Culture, From an Educational Point of View

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What is Culture from an Educational Point of View?

To answer this question, one would have to be specific as to what type of culture is being talked about in the question. Webster dictionary defines culture as” The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought”, patterns, traits, and products considered as the expression of a particular period, class, community, or population, the predominating attitudes and behavior that characterize the functioning of a group or organization, Intellectual and artistic activity and the works produced by it, and the development of the intellect through training or education, to name a few. This article intends to discuss and address the word as it is defined, analyzed, and applied to various learning situations and environment that’s associated with some form of education. To piggyback on that, where the word culture is used in any kind of context, some type of learning has taken place, therefore culture and education seems to go hand in hand, with motivation standing in the wings. To distinguish these various form of cultures, each one will be discussed as a “model”, its application, method of approach where applicable for implementation and implications. Some cultures will be similar in nature, but applied differently with different objectives. Since there are so many types of cultures in the world, this discussion will only address a very small portion. Culture can change from one city block to the next, from cities to states, from states to countries, from one country to the entire world. To delve into each particular culture would take far beyond the time necessary to achieve a total understanding of the word culture and exactly what they entails specifically. So this article will discuss culture from an educational standpoint, first to be discussed will be “culturally responsive teaching”, then culturally responsive schools, followed by a “cultural perspective”, also “popular culture, and finally culture seen as a “community of difference”.

According to Wlodkowski (1995), teachers must relate teaching content to the cultural background of their students, if they want to be effective in multicultural classrooms. According to the research, teaching that ignores student norms of behavior and communication provokes student resistance, while teaching that is responsive prompts students involvement (Olneck 1995). There is growing evidence that strong, continual engagement among diverse students require a holistic approach- that is, an approach where the how, what, and why of teaching are unified and meaningful (Ogbu 1995). A comprehensive model of culturally responsive teaching consist of a pedagogy that crosses disciplines and cultures to engage learners while respecting their cultural integrity. It accommodates the dynamic mix of race, ethnicity, class, gender, region, religion, and family that contributes to every student’s cultural identity. The foundation for this approach lies in theories of intrinsic motivation.

The framework for cultural responsive teaching addresses the bond of motivation and culture, and analyzes some of the social and institutional resistance to teaching based on principles of intrinsic motivation. Understanding these relationships provides a clearer view of the challenge that’s necessary to genuinely transform teaching and successfully engage all students. Engagement is the visible outcome of motivation, the natural capacity to direct energy in pursuit of a goal. Our emotions influence our motivation. In turn, our emotions are socialize through culture- the deeply confluence of language, beliefs, values, and behaviors that pervades every aspect of people’s lives. For example, one person working at a task feels frustrated and stops, while another person working at the task feels joy and continues. Yet another person, with a different set of cultural beliefs, feels frustrated at the task but continues with increased determination. What may elicit that frustration, joy, or determination may differ across cultures, because cultures differ in their definition of novelty, hazard, opportunity, and gratification, and in their definitions of appropriate responsive. Thus, the response a student has to a learning activity reflects his or her culture. While the internal logic as to why a student does something may not coincide with the teacher, it is nonetheless, present. And to be effective, the teacher must understand that perspective. Rather than trying to know what to do to students, the teacher must work with students to interpret and deepen the existing knowledge and enthusiasm for learning. From this viewpoint, motivationally effective teaching is culturally responsive teaching.

Bazron (2005) found that in the last 10 years, U.S. schools have experienced a rapid growth in ethnic and racial diversity. Given the increased diversity of the student population, how can schools ensure that all students master the social, emotional, intellectual, and technical competences necessary to fulfill the essential roles that lie ahead, such as running the country as we know it now?