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Fragment 3. Beto´s Reinvolvement in the Activity

Fragment 3. Beto´s Reinvolvement in the Activity

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Adults’ Orientation and Children’s Initiative


Image 3 Beto grabs a similar tool and joins the activity directly.

31. Father ! Beto: Are you working hard and


quickly? That shows spirit.


32. Father ! Beto: That’s enough


33. Beto:

((Beto steps on the fresh




34. Father ! Beto: Baby, heeey, you stepped

on it, get off


35. Father ! Beto: Your foot is full of mud (2.83) Not that way


36. Father ! Beto: They fix it and you ruin it.

37. Beto:

((Beto disengages from the activity briefly))


(7 Turns are omitted)

45. Beto ! Father: Ready, daddy, ready

46. Father ! Beto: We’re leaving now (.) Your mom is looking for you.


((The father kept justifying why Beto could not join in the activity until he

finished his work, then he justified leaving quickly, before Beto could

reengage in the activity)).

In response to his father’s rejection in fragment 2, fragment 3 shows Beto

grabbing a tool and getting directly involved in the activity. This suggests


Margarita Martínez-Pérez

that his father’s rejection is really just a provocation to increase his motivation. In fact, this reinforces the boy’s direct involvement and we see that the

father, far from being upset, smiles at the child’s action (Turn 26). However,

given the boy’s age and the activity’s level of specialization, it is clear that the

boy is not competent in the activity, which is why the father intervenes (in

Turn 29) to correct Beto’s actions. The father (in Turn 32) tells him that he

“has done enough” and implicitly ends his participation in the activity,

although Beto continues working with enthusiasm. Finally, (in Turn 33)

Beto does something serious, stepping on the fresh cement and ruining finished work, which brings about the definitive end of his participation in the

activity (Turn 34). We observe that the father gives Beto explanations and

evaluations (Turns 35 and 36) “your foot is all covered in mud,” “that’s

wrong,” and “they fix it and you ruin it” so that the boy realizes what he

has done. This last aspect shows how the father contributes to what de

Leo´n (2011) calls the socialization of attention. It also shows the care that

needs to be taken in this activity with a child’s limitations, which relates

to facet 5 of the LOPI model, which stresses guidance enabling the learner

to observe and pitch in that contributes to the construction of shared activity

in future endeavors.

Finally, (in Turn 45) Beto once again asks to join in the activity, and the

father (in Turn 36) justifies his rejection inventing that they are leaving

because “your mom is looking for you.” Thus, the father tries to shift the

boy’s attention to avoid his participation in the activity. This is a very valuable example, since it shows how adults use a series of explanations or justifications to keep children from participating in activities where they are not

competent enough to pitch in. We see that parents generally do not make an

explicit rejection, since Tsotsil parenting ideology consists of not discouraging children’s participation, but rather reinforcing their motivation and

directing it toward the development of a sense of responsibility, reliability,

and awareness of others.


The interactive nature of the relationship between little children and

adults shows a ritualized game of requesting and rejecting. This appears to be

related to de Leo´n’s observation (2005) about the provocation of fear among

the Tsotsil people of Zinacanta´n as a way to strengthen their ch’ulel (soul or

essence) and strengthen the character of Tsotsil infants. The adults’ apparent

dismissal of a child’s initiatives in these three examples serves as a kind of

provocation that strengthens the children’s motivation to pitch in to the

Adults’ Orientation and Children’s Initiative


activity as responsible and competent members. This relates to Ochs and

Izquierdo’s conception that “socialization practices that promote children’s

attention to the activity of others is a first step toward social awareness; social

responsiveness and self-reliance in practical matters that affirm the worth of

others and give dignity to the child’s own place within the family and

community” (2009:405).

It is important to emphasize that even though each activity analyzed

here would seem to be divided into several parts, ultimately it is a single

interaction serving as a project aimed at transforming the child’s participation in family and community activities. This is consistent with the LOPI

model (Rogoff, 2014): LOPI may be divided into seven facets, but they all

make up a whole and contribute to the same family and community


One of the main contributions of this chapter to the LOPI model is to

show the interactional nature of little children’s dealings with adults and the

wealth of communicative resources used between them in the interaction

process when an activity is being carried out. Verbal language as well as

pointing gestures serve to involve the participants’ vision and attention

interactively (Goodwin 2000; 2010), focusing on the creation and recreation of interaction frameworks and shared objects of attention. These are

already considered in the LOPI model, but the data in this chapter underscore the nature of juxtaposed communicative resources used in the child’s

initiative-taking and insistence, as well as the activity’s social organization

consisting of the guidance and accompaniment provided by adults in their

interactions with small children.

