The feature article “The Hurried Child” written by Kathleen McDonnell uses language conventions to put forth particular ideas about contemporary childhood. Contemporary childhood is presented as being negative in the article ‘The Hurried Child”, even the title of the article has negative connotations.
The main ideas centre on the notion that children no longer have a traditional childhood and parents are encouraging them to act beyond their age in years. The authors attitude is that a traditional childhood was more beneficial in create caring adults that are vested in their community. Through the use of appealing to the audiences’ personal ideals, such as paternalistic values and authority, repetition and exclusive language the main ideas are presented. The feature article The Hurried Child presents several ideas about contemporary childhood.
The main idea introduced is that children no longer have the traditional childhood. Traditional childhood is defined as the expectations of a child having fun, playing sport and portraying innocence in the rawest manner. The author has appealed to traditional paternalistic values as well as through the use of repetition. Traditional paternalistic values concern particular ideals such as a parents’ role being to assist their child in their growth and creating a supportive and loving environment.
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Appeals to traditional paternalistic values are made to indicate that the author’s opinion is of benefit to the audience (target audience being parents) because the author seemingly knows best. “Our culture puts a greater value on work than it does family and community life. ” This quote is a direct appeal to one’s values of traditional paternalism. The author’s idea that parents are now putting more value on their work would offend many, which the author has done intentionally to strengthen their argument of children no longer having a customary childhood.
Another technique used to suggest the idea that children no longer have a substantial childhood is the use of repetition. Using repetition as a language convention directly reinforces the author’s opinion because it emphasises and places a point in the audience’s mind. The quote “no time to play, no time to be bored, not time to just be” directly shows the audience that children no longer have time of their own that they are in control of.
Freedom of time is often associated with childhood because children are supposed to have time to play and be silly and leave worrying for the adults or until they themselves are adults. The repetition example here is used to enforce and emphasise the fact that children no longer have those ‘fun’ moments, compared to generations before when childhood was focused mainly on the outdoors and not on study. Both techniques, appeal to traditional paternalism and repetition are used to enforce the author’s idea that children no longer have a childhood.
Appeal to authority is predominant in the text The Hurried Child. Appeal to authority is used to manipulate the audience into believing what the author is saying, because they may respect of feel intimidated by the authority’s knowledge or expertise. The author includes the opinion of a Psychologist, David Elkind on the idea that children no longer have a real childhood. Considering my ambition is to become a Psychologist, the author’s use of an opinion of a Psychologist automatically gains my respect and allows the author’s opinion to be strengthened in my mind.
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The author’s appeal to authority is successful in attempting to persuade the audience into agreement and in my response this is evident. The article was published in March 2002, when I was a five year old. Therefore, in my opinion the article was written about my generation going through childhood and because of this I dislike the author’s use of inclusive and exclusive language. Inclusive language is used to strengthen the author’s opinion because particular groups of the audience will be included, such as children’s opinions not being of much worth.
However, when there is inclusive language there is also exclusive language. Exclusive language has intentionally excluded a group to further strengthen their opinion of children’s ideas not being of worth, within the target audience’s mind. “We shouldn’t make the mistake thinking that kids are just brain washed puppets” is an example of inclusive and exclusive language. The target audience (parents and adults) are included because the author is incorporating them within her argument whereas the subject group, children are excluded by the author’s use of ‘kids’.
The author, Kathleen McDonnell, presents the main idea of children no longer having a traditional childhood in the article “The Hurried Child” by using language conventions such as appealing to one’s sense of authority and paternalistic values, as well as repetition and exclusive language. The author believes that a traditional childhood would lead to children growing up into caring and supportive adults who give back to their community, which is what we should all strive for.