ERIC Number: ED471586
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2002-Jun-23
Culture, Freedom, and Pedagogy in the Public School Classroom: Learning To Teach from an Anthropological Point of View or Pedagogical Anthropology and the Reform of Public Education. A Teaching Essay (with Associated Supplement).
Steffy, D. Michael
Educators must realize that today's public schools are a specialized development out of the universal culture-process. Research anthropologists have identified cross-culturally as enculturation, the process of acquiring a culture. By virtue of being born into a specific socio-cultural group, all humans have culture, and all human groups enculturate their young. Public education as required by law in this society is but an extension of and addition to the enculturative experience already begun and firmly established in the child's family of orientation and immediate socio-cultural community when that child is given over to the public school system to be educated. It is this very nature as cultural beings and products of enculturation that underlies much of the highly publicized and openly debated failure in the public schools today. Noting that culture has supplanted biology as the primary adaptive mechanism in humans, this paper states that humans function as if their specific culture represented the only way of truly being human. The paper finds that this leads to ethnocentrism, and it discusses ethnocentrism. It asks what intellectual tools most people have for understanding themselves and others, except for the tools acquired from within culture-specific adaptations through the enculturative experience. The paper emphasizes that public school teachers must be prepared to approach their teaching from the modern, holistic, cross-cultural perspective of scientific anthropology or from what has been called an anthropological point of view, so that they can consciously work against the ethnocentric teaching that impedes directed learning across cultural borders. Lists recommended readings. Attached is a supplement: "A Fundamental Proposition of Pedagogical Anthropology along with Some Preliminary First Principles of Cross-Cultural Teaching." (BT)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Social Science Education Consortium Annual Conference (Santa Fe, NM, June 23, 2002).