Previous work by Alcala´ et al. (2014) has pointed out that mothers with

an Indigenous American heritage report that children pitch in to household

activities on their own initiative. Similarly Coppens et al. (2014) report children’s own expectations of taking initiative in their contribution to household and community tasks, which are based on a sense of mutual

responsibility. However, it has not been shown how small children’s initiative actually unfolds and how their insistence draws adults in to break down

the activity’s execution into interactional sequences. This study shows that

the initiative of very young children is sometimes requested verbally as in

Activity 1, sometimes by direct incorporation (Activity 2), or on occasion

by a combination of both (verbal request and direct incorporation) as shown

in Activity 3.

The cases presented in this chapter not only show small children’s initiative and how they express it, but also presents the diversity of communicative resources they use to insist and become involved in the activity, as well


Margarita Martínez-Pérez

as to prompt adults to guide and accompany them in carrying out the activity. The chapter points out how the activity works like a magnet for children, who cannot resist and insist on pitching in. For this, children make

use of different verbal and nonverbal resources. They even get emotionally

involved, venting their tension and frustration when they are not allowed to

pitch in to the activities, until they convince adults to let them participate.

Thus, these results expand and enrich the ideas set forth in the LOPI model

(Rogoff, 2014) and previous research on children’s initiative in helping at

home. The data presented in this chapter on the processes of very young

Tsotsil children’s initiative and the support of adults may help us understand

the early basis of the sophisticated ways older Indigenous American children

contribute to household and community activities later in life.


Alcala´, L., Rogoff, B., Mejı´a-Arauz, R., & Coppens, A. D. (2014). Children’s initiative in

contributions to family work in indigenous-heritage and cosmopolitan communities in

Mexico. Human Development, 57, 96–115.

Coppens, A. D., Alcala´, L., Mejı´a-Arauz, R., & Rogoff, B. (2014). Children’s initiative in

family household work in Mexico. Human Development, 57, 116–130.

Correa-Chavez, M., Roberts, L. D. A., & Martı´nez-Pe´rez, M. (2011). Cultural patterns in

children’s learning through keen observation and participation in their communities.

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Burlington, MA: Academic Press.

de Leo´n, L. (2005). La llegada del alma. Lenguaje, infancia y socializacio´n entre los tzotziles de

Zinacanta´n (p. 396). Me´xico: CIESAS-INAH-CONACULTA.

de Leo´n, L. (2011). Calibrando” la atencio´n: directivos, adiestramiento, y responsabilidad en

el trabajo dome´stico de los nin˜os mayas zinacantecos. In S. Frisancho, M. T. Moreno,

P. Ruı´z-Bravo, & V. Zavala (Eds.), Aprendizaje, cultura y desarrollo. Una aproximacio´n interdisciplinaria (pp. 81–110). Lima: Universidad Pontificia Cato´lica del Peru´.

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J. Bock, & S. Gaskins (Eds.), The anthropology of learning in childhood (pp. 85–117).

Lanham, MD: Alta Mira Press.

Goodwin, M. H. (1990). He said, she said: Talks as social organization among black children.

Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Goodwin, C. (2000). Action and embodiment within situated human interaction. Journal of

Pragmatics, 32, 1489–1522.

Goodwin, M. H. (2006a). The hidden life of girls: Games of stance, status, and exclusion. Oxford:


Goodwin, M. H. (2006b). Participation, affect, and trajectory in family directive/response

sequences. Text and Talk, 26(4/5), 513–542. Special issue entitled family discourse, framing family. Deborah Tannen and Marjorie H. Goodwin (eds.).

Goodwin, C. (2007). Participation, stance and affect in the organization of activities. Discourse & Society, 18(1), 53–73.

Goodwin, C. (2010). Multimodality in human interaction. Calidoscopio, 8(2), 85–98.

