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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

Thematically, this course is linked to the Bachelor course Praktische Pedagogiek: de vertaling van wetenschap naar praktijk


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


Mode of instruction


Assessment method



During this course Blackboard 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.



Students need to register for lectures in uSis. It is not possible to take a course without a valid registration.


Students are not automatically registered for exams. They can register themselves in uSis until 10 calendar days before the exam date at the latest. Students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the exam.

Please consult the course and exam registration website for information on registration periods and further instructions.

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 holds offices on Monday (11.00 tot 12.00).