Contexts for Learning: Sociocultural Dynamics in Children's Development

By Ellice A. Forman; Norris Minick et al. | Go to book overview

10
Toddlers' Guided Participation with Their Caregivers in Cultural Activity

BARBARA ROGOFF, CHRISTINE MOSIER, JAYANTHI MISTRY, and ARTIN GÖNCÜ

This chapter focuses on cultural similarities and variations in the guided participation of children in sociocultural activities. Children around the world, including middle-class U.S. children, learn and develop in situations of joint involvement with other people in culturally important activities. Caregivers and companions collaborate with children in deciding the nature of children's activities and their responsibilities for participation. In the process of collaboration children adapt their knowledge to new situations, structure problem-solving attempts, and regulate their responsibility for managing the process. This guidance and participation includes tacit forms of communication and distal arrangements of children's activities, as well as explicit verbal interaction. The mutual roles played by children and their caregivers rely on both the interest of caregivers in fostering mature roles and skills and children's own eagerness to participate in adult activities and to push their development.

Along with similarities across cultures in children's guided participation in sociocultural activities are important differences in the skills that are valued, the means of communication (e.g., dyadic conversation between adults and children versus action communication with status differences in conversation between adults and children), and the extent to which children enter into adult activity versus adults share children's activity. Middle-class children may need didactic instruction owing to their segregation from opportunities to observe and participate in important cultural activities, whereas children who have the opportunity to participate in the activities of their community may be able to shoulder the responsibility for learning themselves.

These themes are explored with illustrations from preliminary analyses of observations of eight toddlers and their caregivers from a Mayan town in Guatemala and eight toddlers and their caregivers from an urban setting in the United States (Salt Lake City). (The data are preliminary suggestions from a larger study to be reported as a monograph, involving 56 toddlers from Guatemala, India, Turkey, and the United States.) The toddlers from each setting involved an approximately equal number of boys and girls, first-

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