Accommodating cultural differences
Our question now becomes: do particular cultures favour particular learning styles?The most accepted answer to this question today is yes, we can talk about cultural learning styles.On the other hand, for the Inuit parent the role of the teacher was to explain, ask questions and transmit knowledge - so she was sorry that her child had broken what she took for granted as the appropriate school norms.
Now, we cant appreciate this position unless we know that silence is very much valued in the Inuit culture: if adults dont know each other very well, they often remain silent while theyre in close contact.culture its as if we changed our glasses and were thus able to see the world with different eyes - in a way, we are forced to dis-cover our perceptions and compare them with the perceptions of other cultural groups.Let me give you another example, once again from Manitoba in Canada.So it becomes essential to get to know how cultures actually make meaning of the world.To do this, one obvious first step could be to ask the learners themselves. But before that, a word of warning: whenever we talk about cultural differences, stereotypes are round the corner, so we should be very careful about making generalisations. In a literacy class for Southeast Asian students, during a lesson on family values and childrearing practices, learners compared their views and values with those of Americans, and this is what they came up with (quoted in Quintero 1994):(Incidentally, this is an example of an activity which values the learners original cultures, socializes views and values in the classroom, and also provides teachers with a lot of valuable information about the learners worlds, their experiences and perceptions.) within a group.
For example, if we turn to school learning, what happens in a classroom, the visible behaviour of teachers and students, is the result of a framework of expectations, attitudes, values and beliefs that are usually taken for granted beliefs about how to teach and learn, attitudes towards visual rather than auditory input, accepted routines to process information in a global rather than an analytical way, communication patterns, and so on.