Social Interaction, Social Context, and Language: Essays in Honor of Susan Ervin-Tripp

By Dan Isaac Slobin; Julie Gerhardt et al. | Go to book overview

23 1
THE DEVELOPMENT OF COLLABORATIVE STORY RETELLING BY A TWO-YEAR-OLD BLIND CHILD AND HIS FATHER

Ann M. Peters
University of Hawai'i


INTRODUCTION

An important part of the process of socializing young children lies in the transfer of cultural knowledge from caregiver to child. Vygotsky ( 1962, 1978) has emphasized the social (as opposed to the cognitive) nature of such transfer, together with the notion that, with the interactive help of a caregiver, the child must reconstruct such knowledge for himself at the same time as he internalizes it. Vygotsky's focus on the interpersonal context in which sociocultural knowledge is transferred lends itself to the metaphor of apprenticeship even where very young children are involved: the caregiver can be seen as assuming the role of cultural expert while the child takes the role of cultural novice. Adopting such a viewpoint makes us particularly aware of the context dependent nature of cognitive learning.

Once we accept this view of socialization, two important questions arise. First, what do both participants do to ensure that the sociocultural knowledge which the caregiver/expert wishes to transfer is made available to the child/novice in a usable form? Second, how do they see to it that the child has an opportunity to interact with this knowledge in such a way that it can be internalized? Rogoff ( 1990; Rogoff & Gauvain, 1986; Rogoff, Malkin, & Gilbride, 1984) has repeatedly reminded us that both participants actively work at such tasks, and that we must look both at what the adult does to promote the learning as well as at what the child does to involve herself in the learning activity. Furthermore, we must concern ourselves not only with the transfer of the knowledge, but also with the transfer of the responsibility for making use of the knowl

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Preparation of this paper was supported in part by NSF grant BNS-8418272, the Social Science Research Institute of the University of Hawai'i, the MIT Center for Cognitive Science under a grant from the A. P. Sloan Foundation's program in cognitive science, and the Institute for Cognitive Science, University of Colorado at Boulder. I wish to thank Alison Adams, Betsy Brandt, and Herb Roitblat for their helpful comments and suggestions when I was first trying to analyze the story data, and Patricia Donegan, Barbara Fox and Lise Menn for comments on various drafts, as well as the editors of the present volume.

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