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24 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET CHAPTER ONE Seeing Children Differently I believe the field of early childhood education must reframe our under- standing of human beings so that middle-aged adulthood no longer resides at the pinnacle of a mythical developmental pyramid. Just as Franz Boas leveled the field by eliminating labels like “barbaric” and “savage” and asserting that all groups had their own culture, the time has come to stop judging the culture of childhood by the culture of adulthood. Children are members of a separate culture and deserve recognition that they possess their own Complete Behavior Guidebook. Furthermore, they deserve the respect of adults and interactions that reflect culturally appropriate methods. Much of the evidence for Boas’s new model in anthropology came from the scientists who lived and worked among the groups they were studying. These ethnographers studied groups of people considered to be simpleminded and unsophisticated, and discovered high levels of complexity and structure. In trying to understand how childhood is a distinct culture, we adults who live and work among children are like ethnographers, seeking to understand them in their own cultural context. Furthermore, we oppose systems that try to impose culturally irrelevant patterns of thinking and behavior on children. Children are not primitive adults, and they are not incomplete human beings; they are whole human beings who deserve to be understood and respected. Boas and other scientists who followed believed they were estab- lishing a system that would counter racism and ethnocentrism that grows out of sentiments of superiority. I understand my unique cul- tural orientation as one that was created by my geography, history, and community rather than perpetuating an understanding that ignores the existence of any other worldview, or uses my own worldview as the measure of rightness. I see others as products of their culture, embed- ded in a way of being that is different from my own. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL