Anthropology, culture, and research on teaching and learning: Applying what we have learned to improve practice
by Michèle Foster, Jeffrey L. Lewis & Laura Onafowora — 2003
We examine the role of culture—anthropology’s essential concept—in teaching and learning. After providing a brief overview of the application of anthropology to research on teaching and learning, we examine various studies that demonstrate how culture can be understood and used as a resource for teaching and learning. In particular, we focus on the growing body of research that positively exploits, scaffolds, and links productive community and cultural practices, particularly those of ethnic minority communities, to classrooms. We then present a theoretical framework and rationale for a current research project in which an after-school program for elementary students is developed that can serve as pedagogical laboratories and professional development community sites for inexperienced teachers as well as research sites where various issues of teaching and learning can be examined. At the heart of this project is the linking of inexperienced teachers with master teachers who have demonstrated success in teaching culturally diverse students in urban schools. Preliminary results that document children’s academic achievement and teachers’ improved performance are presented from the 1st year of the project.
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