maandag 14 november 2016

Floyd Henry Allport (1890 - 1979) over hoe kinderen zouden moeten opgroeien

(Voor email-abonnees: Dit is het volledige bericht dat 
eerder per abuis in onvoltooide vorm verstuurd werd.)

Onze kinderen groeien op in een maatschappij met een historisch gezien grote mate van sociaal isolement van gezinnen. Daardoor ondervinden ze maar weinig van de coöperatieve zorg die voor de evolutie van de mensheid zo kenmerkend is geweest. In plaats daarvan brengen ze uitzonderlijk veel tijd door samen met alleen de eigen ouders en in de "gespecialiseerde" en "kunstmatige" arrangementen van kinderopvang en school. Waardoor ze ook historisch gezien uitzonderlijk veel tijd doorbrengen onder leeftijdsgenoten.

Er is op dit blog allerlei onderzoek voorbijgekomen dat er op wijst dat deze omstandigheden niet zo gunstig zijn voor een gelukkige jeugd en voor een goede sociaal-emotionele en morele ontwikkeling. Het is niet voor niets dat we de omvangrijke sector kennen van de jeugdzorg, de opvoedinterventies , de kinder- en jeugdpsychiatrie en de kinderbescherming,

Dat onderzoek is vaak nog maar van recente datum. Scrol eens door de berichten op dit blog achter de labels cooperative breeding, sociaal isolement van gezinnen, buurten voor kinderen en mythe van de opvoedbaarheid.

Dat sociaal isolement van gezinnen is natuurlijk niet van vandaag of gisteren. Hoewel het vermoedelijk in de tweede helft van de vorige eeuw in een versnelling is gekomen (denk aan
Tijd die ouders met hun kinderen doorbrengen sinds 1960 gestegen - Nee, dat is geen gunstige ontwikkeling), is het een proces dat al langer aan de gang is.

Dat doet vermoeden dat het ook al wel eerder is opgemerkt. En dat vermoeden werd bevestigd toen ik weer eens het boek Institutional Behavior. Essays Toward a Re-Interpretating of Contemporary Social Organization van Floyd Henry Allport (1890 - 1979) uit mijn boekenkast trok. Het verscheen in 1933, maar ik kocht in 1975 de editie van 1969. Dat was toen ik nog mijn naam en het jaartal van aanschaf in mijn boeken noteerde.

Floyd Henry Allport was een broer van Gordon Allport (zie het bericht Minder anti-immigrantensentiment door meer sociaal contact) en die twee samen mag je wel tot de grondleggers van de sociale wetenschappen rekenen.

In hoofdstuk XVI (Manifoldness and unity in the life of a child) van dat boek gaat Allport in op de voorwaarden voor een gunstige persoonlijkheidsontwikkeling van kinderen. Ruim tachtig jaar geleden; lees even mee met een aantal citaten. (Voor de leesbaarheid kort ik de alinea's wat in.)
Of all the phases of the problem of child development perhaps the least understood and the most neglected is that of children's personalities. Our attention has been given to the more specific needs of children rather than to the more general. In schools, in scouting groups for recreation, in church schools for moral training, in medical clinics for health, in psychological clinics for mental hygiene, our assumption has been that, in caring for the child in these particular ways, we are helping him te develop as a complete and wholesome personality. Just what this personality is, however, and how it is fostered by such departmentalized procedures, no one has as yet clearly revealed.(...)
The trend within all the agencies just mentioned is to make individuals better adjusted, as we say, to society, and hence, by the same token, more like one another. Those unique patterns of qualities which make one person different from every other are often neglected. If children's personal characteristics develop, the result may, in some cases, be reached in spite of our welfare and educational agencies rather than through their aid.
Parafraserend: we hebben het leven van onze kinderen in partjes opgedeeld. Voor elk van hun behoeftes is er een aparte voorziening. Die tegelijk voor ieder kind gelijk is.
The problem is becoming more acute at present because of the increasing compartmentalization in the lives of both children and of adults. Our grandparents, with all their intellectual and material limitations, and their superstitions, were probably at least unique individuals. Their individuality could be felt and cultivated through characteristic modes of self-expression which they maintained throughout the community where they lived.
Nowadays most of us do not live in communities in the older sense, but in many diverse patterns and sets of relationships; and the members of one of these groupings seldom meet the members of another or know them as individuals.
In each group there are stressed certain values, traits of character, abilites, and approved forms of conduct which in other groups are ignored and sometimes flatly contradicted. The ethical code which a child learns in Sunday school is not the same as that which he is likely to practice in selling magazines. The standards pertaining to the boy or girl scout organizations are difficult to apply to the situations of a classroom. The virtues demanded at home are frequently different from those which bring an individual success upon the playground or a member of a club of gang. (...)
The reason for all this is the fact that, under conditions of modern social organization, persons who have to do with but a portion of life are banded together to direct children with regard to that particular segment, and at times and places separate from the ministrations of those concerned with other segments.
This process tends to separate the segmental interests of a child from his life as a whole, and to set these isolated interests upon a plane of importance superior to that of the entire individual. Both children and adults are members of a society which is becoming a pattern of social institutions rather than a community of freely mingling and interacting individuals. (...)
if all our habits were so compartmentalized, we should indeed have no general and characteristic traits of personality. We should then be creatures of specific situations. Such inconstancy, however, probably results from our growing modern tendency to segregate ourselves into different groups for different purposes. These groupings become institutionalized; their members do noy move about freely and intermingle as in the older days of community living.
Since people stay, as it were, in their fixed ruts, there is little opportunity for them to see one another as complete individuals in a variety of differing situations (...)
Conclusie:
in order to foster the development of consistent traits we must prevent the experience of a child from being broken up into group situations of institutional alignments which have nothing in common. We must permit him to react in a community situation where certain other individuals are present in many relationships of life, and not merely upon isolated occasions and in specialized roles such as those of teachers, playgroup leader, minister, and employer.
The principle of unity among manifoldness can best be provided by responses to the behavior of other human beings who do not shift kaleidoscopically with every situation, but who, in the role of of common stimulus maintain a constancy of their presence and their personalities throughout.
If this view is correct, our tendency to employ experts and specialists for each phase of a child's activity and each of his needs may, if carried too far, entail more harm than benefit.(...)
it will be better for the parent not to leave the affairs of teaching solely to the teacher, but to allow his own influence to carry over into the educational field. It will be better if the teacher is not alone a dispenser of knowledge, but a companion on the playground, an adviser in economic relationships, and a friend whose personality may at times be felt even within the sacred precincts of one's home.
In order to help the child to develop individuality, to be himself in all situations, and to provide his own standard of conduct rather than shift with the code of each grouping with which he happens to be in contact, we must fight against the segmentalizing of human living. We must restore a more fluid, face to face relationship, - a community of whole individuals in which unique and self-consistent behavior shall be possible of attainment.
En Allport besluit het hoofdstuk met:
Freedom to choose one's companions and one's activites, freedom to try different modes of response without fear of ridicule or intimidation in the name of the group, freedom to meet individuals not in compartments, but in the fulness of their communal living, - these are the conditions upon which the achievement of personality depends.
Wijze woorden, ruim tachtig jaar geleden opgeschreven. Uit een andere tijd, een tijd waarin de sociale wetenschap zich nog moest gaan ontwikkelen. Maar blijvend actueel.

Geen opmerkingen:

Een reactie plaatsen