adults in our present society (Tapscott, 1998).


Children (Childhood) is an ever-changing subfield associated with increasing risk of technological media threats. On a macroscopic scale, lines of research have explored the present ongoing understudy of new media and childhood, discovering that children’s changing cultural environment is (retrospectively speaking) irreversible and inevitable. Whether the advancement of this resource would indeed produce a more utopian enriched society or create dystopia is ambiguous and would need further empirical analysis. Tapscott (1998, p.126) categorized television and the internet as direct opposites, explaining that television is a passive variable and the internet being an active variable. Following this trajectory, television consumers are identified as the ‘television generation’ comprised of mostly the elderly folk who are unequipped and inadequate to utilise the advantages of the internet. Therefore, this audience products a collective generational bias against users of the internet (mostly children) projecting hatred and negativity which in turn scrutinises the overall technological construct. Evidence against this trail of thought, Tapscott brought forth and evaluated pros and cons within this dilemma. The ‘net generation’ usually composed of competent users such as teenagers, children, youngsters suggested despite the internet having its disadvantages, overall it is a step forward due to the magnitude of educational potential it has to offer. The outcome of this benefit is children are more well established in society and susceptible to intellectual challenges benefiting an increase in confidence, health and social awareness. This Literature of Postman (1992, p.127) speaks about a recent disturbance in the naturalness of childhood, digital technology overriding the positive innate disposition of children’s childhood in favour of a digitalised anti-social fast paced childhood. From an educational stand point, the internet has contributed successfully to the improvement of learning, giving more diversity and quality more than ever. However, the negative perspective focuses on the internet from an entertainment approach including technological commodities such as computer games, social media platforms, digital pornography that may harm and diminish the normality of child interaction. This dystopian version of society and media elaborates on the notion that natural childhood and human communication is being perniciously neglected in favour of a materialistic driven culture. This would become a catastrophic problem and would ignite national moral panic for contemporary adults of society and will only raise more awareness in the limited negative effects digital media places upon children. Nonetheless, it is not digital media alone that is the whole problem, we must understand that digital media only part of the problem and us as human beings are primarily responsible to how we perceive, use and respond to the vast resources available.    


In conclusion, we first discussed the Ideal types first illustrated by Max Weber. This paradigm than infused into the Greek mythological symbols of the ‘apollonian’ and ‘dionysian’ child explaining how the adult perception of a child destabilises and scrutinises the naturalness of childhood. This than could escalate further not only into a social problem but also an economic, politic and individual problem causing severe permanent damage on a large scale. Methods and strategic planning were put into place by government funding introducing the 1870 Elementary Education Act making mass education socially accessible. Following on the 1880 legislation that professed formal education in the regard of children is first and foremost compulsory. Further along, we introduced and included various subfield perspectives into the social sphere explaining how social problems can also combine and expand further than expected, causing an indistinguishable discourse between academics, scholars and scientists. Finally, we discussed digital technology, new media and how modern childhood has replaced the old fashion deeds of natural human interaction with the new-fangled trend of social media profiling communicating indirectly via digital constrains.