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Culture, Cognition, and Pedagogy: Evolving A Discourse of Possibility
The article addresses the problem of cognitive development in working children from poor Indian families. There are still many erroneous notions in contemporary human science concerning this issue; for instance, it is assumed that children of the lower classes and the despised ethnic groups share and perpetuate the mental characteristics of their classes and groups, while children of the superior classes and favoured ethnic groups share and reproduce the traits of theirs. The study attempted to empirically contest the most widely held a-pri-ori notions like: working children lag cognitively and hence are incapacitated to benefit from formal schooling; institutional arrangements (such as schools) are the only sites to inculcate legitimate knowledge, and practical knowledge produced and acquired at work place is different, inferior by the normative standard of the social science theorizing. The study generated data to explain thinking patterns of out-of-school working children (10 to 14 years old) in the context of nature of street games played by them; their ability to solve algorithms in the video-game mode; problem solving strategies used in everyday reasoning; and to map the characteristics of working children's mathematics. Basing on cultural-historical activity theory, practice theory and postmodernist constructs, the author shows the specificity of working children's cognitive development arguing against ethnocentric deductions that these children lag cognitively as a consequence of cultural inadequacies.
Keywords: cognitive development, play, education, cultural-historical activity theory, practice theory, postmodernism
Column: Empirical Researches