Document Type


Journal/Book Title

African Children at Work: Working and Learning in Growing Up.

Publication Date



Lit Verlag


Gerd Spittler and Michael Bourdillion

First Page


Last Page



The term “curriculum” in chore curriculum conveys the idea that there is a discernible regularity to the process whereby children attempt to learn, then master and finally, carry out their chores. While the academic or “core” curriculum (of Math, English, Science) found in schools is formal and imposed on students in a top–down process, the chore curriculum is informal and emerges in the interaction of children’s need to fit in and emulate those older, their developing cognitive and sensorimotor capacity, the division of labor within the family and the nature of the tasks (chores) themselves. The primary theme of this chapter is the notion of children as workers—across foraging (hunting and gathering), pastoral and farming societies. A complementary theme is the process by which children learn the trades of their particular society. In fact, children most often learn “on the job.” Nevertheless, there are distinct regularities in this process that I’ve attempted to capture in the expression “chore curriculum."