Cultural Perspectives

kidsWhen you belong to a particular culture there tends to be certain attributes that you value and want to preserve. These usually include language, ways-of-knowing, particular ways of communicating and common values. You are usually more at ease with people who are within your culture and with whom you share these common values.

I want to tell you what it is like to belong to a culture that appears to be foreign to many. My language is carelessly mispronounced; meanings are distorted sometimes to the point of complete inaccuracy or misrepresentation. Often, you find these inaccuracies perpetuated in textbooks, or worse, taught in schools. There are a lot of preconceptions of what people like me are supposed to value, of what I can do, or how I think, of my capabilities …. of my culture. People sometimes blame the ailments of society on people like me, and those within my culture. I often see stereotypical representations of my community in the movies, and in stories. We are often placed as either the aggressors, with mad, psychopathic tendencies, or weak and ineffectual.

Every now and then, I get to go back to my community. It is like coming out of submarine and being able to breathe the air again – I do no longer have to explain my words, they can flow right out of me, I no longer have to curb my conversation because people won’t understand or are not interested, and my values are commonly shared with like-minded people.

The purpose of this narrative was to highlight that students also come to education with language, worldviews, and culture. They may also often feel alone. They may often feel misunderstood and undervalued. Culture comes in many forms, not just the usual ethnic definitions – it is very important in education to try and connect with your students, try and build a relationship, try and form a new family group that they can build new relationships with. Often, adult learners may be able to do this for themselves, but sometimes they feel outnumbered, they may feel that they don’t have the right language or that their worldview is not valued or is out of place.

Cultural sensitivity is more about trying to understand and respect their different values or viewpoints and taking these into consideration in your teaching. Also, in polytechnic training, part of our work is to help the student adjust to their new community or culture – work, study, career or adulthood. You then act as a mentor as they move into the new community, with all its culture – language, ritual, views and knowledge. What is my culture? …. I am a scientist.


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3 Responses to “Cultural Perspectives”

  1. bellstreetfiles Says:

    Thankyou for these posts – I particularly enjoyed reading the Cultural Perspectives (Good point made) and the What Are We comment.
    Richard Handley

  2. Lesley Pitt Says:

    Thanks heaps Christine – will post this for the Tertiary Teaching class as an introduction to culture.

  3. bellstreetfiles Says:

    Very glad to see some of the articles being used!

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