module specification

SS6032 - Rethinking Childhood and Children's Lives in Education and Schooling (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
Module title Rethinking Childhood and Children's Lives in Education and Schooling
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 30
School Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities
Total study hours 300
210 hours Guided independent study
90 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 5%   Draft essay 1 (2,000 words)
Coursework 5%   Draft essay 2 (2,000 words)
Coursework 90%   Combined summatively assessed essay (4,000 words)
Running in 2018/19

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

This module examines constructions of childhood that shape children’s experience of education and schooling.  It proceeds from a commitment to social constructionism as an approach to understanding children’s lives in an increasingly diverse society and globalising world.  This also facilitates a critical appraisal of the historical provenance of dominant discourses of childhood and ‘the child’ as an ideal type that commonly shape, direct and justify the normal practices of schooling, education, care and other institutions of childhood.  The module complements historical and social examination of children’s lives with an explicit emphasis on the role played by space and place in the construction of childhood institutions.  Cross-cultural and anthropological accounts of childhood and children’s lives are explored as part of the module’s intention to expand the imagination beyond dominant minority-world accounts and begin a process of rethinking predicated on difference, emergent globalisation and the agency of children.

Module aims

The module aims:

  • To establish a firm platform for students’ thinking about children and the responsibilities of those who work with them;
  • To explore Childhood as a cultural and historical value setting for the education, care and accommodation of children;
  • To explore the provenance and meaning of the rights agenda for children and young people;
  • To identify the terms for debates surrounding rights and difference and begin to think about how philosophical and ethical ideas find application in the design, practices and values of institutional settings;
  • To embrace global and cross-cultural diversity and difference both in London as minority-world metropolis and majority world.


The module proceeds from an examination of a range of topical concerns surrounding the condition of childhood and the lives of children.  It explores and develops a critical appraisal of: the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and discussions of rights, values and difference; “new” socio-cultural approaches to understanding childhood; the social construction of childhood drawing on historical and cross-cultural examples; the Enlightenment project, Nature and authenticity in childhood; and, the spatial and institutional production of childhood. 

The module goes on to allow students to consider and discuss themes, such as: children’s health and well-being; forms of abuse, protection and prevention; child poverty and its political context; trafficking and abduction; diversity, language, identity and education; work and labour; home, school and society in relation to educational institutions, policies and practices.

Topical concerns about the quality of childhood are discussed in relation to strategic attempts to rethink childhood and the institutions that increasingly enframe children’s lives.

Possible visits, including: Museum of Childhood; Sainsbury Wing of National Gallery to examine the representation of children in Mediaeval painting; Museum of London; Ragged School Museum – during Enhancement Weeks

Learning and teaching

Lectures and seminars to support the exploration of key themes and contexts.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • Identify the incidence of rights, values and core discourses of childhood in professional practice as well as some of the challenges and contradictions arising from them;
  • Recognise some of the challenges in asserting general rights and defending specific differences;
  • Identify and narrate the provenance of many of the ideas that shape our thinking about children and interpret them with respect to contemporary debates about the quality and future of childhood;
  • Critically discuss a range of pressing concerns concerning the condition of children’s lives in the UK and beyond, based on selected key themes and policy responses;
  • Exercise interpretive capabilities when confronted with new issues, stories and incidents concerning children and young people that appear in popular media and exercise judgment over what might be an appropriate professional response to them.

Assessment strategy

The module asks students to submit two fully drafted essays on themes addressed during the module.  Formative feedback is offered on these drafts and students are asked to submit final essays under one cover at the end of the module.


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Children’s Geographies