Theoretical approaches to the problem of the influence of culture on the intellectual and social abilities of a person
The main areas of research, from the results of which it is possible to make practical recommendations for the implementation of multicultural education, are as follows.
Studies of J. Piaget and his followers.
Large cross-cultural studies of the role of culture in cognitive development were inspired by the work of J. Piaget. He distinguished four groups of factors that determine cognitive development. First of all, these are physiological factors and factors of self-regulation of the organism, which are not related to the social environment. Also, general social factors that are universal for all societies do not depend on it. Culture, however, according to Piaget, influences cognitive development through factors of cultural transmission, including education, customs and social institutions, which vary widely in different cultures.
While engaged in the cognitive development of children, Piaget singled out four stages in it, which manifest one after another as the child develops. The sensomotor stage usually lasts from birth to 1.5-2 years, and during this period the child interacts with reality mainly through sensory and motor activity. The most important achievement at this stage is the child's understanding of the constancy of objects, i.e. knowledge that objects exist, even if they are out of sight. The next preoperative stage lasts from 2 to 7 years. At this time, the child begins to master the concepts of preservation and irreversibility & quot ;. Conservation means understanding that, for example, the amount of liquid does not change when the tube is poured from a narrow glass into a wide glass. Reversibility is the ability to represent the reverse course of events. From 6-7 to 11 years, the stage of specific operations continues. Stage of formal operations
begins at 11 years and continues into adulthood. Here, logical abstract thinking develops, there are abilities for hypothetical deductive reasoning and scientific thinking.
As noted by D. Matsumoto, the periodization of cognitive development of children, made by Piaget, raises several questions. The first of them - do the stages that he singled out follow in the same order in different cultures? Studies conducted in the UK, Australia, Greece, Pakistan, have shown that the development of children everywhere occurs in accordance with the general sequence of stages of Piaget. However, the age at which children move from one stage to another varies significantly from country to country, with a difference of up to five years. However, according to D. Matsumoto, this difference is to a certain extent due to the fact that children have different experience of performing similar tasks before testing. And the use of familiar ways of understanding the world helps children to learn quickly.Followers J. Piaget, working with the test for the preservation of fluid in the Senegalese Wolof tribe, showed that children with greater success master the idea of conservation, if they are allowed to pour the liquid themselves, and not just watch. Thus, using the usual ways of cognizing the world through practical actions, children learn faster.
One more observation was made. It turned out that children who could not answer correctly and said that in the beaker, which is higher, more water, acting as interpreters of words, gave the right answers. It means that they were asked to explain to the experimenter the meaning of Wolof terms on the material of the problem. It becomes clear that the difference in content that is embedded in concepts in different cultures can reduce competence.
In addition to differences in the age of the transition from stage to stage, there are significant cultural differences in the order of mastering the skills within each stage. In a comparative study of children from three cultures (Canadian Inuit, African tribe of Baobles and Australian Aranda tribe), half of the Inuit children coped with the spatial task at the age of 7 years, half of the Aranda children at 9 years old, and the children of the Baobule tribe up to the age of 12 failed to make half tasks. In the liquid preservation test, the situation has changed. Half of the children of the baobule solved the problem at the age of 8, the Inuit at 9, and the children of the Aranda tribe at 12.
The data of the research prove that within the limits of this or that cognitive stage the success of the tasks depends on
of the value attached to them in a particular culture. Indeed, the children of Inuit and Aranda live in nomadic conditions and, therefore, early learn spatial skills. Children of the baobule rarely travel, but they show better results in the task of preserving the quantity, as adults produce, store, exchange products in market conditions. It turns out that the skills that children use in their daily lives affect the quality of performing intellectual tests.
Another issue raised by Piaget's theory is how universal is the stage of formal operations and how far its achievement is the goal in all cultures. Piaget supposed that the scientific explanation of the world, connected with the stage of formal operations, is the highest achievement of man. As intercultural studies have shown, this goal is far from being universally accepted. Different societies appreciate and encourage different skills and behavior. For example, as D. Matsumoto points out, until recently, religious leaders and poets were considered the most educated people in the Islamic world. There are cultures in which cognitive development is considered primarily in a communicative aspect, i. E. the thinking qualities used in communication are especially appreciated.
Perhaps that is why, recently there were works analyzing the so-called implicit theories of intellect, based on the informal views that the population adheres to in their assessments of the intellect. An example is the study, which examined the views on the intelligence of average Americans and expert psychologists who specialize in the study of intelligence in universities and research centers. A list of behavioral manifestations associated with intelligence was compiled; subjects were asked to assess whether this action characterizes the level of intelligence.Factor analysis of the results (multidimensional method used to study the relationships between the values of variables) showed that the following factors prevail in the notions of the average American's intellect: the practical ability to solve problems (the ability to logically and reason well, the ability to see all aspects of the problem); verbal abilities (ability to speak clearly and clearly, oratory); social competence (including interest in events in the world, punctuality). Although there is also a social component in the views of the Americans, it has a different nature than that characteristic of African or Asian implicit theories.
As with Australians, the views of Americans on intellect stand out the ability to communicate and express themselves, i.e. focus on the qualities, favorable and useful to the individual, in contrast to the views that are characteristic of the peoples of Asia and Africa, who put on the first place the properties that promote harmonic relationships with others (obedience, social responsibility, discretion). The assessments given by psychologist experts did not even include the social component that was found in middle Americans. In the first place was verbal intelligence (well understood reading, has a rich vocabulary); on the second - the ability to solve problems (is able to apply his knowledge to the solution of the task facing him, makes the right decisions); on the third - practical intelligence (correctly assesses the situation, knows how to achieve the goal) - activity.
The results of these studies really confirm the fact that the top of the intellectual development of a person is culturally conditioned.
Returning to the theory of Piaget, it should be noted that children acquire specific knowledge and skills through interaction in specific socio-cultural institutions. And because some societies provide, on the whole, more extensive experience necessary for understanding the essence of the world than others, children will demonstrate differences in both speed and ultimate level of development. For example, people who did not attend the senior classes of a school or college working on the Western education system, as it turned out, do poorly in the tests for formal operations.
However, according to Piaget, the school as a socio-cultural institution is also not a full-fledged development engine, because it contains asymmetric power relations between the teacher and the student, which will create a disequilibrium between them. They are based on the need for students to adapt to the cognitive schemes of the teacher. As a result, surface training occurs that is incapable of generating fundamental cognitive changes. J. Piaget believed that fundamental changes in cognitive development are more likely to arise in informal interaction, which improves the possibilities of balancing, assimilation and accommodation.
The studies of J. Piaget and his followers make it possible to give the following practical recommendations:
1) on the basis of belonging to culture and having experience before school, it is possible to predict the developmental features of children's thinking and organize an individual "trajectory" his schooling;
2) you can not require children to the same pace of training. Everyone should learn at their own pace. It is necessary to compare the results of learning a child only with his own;
3) it is necessary to conduct training on texts, assignments close to students in terms of experience and interests;
4) You can not require students to succeed in those areas of knowledge that are of little value to their parents. Educators need to explain the value and significance of each task and the phenomenon being studied.
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