May 20, 2012

Perspectives on Diversity & Culture

After reviewing this week's blog assignment, we were asked to get some different perspectives from our own acquaintances, colleagues, family, friends about the definitions of culture and diversity. 
I sent a few emails, made a call and spoke to some of my family in person about these two topics.

The first person's definitions are those of my sister's sister-in-law whom has recently completed her Masters in Teaching. She writes:
"My definition of culture is the values, beliefs, customs, and overall way of life for a particular group, country, or even organization.  Culture is passed down and beliefs can be transmitted from generation to generation. Diversity is the inclusion of all different cultures in the same place.  I’m thinking not only different races “melting pot” but also religions, sexual preferences, and even ages that are in the same place.  When I say “place” it could be as small as a school or as big as a nation."  

The second person I asked to define culture and diversity was my husband. He says: "I think of culture as a bunch of common ideals, customs, beliefs that a group of people share. This commonality unites the people and helps the culture survive through generations. Diversity is kind of the evolution of culture. As a group of people is exposed to new or different ideals, customs, beliefs, etc., they are likely to adopt some of them as their own. You end up with a diverse group of people forming their own new culture. "

The third response is from a family friend who is 22 years my senior. She is actually the daughter of my fifth grade teacher, but our families have always been close. Her response about culture is the following: "Culture is from each person's ancestral background. It is what families build upon and continue to pass along to the next generation as the roots of our being. Diversity is accepting that there are many customs and traditions that make up a community. And it does not limit itself to only customs and traditions, but also religious beliefs and social actions. To be more diverse we need to learn, understand and embrace the many aspects of the culture around us."

A fourth contributor to my gathering of insights about culture and diversity comes to me from one of my close friends, a little younger than I, and she works in architecture. She writes: "Culture is a group of similar people living together with similar ways of life. Diversity is multiple factors that define people as being different from one another"

Which aspects of culture and diversity that I have studied in this course are included in the answers I received—and what are some examples?
Culture takes into account many things, beliefs, and values that a group of people share. It could also be common interests, food, clothing, and religious views (Smidt, 2006).  In the answers I received, many of them replied that culture is a group of people's similar ways of living and beliefs that is passed on through generations. 
In regards to diversity, I like the answer from sister's sister-in-law how diversity is the inclusion of all different cultures in the same place.

Which aspects have been omitted—and what are some examples of such omission?
One of the biggest aspects that I think has been omitted is the "deep culture" we have discussed this week.  For example, all of the different social identities that contribute to one's deep culture and identity are a huge factor in defining one's culture and an explanation about diversity. 

In what ways has thinking about other people’s definitions of culture and diversity influenced my own thinking about these topics?
I had never really thought of the cultural aspect being passed on from generation to generation as there are so many outside influences that can change cultural ideals as my husband had mentioned. This, then contributes to diversity as ideals change. I also like being able to reflect on the many differences that exist within each culture, as it makes it seem there truly is no right or wrong answer to defining a specific culture. It all depends on how each individual within a particular group feels about their culture. Now I think even my own sisters are different from me depending on the experiences and outside factors that may have changed their ideals from mine. Everyone's cultural identity is truly unique.
So many things to ponder as we discuss this topic!

Smidt, S. (2006). The developing child in the 21st century: A global perspective on child development. New York, NY: Routledge

1 comment:

  1. Hi Clara, it is amazing how so many people define culture and diversity. There is so many factors and life experience that can make up culture. I believe that since diversity is so well spoken of and is in and around everyday life that it is important that we really understand what it means to be different and similiar in so many ways.