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Marc Andersen

Toys as teachers: A cross-cultural analysis of object use and enskillment in hunter-gatherer societies

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Toys as teachers: A cross-cultural analysis of object use and enskillment in hunter-gatherer societies. / Riede, Felix; Lew-Levy, Sheina; Johannsen, Niels Nørkjær et al.

In: Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 2022.

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@article{ffc0f4d6f06b4278bfa5b9dcfb77b45e,
title = "Toys as teachers: A cross-cultural analysis of object use and enskillment in hunter-gatherer societies",
abstract = "Studies of cultural transmission – whether approached by archaeological or ethnographic means – have made great strides in identifying formal teaching and learning arrangements, which in turn can be closely aligned with formal models of social learning. While novices and apprentices are often in focus in such studies, younger children and their engagement with material culture has received less attention. Against the backdrop of a cross-cultural database of ethnographically documented object use and play in 54 globally distributed foraging communities, we here discuss the ways in which children make and use tools and toys. We provided a cross-cultural inventory of objects made for and by hunter-gatherer children and adolescents. We find that child and adolescent objects are linked to adult material culture, albeit not exclusively so. Toys and tools were primarily handled outside of explicit pedagogical contexts and there is little evidence for formalised apprenticeships. Our data suggests that children{\textquoteright}s self-directed interactions with objects, especially during play, has a critical role in early-age enskillment. Placed within a niche construction framework, we combine ethnographic perspectives on object play with archaeological evidence for play objects to offer an improved cross-cultural frame of reference for how social learning varies across early human life-history and what role material culture may play in this process. While our analysis improves our systematic understanding of the role and relevance of play objects among hunter-gatherer societies, we also make the case for more detailed studies of play objects in the context of ethnographic, archival and archaeological cultural transmission research. ",
author = "Felix Riede and Sheina Lew-Levy and Johannsen, {Niels N{\o}rkj{\ae}r} and Noa Lavi and Marc Andersen",
year = "2022",
language = "English",
journal = "Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory",
issn = "1072-5369",
publisher = "Springer",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Toys as teachers: A cross-cultural analysis of object use and enskillment in hunter-gatherer societies

AU - Riede, Felix

AU - Lew-Levy, Sheina

AU - Johannsen, Niels Nørkjær

AU - Lavi, Noa

AU - Andersen, Marc

PY - 2022

Y1 - 2022

N2 - Studies of cultural transmission – whether approached by archaeological or ethnographic means – have made great strides in identifying formal teaching and learning arrangements, which in turn can be closely aligned with formal models of social learning. While novices and apprentices are often in focus in such studies, younger children and their engagement with material culture has received less attention. Against the backdrop of a cross-cultural database of ethnographically documented object use and play in 54 globally distributed foraging communities, we here discuss the ways in which children make and use tools and toys. We provided a cross-cultural inventory of objects made for and by hunter-gatherer children and adolescents. We find that child and adolescent objects are linked to adult material culture, albeit not exclusively so. Toys and tools were primarily handled outside of explicit pedagogical contexts and there is little evidence for formalised apprenticeships. Our data suggests that children’s self-directed interactions with objects, especially during play, has a critical role in early-age enskillment. Placed within a niche construction framework, we combine ethnographic perspectives on object play with archaeological evidence for play objects to offer an improved cross-cultural frame of reference for how social learning varies across early human life-history and what role material culture may play in this process. While our analysis improves our systematic understanding of the role and relevance of play objects among hunter-gatherer societies, we also make the case for more detailed studies of play objects in the context of ethnographic, archival and archaeological cultural transmission research.

AB - Studies of cultural transmission – whether approached by archaeological or ethnographic means – have made great strides in identifying formal teaching and learning arrangements, which in turn can be closely aligned with formal models of social learning. While novices and apprentices are often in focus in such studies, younger children and their engagement with material culture has received less attention. Against the backdrop of a cross-cultural database of ethnographically documented object use and play in 54 globally distributed foraging communities, we here discuss the ways in which children make and use tools and toys. We provided a cross-cultural inventory of objects made for and by hunter-gatherer children and adolescents. We find that child and adolescent objects are linked to adult material culture, albeit not exclusively so. Toys and tools were primarily handled outside of explicit pedagogical contexts and there is little evidence for formalised apprenticeships. Our data suggests that children’s self-directed interactions with objects, especially during play, has a critical role in early-age enskillment. Placed within a niche construction framework, we combine ethnographic perspectives on object play with archaeological evidence for play objects to offer an improved cross-cultural frame of reference for how social learning varies across early human life-history and what role material culture may play in this process. While our analysis improves our systematic understanding of the role and relevance of play objects among hunter-gatherer societies, we also make the case for more detailed studies of play objects in the context of ethnographic, archival and archaeological cultural transmission research.

M3 - Journal article

JO - Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory

JF - Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory

SN - 1072-5369

ER -