Typically, we define children by what they are not: they are not adults. For the past twenty years, childhood researchers have looked at both children and adults using the concepts of “human becoming” and “human being.” Initially, they saw adults as “beings”: complete, finished people and citizens. Children were “becomings”: people and citizens in the making, moving toward completion; a development zone, lacking some critical element.
In the 1990s, this view changed. Children became “beings” too – citizens and people in their own right, with their own skills and abilities. Later, the picture was refined again. Children and adults were now both “beings” and “becomings”—competent, but still developing, citizens. Adulthood, just like childhood, was not static but variable.