Lave, J. (2001). La pra´ctica del aprendizaje. Chaiklin Seth and Lave Jane (comp.) (1996 [2001]).

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Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning. Legitimated peripherical participation.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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concept of activity in soviet psychology. Armonk, NY: Sharpe.

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valoradas entre los mayas de San Juan Chamula. Tesis de doctorado en Linguăstica Indoamericana del CIESAS.

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espan˜ol “Adquisicio´n del lenguaje y socializacio´n: tres historias de desarrollo y sus

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Me´xico. CIESAS.

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E. E. Ochs, & B. B. Schieffelin (Eds.), The handbook of language socialization (pp. 1–21).

Malden, MA: Blackwell.

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37(1), 102–138.

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Traduccio´n de Pilar Lacasa (p. 301). Barcelona, Espan˜a: Editorial Paido´s.

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Respect and Autonomy in

Children's Observation and

Participation in Adults’ Activities

Fernando A. García1

Program for the Formation of Bilingual Teachers in the Peruvian Amazonia (FORMABIAP) and the Ministry

of Education of Peru, Lima, Peru


Corresponding author: e-mail address: fgarcia20@yahoo.com








Learning to “Be Like People” in the Quechua Region

Quechua Notions of Respect and Autonomy

Children's Participation by Observing Activities

Learning in the Framework of Caretaking and Upbringing as Experienced by


6. The Development of Capacities for Autonomy










This chapter examines Peruvian Quechua children's learning by observing and pitching

in. The children concentrate attentively when they observe the activities of the adults

and they exercise autonomy in the context of adults’ encouragement of measured

behaviors while always showing respectful silence in the presence of their elders.


This chapter examines the development of autonomy and respect

among children in a Peruvian Indigenous community where children carefully observe adults’ activities while collaborating with them in different

ways, depending on their age. The line of argument is that these children,

in spite of the adults’ constant indications to them to keep quiet and behave

modestly in the presence of adults, display levels of autonomy that allow

them to undertake actions and learn in ways that benefit themselves and their

families. These ways of learning through observation and the development

Advances in Child Development and Behavior, Volume 49

ISSN 0065-2407



2015 Elsevier Inc.

All rights reserved.



Fernando A. García

of autonomy are grounded on the one hand in the Aucara´ community’s family education traditions, and on the other, in the challenges that each member of the community faces in preparing for participation in local life and in

other contexts outside the community.

Learning through observation and the encouragement of initiative,

within a framework of participation and with an emphasis on involving children in family and community activities, are key features of the learning

model proposed under the name Learning by Observing and Pitching In

(LOPI; Rogoff, 2014). This chapter offers a point of view that demonstrates

the holistic integration of these features of LOPI in a certain way of learning.

In this chapter, I analyze children’s learning through observation and

participation in the activities of a Peruvian Quechua community that offers

children frequent opportunities to be present in most of the activities that

their family and community undertake. By participating in their family’s significant activities, they act with interest and motivation to contribute to the

successful completion of these activities. Motivation linked to significant

family activities leads to meaningful learning gained by dealing with the

challenges that these activities entail. In this varied sociocultural framework,

it is remarkable that local education emerges with an orientation toward forming respectful people who learn and develop by observing in silence, with

certain restrictions imposed by adults that nevertheless do not frustrate or

inhibit their capacities for taking initiative.

In the first part of this chapter, I present the ancient context of the

Quechua locality that I come from and where I made my observations of

how adults help children develop as persons following the ideal of “being

like people.”

The second part of the chapter analyzes the notions of respect and autonomy as they are understood in the Quechua language and used in the discursive practices of the people living in the community of Aucara´. In the

community’s social practices and discourse, the two notions show a certain

complementarity, rather than contradiction, within the framework of the

formation of an ideal, fully developed person according to local visions.

The third part of the chapter looks at children’s observation of, and participation in, their parents’ day-to-day work. In this participation, children

clearly receive care and protection from the adults in the form of emotional

and physical proximity with family members and acquaintances. It is also

evident that children play a role in family and community activities and conduct themselves in a way that shows respect for the interactions among

adults, by keeping quiet and remaining calm. This sociocultural framework

Respect and Autonomy in Observation


is the space where the children’s autonomy develops through their participation in the family and community’s meaningful activities.

