Cultural differences in approach to education

In this post, I would like to explore how different cultures approach education and whether that could be a factor in explaining Digital Divide. Effective learning involves both engagement and how information is processed. Culture impacts both and is a potential reason for different performance across cultural groups.

Cultural background affects a student’s approach to learning and performance. I wrote about some theories that explain these in my blog, Anthropological theories surrounding education. Different cultures see the world in different ways and process information differently. That has an impact on how they learn in a classroom setting. An interesting example of this that caught my attention is how Asian and American children view the world differently. As reported by American psychologist Richard Nisbett, “Asian children see the world in terms of the relationship between things, whereas the American children see the world in terms of the objects as distinct entities” (Lynch, 2016). This would mean that in a mainstream American classroom with children from different cultures, learning differences may exist and it would be helpful if the teacher is cognizant of such differences and adapt teaching principles to accommodate such a classroom. A student’s success would then depend on how they learn and that is influenced by their cultural upbringing.

Different cultures have different definitions of success in a classroom. That influences how student from different cultures participate in a classroom environment. In the eastern culture for example, the focus is on success as a group and the teacher is in the center of the system. So, those students tend to study in groups, help each other in the class, stay quiet in class paying full attention to what the teacher says.  In the western cultures, individual success is critical. So, the students learn to work independently and find ways to push their individual problem-solving skills. Similar differences may arise because of race, class, and gender. Teachers in the American classroom need to keep such differences in mind and may need to customize the learning experience, so all are able to learn equally well.

The relationship between culture and education extends to explain how cultural differences exist in approaches to learning. It would be interesting to explore the relationship between these two and Digital Divide. We know that Digital Divide is a big problem today that exposes the gap in education equality. This is a concept I have talked about in a previous blog,  What is Digital Divide and why must we understand that term? The divide is a representation of the cultural pattern of society, more so seen as an impact of culture. The correlation between education and culture could perhaps explain Digital Divide and education inequality.



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