Cultural Learning

AKA

Cultural Transmission

Focus

Maintenance of collective knowledge

Principal Metaphors

  • Knowledge is … culture-defining repertoire of behavior, interpretation and information
  • Knowing is … utilizing (cultural knowledge)
  • Learner is … individual and culture, simultaneously
  • Learning is … mimicking, acquiring, developing
  • Teaching is … transmitting, modeling

Originated

2000s

Synopsis

Cultural Learning is an area of study focused on the ways that people or non-human animals develop and perpetuate their collective knowledge – including, as appropriate to the group, patterns of behavior, habits of interpretation, and accumulated information. Three stage-like levels of learning are proposed:
  • Imitative Learning (Michael Tomasello, 2000s) – the first stage of Cultural Learning, during which the individual learns to mimic relevant aspects of collective knowledge
  • Instructive Learning (Michael Tomasello, 2000s) – the second stage of Cultural Learning, during which a more-accomplished member deliberately instructs a less-accomplished member
  • Collaborative Learning (Michael Tomasello, 2000s) – the third stage of Cultural Learning, during which multiple individuals work together on a common problem. (Note: This meaning is distinct from the much more prominent discourse on group learning called Collaborative Learning.)
Associated constructs and discourses include:
  • Cultural Accommodation Theory (Howard Giles, 1970s) – a theory of communication that concerns both one’s efforts to attune to one’s communicative partner and one’s perceptions of the partner’s efforts to reciprocate
  • Cultural Evolution (David George Ritchie, Thorstein Veblen, late 1800s) – an application of Universal Darwinismto cultural change that is focused on the maintenance and transformation of information that defines the culture
  • Developmental Systems Approach (Developmental Contextual Model) – the notion that development involves the mutually specifying (i.e., affecting and being affected by) influences of biology and experience, spanning levels from the genetic to the cultural
  • Dual Inheritance Theory(Richard Dawkins, E.O. Wilson, 1960s) – an effort to explain human activity in terms of two intertwined processes: biological evolution and cultural evolution. Concisely, changes at the genetic level can influence culture, and changes in culture can influence genetic selection.

Commentary

Cultural Learning comes out of psychology, and it many ways reflects the movement of that domain from a myopic focus on the individual psyche toward the realization that cultures unfold from and are enfolded in psyches. That said, aspects of the discourse suggest that it is still beholden to many limited assumptions of its parent discipline. Consequently, while Cultural Learning is generally perceived as innovative and provocative within psychology, it is seen as somewhat less so in many other domains. Authors an

Subdiscourses:

  • Collaborative Learning
  • Cultural Accommodation Theory
  • Cultural Evolution
  • Developmental Systems Approach (Developmental Contextual Model)
  • Dual Inheritance Theory
  • Imitative Learning
  • Instructive Learning

Map Location



Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2021). “Cultural Learning” in Discourses on Learning in Education. https://learningdiscourses.com.


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