What Is the Relationship Between Education and Culture?

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Culture strongly influences how an individual approaches education, and a society's culture determines how that society educates its citizens. Because culture consists of values and beliefs that influence practices, students are more likely to engage in education that aligns with and includes their cultural identity. An increasing number of schools are approaching curriculum building with culture in mind.

Culture refers to the core beliefs and customs of a particular group of people, and it can be observed in many aspects of their lives, such as their language, food, clothing, religious ceremonies, symbols and history. In many cases, culture is associated with family origins, race, ethnicity and geographic location, but culture can also be gained by choosing to identify with a specific group. In both cases, culture provides people with "funds of knowledge," a term developed in 2001 by researchers Luis Moll, Cathy Amanti, Deborah Neff and Norma Gonzalezto that refers to the knowledge students receive from their families prior to enrolling in school.

Curriculum that builds on students' cultural understanding or allows them to use their funds of knowledge in the classroom has proven to be more effective because students can relate it to their own lives. It can be difficult to determine how best to accommodate cultural diversity, but culturally conscious education is becoming more common.