Affect of Culture and Religion on Curriculum Essay
Affect of Culture and Religion on Curriculum
It has been observed that the teenage period of a child has been given the most important position in the life of a human being. During this age, children go across various notions of life, and concepts and ideas are matured up by them, which is used and implement by them during their lives. Therefore, growth period of a child has to be provided with good quality and matured curriculum according to his/her age. In this regard, schools play an important and crucial role in the provision of a platform that can allow, as well as, encourage the intellectual, physical, as well as, spiritual growth of the children.
In formal schooling, a set of courses, as well as, its related content has been referred as a curriculum, which is provided and utilized during the study at almost every school, college, and university around the world. Curriculum consists of a number of experiences, stories, and accounts of deeds that can guide the students to understand the basic and important phases of their lives. In this respect, designing of the curriculum should be given due importance, as they can nurture and cherish human lives, as well as, deteriorate the thinking power and understanding of the humans.
(Taylor, 1999, p. 171). In this regard, a number of researches have been carried out by the professionals and experts that have put light on the importance of the curriculum. Different experts have described curriculum in diverse perceptions. Some have deemed it as a social engineering arena, whereas, unintentional and undirected experiences for the cultivation of a successful adult society are some of the definitions of the curriculum. (Philip, 1993, pp. 10-12)
Different and various bodies have been formed for the determination of the curriculum in different countries around the world. An external or an authoritative body can perform the role of partial, as well as, entire determination of a curriculum. For instance, the National Curriculum for England has been established in the United Kingdom. In the United States, the curriculum that is provided to the students is established by school districts individually according to the regulations of their states and requirements of their students.
However, the United States Department of Education plays an important parental role for the provision of guidelines that are important and necessary for the designing of curriculum. (Allport, 1979, pp. 23-29) As earlier mentioned in the paper, curriculum plays an important role in the nurturing of a human life. Thus, the designing of the curriculum to be taught at schools, colleges, and universities cannot be ignored at all. In this regard, a number of factors are responsible for the formulation of the school curriculum.
In this paper, we will try to identify, define, and evaluate some of the cultural, as well as, religious factors that influence the designing of the curricula at various schools around the world. As all cultures are quite different from one another, different and diverse understanding is provided by every culture in different perceptions. A person’s culture is rooted in quite a lot of things as mentioned earlier; language, history, geography, religion, and race. The abovementioned things play a different part in cultures, and affect reasoning in a variety of ways and areas.
Religion influences nearly everything in our daily lives: from the architecture of buildings, the food we eat, and the books we read, to the rituals of marriage and death, and the customs of courtroom and government. It has been observed that for thousands of years, religion has shaped the beliefs, moral codes, national identities of millions of people, and now it should help define other cultures in the classrooms. Every thing in life has been affected as greatly by other cultures, because of the environment and culture, which developed dwellings with three-dimensional right angles.
Although there are many interpretations of what defines a religion, the Oxford Dictionary describes it as the trust in and devotion of a Herculean controlling power, especially a personal God or gods, or a particular system of faith and worship, and a pursuit or interest followed with devotion. All religions, no matter who believes in them or where they originated, are convinced that they are the primary source of all correct thought and righteous action. It is widely known that, no matter who is preaching to you, they are telling you that what they believe is the truth.
The fact is that all religions began as word of mouth or a generalized belief. These have been put into writing, rewritten, translated, outdated and rewritten once again. It is not likely that everything in such scriptures should be taken as the absolute truth, with no room for compromise or alternative (Taylor, 1999, p. 184). Different countries have been established on different and diverse concepts and ideologies. For instance, Christianity can be the religion of a country in the American continent, whereas, another country would have been established on the bases of Islamic thoughts and teachings.
Thus, a student in the United States would have been taught by a curriculum that has been formulated on the teachings of Bible, whereas, another student in an Islamic country would be provided with a curriculum based on the teachings of Quran. However, it has been observed and noted by almost every study and researcher that every religion has given the same teachings on this earth, but only the perceptions have been different due to the different modes of revelations of the sacred teachings. In this regard, different students around the world acquire the same knowledge and concepts, but in a number of variety of perceptions.
In this regard, different people may act or react in different ways, which has been due to the diverse awareness by various curricula globally. In this aspect, a field of curriculum studies has been formed for the identification, as well as, evaluation of different issues and factors that are interrelated with each other, and that play a crucial and important role in influencing the components of the curriculum. It has been observed that educational programs are influenced by cultural factors also, and different and diverse influences have been observed in different countries, as every country has its different culture, norms and values, etc.
