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New take on concerted cultivation

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell illustrates the impact a parent's involvement in their child's life can have on their future ability to overcome barriers, negotiate favourable outcomes and generally do well. "Concerted cultivation" is often lacking in low income settings because parents / caregivers are overwhelmed, under-resourced or rightfully detracted by pressing pursuits for survival. But the lives of many low income parents / caregivers is a bewildering array of activities "to make ends meet" providing opportunities for these activities to be reframed as observable, engaging, learning environments.

Photo of Havi Murungi
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There is a need to infuse the environments in which low income people live and work with meaning so that parents / caregivers view them as sites where their young charges - who are often brought along due to the lack of househelp, daycare or the resources to get these services - can observe, question, engage in, learn from while ensuring the dignity of parents / caregivers and safety of children.

The idea is to investigate how the mundane - selling at a market, working on a farm, hawking at the street corner - can be recaste as activities of enlightenment in the same way that going to the theatre, movies or museum are. 

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

Rapid ethnography to: 1. Establish what young children (3-5 years) do when they are in a typical daycare centre 2. Observe how parents / caregivers interact with children in middle-class "concerted cultivation" environments 3. Investigate the occurrence of activities and behaviours mirroring 1 & 2 above in low income settings 4. Model these so that low income parents / caregivers can observe, emulate, find value in partaking by framing the ordinary as beneficial, theatrical, educational


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Photo of DiemTien Le

What a great insight!

Children learn so much just from watching their parents! Do you think that there is a way for parents to share how they involve their kids? Also, how would you model the behaviors observed?

Curious to hear how this idea can grow!

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