A Guide for Students in the Multicultural University
A fish only discovers its need for water when it is no longer in it. Our own culture is like water to a fish. It sustains us. We live and breathe through it. (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 2002: 20) MEANING OF CULTURE AND ITS IMPACT Culture will be explored from two perspectives. In this chapter we will define culture and explore the impact it has in the classroom. Chapter 4 will look more broadly at living in a different culture and the possible impact this will have on your studies, and the strategies you can employ to respond positively to a new environment. We take culture so much for granted that it is difficult to define. Using Ed Schein’s (1985) definition of culture as the starting point, we define culture as: a set of basic assumptions, shared solutions to universal problems of external adaptation (how to survive in the external environment) and internal integration (how to stay together as a community), which have evolved over time and are handed down from one generation to another. There are number of layers to culture, which is why the word means so many different things to different people. There is the external appearance – the outer layer – the explicit products (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 2002) or, as Schein (1985) calls it, the artefact level. An individual’s first experience of a new culture is the explicit culture. Explicit culture is the observable reality of the language, food, buildings, dress, arts and festivals. They are symbols of a...
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