The next section presents the community’s conceptions about learning

through the care and upbringing that parents offer their children so they

develop as fully as possible, in accordance with their notions of human formation. This section focuses on the fact that the data presented on childcare,

based on observations of everyday life, are highly consistent with the conceptions and ideas that parents express about children’s overall development

in the perspective of “becoming people.”

The last part looks at the way children develop the capacity for autonomy

in the opportunities for participation and learning that parents procure for

them in day-to-day life. The argument is that the care and appreciation that

adults offer serve to ensure the children’s comprehensive development and

enable them to acquire capabilities for autonomy in carrying out their initiatives, within a scaffolding of social rules that adults enforce so that children

will be respectful toward their elders.



The locality of Aucara´,1 where the data presented here were gathered,

is a Quechua-speaking community in the southern Andes of Peru, a settlement with ancient pre-Inca historical roots (Garcı´a, 2007). As its ancestors

did, this community of roughly one thousand inhabitants earns its living primarily through agriculture for self-consumption, corn, and potatoes being

the most important crops. Local life requires active members who take initiative to help work in the fields and raise small farm animals as the main

source of their subsistence. For most of the families, monetary income is also

important as they interact more and more with the market and cities.

In Aucara´, for as long as people can remember, education within the

family follows the traditions of the Andean peoples. One distinctive feature

of this community, in addition to its system for forming persons on the basis

of respect, is the conception expressed by parents, grandparents, and older

siblings about how to form the new generations. They speak of


The locality of Aucara´, which belongs to the Farming Community of Aucara´, is located in the district of

Aucara´, in the province of Lucanas, in the Ayacucho region, and in the southern sector of the Peruvian

Andes. This community occupies a collectively owned territory, which includes a Communal Directorate, elected in a communal assembly, and a local municipal government, chosen in elections regulated by the national electoral institution.


Fernando A. García

comprehensive processes based on upbringing, care and the correct accommodation of children’s capacities so that they can be like people (runa hina

kay),2 are prepared to “make their way through life,” devote themselves to

the well-being of their family, which naturally includes them as well, and

contribute to the prosperity of their community.

In this conception, the capacities for autonomy that people develop in

these contexts center on their personal competencies, and yet they also

involve taking part with a certain degree of autonomy in their family’s

meaningful activities and contributing in this way, through their personal

achievements, to both their family’s and their own well-being. In other

words, personal autonomy develops for the purpose of dealing with social

challenges; it is not an autonomy detached from the individual’s life and that

of his or her family, as will be argued below.

Within this sociocultural framework, children develop by participating

in the community’s everyday activities, carefully observing adults and older

children as they go about their tasks, at times with great concentration, other

times more casually, but always with an interest in contributing. At the same

time, they maintain the attitude of respect instilled by their elders, consisting

of remaining quiet and not interrupting interactions among their elders,

within a scaffolding of mutual respect between adults and children. Their

participation in activities that focus on the family’s subsistence is based in part

on self-interest, which means that they find motivation in what they do.

Nevertheless, some tasks involve personal efforts that children do not

entirely enjoy, but have to be done because they contribute to the children’s

well-being and that of their family.

Children’s participation in their community’s activities and the quality of

the learning they achieve in this process have been amply documented in

studies of Indigenous communities throughout the Americas (Gaskins &

Paradise, 2010; Paradise & Rogoff, 2009; Rogoff, 1993, 2003; Rogoff

et al., 2007). These studies highlight, aside from the children’s initiative

in achieving their learning and their involvement in activities that are meaningful for the family, the role that parents play and the value of communal

traditions as particular sociocultural realities where child development


Runa hina kay literally means “being like people” in the Quechua of Aucara´. A justification of this concept can be found in Garcı´a (2007). Grim-Feinberg (2013, p. 104) mentions that one way to translate

runa hina kay into Spanish is “po´rtate como gente,” which she translates into English as “behave like a

human being!”, a recommendation often heard by the researcher when parents correct their children

for breaking the norms of the Aucara´ community. Runa means “people.”

Respect and Autonomy in Observation


occurs. This chapter contributes to this line of research by looking at LOPI as

it occurs in the Quechua community of Aucara´.

