Cultural Psychology of Development

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Spring

Cultural psychology is the study of the ways in which individual and culture, subject and object, person and world, constitute each other. This course will explore how children and adolescents make meaning of their experiences in the contexts in which they live, assuming that, for all of us, development is an ongoing response to the cultural life around us and that culture is a dynamic process of engagement. We will consider topics such as language and culture, early storytelling in families, transitions from home to school, gendered and racial identities. We will read a combination of psychological and anthropological texts. Questions to be explored include: How are a sense of self and place constituted in early childhood? How are these values expressed in children’s stories, art, and play? How do adolescents navigate differing language communities and cultural values in forging their identities? What are some of the implications for public education in this country? Students will have the opportunity to do fieldwork in school or community settings and to use conference work to bridge reading and practical experience.