VS 2.1: Cultural Misinterpretations


Think About

Conceptual Outline Meaning Making

Ramona Cutri (Brigham Young University)

"We learn culture, we teach culture, and we modify culture all at once."

I teach culture?

Our assumptions, beliefs, and values impact who we are as teachers and what gets taught in our classes. By becoming conscious of our attitude in a land cultural dispositions, we make visible what is often invisible.

Make visible?

When we interact with others in our native culture, our cultural characteristics are taken for granted. No one notices them. For that reason our unique talents and characteristics seem to stand out.


When we operate in a foreign culture, our cultural characteristics are highly noticeable. They are the characteristics that tend to stand out, and our unique individuality is harder to see.

Unique individuality?

We tend to see language diverse students as cultural beings, while we see ourselves as neutral.

Self as cultural being?

Gary Fenstermacher (University of Michigan)

"It’s important for all of us to think about ideas that are oppositional and contrary to where we are or where we see ourselves because it exposes the medium in which we live. It helps us understand."

Critical Pedagogy  
  • Examines schools and social practices
  • Attends to power distribution
  • Addresses equity
My practices and power?

Manifests how?
  • Ordinary Pedagogy
    • Knowledge is power
  • Critical Pedagogy
    • Power is knowledge

That is, “Power is what enables you to privilege knowledge, to make knowledge what it is.” 

(Gary Fenstermacher)


Gary Fenstermacher (University of Michigan)

"By paying attention to critical pedagogy and listening to what [students] have to say, I understand what I do much better. It’s like a fish coming to understand that there’s water out there… Philosophers often talk about how a fish can’t have the concept of water or the word water in language, because it’s a medium in which the fish [live]….so the fish can’t discover water because there’s nothing to contrast it to.

"If you don’t have the critical pedagogy or some alternative point of view, it’s so hard to discover what constructs standard [i.e., ordinary] pedagogy."

My view of pedagogy?

My contrast?

Just as fish may be unaware of water, teachers may be unaware of the cultural practices they promote and expect in their classes. Coming to understand yourself as a cultural being may reveal a living contradiction between who you think you are as teacher and how students experience you. As teachers act to resolve lining contradictions, we will all come to understand our own culture as well as the cultures of others.

My cultural practices?


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