Cultural Ways of Learning: Individual Traits of Repertoires of Practice

June 1st, 2003 | RESEARCH

This article addresses a challenge faced by those who study cultural variation in approaches to learning: how to characterize regularities of individuals’ approaches according to their cultural background. We argue against the common approach of assuming that regularities are static, and that general traits of individuals are attributable categorically to ethnic group membership. We suggest that a cultural-historical approach can be used to help move beyond this assumption by focusing researchers’ and practitioners’ attention on variations in individuals’ and groups’ histories of engagement in cultural practices because the variations reside not as traits of individuals or collections of individuals, but as proclivities of people with certain histories of engagement with specific cultural activities. Thus, individuals’ and groups’ experience in activities—not their traits—becomes the focus. Also, we note that cultural-historical work needs to devote more attention to researching regularities in the variations among cultural communities in order to bring these ideas to fruition.


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Team Members

Kris Gutierrez, Author, University of California, Los Angeles
Barbara Rogoff, Author, University of California, Santa Cruz


Publication: Educational Researcher
Volume: 32
Number: 5
Page(s): 19

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Audience: Educators | Teachers | General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science
Resource Type: Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: Community Outreach Programs | Public Programs