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Title: The Role of Social Norms and Interactions in the Process of Learning-by-Doing: From the Ethnography of Daily Work, Play, and School Participation of Children in Contemporary Pastoralist Maasai Society in Southern Kenya
Authors: TIAN, Xiaojie
Keywords: Pastoralist Maasai
Daily interaction
Social norms
Learning process
Issue Date: Oct-2019
Publisher: The Center for African Area Studies, Kyoto University
Journal title: African Study Monographs
Volume: 40
Issue: 2-3
Start page: 77
End page: 92
Abstract: Pastoralist children in East Africa are well known for their early participation and contribution to local subsistence. Recent studies on the pastoralist process of learning-bydoing have investigated the children's daily activities and skill development. However, little attention is paid to the social institutions and interactions during the process of learning-bydoing. Utilizing ethnographic data, this study elaborates the social norms and interactions in children's work and play in contemporary pastoralist Maasai society. In the study area, children actively conduct subsistence-related chores with limited guidance and accompaniment by adults. Instead of step-by-step instruction, adults make implicit requests in keeping with the Maasai gender-age labor divisions and social relations to suit various contexts. The children respectfully respond to the adult requests, but they sometimes negotiate their wants, especially with their parents. In peer interactions, older children give detailed instructions to the younger ones. Such an educational system is distinctive compared with other small-scale societies where children's roles are not related to local subsistence demands. The author emphasizes the importance of social norms and interactions in the knowledge generation process in pastoralist society.
Rights: Copyright by The Center for African Area Studies, Kyoto University, October 1, 2019.
DOI: 10.14989/244851
Appears in Collections:Vol.40 No.2, 3

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