A case similar to the traditions of child development and education found

in Aucara´ has been documented by Bolin (2006) in a Quechua population in

the high Andes of Peru. She has identified in this population the value of

family educational conceptions for raising well-adjusted children who are

fully satisfied with being useful to their family and their community, in a

region where extreme environmental conditions and the marginalization

of its inhabitants make for harsh living conditions. The author argues that

in the community of Chillihuani, parents, older siblings, and grandparents

manage to raise persons with a strong sense of respect for all forms of life,

and that this generalized respect and the satisfaction of enjoying all that

has been bestowed on them is a guarantee for carrying on their lives within

the ancient traditions handed down by their ancestors.

A study conducted in Aucara´ also recognizes respect as a fundamental

orientation of this community in the care and upbringing of children.

Grim-Feinberg (2013) highlights the expression in Spanish that she heard

regularly, “Po´rtate como gente” (behave like people) as an expression close

to the Quechua recommendation runa hina kay (be like people) reported in

my own research (Garcı´a, 2007). Furthermore, Grim-Feinberg comments

that the meaning the community members express regarding respect is

related to the idea of “minding” in the sense of “paying attention” or

“listening,” implying a relationship between people who communicate with

one another and in this exchange pay full attention to their communication.

In this way, the author maintains that children in Aucara´ are motivated to act

respectfully in their families through affective bonds and a desire for



Although the notion of “respect” has a range of manifestations and

meanings in different Indigenous communities, it has been shown to be

an important notion when it comes to raising children. For example, in

some Indigenous communities, respect has been identified with children’s

autonomy (Rogoff, 2003). In communities of the Amazon jungle in Peru,

children’s learning seems to involve respect for elders and their knowledge

(Aikman, 2003). In Mazahua families in Mexico, Paradise (1987) recognizes

respect for children in the care, seriousness, and appreciation shown toward

babies. In Indigenous communities of the Texcoco Hills in Mexico, Lorente


Fernando A. García

Ferna´ndez (2006) reports that children are respectful when they answer their

parents correctly, eat the food that their parents have prepared for them, and

help around the house. Taggart (2003) has reported that the Nahuas of

northern Puebla, Mexico, instill respect by forming children “as human

beings” who show mercy, respond with consideration, and are obedient.

In the Quechua language, the equivalent of “respect” is yupaychay [to

consider] according to Cerro´n-Palomino (1994) and Soto (1976). Moreover, uyakay,3 understood as “listening,” is closely related to the notion of

“minding” in the sense of listening and paying attention (Grim-Feinberg,

2013). Thus, uyakay and “minding” are part of the respectful behavior

demanded of children in the community of Aucara´. Quechua discourse

in this locality also makes use of the term rispitay [from the Spanish

“respetar,” meaning “to respect”].

In the community of Aucara´, respect implies observing different behaviors

and attitudes that constitute the type of family education used locally. When

it comes to children, respect means behaving modestly and quietly, especially in the presence of adults, and for adults, it means speaking softly in

the presence of strangers or people with some kind of important status in

the locality. Children are constantly taught to greet their elders, often using

kinship terms like “uncle,” “mom,” or “dad,” as a way to show closeness or

affection for people who are not blood relatives. Along these same lines, for

both adults and children respect involves speaking cordially and politely to

other people and displaying humility before them.

Other facets of respect in this community have to do with the “minding”

that children are expected to show to their parents and other adults by paying

attention and listening to them. Likewise, adults can “mind” children in the

sense of listening to them and putting themselves in their shoes, as reported by

Grim-Feinberg (2013). Adults and children are expected to feel embarrassed

when they fail to follow the norms of respect in the presence of others, or

when they fail to display the qualities of “being like people,” runa hina kay.

These notions of respect in the community might seem to clash with

the meanings of “autonomy” that are conventionally understood as

independence. Particularly, “obedience” as a manifestation of respect that

is demanded of children would seem to contradict the development of levels

of personal autonomy in family education as practiced in this community.


Uyakuy is related to uya [face] and to [listen]. So when uyakuy is translated as “obeying,” the intention is

to imply primarily listening, not submitting to the other. This word also contains the suffix -ku implying benefit for the verb’s subject.

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