The following HTML text is provided to enhance online
readability. Many aspects of typography translate only awkwardly to HTML.
Please use the page image
as the authoritative form to ensure accuracy.
Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits
strategies they use to interpret and reconstruct the intended meaning. These conversations reflect AAVE norms, such as multiparty talk and signifying.
From this framework, cultural practices are seen as providing different perspectives. In other words, there is no cultureless or neutral perspective, no more than a photograph or painting could be without perspective. Everything is cultured (Rogoff, 2003), including the layout of designed experiences, such as museums (Bitgood, 1993; Duensing, 2006), and the practices associated with teaching science in school (Warren et al., 2001). For example, in a study of a collaborative of nine museums, Garibay, Gilmartin, and Schaefer (2002) found that participants who previously did not regularly visit museums initially needed more staff facilitation to help them better understand the learning and experiential goals of exhibits. Thus, the more one understands the role of culture and context in learning, particularly in science learning, the more effectively one can ensure that science is available to all children and adults.
Learning Is a Cultural Process
Working from the perspective that learning is a fundamentally cultural process (Nasir et al., 2006; Rogoff, 2003) in which conceptions of learning are historically and locally situated, science learning is viewed as a sociocultural activity. Its practices and assumptions reflect the culture, cultural practices, and cultural values of scientists. In this section, we first describe the cultural nature of learning generally and then focus in on the specific aspects of science learning that make it a cultural activity (see Chapter 2 for related discussion).
Focusing on the strengths of parents in working-class households, González, Moll, and Amanti (2005) have shown that children develop “funds of knowledge”—historically developed and accumulated strategies (skills, abilities, ideas) or bodies of knowledge that prove useful in a household, group, or community. This represents a fundamental shift in analysis and discussion of learning for nondominant groups. The traditional viewpoint often implies or even explicitly states that the cultural values and knowledge that circulate in nondominant cultural groups are deficient, not useful, or even counterproductive (Lareau, 1989, 2003; Rogoff and Chavajay, 1995). However, close analysis of parenting and childrearing practices shed new light on the productive exchanges and values in nondominant cultural groups and illustrate for researchers and educators how those can be leveraged in educational practice.
Children all over the world explore their world and have conversations about causes and consequences, and the particular topics they discuss and the ways they learn to explore the world are likely to vary, depending on the cultural practices with which they grow up (Heath, 2007; Rogoff, 2003). People live in different environments across their life span, with varied