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Assisted Imitation

This entry describes how novices learn something new. Whether someone lives in a farming village of several hundred in Mexico or in a technological center of millions in the United States, the process is the same. To perpetuate themselves, cultures must continually add new members. Most novices are infants who come into the world with only a few primitive, self-directed behaviors, such as sucking and grasping. How do infant novices go from such simplicity to becoming complex cultural beings? That is, how do they come to know “what everyone else already knows”?

At first, they must be bathed, dressed, fed, and carried about. Yet in a few short years, a normally developing child can do all that and much more. The question, then, is how do ...

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