Learning In and Out of School: Education across the Globe


All humans by nature desire to know.


Education—schooled or otherwise—is a major factor in the life of the young around the globe. This conference addressed some of the extraordinary variety in the ways humans learn, in and out of school, and sometimes in spite of school, in the contemporary world.

The Kellogg Institute conference expanded an ongoing conversation about two normally unexamined assumptions—namely, that human development requires schooling and that schooling will lead to improved human conditions.

Organized by Kellogg Faculty Fellow and Professor of Anthropology Susan Blum, the gathering grew out of the remarkable energy generated by a 2011 American Anthropological Association panel:

“Tracing School Effects: Toward a Critical Anthropology of Education.”  It was intended as a step toward an ambitious, multistage project.

Integrating Theory and Practice

The research question at the center of the effort is simple, but profound: what can we learn about the range of human learning, in schools and out of schools, at various ages, that has significant effects on individual and social well-being?

The conference addressed both theory—exploring what educational practices reveal about the nature of humankind—and practice—identifying applications that may improve the everyday learning of children and adults.

Participants included scholars and practitioners who focus on societies around the world.  They looked at the issues of schooling—or not schooling—from a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives.

Research Questions Explored at May 2012 Conference

  • What are some of the ways that people learn outside schools?

  • How do people not-learn in a conventional way?

  • What are the roles of individual motivation and social goals, and how do these intersect in fostering or preventing learning?

  • How is learning fostered by recognition of humans’ social and embodied nature?

  • How can an unconventional grammar of schooling be incorporated into conventional school structures?

  • What various roles do experts and novices play worldwide?

  • What are the ways students’ well-being is fostered and how is it diminished through institutional encounters?

Presented by:

The Kellogg Institute for International Studies

With generous support from:

The Henkels Lecture Fund: Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal ArtsCollege of Arts and Letters, and the Office of Research at the University of Notre Dame

Cosponsored by:

Notre Dame's Department of Anthropology and the Institute for Educational Initiatives



W. Martin Bloomer
Associate Professor of Classics
University of Notre Dame

“The Ancient Child in School”

In this paper I trace the adaptation of schooling to the needs of the Greek city-states and the transfer of this system to the Hellenistic world, consider the chief ideological aims of ancient schooling, and discuss the physical demands made upon the student in mastering the practical and intellectual demands of ancient schooling.

Susan D. Blum

Professor of Anthropology
Chair, Department of Anthropology
Faculty Fellow, Kellogg Institute for International Studies
University of Notre Dame

A Strange Way of Coming of Age: Why the Higher Education Conversation Needs Anthropology

If anthropology still aims to make the strange familiar and the familiar strange, then what could be stranger than putting all humans through a series of disliked exercises for almost two decades as a condition for arriving at a minimal possibility of successful adulthood? Higher education is such familiar water to those of us swimming in this ocean that we rarely consider how very strange it is. In this paper I demonstrate how the holistic approach of anthropology is needed to comprehend the many peculiarities of our way of bringing people to adulthood. The paper situates the study of higher education firmly at the intersection of crosscultural studies, biological and psychological studies of human development, knowledge about learning as embodied and social, and theories of motivation, drawing on a cultural reading of the discourse of higher education in the contemporary United States as well as ethnographic study of college.

Catherine Bolten
Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Peace Studies
Faculty Fellow, Kellogg Institute for International Studies
University of Notre Dame

"A Great Scholar is an Overeducated Person: Credentialing, Critiquing, and Performing in Sierra Leonean Schools"

“Education is the key to success” is a common mantra in Sierra Leone, where students place a premium on education as an essential component of successful adulthood. Students dutifully memorize material for their final exams as they and the teachers participate in credentialing the students and contributing to the national development project. Teachers understand that the material they are supposed to teach as ‘right’ and important is irrelevant and even contrary to their students’ experiences and understanding of the world. Therefore, in the interstices of rote memorization, students and teachers together perform subtle social critiques of both the educational material and the inequalities in the world around them through continual commentary on the material as it is taught—what I call “polyvalent performance.”

In this paper I argue that education has become a performance of demonstrating the will to be successful by being “educated,” even as the material is critiqued for being irrelevant to daily life and competes constantly in class time with teachers’ will to engage students with insights into their own reality. Students must maintain parallel foci on credentialing and critiquing, even as the two goals appear to compete with each other. This process, a shift from the pre-war emphasis on education as controlling knowledge and entering social networks of the elite to education for political and economic change, follows historical shifts in education practices in the country. Both the Freetown Krio and the rural elite moved in the early 20th century from using education as a route to elite privilege to using it to argue for reducing social and political inequalities.

Tamo Chattopadhay
Assistant Professor of Practice
Director of International Educational Development, Institute for Educational Initiatives
Faculty Fellow, Kellogg Institute for International Studies
University of Notre Dame

"Education for Social Justice: Case Study of an 'Embedded' Schooling Model From India"

The current paper presents finding from an innovative strategy implemented in an urban school in India that makes middle-class children active stakeholders in the educational and social inclusion of children from significantly lower socioeconomic strata. The paper argues that such an “embedded” model of schooling—where the educational trajectories of middle-class and marginalized children are purposefully intertwined—presents a promising site of “non-academic” learning in school, grounded in the ethos of human dignity and social justice.

