NEW YORK — Public television stations KCET in Los Angeles and WNET here have embarked on an $8-million, 8- to 10-part series about "Childhood," officials at the two stations said Monday.
Described as "a social history," the series aims to examine how parents and societies have raised children throughout history and across cultures.
"This is not intended as a course in developmental psychology, or an expose, or a how-to show, but as a broad picture of childhood throughout history and of the (historical) implications for childhood today," said Geoffrey Haines-Stiles, co-executive producer of the projected series.
"We may not suggest any answers, but we intend to raise questions about where we've arrived at (in terms of child-rearing), and whether or not we really want to be here."
The series, projected for the 1989 public television season, is "many millions of dollars" away from the start of actual production, according to officials at the two stations.
However, grants of $400,000 from the National Science Foundation and $250,000 from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and public television stations have prompted KCET and WNET to move forward with the development of the series, with plans to start filming early next year if the rest of the budget can be raised.
Some of that funding is expected to come from the Channel Four TV network in Great Britain, which would become a production partner in the venture. The stations also hope to obtain funds from corporations, foundations or other government agencies.
Haines-Stiles, an independent producer who served as senior producer and director for KCET's "Cosmos" science series, said that he and David Loxton, head of drama at WNET, originated the idea for the series because they were aware of the emergence of new ideas and information about childhood as "a mirror of society," and because of the success of other broad-ranging public-television series such as "The Ascent of Man" and "The Brain."
"We've been encouraged by the audience response to these kinds of series, which raise significant issues, but which deal in subject matter that is not usually seen on commercial television," he explained.
Plans call for the new series to incorporate anthropological film footage, historical vignettes, reports on contemporary experiments and interviews with leading researchers in sociology, psychology, anthropology, social history and early-childhood education.