November 23, 2002
Children - who is ultimately responsible?

If you are a specialist blogger, you rely heavily on the other specialist bloggers doing your specialism, until such time as you get the hang of it, and I find myself relying on Daryl Cobranchi, a lot. Yesterday, for example, Daryl linked to a column at SchoolReformers.com which is well worth a look.

Who owns children? The government or their parents? I know I know, the children own the children. But until such time as the children can look after themselves, who is ultimately responsible for looking after them in the meantime? Who makes the final decisions? Parents or government? Here are David W. Kirkpatrick's first two paragraphs:

If you ask parents to whom their children belong, or who should be responsible for them, once they get over the shock of such a question most would point to themselves. They might find it hard to believe that anyone would maintain the contrary.

But a contrary view has a long history, going back to ancient Sparta. In that Greek city-state, when boys became seven years old they were taken from their families, placed in state-run boarding schools and trained to meet the needs of this military society. That would be extreme today but the essential belief that the young belong to the state has never died.

The history lesson that follows is an American history lesson, but America is an interesting place. Yesterday, someone, somewhere in the blogosphere, or maybe somewhere in among all those pre-blogosphere emails I still get, was asking about the whole idea of the "nationalisation of children". This would be a good place to look further.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 12:20 PM
Category: History
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