Monday, June 14, 2010

Culture in our classroom: Pandora’s box or treasure trove? Session 3.5: 15.50-16.35

Gill Johnson
In her course book which is part of DELTA Teacher Development Series, Gill touches upon the importance of incorporating issues resulting from cultural differences. She quotes Hofstede’s reference to “culture as the software of the mind”. Gill asks the audience to travel in time and space to somewhere they have not been to. The audience shares their visions of the smells, clothes, colors, feelings they could sense in their journeys. Some audience members share impressions of exhilaration or shock. Such feelings can be the basis for judgments we make. Gill emphasizes that similar impressions can add fireworks to our classes but are seen necessary. She also refers to matters in various cultures that can be misconstrued due to lack of knowledge or understanding. Drivers’ use of honking and flashlights is commonplace in Egypt. It is an expression of greetings rather than anger. Queue jumping is frowned upon in Britain. People standing in a line ‘tut’ the culprit among themselves but would not confront them. The Afghanis may regard the Western style of women dressing as loose, whereas Westerners associate conservative ways of women dressing as oppressive. Perceptions of time vary from one culture to another. What does it mean to be on time? What does it mean to take a long time driving home? What does mean to eat or arrive early? It depends where you are and where you are coming from. Nothing is good or bad here… It’s all about appreciating our differences. These fireworks help us to value such diversity.

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