Meghan M. Chidsey
PhD Candidate, Anthropology and Education
Columbia University

(Re)Learning Identities: War and Army Widows, Hostel Residents in Urban Rajasthan

What does it means to be a “good Hindu woman,” a widow, a Rajput widow, a war widow?  This paper is an examination of the diverse ways the widows of Jaipur’s War Memorial Hostel learn, cope with, legitimize, criticize, or remake the identities and spaces circumscribed by caste, religion, and the Indian government.  In their narratives of ritual, violence, caste restriction, and social death, many widows described how experiences of intense loss, mourning, and hardship were managed through self-embodiment of divine qualities (e.g., Durga’s strength in battle or the kuldevi’s bravery).  I argue that individually interpreted myths create spaces for the reinterpretation of figured identities.  Sections on caste, exploitation, and money investigate processes of self (re)formation—the ways in which constricting caste identities may become agentive, violence and family betrayal are mediated, and economic independence is authorized by government identification—of learning and re-learning to be in a world of stigma and control.

Hae-Joang Cho
Professor of Cultural Anthropology
Yonsei University
Seoul, South Korea

"Beyond Alternative Education: A Return to Caring in Creative Public Spaces"

Are school dropouts failures? Are inattentive students dumb? Are children not to be trusted? Are the poor not good enough for decent education? Education has caught up with the potential and challenges of our time. University students who successfully entered prestigious universities are trying to take the “poison of competition” out of their bodies. Some say they do not want to get on the conveyor belt of the market-driven productivity machine. Through a network of excellence, can we create a new social ecology where people of all generations grow together and create social economy? As an “action researcher,” Cho founded the Haja Center (Youth Factory for Alternative Culture), an alternative educational and cultural studio for teenagers, in 1999. The Haja project was launched as a part of an effort to solve the problems of youth and adults through research and practice grounded in East Asian perspectives of feminism and cultural studies. With full financial support from the Seoul Metropolitan government, the Haja Center has evolved into a base of 5 alternative schools and an incubator for youth-led social enterprises. Cho discusses the evolution of learning based on her action research of alternative schools including Haja Production School.

Cindy Dell Clark
Visiting Associate Professor of Anthropology
Rutgers University–Camden

The Anthropology of Schools, Children, and Power

While anthropologists have boldly gone into the realm of intersubjectivity as a focus of research and method, school research has made hardly an inroad into the problematized subjectivities that pose a gap between adult educators and children. Children’s roles as agents and enablers both for and against adult-managed schools are raised, drawing upon two areas. First, the child-centered methodological turn in inquiry is discussed as relevant to schooling, including a greater need to account for institutional dominance as a methodological barrier. Second, systems outside of schools in which ethnographers have shown a generational mutuality of influence— both child upon adult and adult upon child—are discussed as alternative models to explore.

Peter Demerath
Associate Professor
Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development
Coordinator for Educational Administration Program 
University of Minnesota

In and Out of School Socializing Influences on the Development of US Middle-Class Student Subjectivity

This paper uses a cultural transmission-acquisition framework to investigate three socializing influences on the developing selves of American middle-class students. The socializing influences exist in and outside of schools and include electronic and commodity culture, permissive parenting styles, and school policies and pedagogies that grant students significant freedom and choice. The paper explores the methodological challenges of examining and conceptualizing such influences that extend beyond classrooms and schools. It argues that because all of these influences share the common feature of deferring to students’ own judgments, a reasonable place to focus inquiry is on their developing identities—and more specifically what their subjective orientations to authority of various kinds reveal about their own social goals. The paper shares preliminary interpretations of data drawn from a four-year anthropological study of student class culture conducted by a diverse five-person research team in an affluent suburban Midwestern US high school and community.

Carolyn Pope Edwards
Willa Cather Professor
Professor of Psychology and Child, Youth, and Family Studies 
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

"Books, Stories, and the Imagination at ‘The Nursery Rhyme’: A Qualitative Case Study of the Learning Environment at an Italian Preschool

Coauthors: Keely Cline, Lella Gandini, Alga Giacomelli, Donatella Giovannini, and Annalia Galardini

The progressive educational systems of some regions of Italy are becoming increasingly recognized by educators and researchers (including those from North America) seeking insight from the international community into diverse educational approaches. This paper represents a case study of Filastrocca (“Nursery Rhyme”), a preschool in the Tuscan city of Pistoia. Filastrocca proclaims a special mission related to books, storytelling, and the imagination, and appears to offer a unique environment that supports children’s active and enthusiastic engagement in complex literacy discussions and activities. The purpose of this paper is to provide a detailed description of the learning environment for language and literacy at the preschool, present an analysis of issues/themes and offer assertions and reflections. There is an emphasis on exploring what kinds of opportunities related to books, storytelling, and the imagination are providing to support and encourage young children and their families, and in examining how the learning environment reflects the mission of the school in fostering early childhood language and literacy. 

Christine Finnan
Department of Teacher Education
Department of Sociology and Anthropology 
College of Charleston

"Learning, Sense of Self, and Yoga in a High-Poverty Urban Elementary School"

Co-author: Lauren Rose

Increasingly teachers are being asked to focus all of their attention on students’ academic learning despite wide recognition of the importance of the non-academic learning that takes place in schools. This non-academic learning includes social, emotional, artistic, and physical knowledge and skills. In addition to non-academic learning, children also develop a sense of self within the context of the school that profoundly affects their academic and non-academic learning. This paper presents data from a two-year ethnographic study of one urban elementary school’s efforts to provide non-academic learning opportunities for kindergarten through fifth grade students through weekly yoga instruction. The findings indicate that regular yoga practice provides vocabulary and physical experiences that facilitate children’s developing sense of their ability to accomplish challenging tasks, belong and contribute to their community, and focus and engage in meaningful work. The paper presents evidence that these lessons, learned in yoga practice, carry over into the academic classroom and outside of school.

