AMI Talks – Life Skills and Learning in Communities

The AMI talk of 19 May 2022 zoomed in on how children acquire life skills in Indigenous communities in the Americas, and particularly Mexico. Dr Barbara Rogoff shared some of her pioneering research work and Carolina Cerezuela spoke of a Montessori outreach initiative in Oaxaca.

Dr Barbara Rogoff (University of California-Santa Cruz) presented her research on the organisation of Indigenous families of the Americas. Her work has shown that in some Guatemalan Mayan and Mexican-heritage communities, children are broadly involved in the activities of their families and communities, and they contribute with their own initiative to home and community life. Dr Rogoff describes this as “learning by observing and pitching in to family and community endeavors". 

Our second presenter, Carolina Cerezuela, is involved in The Ananda Learning Center in a Zapotec village in the southern highlands of Oaxaca, Mexico – where they offer Montessori education to the children of the local community and children from families who have moved to the village. They also provide training at low cost for teachers of rural schools, and public and private schools in the area. The community-run initiative advocates social equity and ecology, and embraces local skills for life.


Barbara Rogoff is UCSC Foundation Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California-Santa Cruz. She investigates cultural aspects of children’s learning and how communities arrange for learning, finding especially sophisticated collaboration and attention among children from Indigenous communities of the Americas. She has received the Distinguished Lifetime Contributions Award (Society for Research in Child Development), the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Developmental Science (Jean Piaget Society), and the Chemers Award for Outstanding Research (UCSC).

Dr Rogoff’s recent work includes Learning by Observing and Pitching in to Family and Community Endeavors and Children Learn by Observing and Contributing to Family and Community Endeavors.

Carolina Cerezuela has a degree in Psychology, and a master's in International Cooperation for Development. She is passionate about education, human and ecological development. Since 2010 she has lived in a small Zapotec indigenous community in the southern highlands of Oaxaca (Mexico) where she continues to be inspired by the community, its culture and life skills, which resonate with her views on ecology and education. 

In 2013 she co-founded The Ananda Learning Center, a Montessori educational project, that works closely with the community.

Carolina is currently promoting the creation of an adolescent community project while studying for the AMI 12-18 diploma.