Childhood in Hard Times

Harasankar Adhikari

A child is a social product and it grows up in a particular social, economic and cultural milieu which is considered as a social world of children. This social world consists of a series of conditions within the family and outside. What constitutes the hard times of childhood? The hard times are determined by ‘children lack of control over many and important aspects of their lives.’ It usually has to face the problems of too much adult domination in every aspect of their daily lives. It has to bear the order or to follow the decisions of adults. The problem of authority is prominent. The lack of control over the physical and emotional world is under surveillance and a wide range of areas of limitations are involved with the process of socialization. Of course, adult limitations are necessary to protect them from unexpected situations.  Every activity, i.e. from feeding, bathing, sleeping, and so forth of a child (in most cases) in day to day life has no control of it’s own. Even it has no choice in learning and related aspects.

A child grows up into an adult created environment. It has lack of choice to control over  its own activities. The relations with others (friends, relatives, neighbours and enemies) are instructed and selected by the adults. Child’s likes and dislikes are overridden. Adults have to rule for children’s feelings. Due to their inability and inadequacies, they have to face embarrassment, anger, vindictiveness, fear and so forth.  This is the structure of children’s culture almost everywhere in the world. 

During this COVID-19 pandemic, this structure of children has been changed and it is under more adults’ domination. They are blocked within their home and their social world has become narrow and limited. They encounter hard times with a blockage of capable of a wide range of thoughts, plans, moral views, emotions, and, as well, actions directed to furthering their own goals. Their daily lives have been overburdenedduring this crisis.  They have no scope to come out from adults’ limitation. They have to face parental conflict and family strife from close distance. Sometimes, they face the problem of domestic violence. They have forgotten to share their joys and sorrows with their peers and no chance of ventilation of their mental state.

School is the second home of the children, while children’s education suffers from lack of resources and strategies. The role of school is as moral technology for children’s education. School is an agency of nourishment and modification of children’s behaviour. It teaches to adoptingand integrating ideas of thinking and feeling of a moral person. It importantly shapes the lives of children. Children learn to judge their intellectual merits as individuals which do not only ensure a qualification for work; it is a quality to lead the national progress. But inadequate opportunities remind the pragmatic relativism. Non-uniform economic growth and development direct that parents or state is not always in a position to meet educational cost. So, whether children should go to school or to work falling within this imitation.

Strategies and systems for children’s education have been further changed due to this crisis. Now virtual or online education has been prioritized.  Education system becomes symbolic. There is no chance of face to face interaction with teachers and peers. Then, how it can be effective as moral development and behaviour modification? Role of school as moral technology has been derided. This new emergent system might be enough for obtaining qualification for work. But it may never be a system of quality development. Further, it is facilitating their dependence on virtual worlds. Evidently, it would accelerate their tendency to use the internet and social media to fulfill their childhood curiosity. It would make them internet savvy. They would gradually turn their heads from the real world. Childhood is in hard times because they are non-liberated, while various movements or steps are adopted for a liberal childhood (child protection and child rights)throughout the times, before the pandemic. Would this situation not be impacted in their future  and the future of a nation’s progress?

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Aug 28, 2020

Harasankar Adhikari

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