EPISODES IN BIG FLAME HISTORY: No 20 Children
Posted by archivearchie on November 2, 2009
As the 1970s developed more and more members of Big Flame became parents and the organisation’s interest in children as a political issue increased. In May 1980 BF held a Day School for its members on the topic of “Children and Socialism”. This was an opportunity to bring into the open the dilemmas and contradictions they felt. Much of the Discussion Bulletin for that month was given over to articles on this theme. Here are two of the articles:
Children and Socialism: Discussion Bulletin May 1980 and Children and Socialism (1981).
Draws on an experience of collective childcare involving 6 adults and 3 children in two homes. Talks about supporting members of BF with children, noting some improvements in childcare within the organisation. Also considers the issue of passing politics on to children – letting them learn how politics is part of everyday life, that socialist politics can be fun, and that children must be given a chance to define what they do.
Socialism and Childcare: Discussion Bulletin May 1980 and Children and Socialism (1981).
Discusses the pressures on isolated mothers with very young children, the factors crucial to the job of bringing up children, and the how the medical profession controls women (induced childbirth, breast feeding) and how schools exclude them from involvement with the children (in relation to the last two issues there may have been some improvements over the last 30 years).
Other articles in the Bulletin were “Notes on Being a Red Teacher” (included in the post on Education see Episode 13), a guide to organising a crèche and one on Kinderhaus, a childcare facility in Hamburg.
The Day School involved workshops on the topics Women’s and Children’s Oppression; Possessiveness and Jealousy; Racism and Children; and Class Differences in the way we deal with Children. In 1981, about a year after the Day School, a pamphlet entitled Children and Socialism was issued. It included the previous Bulletin articles, the workshop notes (where available), a talk given in a general session and notes for the Opening Plenary session. Here are the Plenary notes:
Children and Socialism: Opening Plenary Session: Children and Socialism (1981).
Covers a range of issues such as the difficulties of bringing up children as socialists; non-parents and kids; state nurseries and the interaction between revolutionary politics and bringing up children (the lack of sympathy from many on the left to the problems, resentment from children with parents constantly out at meetings).
Note: Titles of articles or documents in red and bold are links to the full version. Press on them to bring up a PDF of the document.