The Study of Man:
Childhood the World Over
Here then, we have those mysterious children popping in and out of the house, and how are we to discover what makes them tick? We might do well to listen to “the new field of personality and culture,” or “personality in culture,” which is apparently the coming integrative science of man, in which anthropology, psychiatry, psychology, child development, and other disciplines will find their place. At least that is the opinion of Margaret Mead and Martha Wolfen-stein, who have produced a substantial anthology on childhood as seen by various experts in the collaborating fields.
American parents are “comrades rather than a couple in the French sense,” says Françoise Dolto, and “The gangster has become the substitute father of American boys.” How does she know? True, she has never been to America, but she is a French child-analyst and has had a number of American patients. American piano lessons tend to be sterile drudgery, suggests Colin McFee. How does he know? He helped a group of Balinese boys form a gamelan orchestra, and they learned music in a more creative fashion. Learning is “the primary basis for social stratification, at least in principle,” in Jewish culture, says Mark Zborowski, and this emphasis “has diminished little in intensity on different levels of acculturation” in America. How does he know? He grew up in an Eastern European shtetl, and he and colleagues have interviewed many Eastern European Jews in the United States. “The German child is prepared in the home to become an independent individual, who, through the practice of willing obedience to parental rules, has learned to obey all rules of his own accord and who, through painful experience, has trained his will to master the problems of life,” says Rhoda Métraux. How does she know? She has been reading German child-guidance books.
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