1942 • Communardes in Wollstonecraft

46-10-08 TRIB joy wilson SILENT STRIKE copy

While researching attitudes to child care in the 1940s, I was a surprised at how rigid and clinical the “experts” were at that time in giving advice on raising children in the first two years of life. Lawrence K. Frank, an influential US authority on child development, wrote in the Women’s Weekly that “babies … are young mammals and should be treated as such …. They are ‘brainless’…”. (Australian Women’s Weekly, 7 June 1947). A trained nurse who had worked for ten years in the NSW Dept of Health was advising her readers that affection should be given to a child only at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and that “To let a child go without [food] for two, or even three days, makes him realise that if he does not eat, no one but himself suffers.” (Sydney Morning Herald, 29 October 1946).

Meanwhile two writers in the Communist paper the Tribune had different ideas (thought controversial at the time): one of them, Joy Wilson, proposed telling stories of the day’s events to very young children and then making books cheaply with “bright pictures of simple things such as a ball, a dog, an apple, pasted on cardboard and strung together.” She lets escape the middle-class secret that “At school, children who like books and feel familiar with them have an advantage over children who come from bookless homes.” (Tribune, 29 March 1946) This was thirty years before such an idea was admitted officially by the NSW Department of Education.

More examples HERE.

Author: RED the Book

I have been writing and editing since 1986. My latest book is RED. This site has further information about the people and episodes in the book.

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