Are culture and education inseparable twins?

In my last blog, Anthropological theories surrounding education, I wrote about two anthropological theories that describe individual behavior at school and how culture affects a student’s approach to education. In this blog, I write more about how culture and education are intertwined, and how that relationship (among other factors) could lead to the Digital Divide we see today.

 At a very simplistic level, culture is a system of knowledge, practices, beliefs, values, etc. that a society develops over many generations, and it defines the conduct of a person in that society. The definition of culture by CARLA is something that resonated with me. It defines culture as “the shared patterns of behaviors and interactions, cognitive constructs, and affective understanding that are learned through a process of socialization.” So, we could say that our behavior is defined by the cultural norms of the society we live in.

 It is said that culture and education are inseparable twins. Educational patterns are guided by cultural patterns of that place. If a society has a cultural pattern that focuses on spiritual beliefs, then the educational values tend to emphasize those beliefs. Similarly, in a society where the pattern of belief focuses on success as a group vs. as individuals, the educational pattern in that society emphasizes such group-based collaborative values. A country or a region is made up of several cultures and thus the country’s educational system is shaped by the summation of its cultures. In today’s world, people travel across countries and thus they take their cultural elements to the new societies they step into while also learning to adapt to the new culture to survive and thrive.

 Education influences cultures as well. Through education, we learn about our culture and how to be a part of the society we live in. Education helps transmit cultural elements from one generation to another. Most importantly, education is also capable of bringing in cultural changes that could result in alterations in a society. For example, I have been learning Latin since my 7th grade. I could say that I have been influenced by several elements of the European history in my way of thinking and I am probably exhibiting some in my daily way of life!

 It is very interesting to see how societies’ culture could impact the education system of the country and education in turn, shapes, preserves and transmits the culture of the society.  Now that we see how culture and education impact each other, it would be interesting to understand whether learning behaviors and approach to learning are different by cultures, and whether they play a role in the Digital Divide! More of that in my next blog.



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