Vanessa L. Fong
Associate Professor of Education
Harvard University

"Differences Between Chinese Mothers’ and Fathers’ Roles in their Children’s Education"

Primary author: Sung won Kim

Researchers attempted to better understand the mechanisms and processes of parental involvement in children’s education because this type of involvement is often negatively associated with child academic outcomes. China, where parents are extremely invested in their children’s education and are heavily involved at home, provides an interesting context in which to investigate this issue. This study examines how young adults in Dalian City, China perceive and evaluated their parents’ involvement in their education during their childhood and adolescence, and how they made meaning of their experiences.

In 2011, seven participants from Dalian who had been recruited in 1999 from a college prep high school, a vocational high school, and a junior high school as part of a longitudinal study of Chinese singleton children provided retrospective narratives about how their parents tutored them during their childhood and adolescence. We focus especially on on fathers’ home-based involvement, as the literature on fathers’ educational involvement is almost non-existent in China in spite of its potential importance.

Our participants’ parents were found to engage in several strategies absent from previous research, such as jiang daoli (reasoning about the importance of education), watching children study, or offering food. Findings suggested that motivational factors related to affect and parental beliefs about children’s potential were especially critical mechanisms of influence. Fathers were less involved in their children’s education than mothers and often engaged in disciplinary action in response to poor performance when involved.

Suzanne Gaskins
Professor of Psychology
Northeastern Illinois University

Open Attention as a Cultural Tool for Observational Learning

Learning through observation in everyday activities is widely recognized in the ethnographic literature as a central way that children learn from others. There are two well-described characteristics of learning through observation: participation in meaningful activities with people who are important in the children’s lives and a belief that children are active, motivated learners who take initiative to garner experiences and make meaning from them. Gaskins and Paradise (2010) have proposed that there is a third characteristic central to observational learning: open attention, defined as attention that takes in information from the full environmental context (that is, wide-angled) and is sustained over time (that is, abiding). This paper will describe open attention in some detail, giving examples of how open attention is encouraged in variety of cultures, its value as a component of observational learning, the role of concentration, and the implications for understanding children’s learning (in and out of school) and play. The presentation will conclude that, while learning through observation is present in all cultures, in cultures where open attention is encouraged and expected, and where the responsibility for learning is given to the children, observational learning is both more powerful and more central to children’s mastery of the full range of cultural knowledge.

Stuart Greene
Associate Professor of English
Director, Minor in Education Program 
University of Notre Dame

“Mapping Low-Income African American Parents' Roles in their Children's Education in a Changing Political Economy”

The purpose of this study is to provide a conceptual map of the roles that low-income African American parents construct for themselves. Using the lenses of Critical Race Theory and Critical Geography, the study provides a typology that includes parents’ strategies for supporting and advocating for their children in a racial and socioeconomic landscape that limits the roles parents can play given the lack of access to significant material resources. Despite limited access to opportunities, parents support their children in a wide range of ways and they bring into focus the logic behind their efforts to help their children. Following the logic of parents’ involvement challenges deficit models that emphasize the ways parent involvement traditionally supports schools and that are based solely on parent behaviors. The author offers a framework of parent involvement that embraces (a) agency; (b) the dignity of all families; (c) cultural relevance in order to build upon the rich linguistic and cultural backgrounds of families; (d) an equitable distribution of resources to all families; and (e) democratic participation of families in schools.

John D. Herzog
Professor of Education, Emeritus
Northeastern University

Reflecting on Compagnonnage: Or Real World vs. Schoolroom Learning"       

In this paper I hope to clarify and extend the analysis of French compagnonnage that I presented in the "Tracing School Effects" Symposium in the 11/11 AAA meetings in Montréal. (I will distribute a one-page overview of the program for those who did not attend that session, or whose recollections need refreshing.) 

First, I fill in a few gaps in my earlier presentation. For example, I will try to explain more fully why some French youth are initially attracted to the program, but many others are not, and why some beginners drop out before completing apprenticeship. I will also examine, briefly, financial requirements for participants and how the program itself balances its annual budget.

Why should we be interested in compagnonnage? Developmental psychologists for some years have articulated a conception of environmental factors that can enhance the development of adolescents (ages 15–22), which include circumstances in which they can interact with a wide range of adults; authoritative caregivers and mentors; access to settings in which they can discover their own particular abilities; opportunities in which to make their own decisions and to experience moderate risk; etc. If you compare the learning environments provided in compagnonnage with those offered in schools that follow the dominant "school-and-classrooms" model (designated location, segregation from community, age-grading, group instruction, instruction by non-kin adults, formal curriculum, etc.), according to how well they correspond to the psychologists' specifications, compagnonnage provides a more "complete," developmentally suitable learning environment than school-and-classrooms. Most participants' positive responses to the compagnonnage program are thus not surprising.

Yet most anthropologists (including those who specialize in education) are reluctant to critique the underlying structure, procedures, and norms of school-and-classroom model, and the lack of correspondence of these with adolescents' basic needs. Specifically, they show little sustained interest in alternative models, including but not restricted to compagnonnage, that seem to offer more appropriate environments for adolescent learning. 

