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Child care, experts, and parents: historical trends


NB Language of instruction is English unless only Dutch-speaking students participate

Admission requirements



In this course we highlight historical trends in advice to parents about child raising.

Since a few centuries, parents are assisted by so-called experts who provide them with guidelines as to how to bring up their children. Clergymen, medical doctors, pedagogues, and, increasingly, psychologists have voiced strong opinions about mundane matters such as bedtime tantrums and toilet training.

It was repeatedly suggested that bringing up a child is too difficult a task for ordinary parents. Meanwhile, the experts themselves differed in opinion and their counsel did not always rest upon solid scientific research. It will be shown that advice was influenced by such currents as psychoanalysis and behaviorism and that it changed when new concepts became fashionable or new technologies became available. Evidently, much allegedly scientific advice was based upon no more than contemporary culture-bound opinion.

Time table

For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable

Mode of instruction


Assessment method



During this course Brightspace will be used.

Reading list

  • Christina Hardyment (2007). Dream babies: Childcare advice from John Locke to Gina Ford. London.

  • Daniel Beekman (1977). The mechanical baby: a popular history of the theory and practice of child raising. Westport.


It is mandatory to register for each course via uSis. This applies to both the lectures and the working groups, even if they take place online. Without a valid registration in uSis you will not be able to participate in the course and you will not have access to the Brightspace module of the course.

In addition, it is also mandatory to register separately in uSis for each exam (i.e. both the first exam opportunity and, if necessary, the resit) in uSis. This also applies to partial examinations in a course. This is possible up to 10 calendar days prior to the exam. You cannot take the exam without a valid registration in uSis.

NB If the exam concerns a paper or a practical assignment, you do not need to register in uSis.

Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.

NB The exam of this course is a paper. This means that you do not have to register yourself for this exam in uSis.

Contact information

During this course Dr. L. van Rosmalen