A culture of a person can be known even in minutes of first sight of a person. For instance, a person with a different culture can be known by the clothing, jewelry, body language, as well as, hairstyle. Secondly, speech and unfamiliar beliefs can provide a deep understanding of the culture that is portrayed by every human being in different parts of the world. All these distinctiveness are denotative of culture – exemplar of behavior and thinking that people living in social groups learn, create, and share.
A people’s culture subsume of their beliefs, values, norms, language, style of dress, ways of cooking food, religion, jewelry, that are passed from one generation to the another. In this regard, it can be observed that curriculum is influenced greatly by the involvement of different people from different cultures around the world. (Smart, 1995, pp. 19-23) Each country has its own culture. For example, the popular culture in China has a big difference from the United States. The United States is a country full of immigrants. New York City is the capital of the world. No matter where we go, we can see people in all kinds of skin color.
People came to this land to find their new life, establish families here, generation by generation. Unlike old days in China, when we saw a foreigner walk on the street, everybody will look at him. Because they are travelers, and we do not see them that often, better take a good look at them before they are gone. In the U. S, it is different; People never get excited when they see another person from different society, because we are so into a large global society. China and United States of America shares a number of cultural differences between each other, such as food, climate, religion, population, school and greeting.
It has been believed by a number of people that food is very important to their culture when immigration is performed from one country to another. It has been an observation that people always try to keep their customs, norms and values in their lives. (Zhang, 2007, pp. 55-60) For instance, if an Asian person is immigrated to an American country, he/she may try to incorporate his/her practices, concepts, and habits in the American environment, which may sometimes be incompetent and not acceptable in the society. (Allport, 1979, pp.
51-55) In another example, if an educator emigrates from an Australian country to an Asian country, he may try to integrate Australian practices in the Asian curricula, which may not be appreciated or encouraged. Food is an important part of daily life for Chinese people. Chinese, not only enjoy eating, but also believe eating good food can bring harmony and closeness to the family and relationships. Chinese used to have their dinner together with all the family members, sitting around a table. China’s regional differences create problems for a definition of Chinese food.
The westerner always thinks of rice. But a third of china’s people are living in north and west are tend to eat wheat and maize, and Sweet Corn in Middle, Northern, Western China. There are so many traditional and special Chinese foods, according to the folk culture, district, religion, and festival. For example, Chinese New Year, most Chinese families will eat dumplings and rice cake at midnight to cerebrate a new year. Thus, the abovementioned factors play an important role in the designing of curricula of a particular country.
For instance, nodding in the vertical direction represents an affirmation in a symbolic manner. On the other hand, disapproval is represented by the nodding in the vertical direction in another country. Thus, it may sometime create confusion in people from different countries. Therefore, a curriculum should be based on the universal beliefs and a universal culture should be considered during the designing of curriculum in different parts of the world. It has been observed that a person from an Asian country would present the teachings according to his beliefs, culture, and language.
On the other hand, the same teaching and lesson would be represented in other form and different perception would be represented by a person from Australian continent. Thus, different curricula are affected and influenced by a number of significant factors that are dominant in their lives. (Carrette, 1999, pp. 82-83) As earlier mentioned in the paper, different cultures, norms and values have been observed in different parts of the world. In some countries, it is a common habit that believes is advertised in virtually everything. Cars are decorated with bumper stickers, clothes with quotes, and houses with lawn decoration, etc.
These habits influence the curriculum also. In some curricula, it has been observed that the abovementioned habits are portrayed through pictures and interactive activities, in order to present a realistic view of the environment of that particular country. (McGrath, 1999, pp. 77-79) For instance, curriculum of the United States may portray high scrapers and busy streets in their books. On the other hand, an African country may sketch deserts and jungles in their curriculum books, in order to present a realistic picture of the environment that their children experience in their daily lives.
In this regard, the physical features of a place influence the culture and ways of living of the people, which can be seen in the curricula of that particular place easily. The abovementioned are some of the ways that religion affects the curriculum, as well as, our lives. Many people’s daily routines change because of what they believe. For example, a person goes to church every Sunday, and make sure that nothing is scheduled over top of that. (Carrette, 1999, pp. 101-103) This is one way, a curriculum can teach a child to go to the Church every Sunday.
On the other hand, curriculum of an Islamic country may teach the students to pray five times a day, which is quite different from the already mentioned curriculum. However, both the curricula have provided the religious teaching to pray to God. In this way, religion do influences the style of the curriculum. However, it would be wrong to say that these factors influence the basic meaning and principles of the society. (John B. , 1940, pp. 43-45) In Buddhism, the only way that a person is guaranteed to get to Nirvana, is by giving up their lives in the name of Buddha, or for their religion.
