Enculturation

After reading Stephen’s post here on More German and Learning Atoms (in response to Heli’s post on interesting learning in the course), I am reflecting on this enculturation

Conrad Phillip Kottak (in Window on Humanity ) writes:

Enculturation is the process where the culture that is currently established teaches an individual the accepted norms and values of the culture or society in which the individual lives. The individual can become an accepted member and fulfill the needed functions and roles of the group. Most importantly the individual knows and establishes a context of boundaries and accepted behavior that dictates what is acceptable and not acceptable within the framework of that society. It teaches the individual their role within society as well as what is accepted behavior within that society and lifestyle”

Enculturation can be conscious or unconscious, therefore can support both the Marxist and the hegemonic arguments. There are three ways a person learns a culture. Direct teaching of a culture is done, this is what happens when you don’t pay attention, mostly by the parents , when a person is told to do something because it is right and to not do something because it is bad. For example, when children ask for something, they are constantly asked “What do you say?” and the child is expected to remember to say “please.” The second conscious way a person learns a culture is to watch others around them and to emulate their behavior. An example would be using different slang with different cliques in school. Enculturation also happens unconsciously, through events and behaviors that prevail in their culture. All three kinds of culturation happen simultaneously and all the time.

I am trying to understand what it means when Stephen says:

At best, we can ask only whether a person is more of a certain sort of person – are they ‘more German’ for having stayed in Germany for a month, are they ‘more of a physicist’ for having stayed in the community of physicists for a month. Knowing that there are no necessary or sufficient conditions for being ‘more’ of any of these, knowing that there is no gauge that measures being ‘more German’ or ‘more of a Physicist’.

I sense that there are certain common concepts between enculturation and the learning based on connectivist principles: where one could benefit and learn through the immersion in the networks as cited in Jenny’s  post: some notes on connectivism:

  • ‘Knowledge is distributed across a network of connections’
  • ”To learn is acquire certain patterns’
  • ‘Learning is the ability to construct and traverse connections’

So, would such ability to construct and traverse connections in a network be associated with one’s experience, confidence, and passion with the “connections”?   Is enculturation part of the learning that arises from social networking? “Enculturation also happens unconsciously, through events and behaviors that prevail in their culture.”  So would that be the type of learning that we are mostly unconscious of in social networking or community work?

I could only keep up with certain “optimum” number of “human” connections, whom I could engage with a deeper conversation and interaction.  I could hardly be able to focus when my human connections are too diverse, as this would lead to distractions of thinking about the thoughts behind those human minds. However, I could be connected to many more connections on data and information sources which appear in forms of artifacts or blog posts, ideas and media, where I would use my cognitive strategies to think and reflect first.  I could then summarise what I have “learnt” by expressing such thoughts in signs, pictures, videos, or writings, etc in blog posts, tweets etc.  So, I seem to come up with many connections to ideas (the conceptual connections), but few connections to people sort of networking practice.  Am I alone in such experience?

To me, such learning in social networking are often non-linear, likely as a result of serendipity whilst surfing the network or reading through the Twitters, Facebook, RSS, slideshare, flickr, Youtube videos, Amplify or blog posts.  So the connections with the ideas, concepts, or people in the network are quite often through the weak to strong ties, “from the unplanned to the planned” connections.   I would then check on the resonance of those connections (ideas, feelings, emotions from people or artifacts etc.) with my experience, and/or check if there are any discovery of new ideas, especially when I am cross referencing to different hyperlinks, data sources and artifacts.  I could then mix and re-purpose such ideas, concepts or content to generate a new and emergent “form” of signs, language and thoughts that make sense to me, where I could sense it from different perspectives.  That’s how these blog posts are composed.

That’s the “new” learning to me.

Is that my reason and intuition in networked learning?

Photo: Reason and Intuition

8 thoughts on “Enculturation

  1. Thanks John,
    I liked to read this. No fighting against anybody, just learning. Enculturation is an interesting concept, it is near socialization which I am used to.
    There are many ways to analyze and understand our living in the web, no one expertise to it but many paths.
    – It is still hot in Finland, but I can’t stop learning. But I’ll close my computer for a while. And you have winter there

  2. Hi Heli,
    Thanks for your comments. So glad to hear from you. I read all your posts, and enjoyed them. So, just learning, me too.
    I haven’t asked Stephen lots of questions nowadays. I had once met Stephen face to face while he was here in Sydney in 2009, delivering a presentation at the University of Wollongong. We had a short conversation and I think I understand what he was referring to with connectivism and connectivist learning, and the diverse networks that we could participate, engage and contribute in our learning journey.
    Yes, there are many paths, and I would enjoy the conversation and engagement with others in the course. We could keep connected.
    It’s pretty cold here, and so I got such warming from you in this greeting, how lovely is it?

    John

  3. How about this concept of acculturation?

    Additionally, “acculturation” has been used by Matusevich as a term describing the paradigm shift public schools must undergo in order to successfully integrate emerging technologies in a meaningful way into classrooms (Matusevich, 1995). The old and the new additional definitions have a boundary that blurs in modern multicultural societies, where a child of an immigrant family might be encouraged to acculturate both the dominant also well as the ancestral culture, either of which may be considered “foreign”, but in fact, they are both integral parts of the child’s development.

    Many studies have found no evidence that acculturation is distressful. Refer to this valuable paper

    Would this acculturation be the paradigm shift in order to successfully integrate emerging technologies in a meaningful way into classrooms?

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