Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Considering Culture in the Selection of Teaching Approaches for Adults :: Adult Education Learning Cultural Essays
Considering Culture in the Selection of Teaching Approaches for Adults Adult educators are increasingly committed to designing learning that takes into account cultural differences. We are discovering that Ã¢â¬Å"valuingÃ¢â¬ diversity is not enough to enable educators from the dominant culture, particularly European Americans living in the United States, to recognize difference and know how to change instruction so that learners who have felt marginalized feel visible and valued. This Digest examines the different dimensions of culture that are relevant to the adult learning context, speaking primarily to the case of the United States, including both the personal cultures of learners and educators, and the culture of the larger social political environment. It explores how cultural values permeate instruction and looks at several approaches that take culture into account. What Is Culture, Anyway? The simplest definition of culture includes those values, beliefs, and practices shared by a group of people. Social scientists and anthropologists vary on their definitions of what comprises a culture, subculture, or microculture, but for practical purposes, the notion of sharing a common worldview is often enough for individuals who find themselves moving between multiple cultures. Culture can be subtle, and what is considered cultural can evolve over time. For example, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and age might not have been considered dimensions of culture 25 years ago. But today we study gender communication differences, the influence of religious views on decisions and behaviors, and the assumptions that can or cannot be made depending upon a person's physical ability, sexual orientation, or age. Educators need to be mindful that they cannot assume they know the cultural background of their students; even the seemingly homogenous classroom necessitates an e xpectation and active exploration of multiculturalism. Culture is an attribute of individuals, of small groups, of organizations, and of nations; a single person can belong to a multiplicity of cultures, any one of which may be important at any given time (Brislin 1993). For example, the most salient dimension of culture for a 50-year-old woman named Emma enrolled in a course to learn a new software program may be age, as she observes the ease with which her 22-year-old classmates negotiate the intricacies of the program. When Emma participates in a racial dialogue experience, she is very aware that her ethnic/racial identity as a European American is preeminent. And if Emma were Deaf, considering a graduate degree, it would be critical for her to find a program that actively facilitated her use of American Sign Language interpreters.