Culture influences education
We always talk about the importance of education and its impact on our culture, but seldom think about how culture affects our educational system. We often ignore the fact that ethnics, customs and traditions deeply affect education. Culture and education are actually tightly bound entities and hence cannot be separated from each other. Before we further investigate into the cultural influences on children’s learning and education, I think it is better to figure out what is culture, what culture includes. From Webster’s Dictionary, the word “culture” has 6 definitions relating to human activities. 1. Artistic and intellectual pursuits and products. 2. A quality of enlightenment or refinement arising from an acquaintance with and concern for what is regarded as excellent in the arts, letters, manners, etc. 3. Development or improvement of the mind by education or training. 4. The sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another. 5. A particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a nation or period. 6. The behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group. While according to wikipedia, the term “culture” was first developed to refer to the betterment or refinement of the individual, especially through education, and then to the fulfillment of national aspirations or ideals in the 19th century. As we can see, culture has a long history relating to human learning and education, as well as development in various aspects such as language, tradition, religion etc. The learning of culture, like the learning of language, begins with a child’s first experiences with the family from which he is born, the community to which he belongs, and the environment in which he lives. By the time children begin their formal education at the age of five or six, they have already internalized many of the basic values and beliefs of their native culture, learned the rules of behavior which are considered appropriate for their role in the community, and established the procedures for continued socialization; they have learned how to learn. Different child-rearing practices are preferred in different cultures, and these will have a significant effect on later learning (Saville-Troike 1973). They range from very lenient when compared to dominant group standards, with little physical restraint or coercion employed, to very strict control of early behaviors. For example, although few pronouncements can be made about “Indian children” as a group, since the many tribes maintaining their identity in the United States are very heterogeneous with regard to language, culture, and even physical (racial) traits, there are a few social values and practices that are quite wide-spread among the various Native American communities. In general, little or no physical punishment is used, for instance, with children commonly disciplined by teasing, ridicule, or fear (as with Hopi Kachinas), or by indirect example through folklore. Their learning of physical tasks is often more through observation than verbal instruction, but many social and religious lessons are also taught through story-telling. A number of studies suggest that the visual perception and visual memory of Native American children raised in these groups are much higher than that of their Anglo age-mates (Kleinfeld 1970, Lombardi 1970, Cazden and John 1971). Another example of the effect of culture on child’s learning is the Puerto Rican differentiation of sex roles from a very early age; these make a significant difference in educational attitudes and performance. For one thing, Puerto Rican girls show a higher anxiety pattern than boys when they are in a situation where they are threatened with failure, as when taking a test. The boys’ lower anxiety is probably a function of the cultural attitude toward their admission of anxiety (Siu 1972)....
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