In this lesson we will explore the effect of culture on the socialization of children. We will also seek to understand the impact that culture has on their educational experiences.
The Effect of Culture in Education
The American culture used to be considered a melting pot of ideas, values and norms. Contributors of the melting pot were people from different regions of the world who would blend their uniqueness into the larger homogenized American society. Nowadays, the melting pot metaphor is no longer an accurate depiction of our diverse society. We welcome multicultural diversity, and our society is more like tossed green salad.Our classrooms are a microcosm of the American tossed green salad metaphor, with each student bringing diverse flavors from their own background into the learning environment. These flavors make them unique, and that uniqueness will affect their academic achievement.
Some of the flavors that the students bring to the classroom are their learning styles, personalities, gender, behavioral propensities and their culture. Culture is defined as a group that shares common experiences.
Understanding the Impact of Culture on Education
All of the students in a given class are sharing the common experiences of their classroom, and thus they create their own unique classroom culture. However, within that classroom environment, each student also brings the cultural sensitivities from their home environment. It is due to this multicultural diversity that teachers would be well-served to use a culturally relevant pedagogy.
Culturally relevant teaching is a pedagogy that makes modifications in instructional strategies to account for diversity. Reciprocal teaching and cooperative learning are two of the most effective strategies to engage students in culturally relevant learning. Reciprocal teaching occurs when students take turns leading the class discussion. This method invites students to use their cultural viewpoints to express the instructional material in their own words.
Cooperative learning is effective when group collaboration, as well as individual responsibility, is utilized for the completion of assignments. The outcome of cooperative learning goes beyond the completion of the task and is also teaching students to know and praise their own and each other’s cultures.However, culturally relevant teaching will only be effective if the teacher understands how non-verbal cues are seen by their students. In some cultures, it is considered rude, disrespectful and even confrontational for a student to make eye contact with authority figures. In other cultures, it is actually forbidden to shake hands with a stranger of the opposite gender.
We learn social cues through the process of socialization. Socialization is the continuous process of acquiring norms, values and behaviors. This process begins when we are growing up, when the influences around us shape our behavior as to what is acceptable and what is taboo within our culture. For example, a young man from Texas might be instructed in the culturally proper way to greet someone. First you remove your hat, then you look them in the eye, extend out your right hand and say ‘Hello, ma’am, it’s nice to meet you.’ Now let’s say that years later this cowboy gets a job in Japan, where they avoid eye contact and physical contact in their greetings.
He will have to go through the process of socialization to adapt to this new environment.
Culture shock is the feeling of being a fish out of water. The shock part, which causes anxiety, occurs because the familiar social cues from one’s own culture are absent in the new culture. If the signs that we use to navigate through our experiences of daily life are foreign to us, we will be in a state of culture shock until we learn to socialize our norms, values and behaviors to the new cultural influences.
In summary, the students in today’s classroom represent a microcosm of the American tossed green salad metaphor, with each student bringing unique sensitivities, values and cultures from their own background into the learning environment. In the classroom, the students are sharing common experiences together and are learning how to socialize with each other. The socialization process is continuous as the students learn which behaviors are culturally acceptable and which ones are not. If the students are not familiar with the idiosyncrasies of the American culture, they may feel like a fish out of water until they embrace the socialization process and learn to adapt to their new environment.
Teaching in a multicultural, diverse classroom is most effective when the teacher is familiar with the various cultures in their classroom and modifies the lesson plans to accommodate everyone’s cultural sensitivities. This can be done through reciprocal teaching and cooperative learning. In reciprocal teaching the students are able to express to the class their perspective on the material, while in cooperative learning a group of students share responsibility with the goal of completing the given task.
After watching this lesson, you should be able to:
- Define culture, socialization and culture shock, and explain how they can affect students
- Describe culturally relevant teaching, reciprocal teaching and cooperative learning as well as how to apply them in the classroom