In visiting a friend’s house, you noticed that their mom was changing the oil in the car, would that seem odd or different from your own family experience? Would seeing your friend’s father sewing a tear in some jeans or patching a shirt seem unusual or out of the ordinary? If your friend’s family ate on the floor and without utensils would that feel unfamiliar or different?
These are the types of introductory questions the students in Sociology of the Family have pondered as they began to explore their cultural-social lens. Culturally responsive practice is a developmental process that begins with becoming aware of one’s own beliefs, gaining knowledge of other cultures, and understanding how differences and similarities exist and intersect with diverse cultures.
Students in Sociology of the Family are examining master messages and cultural/social influences from their family to see how it has shaped their belief system and how they see the world, or what some call a cultural-social lens. Each student has created a graphic organizer that displays specific parts of the cultural lens by examining three distinct levels of culture.
The depiction includes looking at surface level influences such as foods, art, music, celebrations and stories. Students also explore shallow level influences such as unspoken rules, eye contact, nature of relationships, child-rearing practices, and non-verbal communication. The final level is deep culture which includes, to name a few, notions of fairness, definitions of kinship, spirituality and concept of higher power, preference for competition or cooperation, and world view.
This ‘cultural selfie’ allows students to analyze and evaluate their belief system and with this awareness begin to become culturally responsive. An extension activity will allow students to apply this understanding as they construct, “I am from” poems that highlight their lives and story.