This afternoon I attended a presentation run by our deputy principal Michelle, who is currently on study leave. She presented her ideas, thoughts and reflection on a critical literacy paper she has been working on.
Here is her summary
What got me thinking was the conversations she asked us to have..
a simple question like
"what is culture?"
Other teachers who I was discussing with, who I thought I knew well, were very quick to say "ethnicity". This very quickly showed differences in teaching pedagogies that otherwise wouldn't have been so evident. I personally believe that cultures are the ideas, customs, traditions of a particular group of people in a particular place. You can have an ethnic culture; for example the 'Kiwi' culture, a group of norms held by a group of people. You can have your home culture, school culture, team culture, family culture, ethnic culture etc. Each of those groups may hold slightly different ideas, traditions and customs, hence making it its own culture.
Another thing that got me thinking was this image Michelle showed us
This diagram says that when we normally think of 'culture', we think of the things above water. These are the 'culture is ethnicity' type things - dance, language, art, games, food etc. Very basic level, obvious physical signs that explain or represent that culture. When really, culture involves all the things below the water line as well. And the more I thought about it, the more I realised that the 'below the water' things underpin the 'above the water' things. Notions of modesty, concepts of beauty, ideals governing child raising, courtship practices, and notions of adolescence all underpin the way children dress in their various cultures. This becomes clear as they have 'church' clothes, 'school' clothes and 'home' clothes. And they don't need to be told which clothes to wear to each place. Even as children, they have a very clear understanding of what is acceptable to wear at different locations, wether they realise consciously or not.
I'm curious.. what does culture mean to you?