Comparative Cognitive Research: Learning from a Learning Disabled Child Michael Cole and Kenneth Traupmann
As long ago as 1971, Cole and his colleagues asserted that cultural differences in learning and problem solving reside more in the situations to which people of different cultures apply their cognitive skills than in the existence of such cognitive processes in one cultural group and their absence in another (Cole, Gay, Glick & Sharp, 1971). That conclusion made sense in the context of their research. However, it was an unsatisfying conclusion in several respects. First, there was little more than a casual description of the various everyday tasks in which people seemed to exhibit skills that they appeared to lack in more tightly controlled laboratory tasks. This led us to question whether it was reasonable to assume that laboratory and naturally occurring tasks were measuring the same skills. For example, when somebody learns and remembers riddles, the names of leaves, or one’s ancestors, and does so in a fashion that appears remarkable to us, are the essential skills the same as those required in free recall, paired associates, or any other well-analyzed cognitive task?