This Week at TC: The Society for the History of Children and Youth Conference (June 23-25) ☆

“The State of Children:  Politics and Policies of Childhood in Global Perspective”

The Society for the History of Children and Youth is an international scholarly organization that places current controversies involving children in historical perspective. The SHCY’s sixth biennial conference will take place June 23-25 at Teacher’s College. Admission for TC students and faculty is free of charge.

Professor Steven Mintz, SHCY President and the Director of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Teaching Center, encourages the TC community to attend.  “This conference is unique both in its policy-oriented approach and its global perspective,” he says.  “The 300 conference participants include leading authorities on childhood and youth from Britain, China, Denmark, Germany, India, Israel, and Sweden, as well as the United States. Their scholarly backgrounds are highly interdisciplinary.  They come from anthropology, art history, biology, demography, developmental psychology, history, law, literature, philosophy, and sociology.”

The conference offers TC students many opportunities to network with experts on child abuse, children’s health, educational and welfare policy, and international adoption, among others topics.  The conference’s international angle will encourage attendees to recognize how differently other societies address children’s issues.

Event organizer and Ph.D. student in History and Education Antonia Abram echoes Mintz’s regard for the conference’s international perspective.  She cites two sessions concerning children and war as being particularly valuable because “Americans don’t have a real sense of living with war. We live with terrorism, yes, but not nearly in the same way as children living in other parts of the globe do.”

Another standout session promises to be “The Disappearance of Childhood Revisited”.  It will address the popular notion that childhood is breaking down right before our eyes – that kids are growing increasingly disrespectful, that they lack initiative and drive, and that their culture has been colonized by an aggressive consumer culture.  This panel consists of widely published experts and addresses an issue of great relevance to teachers, future teachers, and school administrators.

Mintz, the author of the seminal history of American childhood, Huck’s Raft, will deliver the Presidential Address, “Why the History of Childhood Matters” on the final day of the event.

How did TC come to host the SHCY conference?  TC Social Studies Professor and Arts & Humanities Department Chair Margaret Crocco credits Mintz for recognizing the value of joining the two institutions, and recalls an early conversation between them.  “While there are historians across the street who  take childhood and youth as the focal point of their research, that’s what TC is all about.  He (Mintz) felt that in doing the conference at TC, there would be people from a variety of disciplines here who would want to attend.” Mintz adds, “Childhood is a subject that is inherently interdisciplinary, and TC is distinctive in its faculty’s cross-disciplinary breadth.”

In addition, Mintz notes, TC has long been committed to the idea that an understanding of history should be central to teacher preparation.  “The problems confronting educators today are anything but novel. Virtually every challenge faced by teachers today has precedents.  We would do well to learn from past successes and failures.”

Click here for the conference program.

To attend:

Teachers College students and faculty may attend free of charge and without advance registration.  At the conference, please stop by the registration desk to sign in.

Columbia University students and faculty may also attend free of charge, but should contact Professor Mintz to register at