One reason for this stalemate is that most anthropologists, as academics and professionals, are firmly "culture-bound" when it comes to deep analysis of the school-and-classroom template, beyond sniping at its (many) rough edges. They are so invested in the dominant model that almost any other seems irrelevant. As students, most anthropologists prospered in it, and are its products; they animate it, as best they can, when they teach; they deliver their children to it; they benefit personally from the model, which gives them time and energy for research and writing. In short, they take it this part of their own culture almost completely for granted—as do most non-anthropologists with respect to most aspects of their culture. Anthropologists rarely ask: Why do we settle for this less than satisfactory model? Where did it come from? And are there more productive arrangements that we could move towards? How to do so?

Rebecca M. Klenk
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Programs in Women's Studies, Global Studies & Asian Studies 
University of Tennessee–Knoxville

Shifting Curricula, Shifting Selves: Three Generations of Learning and Unlearning in a Himalayan Alternative School

This paper analyzes learning and non-learning among three generations of students who attended a culturally specific school that emphasizes engaged citizenship through social justice work. Founded just prior to India’s independence, the residential program was designed to train a new cadre of women leaders in the rural Himalaya. For girls in a remote region without post-primary schools, the program provided not only access to education, but also an alternative to government curricula that offered few points of entry for rural pupils, even those from relatively prosperous families. After the later expansion of government education throughout the region, the school evolved to serve especially marginalized girls who received scholarships. Engaged citizenship through social justice work continued to be a central focus. However, the program accommodated the government curriculum so that students could take the high-stakes standardized exams required of pupils at conventional schools, and thus claim a role in an increasingly competitive society. Educational reforms after liberalization have compelled yet a third shift, and girls now must take alternative high-stakes exams that encode them as pupils who have not attended a conventional school. This paper explores students’ shifting articulations of learning and positionings of self in relationship to curricular shifts. I consider their experiences in the context of comparative literatures on globalization, alternative education, and educational reform, in order to explore the ways that models for culturally specific, community-based experiential schooling can provide avenues for achievement, the construction of educated subjectivities, and engaged citizenship.

David Lancy
Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus
Utah State University

“Learning Crafts in Pre-Modern Society With A Focus on Apprenticeship”

In spite of the fact that apprenticeship has been a favored topic for cultural anthropologists as well as archaeologists (Coy 1989; Crown 2002; Singleton 1998), no thorough attempt has yet been made to survey and summarize this material. Scholars tend to focus on describing individual cases with little comparative analysis. My earlier attempts to do this (Lancy 1996:163–170; Lancy 2008:250–259; Lancy 2010:91–92) might be described as “preliminary.” One difficulty that an ethnologist faces is that there is rarely a term in the native language that corresponds to “apprenticeship.” Indeed, the term only appears in English texts in the 17th century. Hence, one must infer the phenomenon from descriptions of craft learning and mastery.

The perspective that I bring to this task comes from previous work on socialization, especially preparation to carry out adult work (Lancy 1996; 2008; 2012; Lancy and Grove 2011). The approach parallels that of MacDonald who describes her review of the ethnographic record on learning to hunt as a “cross–cultural synthesis” providing an analysis that is, of necessity, “qualitative, as the relevant evidence from the ethnographic literature is either anecdotal or generalized and includes limited quantitative data” (MacDonald 2007:390). This survey of apprenticeship grew out of a comprehensive review of the ethnographic record pertaining to childhood (Lancy 2008). In that review, approximately 1350 published and unpublished reports were used and, since publication in late 2008, an additional 300 sources have been found and added to the corpus(1). Approximately seventy cases are drawn on in this essay. The majority of the cases represent detailed ethnographic descriptions of young people learning to master a craft or vocation, including weaving, pottery, blacksmithing and wood–working among others. In several cases (Coy 1989; Marchand 2001; McNaughton 1988; Tanon 1994) the ethnographer served an apprenticeship, becoming a participant observer. Roughly ten sources are secondary, representing surveys of the historic or ethnographic records.(2)

In the remainder of the paper, I lay out the generalizations that can be made about the process of learning crafts, beginning with informal processes such as when a child learns casually from a parent then moving on to the characteristics of the formal apprenticeship.

1. I am grateful to Annette Grove for research and editorial assistance.

2. I am excluding any consideration of apprenticeship in the modern era. Modern here refers to apprenticeship after it had become subject to an extensive legal infrastructure governing everything from the age at which one could begin an apprenticeship, humane treatment and living conditions, limits on the fees paid and on the amount of uncompensated labor and so on. These changes were only evident in Europe from the late 19th century. For example:

In 1775 the mayor and other council of Vienna sent a letter to all crafts and trades’ organizations in which they complained about the ill–treatment of apprentices by their masters. Another public admonition in 1845 argued again against masters who maltreated their subordinates [Steidl 2007:148].
Another limitation arises from the geographic distribution of cases in the literature. West Africa, Japan and Latin America are relatively well represented, whereas the Pacific and Asia, generally, are sparsely represented.

Leslie C. Moore
Assistant Professor
School of Teaching and Learning
College of Education and Human Ecology
The Ohio State University

Double Schooling in Northern Cameroon and Central Ohio

Around the world, millions of children participate in two schooling traditions: Qur’anic schooling and public schooling. Despite the prevalence of such double schooling, we know little about Qur’anic schooling, double schooling, and how these educational experiences shape Muslim children as learners. I have studied the double schooling experiences of young children in two African Muslim communities: Fulbe children in a small city in northern Cameroon and Somali-American children in a Midwestern city in the United States. In this paper I consider the differences in how literacy and the Literate Self are conceptualized and constructed in Qur’anic school (QS) and public school (PS) in these postcolonial and diasporic contexts and what this may mean for efforts in public school literacy instruction to build upon Qur’anic-school based literacy skills, practices, and dispositions.

