I wonder what these school children in Zurich, Switzerland were looking at!

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Proud mom in Fengdu

A proud mom and son at the daily market in Fengdu on the Yangzi River in southwest China.

What do you know about childhood?

Are the following true or false?

1). Child labour was integral to the work force in the 1750-1850 Industrial Revolution.
2). Childhood obesity is a major concern today.
3). Many believe children spend too much time on computers and don’t play outside enough.
4). The movie, Bambi, released in 1942, is still a favourite with children.
5). The concept of “childhood” was invented during the 1837-1901 Victorian Era when child labour was abolished.

There is an answer key at the end of this blog.

Childhood is the stage between birth and twelve years usually associated with joy, play, exploration and learning. Conditions varied in the past, however, and those depicted in The Inheritance describe childhood in Calabria, southern Italy during 1897 to 1913.

What were your chores as a five year old?

a). washing windows with well water mixed with vinegar
b). peeling potatoes for goat stew dinner
c). washing clothes in the stream
d). collecting dried corn cobs for the fire
e). tending carrots in the garden

In chapter three, Caterina is five years old. It is 1902 and her family works for Anna and Santo Marino who own the Villa San Michele Estate. These activities depict how she and other peasant children spend a typical day.

How many of these chores did you check?
For those who are parents, what chores have you assigned your five year olds?

Little boy on bike in Xian

A perfectly colour-coordinated little boy in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, China.

Who would you prefer to teach your children?

a). The local priest whenever he can visit our home and provide informal instruction in basic skills. ___
b). An experienced private tutor on a one to one basis with a structured schedule and formal curriculum. ___

In chapter three, Padre Valentine, the priest in Cetraro, gives Caterina informal lessons when he visits her and her father, Edoardo, in their cottage on the peasant enclave. By the time she is five, Padre Valentine has taught her to count to twenty; an exemplary achievement compared to the norm.

By comparison, Santo Marino hires a private tutor in 1897 for Lorenzo, his youngest son, when he is three years old. Lorenzo can read and write at six and began studying Latin at nine. In addition and given that he is exempt from the routine chores that typify Caterina’s days; Lorenzo spends his leisure time developing artistic talents.

A study in contrasts

These examples create a sense of childhood conditions with respect to the different social classes during the time period of The Inheritance. The situation also sets the stage for the inevitable conflicts that would arise should someone from the peasant class aspire to an education reserved for those from the upper echelon.

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Answer Key: All the statements are true.

What were your childhood experiences? How did they compare to your parents and grandparents? I’d welcome your comments.
I hope you enjoy my photographs of children from places I have visited.

Girl-squatting in bright clothing in Shaanxi Province China

This child from Xi’an in Shaanxi Province, China looked adorable in her bright clothes.

Little boy posing for photo in India

This little boy in Orchha village, north central India posed to let me take his picture.

Adorable girl in Shaanxi Province China

Doesn’t this little girl from Xi’an in Shaanxi Province, China remind you of a porcelain doll?