An Examination of Culture An Introductory Exercise for 12th Grade English Culture What comes to mind when you hear this word? What is culture? What makes up your culture? Culture (Merriam Webster Online) the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group the characteristic features of everyday existence (as in diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time examples: popular culture, southern culture, hip-hop culture the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic Consider all of the dimensions or aspects of culture that exist. What are some of the dimensions that make up a culture? Levels of Culture Hidalgo, N. 1993. Multicultural teacher introspection. In Perry, T. and Fraser, J. (Eds.) Freedom's Plow: Teaching in the Multicultural Classroom. New York: Routledge. The Concrete: The most visible and tangible level of culture Includes dimensions such as: clothes, music, food, games, etc. The Behavioral: How we define our social roles, the language we speak, and our approaches to nonverbal communication. The behavioral level REFLECTS our values. Aspects include the following: language, gender roles, family structure, political affiliation, and other items that situation us organizationally in society. The Symbolic Includes our values and beliefs. Can be abstract. Aspects include: values systems, customs, spirituality, religion, worldview, beliefs, mores, etc. Categorize the dimensions according to Hildalgo’s three levels. Some overlap may occur. Examine the levels Which of the three levels would you say best defines your culture? Why? What makes that level more important than others? When you meet someone, which aspects of culture do you use to understand them culturally? Is your attempt to understand others culturally consistent with how you wish to be viewed and understood? What forces in our society might contribute to our simplification of the culture of others, even though we do not wish to be defined in simple terms ourselves? Xenophobia Fear of “the other” Fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign Ethnocentrism • characterized by or based on the attitude that one's own group is superior • The belief that your culture is superior to others World Literature How can the literature of cultures around the world help us to live in a world where cultural boundaries are blurring more and more each day?