The development of the imagination of childhood in modern societies
Cruel methods of education like infibulation as a way to avoid masturbation are well known from that time. A lot of stories told the adventures and fates of those who ignored the raised pointing finger of the educator. One of the most famous stories is "Wilhelm, the self-weakener", the story of a boy who was said to come to death bij the reason of masturbating. In this and other stories the dead or severe illness of children who ignored the rules of the pedagogics had a character of a victimization or example. There is a great similarity to overstressed abuse reports of tenderbitterness women as martyrs in modern talk shows. But there is an important difference that should be noticed well. While the tender-bitterness-women generally see other persons to be the enemy of their own blissfulness, the pedagogics of the Enlightenment saw the enemy of the child's successful civilization within itself. Therefore Wilhelm died a martyr's death, but the guilt for this was in the nature of himself. Sexuality was seen as an uncivilized power in the child, that had to be suppressed. [...]
Patriarchism held women down in an inferior and dependent position for thousands of years. Especially the dependency was the largest inhibition for social changes. Coming out of social and financial dependency enabled women to get out of their inferior social position. Children nowadays are in a similar situation. Their fight for social equality can only be initiated and done by themselves. Only they can destroy the idealized imagination of childhood effectively. Indeed, it is our duty to encourage children not to adapt their predesigned role within society but to fight for their natural rights. Regarding women's fight for their social rights, the destroyment of the Romantic imagination of childhood will take a very long time and a lot of victims, children and adults. Of course, we will not experience any great changes during our life, but there's no reason not to begin to enable children for that fight now.
source: Article 'The development of the imagination of childhood in modern societies' by H.D. Schmidt (Denmark); IPCE Newsletter; Summer 1996