Ted's teaching tips;The Big Picture;Features and arts

26th November 1999 at 00:00
(Photograph) - See page 14

Are young children in make-up shocking or is this just the time-honoured game of "dressing up"? This picture raises questions about the notion of childhood.

Childhood

For how long are we children? Do children become adults at different ages (the adolescent growth spurt occurs around 12-13 for girls and about 18 months later for boys; hands and feet grow first, reaching adult size quickly, hence clumsiness; most people grow a tiny bit more between 18 and 21, late adolescence)? What do children do to mimic adults (wear make-up, adult clothes; become bossy and assertive)? Is this bad?

Cosmetics

What are cosmetics (lipstick, powder, eyeliner)? What are they made of (fats, oils, colouring, scents)? Why do people wear them (to exaggerate features, such as eyebrows, colour of lips; to attract the opposite sex; to cover up wrinkles)? Look at adverts for cosmetics; how do they persuade you (stress beauty, elegance, desirability, popularity, success, smartness)?

Gender

We think of girls wearing make-up, how do boys behave to look grown up (imitate footballers, pop stars, dress like adults, strut, smoke - girls smoke more - drink)? Are boys more immature? Do they show off more, behave in a "childish" way, or is there no difference?

Writingdiscussion

Debate, or write about: "Childhood is so important we should stay in it as long as possible."

Ted Wragg is professor of education at Exeter University

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