We have “colonized” childhood and must reclaim the territory undermined by adult-centrism | First person | Moms and dads

A colonization This happens by displacing the elements of a set of meanings and signifiers of the master, by establishing a new framework from which to understand and act upon a reality which, to the extent it is colonized, is explained according to the hegemonic thought and worldview . The current model based on individualism, which marginalizes care and rejects the interdependence between people, does not allow boys and girls to understand their own particularities, nor to respect their processes of growth, autonomy and emancipation.

Adult-centrism (or better, adult authority, because there is power exercised by people and institutions with authoritarianism and violence) acts as a colonizing agent that makes it impossible to integrate the reality of childhood into a society that apparently also belongs to them. As adults, we have egos and pride that we think are worth flaunting. We feel legitimate to impose our system of representation wherever we are. A dynamic of self-affirmation that denies us the possibility of dialogue with what is happening.

In the case of childhood, colonization does not leave many alternatives: we deny their own expressions, we do not regard babies, children and adolescents as the heroes of their own lives, we ignore their complaints and make them grow up based on the expectations of those who care for them or protect. We design with the strength and mentality of an adult the contexts in which they will be socialized, from the heteronormative family to the education system, passing through the architecture of cities and the design of parks or birthing rooms. We force them to deal with the artificiality of adults that we consider to be universal truths: that if employment, the separation of the productive and the reproductive, the antagonism of learning and play, or the confusion of free time with time freed up for extracurricular activities. An entire framework of representations that configures reality regardless of what is felt and what happens. A show divorced from life, which is placed at the service of consumption, where the role of childhood is absolutely secondary to the plot, but essential to the establishment of order and ongoing social organization.

We have instrumentalized beings as objects that we can use in debates about education, reconciliation, or growth percentiles, but without seeing them, without respecting their needs (or their rights), living our adult lives in a fantasy of self-sufficiency, detached of them and them. We have built a wall with our propaganda, with the representations and trophies of adult hegemony, which prevents us from entering into relationships, inhabit common situations and practice alternative socialization.

Even in cases of the greatest damage, with encroachment on bodies, lives and futures, we are unable to act, leaving aside the logic of the one responsible: we protect by locking up, we continue to evict families and we do not want to organize the economy for provision of direct resources. of education and protection. We encourage social work seeking educate misery with courses and compensations, giving very little in return — equating poverty with childhood has always been a good idea to justify dependency and paternalism in social intervention —. There is a colonizing pedagogy, a “pedagogy of cruelty,” as Amador Fernández-Savater puts it, that prevails. The model is designed and then life must be adapted to the prefabricated frame.

In a totalitarian context, the only way to survive invasion is assimilation, taking representation as your own to make possible a vital project beyond annihilation. And on adult authority it expresses itself in many situations in a totalitarian way: creatures have little choice but to do what is expected of them, they must homework.

Thus the colonization of childhood little by little makes the territory of childhood uninhabitable. Outsourcing of care is portrayed as the only possible alternative (they also want to sell it as desirable), and boys and girls are conceptualized as family burdens to be rid of and placed in order not to lose status.

The adult’s conquest leaves behind a desert, a desolate and polluted ecosystem with a thousand rules that make it impossible to breathe. But there is no alternative that does not pass inhabit the territory that we insist on desertification. Forcing people from the time they are babies to conform to design age-centric it condemns them to anxious growth, to emotional insecurity. It hurts them. It hurts us. it’s wrong

For social joint responsibility we must demand and organize endurance. All colonizations were opposed. Faced with the maps that describe the conquests—with homogeneous colors like battles won and regions annexed—we know that in territory many other tones and shades were painted. The colors of harm and suffering, but also those of mutual support and alternatives to community life. The colors were never included in the winners’ textbooks, but we can still trace them today.

Whenever we have more complex and perfect maps, we can even cultivate the fantasy (dystopia) that representations can replace reality. The map age-centric also becoming more complete and detailed. It seems that we already know everything about childhood, but the more we go through it following the cartographies, the more we move away from it. It cannot exist on a map. We need to leave so we can break with the deception and boys and girls can see us and rely on us without mutilating themselves. The creatures insist on staying in the occupied territory, we can find them there. They don’t give up, their lives depend on it. His play, his anger, his curiosity and his cries are an expression of resistance with a political potential that we should embrace long before rejecting or repressing.

They need allies and allies, not mercenaries looking after them for hire. they need presence: people who make their time and body available to get into a relationship.

The answer to colonization is inhabit childhood Y play out another life together, with tenderness, with joy, with surprise and with responsibility, to create a home with the boys and girls we went to, without forgetting or surrendering, to continue to grow collectively. Live it is to combine doing, being and being, it is an embodiment of the freedom and caring that we need more than ever as a society.

And so there will be hope. We will know that under the colonizing map drawn by pedagogy, paediatrics, educational laws, cartoons or formula, a territory continues to beat, which even when devastated and mutilated, recovers quickly and strongly because there is nothing more nourishing than human relationships and their bonds of trust.

An honest and empathetic relationship with babies, children and adolescents can stop the most violent erosion and make the future fertile and, even more, a common present that deserves to be protected and enjoyed.

Paco Herrero Azorin is a father and social educator. Expert in care pedagogy, author of Paco Herrero Azorin’s blog.

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