The Contribution of siblings to the development of urban black children.
Sibling research in the past twenty years has moved away from a focus on particular variables such as sex differences, birth order, and rivalry, to a more searching investigation of the influences of sibling interaction. In this study the contribution of sibling dyads to cognitive growth is explored. Of particular interest were the implications of learning style for academic performance. To investigate the informal learning context of black township children from an ecological perspective, the household family structure and community networks are also considered. Twenty eight sibling dyads were divided into two groups on the basis of tutor's age. The older group comprised ten to thirteen year olds, and the younger group six to nine year olds. Each tutor had a younger sibling, not attending pre-school, who was the tutee for the tasks. Tutor-pairs were presented with puzzle-tasks designed to test Western-type academic competencies. Videotaped interactions were subjected to a behavioural micro-analysis coded into seven categories, originally devised for a previous study of mother-child interaction that utilised the same tasks, and adapted to highlight certain teaching strategies. Vygotsky's (1978) zone of proximal development provides the matrix for the discussion of results in conjunction with Feuerstein's (1980) concept of mediated learning experiences which are interpreted within a multicultural context. Using both quantitative and qualitative approaches, the findings are presented in terms of teaching style. Age and sex differences are discussed. Comparisons are made between this study, other local studies, and an American sample. Related research findings, including crosscultural studies, are considered in relation to the particular problems of black education. Home interviews yielded information about educational and occupational levels in the community studied. These provide the setting for sibling transmission of culture. Family caretaking roles reveal a broad social base for urban blacks, with siblings contributing a substantial proportion. Educational perspectives, as well as future research possibilities, are considered. The results suggest that despite the limitations of child tutors due to varying maturational factors, siblings can offer a unique resource for promoting and extending intrafamilial cognitive growth, particularly for a society in transition.