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Jouer à apprendre. Spécificités des apprentissages de la petite enfance et de leur rôle dans la fabrication et la maturation des personnes chez les T'ai Dam (Ban Nakham, Nord-Laos)

Abstract : From the moment they enter the world, young T'ai Dam children of Nākhām village (North Laos) are immersed in - and integrated into - an adult world. They are free to travel and explore all of its time, space, and activity. Their intense and early involvement is tolerated, and the adults in their family circle even interpret it in terms of willpower. However, it is described as part of play, and very rarely related to the learning process. The children are in fact characterized by an immaturity that can be described in terms of corporeality and reason. On the one hand, they are inherently soiled, they lack firmness, their corporeal components have not settled, their sexuation is yet to be determined. On the other, they ignore the "language of people". Reason itself is conceived, like other dimensions of cognition, as residing in an organ: the heart. This being the case, from the T'ai Dam point of view, it is more a matter of accompanying and supporting children's growth than of transmitting skills and knowledge that, at any rate, they are not yet ready to receive. All the more so that some of these skills and knowledges are closely and indissolubly linked to men's and women's coming of age : the sexed know-how of transforming cotton for women, working with wood and bamboo for men. So what happens when children are not learning, or when, on the contrary, parents claim that this is actually what they are doing? What relationship does being entertain to knowledge and learning? What role do the T'ai Dam attribute to learning in the process of becoming a person ? How can the anthropologist articulate T'ai Dam ethnotheories of ontogenesis, knowledge and learning, using what his own theoretical assumptions and relationship to knowledge allow him to perceive and interpret of T'ai Dam reality? These questions place the exploration of early childhood within the wider context of an anthropology of learning and knowledge. Ultimately, it is the person's embodiment that enables him/her to know what he/she will not have to have learnt : at the heart of these questions - and no doubt also at the heart of the answers I'm inclined to give - is the idea of the body as an "existential foundation."
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Contributor : Natacha Collomb <>
Submitted on : Friday, December 16, 2011 - 8:23:26 PM
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Collomb Natacha. Jouer à apprendre. Spécificités des apprentissages de la petite enfance et de leur rôle dans la fabrication et la maturation des personnes chez les T'ai Dam (Ban Nakham, Nord-Laos). Anthropologie sociale et ethnologie. Université de Nanterre - Paris X, 2008. Français. ⟨tel-00653051⟩

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