Johann Christoph Arnold
Plough, 2014, £9.24, Pb 189pp, ISBN 9780874866308
Reviewed by Sarah Germain, a former hospital doctor and former CMF Junior Doctors' Committee chairman
In a world where many pressures seek to deny children a happy and healthy childhood, Arnold aims to write a 'hopeful book about childhood'. He challenges parents and teachers to transform the way society is treating children. He starts by explaining why the world needs children, and challenges our Western society to value them as many other societies do. He then goes on to look at areas where children face pressure and danger.
Arnold's style is warm, yet challenging, drawing on the experience of many parents and educators, with thought provoking examples. He warns against rigid testing in schools at an early age; pushing children to succeed and achieve; the many dangers of technology and materialism; and prescribing drugs for 'normal childhood traits'. He goes on to discuss the positive ways we can influence children to be 'what we want the world to be like'.
As a parent, I was struck by many of his suggestions, including ensuring our words and actions are in line with our ideals, valuing time and attention over material things, and encouraging perseverance and pride in achievement. It is a shame more of a Christian worldview wasn't included, apart from the chapter on 'discovering reverence'. His theology of the 'purity and innocence' of children is also problematic. This aside, it is an easy, yet thought-provoking read for any parents, teachers or carers of children.