Define your own culture based on the three levels of culture
Self-awareness: engage in introspection and research and define your own culture.
In essay format include the following:
Define the three levels of culture as they apply to you:
Conduct research about your family culture and share your discoveries
What customs, traditions, and/or values have been passed down through the generations? Please be specific.
Include two positive aspects in your culture that make you proud.
If possible, share a negative aspect in your culture and explain if you would change it, and why or why not.
What role have stereotypes played in your culture, from within? in society?
Are there assumption, prejudice or bias that have been passed down through the generations?
Provide insight and self-reflection on how your family culture affects, or has affected your values and how it has impacted your relationships with others both in the workplace and at school. Please, be specific and share clear examples
As an educator, make it a point to understand the three levels of culture. Reflect on how you are currently using it and what you could be work on. The three levels are surface culture, shallow culture, and deep culture.
This is observable such as a person’s or community’s food, clothes, music, holidays and etc. This has the lowest impact in your classrooms because it has little emotional impact on trust. Could you incorporate some of these things into your lessons? Sure. A county flag could be used as a fraction lesson. It’s just not as helpful for students to turn everyday experiences into meaningful events.
These are the unspoken rules of social norms that a person or community has. They include the attitudes towards elders, concepts of time, personal space, rules about eye contact and etc.
Sometimes we see particular behavior as disrespectful when it is, in fact, a part of the person’s culture. In my culture, we have minimal eye contact out of respect for the person speaking to us (especially an elder). I remember teachers making me look at them in the eyes when they were talking. I felt like I was in trouble. (I still see teachers making the same demand.)
Here is where a teacher might see it as disrespectful and a student might see it as the teacher being mean. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized, that my own situation, was just two different social norms in conflict. Shallow culture has a high emotional impact on trust. A teacher that understands the students’ social norms can help them turn everyday experiences into meaningful events.
This is the most important form of culture because it has an intense emotional impact on trust. It controls how we learn information. This form of culture manipulates our everyday behaviors and helps us make sense of our world. This would include decision-making, preference of competition or cooperation, gender roles, and etc. Knowing if a student prefers teamwork over individual competition is important when creating activities for the class.
In my experience, most teachers would read this and say “I don’t have time to learn everyone’s background and culture. I have to teach”. I understand that. There are several different backgrounds in our classrooms which can be overwhelming. But there are patterns that we could look for in some cultures, universal patterns across cultures that can help. And I’m not talking about patterns of stereotypes. We can’t assume every student of Asian descent is going to be great in math.
Look at patterns such as the community. The way that students interpret the community is important. Did you know that in America, the dominant culture is “individualistic”? Meaning people prefer being independent and self-reliant. There is a strong focus on competition and self-promotion. However, Latino, African, Pacific Islander, and Native Americans have a more “communal” view. Meaning they make a group a priority over each individual in it.