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Q&A about childhood in different cultures with Jay Griffiths, author of Kith: A Riddle of Childscapes-ANSWERS BACK

(44 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 23-May-13 13:01:34

We're running a Q&A this week with Jay Griffiths author of Kith: A Riddle of Childscapes. Jay's book came about while she was travelling the world in order to write her award-winning book Wild. She became increasingly aware of the huge differences in how childhood is experienced in various cultures. Post your questions to Jay about her findings and about what indigenous cultures can teach us about chlldren's relationship to the natural world. The Q&A closes on Thursday 30 May and we'll post up Jay's answers on 7 June.

Read Jay Griffiths' recent guest blog, Should we give children more autonomy over food? for Mumsnet bloggers network.

Thinkingpositively Fri 24-May-13 23:34:00

Wow...I read a rather scathing review of this the Times I think? Very glad to see it mentioned again because I am very keen to read it.

I am really quite fascinated by the themes that were discussed in the article and thought the reviewer was completely misguided.

I will attempt to think of some questions to ask Jay. Unfortunately I haven't got time to read the book yet as I am up to neck in MA.

WouldBeHarrietVane Fri 24-May-13 23:42:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Vividmemories Sun 26-May-13 16:39:02

I read the article in the Guardian magazine about your book, and you seem to use the word "children" when you mean "boys". I expect the freedom and autonomy you mention in all these other societies does not extend to the girls.

Tee2072 Sun 26-May-13 17:34:20

I have never heard of this book before. I would like to know, based on the Amazon blub I just read, on what she bases the fact that most of our children are unhappy?

bordellosboheme Sun 26-May-13 19:22:17

What can you tell us about childhood in Africa? I mention this because I watched a disturbing programme about treatment of so called 'child witches' in the Congo. I have been haunted ever since.... And am thankful ever since for the human rights in this country. Isn it true that we are doing a lot right and have a lot to be thankful for in the uk??

Royalmailer Sun 26-May-13 19:36:02


Which indigenous cultures did you choose to study and why?

Your title seems to imply that ALL indigenous cultures have a better relationship with nature- is this really true?

What research methods did you use when gathering data?

To what extent are you making a value judgement?

EmpressOfTheSevenOceans Sun 26-May-13 19:56:06

isn't giving children control of their foods in areas where that food's mainly limited to meat and plants a bit different from doing it inn a country full of unhealthy foods which are quick, easy and specifically designed to attract kids?

Thinkingpositively Sun 26-May-13 22:13:56

Empressofthesevenoceans ...i have made that point too in the other thread. I don't think this is the point Jay is actually making though. I think she is just exploring the notion that children, deeply and meaningfully connected to the natural world are generally happier. Indigenous cultures are a point of reference and learning because they are reliant on the natural world and it's resources to meet need.

Royalmailer Sun 26-May-13 22:42:51

We are all reliant on the natural world for our resources. Every single one of us.

Where is the evidence that 'indigenous people' (which ones?) are more reliant on nature?

I'm terribly sorry but I don't believe this slightly woo and patronising 'indigenous people are just sooo in touch with nature' belief is helpful in actually contributing to a realistic view of how indigenous cultures live in contemporary society.

And FGS which ones?? They are individual cultures you know, not just some mass of indigenous 'other'.

The experience of say, a First Nations Canadian is going to be vastly different than, say, an East African Pygmy. I wish the lady who wrote this book would actually name the cultures she's comparing.

It occurs to me that a far more useful comparison would be of rural and urban children and their relationships to nature.

TumbleweedAndSandDunes Sun 26-May-13 23:56:20

I'm very interested in how children would 'naturally' be raised, and look forward to reading your book Jay.

Did you find a general similarity between the ages children are weaned, more independent and given more responsibilities so on in most 'natural' communities, or was there a large variation?

GoshAnneGorilla Mon 27-May-13 01:38:07

I am sharing Royalmailer concerns here. Especially considering the very real issues many indigenous cultures face.

GoshAnneGorilla Mon 27-May-13 01:42:45

I think this review provides quite an interesting critique

GoshAnneGorilla Mon 27-May-13 01:48:58

In case you didn't know Mary Beard was great, here's her take on the book:

Jibberoo Mon 27-May-13 08:09:30

I think the article raises interesting debate but I would like to ask how the writer sees this in reality. While we can give control to children in nature it's a bit hard to let them catch and cook in the city. I'm all for asking my son what he wants to eat (with some moderation from me) and getting him involved with cooking but modern day life isn't suited to a 3yo cooking/ choosing. What practical ideas does author have for bring more food control into western societies? (I'd let ds go shopping but somehow think wed come back with sweets not food from tescos- a problem indigenous societies don't have, an abundance of food)

JesusInTheCabbageVan Mon 27-May-13 11:18:05

Not so much a question as an observation: the thing about kids wearing goggles to play conkers is a myth

Tee2072 Mon 27-May-13 12:34:45

Thanks for both review links, Gosh. Interesting.

I don't disagree with her that we protect our children too much. I do wonder, though, where that 'square mile of wilderness' (may be misquoting or paraphrasing) is going to come from when kids live in London or even, really, here in Belfast.

OrangeFootedScrubfowl Wed 29-May-13 08:33:05

Haven't seen the book, but the Mary Beard review was very pleasant to read, she is good isn't she?

Everyone's mental health is improved by time in the outdoors isn't it? Adults and children. We need to see green open spaces.

OrangeFootedScrubfowl Wed 29-May-13 08:35:37

I do think children having a bit of freedom is a good thing, I remember heading out as a pre-teen in a gang, exploring the woods, I think it was an important time, learning some independence, learning about risks, also learning how to communicate / negotiate in a group without adults, not at school, not on a play date.

EmpressOfTheSevenOceans Thu 30-May-13 16:56:22

Absolutely, Scrubfowl. But that's DCs who have access to woods - is it the same for urban kids who would be exploring city centres?

I thought Vividmemories had an excellent point too, I'd like to know whether the girls are able to roam freely or whether they're stuck with the chores.

dogindisguise Thu 30-May-13 20:47:03

I was wondering if we tend to idealise tribes, forgetting that tribal life could sometimes be, nasty, brutish and short. How can we incorporate the positive aspects into a world in which people live in isolated nuclear families?

GoshAnneGorilla Fri 31-May-13 04:15:40

I think if you get children to describe their worlds, they would often have positive things to say about them, even those who live in urban areas.

When I was looking at schools for dd (we live in an urban area), quite a few of them had areas for "forest schools", somewhere where the children could be outside and learn, so there are efforts to get children closer to nature.

isa953 Fri 31-May-13 13:03:49

I love the idea of Forest Schools! Hadn't heard of them before. What are they exactly? Schools with outdoor spaces and some teaching happens outside? Or do you send your kid on a trip for a week to be in the forest? I could do with a week in the woods at the moment...

Links to more reviews of Kith:

LaraMumsnet (MNHQ) Sat 01-Jun-13 10:07:35

This Q&A is now closed and we'll be sending your questions over to Jay Griffiths and we'll post up Jay's answers on 7 June.

TinyDiamond Sun 02-Jun-13 23:06:23

marking place book arrived this week looking forward to it

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