The Effect of Culture, Socialization & Culture Shock on Education

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  • 0:05 The Effect of Culture…
  • 1:10 Understanding the…
  • 4:34 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Valerie Houghton, Ph.D.

Valerie holds a Ph.D. in Health Psychology.

In this lesson we will explore the effect of culture on the socialization of children. We will also seek to understand the impact that culture has on their educational experiences.

The Effect of Culture in Education

Cultural diversity enriches the classroom learning environment
Classroom Diversity

The American culture used to be considered a melting pot of ideas, values and norms. Contributors of the melting pot were people from different regions of the world who would blend their uniqueness into the larger homogenized American society. Nowadays, the melting pot metaphor is no longer an accurate depiction of our diverse society. We welcome multicultural diversity, and our society is more like tossed green salad.

Our classrooms are a microcosm of the American tossed green salad metaphor, with each student bringing diverse flavors from their own background into the learning environment. These flavors make them unique, and that uniqueness will affect their academic achievement. Some of the flavors that the students bring to the classroom are their learning styles, personalities, gender, behavioral propensities and their culture. Culture is defined as a group that shares common experiences.

Understanding the Impact of Culture on Education

All of the students in a given class are sharing the common experiences of their classroom, and thus they create their own unique classroom culture. However, within that classroom environment, each student also brings the cultural sensitivities from their home environment. It is due to this multicultural diversity that teachers would be well-served to use a culturally relevant pedagogy.

Reciprocal teaching allows students to lead the class
Reciprocal Teaching

Culturally relevant teaching is a pedagogy that makes modifications in instructional strategies to account for diversity. Reciprocal teaching and cooperative learning are two of the most effective strategies to engage students in culturally relevant learning. Reciprocal teaching occurs when students take turns leading the class discussion. This method invites students to use their cultural viewpoints to express the instructional material in their own words. Cooperative learning is effective when group collaboration, as well as individual responsibility, is utilized for the completion of assignments. The outcome of cooperative learning goes beyond the completion of the task and is also teaching students to know and praise their own and each other's cultures.

However, culturally relevant teaching will only be effective if the teacher understands how non-verbal cues are seen by their students. In some cultures, it is considered rude, disrespectful and even confrontational for a student to make eye contact with authority figures. In other cultures, it is actually forbidden to shake hands with a stranger of the opposite gender.


We learn social cues through the process of socialization. Socialization is the continuous process of acquiring norms, values and behaviors. This process begins when we are growing up, when the influences around us shape our behavior as to what is acceptable and what is taboo within our culture. For example, a young man from Texas might be instructed in the culturally proper way to greet someone. First you remove your hat, then you look them in the eye, extend out your right hand and say 'Hello, ma'am, it's nice to meet you.' Now let's say that years later this cowboy gets a job in Japan, where they avoid eye contact and physical contact in their greetings. He will have to go through the process of socialization to adapt to this new environment.

Cooperative learning allows students to know more about the cultures of classmates
Collaborative Learning Example

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