"I was born at midnight. That means I can see ghosts when they want to be invisible," writes fourth-grader David, demonstrating a child's capacity for making sense of personal experience. The Children in Our Lives explores this capacity, as well as how adult misperceptions of children's experiences affect those children. It invites dialogue between teachers, parents, other caregivers, and the general public who value children for their own sakes.
Adan looks for disparities between a child's experience and the adult's interpretation of that experience. In questioning middle-class nurturance, she focuses on connections between experience and interpretation based on dominant, traditional, or mainstream values. She argues that force of habit as well as a preoccupation with public image predisposes adults to embrace the abstractions that distort perception. Consequently, children are impaired—as adults are—in their ability to generate communities that are grounded in a creative concern for all human beings.
"Adan's ability to question her own experience with her children provides a model for understanding the complexity of relationships between adults and children. The insights that Adan provides on ordinary events force us to think two, three, or four times about what those events might have meant. She shows us a process, deeply rooted in theory and reflection, of questioning our first understanding. "—Joan B. Stone, Department of Education, Rochester Institute of Technology