Barbara Rogoff

Personal Spotlight:

We asked scholars to describe some of the following questions: What drew you to do work on Latino youth and families, or another topic that is important to you now? Who was an important mentor to you in this work, or was there a particularly influential study in the field or in a related field?

I’m not sure what drew me to do work on Latino youth and families. Perhaps it was hanging out in the late 60s, in college, with the Chicanx students who were first in their communities (not just families) to go to college. And being involved in civil rights issues. Thank you Luis Mata, Roberto Estrada, Margarita Luna, José Martínez, Alex González, Benny Torres, Rogelio Gama, and the other veteranos who led the way.

Or maybe it was the opportunity to learn Spanish from 8th to 12th grades, from Señor Holderread, in a town where almost no one spoke anything besides English.

It certainly was enhanced by the opportunity that came along when I was in grad school to take a year off as a researcher in Guatemala (thanks Bea Whiting and Jerry Kagan and Roy Malpass) and to be puzzled by how children in the Mayan town of San Pedro la Laguna learned such complex skills, given that their parents claimed that they did not teach them (thanks, Pedrano children, parents, and grandparents)!

This drew me in to try to understand how children Learn by Observing and Pitching In to the endeavors of their families and communities (LOPI), especially in Indigenous communities of the Americas. I’ve been researching that way of learning ever since, together with a number of my students, former students, and colleagues. (Some of this work is published in Correa-Chávez, Mejía-Arauz, & Rogoff, 2015.)

Research Spotlight:

We invited scholars to describe a recent finding, current study, or recent publication and what makes them excited about it. 

My book, Developing Destinies: A Mayan Midwife and Town, addresses the roles of individuals in cultural continuity and change, together with the role of culture in individuals’ lives. I wrote this book together with a Mayan woman who was born to be a midwife, Chona Pérez González, and two of her grandchildren. Chona’s goal was to preserve millennial Mayan knowledge supporting birth and families. My goal was to help her do that at the same time as bringing theoretical ideas about culture-and-individual relations to life, in an accessible way. We did these by telling the story of her life and of the changes in San Pedro over her lifetime, based on 80+ years of her experience and 40+ years of my research in San Pedro. Thanks Chona, Chonita, Josué! We are proud that our book received the Maccoby Book Award from APA. My royalties are contributed to the Learning Center in San Pedro.

Recently, I have been making short research videos, with clips from research, to showcase strengths of children from various Latinx backgrounds. A new video is due to appear on NSF’s website in mid-May 2018, titled “Learning by Helping.” It is about the helpfulness of Mexican-heritage children, with Angélica López and Lucía Alcalá. Please have a look! Click on website below: You can find more links to videos related to my past and current research on my website located at: Click on website below.

Reflections on Latino Caucus Experiences:

Finally, we asked about experiences with the SRCD Latino Caucus: Why is the caucus important and/or your views on the role of the Latino Caucus vis-à-vis SRCD, research on child development, policy/practice.

I am honored to be a longtime member of the Latino Caucus. The Caucus has a really important role to play in SRCD and in research on child development generally. Members of the Caucus help the field make progress in expanding knowledge to focus on child development — broadly.

Contact information:


« Back to Member Spotlights