Based on an ethnographic study conducted in a Greek community, this book 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, it shows how family, community, and culture shape the cognitive world of learners. Beginning with a rich description of the community and its culture, the book then focuses on six contrasting episodes of informal instruction. Video and audiotaped scenes of learning to dance, learning to perform the healing art of cupping, and learning about kinship, for example, provide material for detailed analyses. The book demonstrates the interplay of culture and learning by exploring how the cultural theme of struggle and the use of different interpretive frames shaped informal instruction in this community and how, at the same time, processes of informal teaching and learning contributed to the evolving construction of culture by its members. Interpretive framing emerges as a key concept that studies of situated cognition must consider. Since formal and informal instruction are closely linked, the culturally specific ways of teaching and learning shown in informal instruction will help all educators meet the needs of diverse student bodies.
"Henze relates her research to the challenges of providing formal education to children who come from a variety of cultures, and thus her work is valuable to all educators interested in the cultural roots of knowledge and learning. She also provides a thorough discussion of her research methodology, which will be helpful to readers intending to carry out their own research on culture and learning."
—Harvard Educational Review
"Henze's interesting study contributes to the literature concerning the importance of informal teaching and learning in cognitive development….The specific contribution of this volume lies in the richness of the account of teaching/learning episodes through Henze's sociolinguistic microanalysis, and in her argument focusing on the important distinction between truth and lies in cognitive development and in teaching/learning situations."
—American Journal of Psychology
"…an excellent demonstration of what ethnography can contribute to educational research."
Teachers College Columbia University
"Rosemary Henze is an extraordinarily talented scholar whose research has drawn skillfully from the fields of education, anthropology, and linguistics. She has done careful and sensitive ethnographic research in Greece, focused on educational problems of teaching and learning in everyday life, and used the best of linguistic and sociolinguistic methods."
—Charles O. Frake
"This book is timely, particularly in light of shifting conceptual paradigms in psychology, education, and anthropology."
University of California, Los Angeles
Contents: Preface. How to Ring a Doorbell. The Communities. Fieldwork in Kiriakitsa and Trikala. Alitheia and Psemata (Truth and Lies). Teaching and Learning to Do. Teaching and Learning to Understand. Teaching and Learning to Use Language. The Particular and the General. Appendices: Variation in Informal Teaching and Learning. Features of Prototypical Informal Teaching and Learning. Relationships Among Neighbors. Informal Teaching and Learning Interview. Transcripts.