29 September 2010

My brain got started and I couldn't stop it

I wonder about culture. What is it that defines our culture? Is it heritage? I mean, I understand that heritage is important, but really, what does that mean? How does what my family did or did not do, affect me? I mean, should I be responsible for them? If not, should I even claim them? I tend to think culture is more affected by nurture (environment) rather than nature (genetics).

I more readily associate with people I grew up with rather than those dead people I’ve never met. I understand that the path of my life was influenced in some ways by those dead people, but that has more to do with their actions (environment, both theirs and the effect they had on it) and less to do with what they had in their cells (genetics).

So, what defines/has defined MY culture? My parents and grandparents influenced me heavily since they raised me in a “christian home”. One of my grandparents was a preacher and the other was certainly capable of praying like one. I was required to go to church anytime the doors were open and this colored much of my early life. I was taught that there was a lot of difference between my culture and that of people who looked differently than I did. I stayed under the influence of my “raising” as an adult until I went back to school. This changed my cultural outlook (and my consequent “raising” of my own kids) significantly.

I no longer see people as “different”. We are all humans. I no longer listen to the “stuff” that conservative talking-heads spout each day on AM radio. I have begun to think for myself. As I have started thinking for myself, I have been thinking that people deserve a second chance. People deserve my respect until they do something to lose it. People don’t act as a group (unless they are an angry mob). Just because someone looks different, doesn’t mean they are different. It simply means they look different. On the other side of the coin, just because some one looks the same, doesn’t mean they are the same and share the same values and cultural norms that I do.

Culture is something that is taught. Culture is passed from generation to generation. Children who are a certain color/ethnicity are taught the culture in which they are brought up. I have known students who were not raised in the culture of their ethnicity because they were adopted. So what is their culture? I think society has such a misconception about culture and multi-cultural education.

The module I am currently starting promises to be informative and I am looking forward to it. I’ll be “allowed” to do a research paper which is going to allow me to research my thoughts that have been started in the paragraphs above. I want to understand what the definition of culture is. What is it that makes us, as humans, who we are? Why are their wars fought over culture? Why do people get so bent out of shape about their culture? I understand why culture is relevant to education. But what I want to know is why is it relevant to everything else?

And there is the first 54 minutes of class. That’s just a result of the syllabus!

I'll continue this train of thinking over the next several weeks. She just said this should be a mind-set change for you (meaning the class). Too late. I think mine has already happened.

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