Elisa Sobo
Professor of Anthropology
San Diego State University

In the USA today, education is brain-oriented; goals are cognitive, intellectual, and academic. We focus on the head, not the hands and heart. At Waldorf or Steiner schools, however, an integrative approach prevails. This presentation outlines Waldorf’s curricular aims and describes in detail the esoteric developmental model on which these are based. It draws on findings from an ethnographic study being carried out at a large west-coast Waldorf school using unobtrusive classroom observations, individual and group interviews, and surveys, as well as an archival review. In this and other Waldorf schools, learning happens within the child’s entire body or being: beyond addressing the task of thinking (‘head forces’) the child’s feelings (‘rhythmic’ or ‘chest forces’) and will (‘metabolic-limb forces’) are educated. Moreover, learning progresses in a developmentally appropriate way. Accordingly, pre-K and kindergarten curricula focus on helping a child to feel at home in or to fully incarnate his or her body, generally through movement-based activities. Gross motor work is complimented by fine motor work as grade school approaches; handwork (knitting) pr"‘This is Not Head-to-Head Education’: Whole Child Development in a Waldorf School"


omotes dexterity that later supports the mechanical mastery of writing. But the whole body still is utilized: for instance, in grade school students clap, jump, and stamp in patterns relating to the times tables they are reciting. Chest forces or feelings, too, are addressed, for example through pedagogical storytelling and wet-on-wet painting activities. Only later will purely cognitive tasks be undertaken. In sequentially addressing the whole child—hands, heart, and head—Waldorf education progresses in tandem with what its founder called “a genuine anthropology” (1996). System proponents argue that Waldorf’s developmentally appropriate holism helps produce balanced, freethinking human beings who feel and behave as if connected to the world in which they live.

Steiner, R. (1996). The threefold social order and educational reform, The Renewal of the Social Organism. Great Barrington, MA: Steinerbooks.

Gail (Israel) Weinstein
Academic Advocate
Cook Inlet Tribal Council

“An Alaskan Native Success Story: The New Spirit of Determination In the American Public School System”

In the year 2000, Cook Inlet Tribal Council Inc. confronted a sobering reality: Alaska Native children were falling further behind their peers in obtaining adequate public school education and graduation success. This paper explores the challenges discovered and the solutions used to design, implement, grow, refine, and manage a school –within-a-school program to significantly improve the educational opportunities and outcomes for Alaska Native children. This work, acknowledged by both the Bush and Obama administrations as exemplary collaboration between a tribal organization and the public school system, has established an academically rigorous, strength-based and culturally responsive community engagement model generating increasing student achievement and self-determination in an urban American public school system. Cook Inlet Tribal Council Educators' daily presence and unshakeable advocacy on behalf of the Alaska Native community reinforces and obligates public schools to implement modeled systemic change from within and follow through on its responsibilities and adhere to federally binding requirements. The Native Agency's involvement within the Anchorage School District presents a model partnership as well as the recognition of the need for continued tribal advocacy and vigilance within the American urban public school system. This precedent-setting work demonstrates effective equitable educational success including increasing skill development leading to graduation with increasing commitment toward healthy futures in the urban American public school system.


Tuesday & Wednesday, May 22–23, 2012
Hesburgh Center for International Studies

All humans by nature desire to know.


This set of papers derives from a conference convened at the University of Notre Dame in May 2012, in turn building on and out from a panel held in Montreal at the American Anthropological Association meeting in November 2011. It is envisioned as a contribution to broadening the scholarly but also the public conversation about the nature of learning and its relationship to the formal institutions we know as schools. In that sense, posting proceedings is a necessary offering.

We—anthropologists, psychologists, human development and education scholars from as far as Korea and Alaska—met for two full days during a gorgeous spring week just following graduation, with flowers and warmth and the peace of an academic year just completed. We ate wonderful food throughout the day and night, and had many informal conversations along with the formal proceedings. As convener, I aimed to implement my best understanding of how people learn and how they interact by structuring the conference with no papers delivered. This is somewhat like “flipping the classroom”: the independent preliminary work that could be done in advance was done in advance—writing and reading papers and preparing comments on others’ work—and the precious face-to-face time was used for what could only be done that way: discussing, asking, brainstorming, and laughing together.

Susan D. Blum
Department of Anthropology
University of Notre Dame


Table of Contents

Opening Remarks

Susan BlumSusan D. Blum
University of Notre Dame
Learning In and Out of School: What We Know, What We Need To Know

Workshop 1 – Learning

Suzanne Gaskins
Northeastern Illinois University
Open Attention as a Cultural Tool for Observational Learning

Cindy Dell Clark
Rutgers University–Camden
The Anthropology of Schools, Children, and Power

Vanessa L. Fong 
Harvard University
Sung won Kim, primary author
Differences Between Chinese Mothers’ and Fathers’ Roles in their Children’s Education

LearningWorkshop 2 – Schools

Susan D. Blum
University of Notre Dame
A Strange Way of Coming of Age: Why the Higher Education Conversation Needs Anthropology

Peter Demerath
University of Minnesota
In and Out of School Socializing Influences on the Development of US Middle-Class Student Subjectivity

Workshop 3 – Non-academic Learning in Schools

Elisa Sobo
San Diego State University 
‘This is Not Head-to-Head Education’: Whole Child Development in a Waldorf School

Christine Finnan
College of Charleston
Co-author: Lauren Rose
Learning, Sense of Self, and Yoga in a High-Poverty Urban Elementary School

LearningWorkshop 4 – Other Forms of Education

Meghan M. Chidsey
Columbia University
(Re)Learning Identities: War and Army Widows, Hostel Residents in Urban Rajasthan

