Season One, Episode One

What Do Kids Want?
The Logic behind Teaching Kids to Hate Drinking
and Love Playing

Click here for a transcript of this episode.

If you want to see a culture’s hopes and fears, look at their lesson plans. What we decide to teach – and what we decide to avoid teaching – tells us a lot about what we believe. In this episode, we ask: how do our ideas about children and childhood impact curriculum? How do changes in curriculum reflect changes in what adults believe children are, what children want, and what children need to learn?  

In response to these questions, we explore the bizarre lessons embedded in nineteenth-century temperance curriculum, which was dedicated to teaching children what not to want. (Hint: it’s alcohol!) We also examine the philosophy of German educator Friedrich Froebel, who placed children’s wants at the center of the school day. Finally, we consider the ongoing struggle over how much say young people have in the content of the lessons that they are asked to absorb.

image gallery

reading list

Anonymous. “Scientific Temperance Instruction: Temperance.” Alcohol: Problems and

Arthur, T. S. Ten Nights in a Bar Room and What I Saw There. Philadelphia, 1854.

Carsell, Edward. Temperance Stories and Sketches, Illustrated with Pen and Pencil. National Temperance Society and Publication House, 1879.

Dickens, Charles.  Infant Gardens.” Household Words, vol. 11, no. 278, July 21, 1855, pp. 577–582. 

Griggs, Hannah. “Teaching Sobriety with ‘The Bottle.’” The Atlantic May 27, 2018.  

Kobler, J. Ardent Spirits. Putnam’s Sons, 1973.

Students For Educational Justice  

Ronge, Johann and Bertha. A Practical Guide to the English Kinder-garten (Child Garden) for the Use of Mothers, Governesses, and English Teachers, sixth edition, A.N. Meyers & Co, 1874.

Wines, F. H., and J. Koren.  The Liquor Problem in Its Legislative Aspects: An Investigation Made Under the Direction of the Committee of Fifty. Houghton, Mifflin, 1897. 

The Children’s Table enjoys the support of: