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Diversity of Educators, Learners, and Their Culture

“There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard. There are not more than five primary colors, yet in combination, they produce more hues than can ever be seen. There are not more than five cardinal tastes, yet combinations of them yield more flavors than can ever be tasted” (Sun Tzu, The Art of War). Sour, bitter, salty, and sweet are the cardinal tastes mentioned in the quote and what does it try to imply? Combining these things can make a better taste. It can be bitter-sweet or sweet and salty but it depends on the personal taste of someone because everyone has their own taste we can really never tell it may taste weird for you but for others it tastes great or vice versa. Few things can be big only if those few are appreciated. Sometimes humans seek for more, well in fact small things are huge enough. It cannot be easily seen nor appreciated d why? Because it requires a lot of understanding, open-mindedness, knowledge, and courage to accept the things that are going to be discovered. Humans have different points of view in life, sometimes can understand and there are some cannot. Not every people around you can understand what your real intentions are whether it is reasonable or not, it can be beneficial to many or just for your own sake. Why? because not everyone is raised the same, some have their parents to lean on when life gets harder and to support their every single need which could be emotional or financial but unfortunately, there are some orphans who were abused waiting and praying that someday they will loved and treated well and have a complete family of their own. Not everyone has the same culture and environment where you grew up. Not everyone has the same seasons of weather you enjoy. Lastly, not everyone has the same bloodline that runs through our vessels. We have different facial features, different moods, and many differences that make everyone unique on their own and distinct from others. Diversity can be felt and seen easily in many ways just trying to stand in one place where many people pass by from there you can observe how humans are diverse in many ways such as the language we speak, the food we eat, the clothes we choose to slay, the seasons we enjoy, our favorite movie or songs, our skin color, our body figure and facial features, our birthmarks which is unique.

In the International Journal of Intercultural Relations, vol.10 pp. 301-320, 1986 by Geert Hofstede the cultural differences in teaching and learning were discussed. From the introduction, an American teacher at some foreign language institute exclaimed in class, “You lovely girls, I love you”. Her students were very terrified (Hofstede, 1980). What could be the reason? Knowing that Americans are liberated these acts or words are normal for them but for those students that may come from conservative cultures it is really not appropriate that is why they felt terrified by that remark.

The family, the school, the job, and the community are said as the fundamental institutions that are present in some way virtually in all human societies. Does it make you wonder why the job is included? We usually hear or see the family, school, and community together as the fundamental parts of society. So how come the job has been included? According to the journal (Hostede,1980), there are bosses in our society where the training industry takes place after education. They are in charge of introducing this trainee to real work.

These institutions have a role pair but the family has two role pairs, the parent and child, man and woman. In a family, there are a pair of parents and a child or children that have a different relationship where the children are disciplined, and cultural beliefs are passed down to them. “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and strength” (Maya Angelou). It is the responsibility of the parents to teach their children about diversity, the earlier the better. Only those who are open-minded about diversity will the beauty in a way that one another’s difference could be beautiful and to gain strength in a way that accepting the others will lead to a new knowledge. Strength as a person is brave enough to understand and never judge others. And the second role pair is the man and woman who are the husband and wife where they have a more intimate relationship. The more the partners have this strong bond and understanding and faith in their relationship the more possibility that they could build a happy family. But can a family be called a family if the husband and wife don’t have a child? Yes, they can be as long as there is a husband and wife as was mentioned earlier, the family has two role pairs. Having a child doesn’t mean that it should be from the parents, in some cases the child was just adopted. But it will never change the fact that a child learns the very first time at home.

Next is the school where a teacher and student role pair. A teacher’s role in school is to be the second parent of her students. To teach, love, and take care of the students just like their own child at home. A student should respect their teachers at school like how they respect and care for their parents at home. These relationships sometimes become more meaningful because the teachers inspire these students, they instill so many life lessons that make their students way better persons. But what if the teacher and the student came from different cultures? How do you think they will interact or understand each other if they have different beliefs? This is simple, a little bit of respect and understanding with each other could be a big step. It doesn’t mean that the teacher is superior, regarding the age of the student, his/her feelings should be heard and valued. He/she would do the same to the others which will make our world better of a better place.

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The third one is the boss and his/her subordinates in the workplace. The boss manages the subordinates effectively. Sometimes the motivation and the performances at work can be affected by the boss. There more positivity, the more the subordinates are enthusiastic when it comes to work. And the last one is the authority and the member. The authorities are the ones that govern its members they could give them rules and regulations to follow. The member’s responsibility is to be well-educated and a good follower. And now what if the authority is not being fair? The member should be wise and brave enough to speak out and the authority should listen up.

After learning and knowing the four fundamental institutions in a society let us talk about now the perplexities of culturally mixed teacher and student pairs. According to the Interlink International Institute cross, cross-cultural learning increases the student’s understanding of their own and other cultures. It enhances one’s knowledge of the norms, values, and behaviors that exist in cultures. It allows the student to discern and communicate cultural differences with sensitivity and confidence. How does it work? It is like a collaboration of knowledge, beliefs, religions, cultures, races, and experiences where everyone in that place could gain something Usually teachers travel abroad to practice their teaching. There are students too who choose to study abroad for better opportunities and beliefs that they might gain something that they cannot acquire from the education system offered by their country it could be wisdom, beauty, love, wealth strength, and power. Before these student and teacher pair met they were born and raised differently which led them to their differences in social positions in society. There are four mentioned differences in the article. The first one is the social roles of the teacher and the student. How well the teachers are paid off? From what kind of family does the student come from? Is it a wealthy one or a poor one? One of the given cultural barriers in our previous discussion in class is social differences. Differences in roles and status wherein giving higher respect to those who have a higher position in the society. In some countries, like in America first name bases are preferred rather than surname bases which sounds so formal. Women in the Philippines are more valued and respected and often called Dalagang Pilipina or Maria Clara. Nowadays women are frequently compared to the women before civilization who are said to deserve more respect women. Little did they know that women from before civilization were more abused because they were seen and treated as weak. Societies vary in their educational system. The second one is the differences in the relevance of the curriculum. Some societies focus on their country’s history. But there are some focuses on their economic growth. Some are giving more attention to teaching their religion. What if the teachers and students with different curricula met? Yes, it will give both parties a hard time. It will always depend on how open both the students and teachers adjust to each other’s culture. But sometimes there are some who cannot accept the fact that people are different from them they think that their culture is superior to others which can be called ethnocentrism. Third is the differences in cognitive abilities, according to the fundamental studies by Michael Cole and associates in Liberia (Cole et al., 1971; Scribner and Cole 1981) it shown that our cognitive development is determined by the environment in which we grew up. Why do you think? Is it because the environment affects the lives of a person and the environment is also affected by the people in it? Academic learning varies in every place with different cultures for example German students are brought up in the belief that anything that is easy enough for them to understand is dubious and probably unscientific (Strobe, 1976). Both the teachers and students may lack proper cognitive abilities as mentioned earlier the environment has a big impact on humans. Cognitive development is one of them. Awareness and knowledge are a must when you are planning to approach a different culture. There is training that should be taken for months or years depending on the lesson and the things that should be learned. Being ready would make life easier when the actual interaction takes place. Societal changes may happen anytime, as what the saying “The only constant in this world is change”. As time passes by many things will improve. New knowledge will be acquired and shared. Some will change their beliefs and accept the opinions and culture of others. The fourth is the difference in processes of teacher-to-student and student-to-student interaction. Since both the teacher and students come from different cultures, they will have different interpretations of words and actions. However, since the teacher may seem to be superior to his/her student the communication will be different than the interaction between students to students. Respect would never be disregarded but the level of it would be different. Although these students may have been born and raised in different cultures they tend to easily relate with each other because they are somewhat on the same level. Fifth and last are the differences in mutual role expectations between teachers and students. Both parties have different expectations. Teachers should be obeyed all the time their rules should be followed. Students should follow the rules. But what if the teacher’s rule may be off to their own culture? What will happen? Well, it will depend on how the teacher would react. The role of the teacher is to be open for everyone to accept and respect every student. Cultural relativism may sometimes happen. Cultural relativism is the ability to understand a culture on its own terms and not to make judgments using the standards of one’s own culture. It is a good sign that people are sensitive enough to think that every culture is unique and should be respected. None of the different cultures is superior.

The topic that would be tackled is the 4-D model applied to the teacher/student and student/student interaction. Individualism vs. Collectivism, individualism refers to any person looking primarily after his / her own interest and the interest of his/her own immediate family (Hofstede, 1986). Where individualism shows an individual’s own interest and the interest of someone related to her by blood. In collectivism, any person through the best and possible later events below to one or more tight ‘in groups”, from which he/she cannot detach himself/ herself (Hofstede 1986). In collectivism, loyalty to a group is shown. The decisions, beliefs, and everything are decided by the group and should be followed by the members. Power distance is the extent to which the less powerful in society accept inequality in power and consider it normal (Hofstede, 1986). “All societies are unequal but some are more unequal than others” (Hofstede 1980). Inequality has very rampant in our society very long ago. Uncertainty avoidance extent to which people within a culture are made nervous by situations that they perceive as unstructured, unclear, or unpredictable situations which they therefore try to avoid by maintaining strict codes of behavior and a belief in absolute truths. People tend to ignore and avoid things they are afraid to understand not everyone can handle it. One of the examples is bullying among students wherein they get too depressed because they think too much of the words they heard that could be the reason for suicide that they think will end the pain (Hofstede, 1986). Masculine vs. Feminine, is the existence of two sexes in society. Masculine strive for maximal distinction between what men are expected to do and what women are expected to do (Hofstede, 1986). There are high expectations of men in our society. They are expected to be strong all the time. Sometimes it leads to inequality because men are said to be superior to women. Men value material things, the more material things they possess the more it shows that they are powerful and hardworking Feminine cultures are defined as relatively overlapping social roles where men need not be ambitious or competitive but may go for a different quality of life than material success, men may respect whatever small, weak and slow. On the contrary, women see life as if everything is fine. It is okay to show emotions it is okay to be small and weak sometimes.

According to the article, the language barrier could be one of the reasons that would make communication more complicated. But did you know that knowing another’s language can help a person make a living especially now that the exchange of goods and services is a trend nowadays? Businessmen need a translator because not everyone has time and enough knowledge to be familiar with and learn to talk that is why they choose to hire a translator. But how does it help in education? In cross-cultural learning, students will learn with each other’s language and it would be easy if their language may sound alike.

Lastly, bridging the cross-cultural gap can be done in two ways: teach the teacher how to teach and teach the learner how to learn. How is this possible? In some cases, the teacher unconsciously gives more favor to the student which is closest to his/her culture. It is true that this is never been easy, but everyone should compromise especially the teachers. The learners should be taught different ways of learning, active listening, and participation by asking questions, and after the discussion learners should be given an evaluation to measure how much they learn during the whole lesson.

As what Maya Angelou said, diversity can be beautiful and we can get strength from it. But it will always require a better understanding. No one is superior to one another because everyone is unique. If only everyone can have the same positive thoughts in mind, there will be no more racism and the likes where people degrade someone who is different from them. This life and environment could be better.

References

    1. Retrieved from: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/diversity (May 20, 2020, 7 p.m.)
    2. Retrieved from: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/maya_angelou_132707#:~:text=Maya%20Angelou%20Quotes&text=It%20is%20time%20for%20parents%20to%20teach%20young%20people%20early,beauty%20and%20there%20is%20strength. (June 2, 2020 11 a.m. )
    3. Retrieved from: https://interlink.edu/cross-culturallearning/#:~:text=Cross%2Dcultural%20Learning,differences%20with%20sensitivity%20and%20confidence. (June 6, 2020 6 a.m.)
    4. Retrieved from: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/culturalanthropology/chapter/cultural-relativism/ ( June 6, 2020, 8 p.m.)

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