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Ethnotheories of development and education: A view from different cultures

  • Blandine Bril
  • Martine Zack
  • Estelle Nkounkou-Hombessa
Culture, Infancy and Education

Abstract

Cultures differ according to the type of competences adults encourage in infants, the age at which these competences should be acquired and the level of expertise that should be reached (Hess & al., 1980). Consequently, three main criteria are involved in the shaping of the infant’s environment: the age at which some particular behavior are expected, the presume most appropriate time to initiate various activities with the infant, and the beliefs in the possibility of influencing some aspects of development. To discuss this problem we worked on naive conception of development assessed through semi-structured interviews and focussed questionnaires. Data were collected in 3 cultures: French, Bambara (Mali) and Bakongo (Kongo-Brazzaville).

The results show that Bambara and Bakongo mothers have clear cut idea of development and relevant educational practices that rely upon traditional and empirical knowledge about the infant. French mothers are greatly influenced by medical and psychological modern knowledge.

Key words

Ethnotheories Development Education Infancy 

Ethnothéories du développement et de l’éducation: perspectives interculturelles

Résumé

Les compétences que les adultes encouragent chez les bébés, l’âge auquel on considère que ces compétences doivent être acquises, ainsi que le niveau d’expertise qui doit être atteint, sont différents selon les cultures (Hess & al., 1980). Ec conséquence, trois critères déterrminent pour une large part l’organisation de l’environment du bébé: l’âge auquel on attend de l’enfant des comportements déterminés, le moment considéré comme le plus approprié pour commencer certaines activités avec l’enfant, et les croyances concernant les possibilités d’influencer certains aspects du développement. Ces problèmes sont abordés ici à travers des réponses données à des interviews semi-structurés et à des questionnaires focalisés à propos des conceptions naïves du développement. Des données ont été recueillies dans trois cultures: française, bambara (Mali) et bakongo (Congo-Brazaville). Les résultats montrent que les mères bambara et bakongo ont des idées très précises concernant le développement et les pratiques éducatives correspondantes, idées qui reposent sur le savoir traditionnel et empirique concernant le bébé. Les mères françaises sont très influencées par les savoirs modernes en médecine et en psychologie.

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Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisbon, Portugal/ Springer Netherlands 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Blandine Bril
    • 2
  • Martine Zack
    • 2
  • Estelle Nkounkou-Hombessa
    • 1
  1. 1.BrazavilleCongo
  2. 2.Laboratoire de PsychologieE.H.E.S.S.ParisFrance

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