The Influence of Different Cultures on Human Growth and Development
January 2, 2021 at 7:13 pm, No commentsAs previously shown an individual’s development is affected by the environment in which the child develops, this includes sociocultural and socioeconomic influences which reflect the culture that the child is born in and influences a wide spectrum of behviour (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Owen, Ware & Barfoot, 2000). As a consequence culture plays a central role in how children relate to their surroundings and this impacts on the creation of a child’s self- image, confirming Vygotsky’s theory that the sociocultural context of the child has a central importance in the development of the individual, particularly because this influences the way the child is reared (Vygotsky,1978).
Cultures can be broadly defined into individualistic or sociocentric. Whereas Western cultures tend to focus more on individualism, Eastern cultures focus on a sociocentric approach. These cultural differences impact on how children are raised, for example whereas parents from Western cultures might work towards their child developing a strong sense of self and independence, parents from Eastern cultures might focus more on how their child relates to the family the extended family and the community in general.
The family unit can be viewed as a microcosm of the surrounding culture. Triandis, (2001) recalls the Vygotsgian approach and maintains that relationships within the family are influenced by the sociocultural context and this impacts on how children are brought up. Acculturation, a process of how the culture of a group or individual is modified as a result of living within a different culture or value system to their own, typical amongst immigrant families also has an impact on how children are brought up. Jambunathan and Counselman (2002) for example highlighted that Asian American parents (Indian) are not as strict as parents from the Indian subcontinent. Therefore the culture one lives within is likely to influence the parenting style that is chosen. Despite this however Asian American parents still proved to be more authoritarian than Caucasian American parents who tended to be more permissive. A study by Dornbusch, et al. (1987) asked a set of multicultural students to define their parents approaches to parenting (authoritative, permissive and authoritarian) Asian-American students tended to define their parents as authoritarian.
Culture also dictates the way that children behave within the classroom and this also has an impact on how children might be perceived by their teachers. The influence of culture on how schooling is valued and the importance of education for the individual, influences how the students interact in the classroom, this is highlighted if we contrast the attitudes of children from Western cultures to those of children from Eastern cultures. Whereas Asian students might tend to be quiet in class and avoid making eye contact with teachers (Bennett, 2003) a European child might appear to be more proactive in discussions and will look directly at their teachers.
In essence culture can best be described as “the set of attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviours shared by a group of people, communicated from one generation to the next”. (Matsumoto, 1997:5) and this is what we see within the context of a multicultural education system as the lecture theatre acts as a microcosm of society.