Presentation Title

Mayan Children’s Views and Contributions to Family and Community Work

Faculty Mentor

Lucia Alcala

Start Date

18-11-2017 10:00 AM

End Date

18-11-2017 10:15 AM

Location

15-1802

Session

Interdisciplinary 1

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

humanities_letters

Abstract

Abstract

Children and childhood are socially and culturally constructed concepts that relate to what children are expected to do and what contexts and activities are available to them vary significantly by culture. This study examined children’s everyday activities in a Mayan community in México and explored children’s views and participation in family work and other activities. Preliminary results show that all of our participants reported helping with family household work and during community celebrations. At home, they helped mostly on their own initiative, although they reported that their mothers sometimes had to remind them to do their chores. When we asked them why they helped, children seemed to be surprised with the question, it seemed that for them the answer was obvious. After pausing for a few seconds, one participant responded, “I help because I live there,” and another participant mentioned, “Helping is everybody’s responsibility.” Children also helped in multiple community events from traditional celebrations to religious ceremonies. They recognized that their presence and participation will help preserve these cultural practices. Results suggest that Mayan children in this study viewed work, at home and in the community, as something they are proud to do by taking the initiative to help. Their sense of belonging and contributing to their family and community seems to be the underlying driving force that guide children to eagerly participate in this mutually shared work. In this context, work is not harmful to children’s development but instead, work is what makes development possible. (word count 247)

Summary of research results to be presented

Extra material

Children also understand that it is their right to be part of these events that bring the community together and that are done for the enjoyment of all community members, not just for adults. They move across spaces (private and public) fluidly with no restriction or segregation. The idea of having events or activities just for children or just for adults was foreign and puzzling to them. Results suggest that Mayan children in this study viewed work, at home and in the community, as something they are proud to do, as a valuable and crucial activity for their development. This view contradicts current ideas about children’s participation in work and highlights the need to take into account the sociocultural context of children’s lives when generating policies related to work, taking the community’s conceptualization of work its value and function, as the starting point.

Previous research with middle-class families show that children in these communities spend more time in child-specialized activities than children from other non-middle-class communities who have more access to mature activities (Alcalá et al, 2014; Morelli, Rogoff, & Angelillo, 2003; Rogoff, 2003; Rogoff et al, 2014). However, less is known about what children think about participating in work at home and in their community.

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Nov 18th, 10:00 AM Nov 18th, 10:15 AM

Mayan Children’s Views and Contributions to Family and Community Work

15-1802

Abstract

Children and childhood are socially and culturally constructed concepts that relate to what children are expected to do and what contexts and activities are available to them vary significantly by culture. This study examined children’s everyday activities in a Mayan community in México and explored children’s views and participation in family work and other activities. Preliminary results show that all of our participants reported helping with family household work and during community celebrations. At home, they helped mostly on their own initiative, although they reported that their mothers sometimes had to remind them to do their chores. When we asked them why they helped, children seemed to be surprised with the question, it seemed that for them the answer was obvious. After pausing for a few seconds, one participant responded, “I help because I live there,” and another participant mentioned, “Helping is everybody’s responsibility.” Children also helped in multiple community events from traditional celebrations to religious ceremonies. They recognized that their presence and participation will help preserve these cultural practices. Results suggest that Mayan children in this study viewed work, at home and in the community, as something they are proud to do by taking the initiative to help. Their sense of belonging and contributing to their family and community seems to be the underlying driving force that guide children to eagerly participate in this mutually shared work. In this context, work is not harmful to children’s development but instead, work is what makes development possible. (word count 247)