Haejoang Cho
Yonsei University 
Beyond Alternative Education: A Return to Caring in Creative Public Spaces

John D. Herzog
Northeastern University
Reflecting on Compagnonnage: Or Real World vs. Schoolroom Learning

Workshop 5 – Other Forms of Schools

LearningRebecca M. Klenk
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Shifting Curricula, Shifting Selves: Three Generations of Learning and Unlearning in a Himalayan Alternative School

Leslie C. Moore
The Ohio State University                                       
Double Schooling in Northern Cameroon and Central Ohio

Carolyn Pope Edwards
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Keely Cline, Lella Gandini, Alga Giacomelli, Donatella Giovannini, and Annalia Galardini, coauthors
Books, Stories, and the Imagination at ‘The Nursery Rhyme’: A Qualitative Case Study of the Learning Environment at an Italian Preschool

Presented by

The Kellogg Institute for International Studies

With generous support from

The Henkels Lecture Fund: Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, the College of Arts and Letters, and the Office of Research at the University of Notre Dame

Cosponsored by

Notre Dame’s Department of Anthropology and the Institute for Educational Initiatives

Special Thanks

Many people helped substantially with this endeavor. For financial support of the conference as well as of the editing of these proceedings, I thank especially the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies; the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts (ISLA), College of Arts and Letters; and the Office of Research. For logistical support, I am grateful to Tom Merluzzi and Pat Base at ISLA; the Department of Anthropology, especially Michelle Thornton; at the Kellogg Institute Judy Bartlett, Dean Hartke, Scott Mainwaring, Elizabeth Rankin, Steve Reifenberg, and Sharon Schierling; special angel badge to Therese Hanlon. For editorial assistance with the proceedings, I am grateful to Leonor Wangensteen-Moya and Emily Wauford. For development of the ideas of this conference, and for help with practical matters I appreciate the efforts of Jee Seun Choi, Barunie Kim, and Christina Rogers. For help with many aspects of this conference, I am especially indebted to Emmy Dawson who wore many hats (including serving as rapporteur). For all-around encouragement, I thank Sassy, Hannah Jensen, and Lionel Jensen.


Conference Participants

Kevin Barry (MS and EdS, Science Education, Florida Institute of Technology) is interim director of the Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Notre Dame. He helps faculty members and TAs choose and implement pedagogical strategies and technology tools and works with departments on program assessment and curriculum revision projects.  

A fellow of the Institute for Latino Studies and a member of the Migration Working Group, Barry spent five weeks in 2007 working with the Center for Innovation and Quality in Teaching at the University of Talca, Chile on a Fulbright Senior Specialist Program Grant. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Professional and Organizational Development Network (POD). 

Barry team-teaches “La telenovela: género, significado cultural y producción estudiantil,” a project-based multidisciplinary course designed to enhance the media literacy of students while they develop language skills.

W. Martin Bloomer (PhD, Yale University) is associate professor of classics at the University of Notre Dame, where his areas of research lie in Latin literature, ancient rhetoric, and ancient education. His books include Valerius Maximus and the Rhetoric of the New Nobility (University of North Carolina Press, 1993), Latinity and Literary Society at Rome (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997), The Contest of Language: Before and Beyond Nationalism (University of Notre Dame Press, 2005) and The School of Rome: Latin Studies and the Origins of Liberal Education(University of California Press, 2011).

Susan D. Blum (PhD, University of Michigan) is professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology and a Kellogg Institute faculty fellow at the University of Notre Dame. She works on the nature of the self and its relation to language, meaning, and society, doing so in the context of ethnic and national identity in China (Portraits of “Primitives”: Ordering Human Kinds in the Chinese Nation, Rowman & Littlefield, 2001); deception and truth in China and across cultures (Lies that Bind: Chinese Truth, Other Truths, Rowman & Littlefield, 2007); and plagiarism among US college students (My Word! Plagiarism and College Culture, Cornell University Press, 2009).

Current projects include “Learning versus Schooling: A Professor’s Re-education” and a cross-cultural comparison of higher education. Among her other publications are Making Sense of Language: Readings in Culture and Communication (Oxford University Press, 2009; 2nd ed. forthcoming). Blum teaches on anthropological theory, linguistic anthropology, the anthropology of childhood and education, food and culture, and psychological anthropology.

Catherine Bolten (PhD, University of Michigan) is assistant professor of anthropology and peace studies and a Kellogg Institute faculty fellow at the University of Notre Dame. Bolten’s research interests include the ethics of post-war development, education policy and practice, youth, and morality. Her primary field site is the town of Makeni in northern Sierra Leone. Her book I Did it to Save My Life: Loyalty and Survival in Sierra Leone is forthcoming from the University of California Press in the flagship Series in Public Anthropology. Bolten has previously consulted for the United Nations World Food Programme and Physicians for Social Responsibility and has conducted extensive fieldwork on ethnobotany, eco-tourism, and development in Botswana. Her articles appear in The Journal of Modern African Studies and The Journal of Political Ecology.

Tamo Chattopadhay (EdD, Teachers College, Columbia University) is assistant professor of practice and director of international educational development at the Institute for Educational Initiatives and a Kellogg Institute faculty fellow at the University of Notre Dame. Chattopadhay’s teaching and research interests include linkages between post-primary education and development in a global era, adolescent socialization, youth entrepreneurship, and education innovations in diverse contexts of poverty. Formerly an adjunct assistant professor at the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, Chattopadhay consults with multilateral agencies on applied policy research in international educational development. Prior to academia, Chattopadhay was a vice president at JP Morgan in New York City.

