The Well of Being

Childhood, Subjectivity, and Education

By David Kennedy

Subjects: Early Childhood Studies
Series: SUNY series, Early Childhood Education: Inquiries and Insights
Paperback : 9780791468265, 247 pages, July 2006
Hardcover : 9780791468258, 247 pages, July 2006

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

1. Questioning Childhood
      Whose Child?
      Which Adult?
      The Western Construction of Childhood
      Theorizing Childhood 
      Adult-Child Dialogue 
      The Child Before Us: Education, Parenting, and the Evolution of Subjectivity
2. The Primordial Child 
      The Divine Child
      The Romantic Child 
      Romanticism, Education, and the New Humanity
3. The Invention of Adulthood
      Adultism and Models of the Self 
      The Evolution of Adulthood/Childhood 
      The Evolution of the Adult-Child Relationship
4. Childhood and the Intersubject 
      Boundary Work
      The Ego Dethroned
      The Emergence of the Intersubject 
      Psychogenic Theory of History and the Present Age
      The Dialectics of Reason and Desire
      The Privileged Stranger
5. Reimagining School 
      The Purposes of Schooling
      The Space of Dialogue
      The School as Laboratory of the Third Way of Living 
      The Dark and the Light 


Offers a sweeping review of conceptions of and approaches to childhood.


In this wide-ranging work, David Kennedy undertakes a philosophically grounded analysis of the history of childhood, the history of adulthood, and their interrelationship. Using themes and perspectives from the history of childhood, mythology, psychoanalysis, art, literature, philosophy, and education, the author locates the experience of childhood across all stages of the human life cycle, and thereby weighs its transformative potential for human culture. He offers a nuanced approach to child study that raises issues about how adults see children and how children see themselves, which could lead to a qualitatively different system of teacher preparation—a system that views the child as participant rather than object in the structure of social reproduction. This sweeping review of conceptions of and approaches to childhood yields a profound vision of what schooling should be like.

David Kennedy is Associate Professor of Educational Foundations at Montclair State University.