This book honors the particulars of everyday life. Based on an ethnographic study conducted in a Greek community, it celebrates the small ways people teach and learn while they are engaged in other, supposedly more important, activities. By examining the intricate ways in which knowledge and skills of everyday life are transmitted, I hope to show how family, community, and culture shape the cognitive world of learners.
My decision to study informal teaching and learning in Greece, while it had its academic origins, was also motivated by personal curiosity. Over many years of interacting with Greeks both in Greece and in the United States, I had wondered how learning processes might be different for Greeks than for Americans of northern European backgrounds such as myself. An example of an event that whetted this curiosity was a party I attended in San Francisco for a Greek friend's name day. Most of the people attending the party were in their 20s and 30s and were or had been at one time foreign students in the United States. Some had since become permanent residents or citizens, but all shared direct roots in Greece. One young man brought with him his aunt, a woman in her 50s, who had just arrived from Greece for an extended visit. When the dancing began (as it almost always did at such gatherings), it became clear that the aunt was an expert dancer. She led several circle dances with great finesse, wheeling and turning and generally doing what Greeks call figoures -- special moves by the lead dancer involving more creativity and skill than the regular dance steps done by the others in the circle. When an American woman indicated to her that she wanted to learn, the aunt took her by the hand and brought her firmly into the circle. Pulling the American woman along, the aunt