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learning from lations.pdf - Developmental Psychology 2010...

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Learning From Latinos: Contexts, Families, and Child Development in Motion Bruce Fuller University of California, Berkeley Cynthia Garcı´a Coll Brown University Two generations ago, Latino children and families were often defined as disadvantaged, even “culturally deprived,” by psychologists, social scientists, and pediatric researchers. Since then, empirical work from several disciplines has yielded remarkable discoveries regarding the strengths of Latino families and resulting benefits for children. Theoretical advances illuminate how variation in the child’s culturally bounded context or developmental niche reproduces differing socialization practices, forms of cognition, and motivated learning within everyday activities. This review sketches advances in 4 areas: detailing variation in children’s local contexts and households among Latino subgroups, moving beyond Latino– White comparisons; identifying how parenting goals and practices in less acculturated, more traditional families act to reinforce social cohesion and support for children; identifying, in turn, how pressures on children and adolescents to assimilate to novel behavioral norms offer developmental risks, not only new opportunities; and seeing children’s learning and motivation as situated within communities that exercise cognitive demands and social expectations, advancing particular forms of cognitive growth that are embedded within social participation and the motivated desire to become a competent member. This review places the articles that follow within such contemporary lines of work. Together they yield theoretical advances for understanding the growth of all children and adolescents, who necessarily learn and develop within bounded cultural or social-class groups. Keywords: cultural psychology, developmental theory, Latino children A half-century ago, Latino families were set in stark relief against the White middle-class mainstream. The fixed personality traits of “Mexican” children allegedly stemmed from the (equally uniform) practices and cultural traits of their parents, typically cast as harmful deficits when compared with Whites. Scholars helped to legitimate popular conceptions of “culturally deprived homes” that turned out children who saw themselves as “more externally controlled,” and took on fixed personalities infused with “mistrust, shame, and doubt” (D. Hunt, cited in Bettelheim, 1964, p. 2). Families in New York’s Spanish Harlem were adrift in what Oscar Lewis (1966) called a “culture of poverty,” beset by uncar- ing parenting and moral decay. Out west in Los Angeles, the infamous zoot suit riots only confirmed that Latino teenagers faced the same inevitable fate of Black youths. Being raised in el barrio was just like growing up in the ghetto.
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