Thinking across Cultures

By Donald M. Topping; Doris C. Crowell et al. | Go to book overview

26
The Influence of Occupational Experience in Spatial Development of Children in a Rural Indian Setting
Swapna Mukhopadhyay Syracuse UniversityThe present study explores the role of cultural context in the development of basic spatio-cognitive understanding of children. As a dissertation research conducted over a period of a year in rural India, the basic questions addressed are:
Do children growing up in different cultures have different strategies or ways of thinking about their visual environment?
To what extent does the ordering of the objects or events in their visual environments shape or direct their thinking?
Do their cognitive organization and representational information differ with respect to the socio-cultural environments in which they are located?

The primary aim was to explore the nature of cognitive enrichment or amplification of spatial skills as they occur in the work settings of three different occupational groups or castes in India: weaver, potter, and farmer and examine the resulting patterns of cognitive performances of their younger members in naturalistic settings. The repertoire of a child's available experience (together with its organizational structure) which is necessary for meaningful functioning and survival in a certain cultural ecology provide for the cognitive enrichment.

Caste in India is an ancient and traditional form of occupational segregation. Unlike the members of higher castes, the rural artisan castes (low in social and economic status), continue to follow their traditional vocations. Because of their low economic status, the entire family of an artisan must take part in the production process. As a result, the informal educational setting of apprenticeship training of the young in the family craft is a product

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