Christians change their lives to please their Creator. In the Bible, it states that ‘in everything you do, do it as unto the Lord’. This affects someone from driving a car, doing chores. With all of the trouble in our world today, it is disconcerting to know that religion is a contributing factor, and thus, these concepts affect the designing of the curriculum in almost every part of the world. In addition, one can say that culture is more significant than its distinct seeable characteristics.
In this regard, if one extends this to the inner self of an individual person, such as to member within a certain society, further to the all community, possibly he or she can be able to find some answers by determining how he or she is affected by culture. In fact, thorough out the human history, culture represents a whole community. However, in order to evaluate how culture changes one’s inner values and beliefs, he or she has to define some common beliefs, just like clothing that has some features that help distinguish its cultural background.
People having the same cultural background, in general, are likely to behave in a similar way, because their education and religion background have also cultural elements. In this way, the culture, as well as, the religion of a place influences the formulation of basic elements that have to be included in the curricula of the schools around the world. In some countries, a person may not be allowed to dress unethically or very casually, especially the girls in eastern countries. On the other hand, western countries may not have any problem in casual dressing by the girls.
Thus, you may not find a curriculum made by an eastern authoritative body with girls wearing casual dressing, and not covering their body in strict manner. However, the curricula of the English or American schools may have pictures of girls in jeans or t-shirts, which may not be accepted in the eastern world. Thus, this has shown that the culture of a country plays a very important and crucial role in the development of set of courses to be taught at formal schools. (Ernile, 1995, pp. 20-22)
Needs of an individual should be met, and good teaching can be provided to the students by a set of courses, which can then be preferred as a well-designed curriculum. Instructions that are given in the curriculum are implemented and taught by an implementer, that is, a teacher. In this regard, the set of courses that are formulated by the curriculum designers should be included with a teaching guide that may instruct and teach the teachers according to their cultural norms and values, as well as, religious principles. (Mader, 1993, pp.
65-66) It has been observed that success of a student is greatly influenced by the cultural background, as well as, socioeconomic status of a child. Thus, process of curriculum designing is affected significantly by the cultural characteristics of a place. However, American schools have the largest number of cultural variations in their classes due to masses of immigrated people in the United States. Thus, it has become very difficult for the American curriculum designers to incorporate the characteristics of different cultures into one curriculum.
One of the reasons of this difficulty is that sometimes, cultures diversify each other, and that results in the opposition with each other. In the last decades, cultural and ethnically diversification has been observed in the United States, and cultural diversity has become one of the most important factors to be integrated in their curricula. (Mader, 1993, pp. 60-61) In the result, continuity and diversity is the outcome of the cultural factor that has influenced the planning of the curriculum in a significant manner.
In particular, curriculum of every country has been influenced by a number of cultural and diversity factors, such as, language, religion, socioeconomic status, race, physical characteristics, etc. In addition, social values, issues, and norms are some other factors that also influence the designing and planning of the curriculum to be taught at different schools around the world. As earlier mentioned in the paper, social issues and values are different and varied in different parts of the world. In the result, diversity in different parts of a group of people can be accommodated by this variation in the students.
For instance, a country may have some specific goals regarding the education, which may be different from the United States. (Ernile, 1995, pp. 33-34) Thus, beliefs and freedoms that are provided to the human lives in different parts of the world play an important role in the designing of the curriculum, which has already been discussed in the paper. For instance, sex, drug education and related programs and seminars are incorporated in the curricula of American schools. However, this kind of programs and teachings are not encouraged in the eastern schools at all, and deemed as unethical for the students.
Thus, the curricula of the American schools may be planned with quite free hand and freedom, and on the other hand, the eastern curricula may be designed with more short hand and less freedom in this aspect. Thus, a number of factors influence the designing and planning of the curricula to be taught at schools in different parts of the world. These factors may be cultural, social, economical, psychological, and even spiritual in their nature. In this paper, we have tried to define, evaluate, and discuss religious and cultural factors that influence the designing and planning of the school curricula around the world.
It is hoped that this paper will help the professionals, educators, and students in understanding the role of abovementioned factors in the planning of the curriculum that is one of the basic pillars of the human society. References Allport, G. (1979) The Nature of Prejudice. Massachusetts: Adison Wesley Carrette, J. (1999) Religion and Culture. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Durkheim, Ernile. (1995) The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. New York: Free Press. Hefner, Philip. (1993) The Human Factor, Evolution, Culture, and Religion. Minneapolis: Fortress. Holt, John. B.
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