Barbara Rogoff’s book The Cultural Nature of Human Development makes numerous topical points on how cultural conceptions influence people and society. The chapter “Thinking with Tools and Institutions of Culture” deals with how people, more specifically children, apperceive mental and social skills from sociocultural intercommunication and how these interactions form their thinking. The author places children’s development at the chapter’s forefront, due in part to the sheer amount of information children process during their formative years, and thus creates a way of contextually analyzing numerous cultural influences.
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Creating Context and Considering Cultural Specific Tools
Cultural circumstances and the framework of children’s upbringing influence the way they perceive information, hone their skills, and even think. Formerly, Piaget had created a conception of child development without considering the particularities of children outside his own European cultural background, which therefore may not be accurately applied to a massive part of the world’s children (Rogoff 238). Realizing this oversight, the further attempted subdivision of processes laid the groundwork for the development of a research method that would “integrate thinking with contexts of thought” (Rogoff 241).
Context allows realizing and understanding the processes behind children’s lives and their influence on the way they go about seemingly day-to-day activities, for example, our “standard” multiplication, which may not be a typical method worldwide. (Rogoff 278-279). Knowledge of history may help achieve an understanding of culture, which in turn gives a chance to understand children’s development beyond a momentary scope and effectively accommodate teaching and communication methods.
Schooling Practices, Intelligence, and Maturity
Cultural context becomes the gateway to adaptive methods of education and accurate assessments of mental capacity, unburdened from inappropriate expectations. Children learn from situations they have experienced and have knowledge of, such as, for example, standardized testing, and display substandard results when faced with cases they have not previously participated in (Rogoff 242).
Evaluating intelligence and maturity, therefore, requires first outlining the environmental meaning of the words before applying them to a specific child’s circumstances, past achievements, and future goals (Rogoff 249-252). The development of children, thus, cannot be removed from the setting of their background and becomes a fascinating phenomenon in a multi-cultural environment.
Generalizing Experience and Achieving Situational Flexibility
Applying previous knowledge to future experiences is a significant part of children’s learning processes, becoming a necessary skill for adult life and providing the youth with a crucial probation period. Thus, the education process becomes critical, supporting learning whose “circumstances relate to each other and which approaches fit different circumstances,” cultivating a flexible attitude to solving problems (Rogoff 255).
Receiving this knowledge is only possible if during development children understand the taught concepts’ use, the mechanisms that permit their functioning, and their cultural setting use, allowing applying the same method to similar problems (Rogoff 253). Recognizing the similar nature of obstacles and cultivating adaptability within the apperceived skillset, thus, should become the goal of childhood education, which submits adequately to possible inter-cultural concepts, rather than memorization without understanding.
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Children, during the most crucial part of their development, are open to the transmission of information, making the childhood learning period one of the most crucial ones. Considering the cultural variety exhibited by children, it becomes essential to not only recognize their background but also implement this knowledge when teaching and communicating with them. If an educator does not understand the child’s need for specific information, such as its future application, it is not possible to convince an individual of its necessity, especially if contrary to previous experiences.
Rogoff, Barbara. The Cultural Nature of Human Development. Oxford University Press, 2003.