An Overview of Social and Cultural Influence on Learning

Cultural Influence on Learning
Before discussing the influence of social and cultural factors on an individual’s learning, let’s first dig into the definition of sociocultural factors. Sociocultural factors are the large scale forces within a society or a culture. These affect the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours of individuals living in that society. Such factors include cross-culture differences, cultural deprivation, cultural identity etc. Sociocultural factors influence the learning of an individual. Cultural factors like religion, ethnicity, language etc., have a significant impact on the learning abilities of individuals.
 

Cultural Influence On Learning

Culture influences our learning. Culture even shapes the meanings of the words. It is the background on which new learning takes place. This influences our understanding of the world. All the learners are not the same. Every classroom is diverse and unique in its way. Teachers know that every student in the classroom learns differently. He experiences different academic assignments every day. The learners have their own approach to the learning situations. They perform differently under different situations. The environment in which someone grows has an essential impact on learning. These cultural factors also have an impact on the success of an individual. For example, a Muslim may not win an election in India due to his culture and living.
 

Culture Teaches Us How To Think:

Ways of thinking also identify cultures. It is essential to learn the way of thinking for participation in a social activity. An individual learns by having interaction with others. We learn ways of thinking when another individual of our culture solves a problem. Language influences the learning of individuals greatly. This provides the basis for higher learning of other things. Language makes the planning of things more manageable.
 

Cultural Factors Influencing Learning

One must be aware of the cultural factors which influence learning. Dr Christine Bennett concluded that five cultural factors might influence Learning:
  • Childhood socialization
  • Sociocultural tightness
  • Ecological adaptation
  • Biological effects
  • Language
 

Childhood socialization

Childhood socialization refers to the standard child practices. Like, the way of bringing up children influences developmental skills. For example, Bennett found out that African Americans have better skills. Moreover, he also found out that they have more physical contact with the babies than Euro-American mothers.

Sociocultural tightness

Sociocultural tightness is about the rules and regulations in a culture. It is also determined by whether a culture is a high context or low context. In high context cultures, people gain knowledge using intuition and logic. Whereas, in low context cultures, people get knowledge through analytical reasoning.
 

Ecological adaptation

The environment of culture requires people to learn a skill to survive. This is ecological adaptation. Some environments lead to beneficial skills. Like native Americans might have better skills to interpret signs of the weather. On the other hand, toxic environments create problems for learning deficits for children.
 

Biological effects

Biological effects like genetics impact how one person processes information. Researchers have found out that persons from different cultures have different cognitive properties. Biological effects influence the learning style of a person.
 

Language

Language reflects the worldviews and the lifestyles of its people. An individual’s language reflects how a person learns. The values of a culture are best expressed through language. Language shapes the thinking of a person.
 

Social Influence on Learning

The social environment in which a person lives influences his learning. It creates a language and experiences environments that simulate the mind to grow. The society in which an individual life has a significant effect on his learning. An individual acquires things from his community and his social network. Many attitudes and habits develop in a child through experiences with his neighbours. The community or social network in which he lives shapes his way of thinking and perceptions. The objects which influence on child’s learning can be his age-mates, peers, and elders. Sometimes a child listens to the instructions of a police constable; he is learning.

Influence of Student peer relationship

A healthy student-peer relationship also plays a vital role in learning. Students learn by their relationships with classmates and teachers. This is more like emotional learning. A good relationship with peers provides a tension-free environment to perform and learn. It helps students to compete in the class and learn more.

On the other hand, if the relationship is not good, it adversely affects a student’s learning. So, free discussions should take place in a classroom to maximize learning. Teachers should encourage students o meet each other and other teachers. If any misunderstanding occurs, teachers should clarify it immediately.
 

Influence of Religion and Ethnicity

Learning also varies with religion and ethnicity. This happens due to differences in beliefs and values. Religion plays a significant role in the socialization process. Religion, in one form or the other, has been found in all human societies. The first word revealed in Quran was “Iqra”, meaning “read”. So, religion commands people to learn and unfold the truths of nature.

Influence of family

The family has the first influence on the socialization of an individual. Within the family, a child learns social skills and social norms. This is where he learns the do’s and dont’s of his culture. Family is the site of all learning, where an individual acquires a sense of wrong and right. The relationship with parents plays a vital role in a child’s learning. Suppose the relationship with their parents is based on mutual respect and faith. It can help him learn more effectively. An unhealthy relationship affects the learning of the child.
 

Conclusion

Hence we can conclude that sociocultural factors influence the learning of an individual. A sociocultural environment provides us with a learning framework. In the learning process, we construct the meaning of our experiences. The training we receive is likely to exert some influence. In the end, all learning is cultural oriented and guided.

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