This course is an exploration of the experiences of children and families in the United States and the events, institutions and ideas that have shaped those experiences. We are going time traveling to try to understand how people could have thought and acted in the ways that they did and how those thoughts and actions continue to shape the world we live and work in today.
The course content is organized into five units that correspond to time periods:
Unit I – A Coming Together of Nations: Colonization to 1800
Unit II – Establishing the United States: 1800- 1900
Unit III – An “American” Identity: 1900 – 1950
Unit IV – Family, Culture and Politics: 1950 – 2000
Unit V – The Future of Our Children: 2000 to present
During the course, students will be working in “research groups” to analyze readings and websites to construct an understanding of how the dynamics of child and family life have emerged over time. We will explore five contexts with regard to child and family history:
1. Organization: What caused societies/communities, families and groups to organize in the ways that they did?
2. Relationships: What relationships emerged and how were they influential? (people, groups, institutions, places)
3. Identities: What identities emerged? How did these influence the way that people made sense of experience and practice?
4. Practices and Policies: How were these identities embodied in practices and policies?
5. Dynamics: What ideas and events seem to have influenced conservation or disequilibrium in systems?
Each research group will identify a theme or issue at the beginning of the semester that they want to examine in these five different contexts over time. Members of each research group will post briefings on their particular theme for the unit, each taking a different perspective. Groups will be assigned a different theme for each unit. Everyone will read the briefings and include this information when they post their individual responses to the units.