Meghan M. Chidsey (PhD candidate, Teachers College, Columbia University) studies issues of gender, identity, power, trauma, and mythology—the heterogeneous ways in which individuals make and remake the self—with a current focus on Hindu war widows in North India. She previously conducted work on the intersections of schooling and NGOs in Ethiopia while earning an MS Ed at the University of Pennsylvania. A former high school chemistry teacher in Philadelphia, she is presently a 5th and 7th grade math tutor in Harlem and has served as a teaching assistant for undergraduate courses on law and society, archaeology, African studies, and social theory.

Hae-Joang Cho (PhD, University of California, Los Angeles), a practicing cultural anthropologist and feminist, is a professor of cultural anthropology at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. With early research on gender, her current work focuses on youth culture and modernity in the global/local and post-colonial context of modern-day Korea. Publishing in both Korean and English, she has written extensively on culture and gender issues in contemporary Korea. 
Cho teaches on gender and society, globalization, popular culture, family sociology, and methodology. She is the founding director of the Haja Center (Seoul Youth Factory for Alternative Culture), an alternative educational and cultural studio for teenagers. The Haja project was launched in 1999 as a part of an effort to solve the problems of youth and adults through research and practice grounded in East Asian perspectives of feminism and cultural studies.

Cindy Dell Clark (PhD, University of Chicago) is visiting associate professor of anthropology at Rutgers University–Camden and a fellow in the Society for Applied Anthropology. Clark has spent most of her adult life doing research focused on children’s experiences and vantage points. She gained her early research skills as an applied qualitative researcher and later brought her honed technical know how to academia.

Clark is the author of In Sickness and in Play: Children Coping with Chronic Illness (Rutgers University Press, 2003) and Flights of Fancy, Leaps of Faith: Children's Myths in Contemporary America (University of Chicago Press, 1998). Her most recent book, In A Younger Voice (Oxford University Press, 2010), provides a methodological toolkit to help others do child-centered ethnographic inquiry. In ongoing research, she studies children’s firsthand roles in ritual and play, and the substantial part this activity exerts in sustaining and shaping larger social dynamics.

Peter Demerath (EdD, University of Massachusetts) is associate professor in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development and coordinator for the Educational Administration Program at the University of Minnesota.
Demerath’s inquiry and teaching are animated by an abiding interest in illuminating the cultural basis of everyday educational practices. Ideally, his scholarship constitutes a way of “seeing” that attempts to reconstruct the cultural logic of how individuals and groups formulate educational problems and respond to them. He seeks to contribute both to scholarly understandings of educational phenomena and recommendations for policy and practice.
Demerath’s research focuses on the role of class culture in the perpetuation of social inequality through education. In particular, he has studied high school students in comparative perspective in Papua New Guinea and in the United States. Author of numerous articles and book chapters, his most recent book is Producing Success: The Culture of Personal Advancement in an American High School (University of Chicago Press, 2009).

Carolyn Edwards (EdD, Harvard University) is Willa Cather Professor at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, in the Departments of Psychology and Child, Youth, and Family Studies. Beginning with research in Kenya, she has studied child development in several countries, including children in the context of the family in villages in Kenya and the Mayan highlands of Mexico; public early childhood systems in Italy and Norway; and children’s welfare institutions in China. She is currently studying strategies for strengthening mathematics education in K-3 American classrooms, and strategies for enhancing young children’s school readiness through strengthening parent-professional partnerships. Much of her writing describes and analyzes relationship-building practices and pedagogical documentation in the infant-toddler centers and preschools in northern and central Italy. She has authored books and articles describing the early childhood philosophy and practice of programs in Reggio Emilia and Pistoia, Italy.

Christine Finnan (PhD, Stanford University) holds a joint appointment in the Departments of Teacher Education and of Sociology and Anthropology at the College of Charleston, South Carolina. Her initial research interest was in occupational identity development among adult Vietnamese refugees, but in moving to Charleston, she became involved in promoting and studying comprehensive school reform, particularly of low functioning schools. Currently, she focuses on children’s development of a sense of self within the school context, and in particular on their sense that they can accomplish challenging tasks, belong and contribute to social groups, and engage in meaningful work.

Although most of her research to date has been conducted in the United States, she will take a group of students to India this summer to examine childhood comparatively. She hopes this work will lead to additional research opportunities in India.

Vanessa L. Fong (PhD, Harvard University) is associate professor at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. She is the author ofOnly Hope: Coming of Age under China’s One-Child Policy (Stanford University Press, 2004), winner of the Francis Hsu Prize for East Asian Anthropology, and of Paradise Redefined: Transnational Chinese Students and the Quest for Flexible Citizenship in the Developed World(Stanford University Press, 2011). She is on the editorial boards of the China Quarterly and the China Journal.

Fong is interested in how the experiences of a partly transnational cohort of Chinese only-children and their families shed light on theories of education, gender, human development, economic development, transnational migration, and demographic, medical, linguistic, and psychological anthropology. Her longitudinal research focuses on a cohort of youth born under China’s one-child policy between 1979 and 1986.

She is also working on collaborative projects that examine relationships between socioeconomic trajectories, parenting beliefs and practices, and toddlers’ language development, including one that compares Chinese toddlers with the children of African American and immigrant New Yorkers.

