Parent Education Course Writer's Guide/Model of culture

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Model of culture[edit]

Cross-cultural researchers have devised various models of culture that describe cultural dimensions as important features of cultures, which vary between different cultures. Models of culture are, for instance, important for intercultural competence. A cultural dimension that deserves the name describes an important aspect of a whole culture that is part of the culture and shapes the culture, especially in comparison to other cultures. For the parent education course, however, the term culture shall be extended to include smaller groups up to idiocultures. The term cultural dimension is thus made more flexible and may allow interesting new interpretations.

The model of culture offered here does not correspond exactly to any of the scientific models of culture, but that is not important. The point is that you can offer your own cultural dimensions to suit your own needs. A youth culture can have a different demand for cultural dimensions than the cultures of adults. Your family cultures can also have unknown dimensions and your school culture may not even exist yet. If your school does not have a school culture the class council could possibly decide a class culture. A class culture can also provide a lowest common denominator for a class and allow smaller groups to build a more specific idioculture on top.

Less fundamental but also interesting are the typical examples of cultural differences in the Wikipedia article about intercultural competence.

Cultural dimension Family culture School culture Youth culture
Perseverance in the pursuit of goals
(during play or during selected tasks)
Curiosity and experimentation or disinterest
Drawing conclusions from successes and failures
Confidence in the effectiveness of one's own actions (self-efficacy)
Focus on longer-term objectives (reward delay)
Encouragement rather than discouragement as a result of failures or marginal partial successes
Individualism (individual incentives) or collectivism (group incentives)
Egocentrism or collective intelligence (e.g. mentoring)
Femininity (by principle of equality, conflict resolution, orientation to holism and quality of life) or masculinity (competitive orientation)

Cultural dimension Family culture School culture Youth culture
Education-friendly or educationally deprived
Weak vs. strong uncertainty avoidance (Need for or resistance to formalism)
Small vs. large power distance (View of hierarchies, e.g. respect)
Materialism or post-materialism
Long-term or short-term orientation
Ethnocentrism/exclusionism vs. universalism
Liberalness or restriction/self-restraint
Higher-order volitions or impulsivity
Monochronic (time-oriented) vs. polychronic (simultaneous) aspects (e.g. punctuality)
Sense of time:
Asia past-oriented (ancestors, values)
Latin America, Africa, Southern Europe present-oriented
Western Europe, North America future-oriented (accomplishing goals)

Cultural dimension Family culture School culture Youth culture

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What is missing in this table? Find your own cultural dimensions and insert them into the table.

  • Is "talkative or taciturn" a cultural dimension?
  • Is there a relationship between cultural dimensions and personality traits?

Test your youth culture[edit]

The adolescents do neither conform with the so-called "traditional" values such as loyalty, sense of duty, etc.; nor have they fully set "modern" values in their place, which are supposedly more capable to support an individual self-actualization than the value orientation of older generations. The adolescents rather mix their own "values cocktail" from different values, which seem best suited for their individual plans for life.

Jugend ohne Perspektive? - "Alte" Werte und "neuer" Generationenkonflikt, Mathias Albert

What is your youth culture? You can test your youth culture by extending the model of culture table with your own cultural dimensions, which apply to your own youth culture or youth cultures. You can then use the table as a questionnaire and use it to interview teenagers from your social environment. A statistical analysis shows how your common youth culture looks like.

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  • How do you collect ideas for cultural dimensions best?
  • How should the table be completed? Which information is needed on the respective cultural dimensions?
  • How should the questionnaire be amended to allow the survey to be conducted without extensive explanations?
  • Why could the youth culture be important for a parent education course?

If the parent education course is meant to guide parents to better understand teenagers it can be important to explain the youth culture to those parents who do no yet have this understanding, particularly the aspects that are preferably criticized by parents. A democratic education also means to respect the culture of others and to find compromises where possible. Parents will possibly view some aspects of youth culture as a kind of counter-culture.

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This survey can be used as an exercise to rehearse techniques for surveys and evaluations. The more important polls relate to families, education and mentoring. As pupils you are, however, allowed to disagree with this view.

Capitalism as a means to an end[edit]

Especially from an economic perspective the insight has developed that growing material wealth in the developed countries above a certain level does not lead to increasing well-being.

—Wissenschaftliche Bestandsaufnahme der Forschung zu "Wohlbefinden von Eltern und Kindern", German Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth

An error in the assessment of moral priorities, which in capitalism arises almost like an anti-pattern, is to assign the capitalist system a high priority and also to consider close personal relations and mutual support as an important priority, but to assign the common good only a lower priority. A moral error that results from this perspective is that one would implicitly have to endorse a lower level of education of the general public in order to serve the purpose to attain and to preserve a capitalist advantage for one's chosen social environment. Trivially this is not a particularly moral position.

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  • Where is the error in the assessment of moral priorities?
  • Is the public interest more important than friends and acquaintances?
  • Is the public interest more important than capitalism?
  • If the error the evaluation as unchanging priorities?

Mentoring consequently constitutes insofar a higher moral level (or at least a refinement of moral evaluation) as the basis is a conscious decision that, while one doesn't have to promote a mentally disabled person to earn a medical degree, arbitrary third parties should have a right to a certain level of support.

Another important argumentation in relation to capitalism is that capitalism is a means to achieve an end. If that means becomes and end by itself, as it can happen in a capitalist society, then the question of the actual purpose remains unanswered. This open question is also evident in the behavior of capitalist organizations: The organizations respond to the orders of their customers, but do not always have own interests and goals beyond that. In that sense the efficient capitalist company is primarily controlled by external interests.

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  • Is it a purpose of capitalism to serve the common good?
  • What is Corporate Social Responsibility?
  • What do parents know about Corporate Social Responsibility?
  • Why is that important?