Suzanne Gaskins (PhD, University of Chicago) is professor of psychology at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. She has done continuous fieldwork in a traditional Yucatec Mayan village in Mexico since 1977, integrating psychological and ethnographic approaches to the study of children’s everyday lives and their development from infancy through middle childhood. She speaks Yucatec Maya fluently and uses it as her primary language for doing fieldwork. She has also worked with children’s museums in the United States since 1989, doing research on how families interact in exhibits, how characteristics of exhibits influence that interaction and what cultural differences there are in visitors’ agendas.

Focusing in particular on the development of Yucatec Mayan infants and children, her research centers on cultural influences on human development across a wide range of topics, including childhood learning in context, infant interactions with people and objects, the role of play and work in development across cultures, the developmental evidence for linguistic relativity beginning in middle childhood, and the influence of cultural change on socialization practices.

Stuart Greene (PhD, Carnegie Mellon) is associate professor of English and director of an undergraduate minor in education, “Education, Schooling, and Society,” with an appointment in the Center for Social Concerns at the University of Notre Dame. His research has focused on the intersections of race, poverty, and achievement in public schools. This work has led to the publication of his coedited volume, Making Race Visible: Literacy Research for Racial Understanding (with Dawn Abt-Perkins, Teachers College Press, 2003), for which he won the National Council of Teachers of English Richard A. Meade Award in 2005. He also edited Literacy as a Civil Right (Peter Lang Publishing, 2008) and coedited From Bedtime Stories and Book Reports: Connecting Parent Involvement and Family (with Catherine Compton-Lilly, Teachers College Press, 2010). He is currently working on Creating Spaces of Hope: African American Parents, Their Children, and Geographies of Opportunity(Teachers College Press, forthcoming).

John Herzog (PhD, Harvard University) is professor emeritus of education at Northeastern University, where he cofounded and served as director of the Human Services Program. During his long career he has studied issues such as community schools, childrearing in foraging societies, and ethnic differences in attitudes toward education. From 1968 to 1971, he served as a field director of the Child Development Research Unit at University College Nairobi in Kenya.

Herzog opted for early retirement in 1995 to pursue on-site research on compagnonnage, a traditional and comprehensive French apprenticeship-and-education program for youth. In compagnonnage, many features of non-school education, such as formal initiation, character education, residence outside the family, participation in adult settings, and instruction by "near peers" are effectively allied with academic instruction.   Herzog is currently working on a book on the subject.

Rebecca Klenk (PhD, University of Washington) is a sociocultural anthropologist who teaches interdisciplinary courses in global studies, women’s studies, and Asian studies at the University of Tennessee–Knoxville. Her research has focused on education, gender, development, and globalization in Himalayan India. She is the author of Educating Activists: Development and Gender in the Making of Modern Gandhians(Lexington Books, 2010).

David F. Lancy (PhD, University of Pittsburgh) is professor emeritus of anthropology at Utah State University. Originally from western Pennsylvania, he has done fieldwork in Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Trinidad (Fulbright Fellowship), Sweden (Fulbright Fellowship), and the United States. His research interests include the study of cultural influences on children’s literacy, ethnographic research methods, and the anthropology of childhood. Lancy’s teaching interests include the study of ancient civilizations, especially Egypt, and the anthropology of childhood. He currently teaches two courses online: Egypt and the Ancient Civilizations of the World, and Children and Culture. In 2001, Lancy was honored by the Carnegie Foundation as Utah’s professor of the year. In 2011, he received the D. Wynne Thorne award as Utah State’s outstanding scholar.

Leslie C. Moore (PhD, University of California, Los Angeles) is an applied linguist and a linguistic anthropologist in the School of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University. Her research examines the social and cultural patterning of language and literacy development in communities whose members use multiple languages and participate in multiple schooling traditions.

Moore specializes in language socialization research, an ethnographic and interactional discourse analytic approach to the study of human development and learning. She has worked in northern Cameroon and in the Somali community in Columbus. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, Fulbright, and the Ohio Humanities Council/National Endowment for the Humanities.

Her work has appeared in many interdisciplinary journals and reference works, including Text & Talk, Social Analysis, Language Arts, Language & Communication, Studies in African Linguistics, The Handbook of Language Socialization, The Anthropology of Learning in Childhood, and The Encyclopedia of Language and Education.

Elisa (EJ) Sobo (PhD, University of California, San Diego), professor of anthropology at San Diego State University, is a sociocultural anthropologist specializing in health. She is presently on the editorial boards of Anthropology & Medicine and Medical Anthropology and she is the book reviews editor for Medical Anthropology Quarterly as well as cochair of the American Anthropological Association’s Committee on Public Policy. In the past, Sobo has served as an elected member of the Society for Medical Anthropology’s executive board as well as on the Royal Anthropological Institute’s Medical Committee in the UK. Her current research examines cultural models of child development as applied in classroom teaching, particularly in the Waldorf or Steiner education system.

Gail (Israel) Weinstein (M Ed, University of Alaska) has actualized her training as an anthropologist and educator advocate to improve the health, socio-emotional and economic well being of children and their families within communities of poverty. Working with Cook Inlet Tribal Council Inc. of Alaska for more than a decade, her commitment and team leadership success in education is evidenced by the remarkable graduation and college acceptance achievements of her students. Her work with Alaskan Native youth and the community in the public school system earned her the President’s Service and Civic Participation Award in 2006 and she was an invited guest at the White House Roundtable “Compassion in Action” in 2008.

Weinstein has served as representative and spokesperson for various nongovernmental agencies and Indigenous communities through her work with UNICEF, the African Medical Research Foundation, the Kenyan Ministry of Health, the Department of Community Medicine University of Zimbabwe and Save the Children (UK).


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