Cultural Influences in Education and Organization

The recent advancement in technology and the emergence of globalization have led to the shrinking of the world that has once been separated by culture, language, and belief systems. It is no longer tenable to completely the control cultural indoctrination due to the high rate of interaction among people from different cultures. In the wake of globalization, there has also risen a need to have a standard language that people throughout the world can communicate with. However, this need has not appeared without consequences  manifested in the cultural interactivity and influences that have threatened to wipe out peculiar cultural practices in some parts of the world. Many scholars who have studied anthropology and culture argue that even though the need to have a common language has had its negative impacts on some cultures, the positive ones far much outnumber the negatives. As such, there is a need to encourage positive acculturation through the learning of languages and other practices by people from different cultural backgrounds.  This paper is a discussion of how different cultural setups have been influenced by language and learning in class. The paper will provide insight on how to manage foreign language learning in order to avoid negative connotations associated with learning a foreign language.

The transfer of education through learning presents a number of challenges to the students who are supposed to learn a new language. Since the world has become a global village, the need to share information through education has become inevitable for many societies across the world. The need to interact in business, sports, and any other event that people from all over the world congregate has also catapulted the rush to learn a second language that has preferably been for a long time the English language. The connotation of this is that education has a great impact on cultural, religious, and social lives of people in the form of materials that are used in learning. The language itself as the chief instrument of the education transfer causes cultural confrontation and indoctrination rampant in those societies (Spurling & Caruana, 2007). As children get to be introduced to the new language, they get to access a culture different from what their parents or teachers have taught them since they were young. The resultant of this is the development of a third culture or diffusion of the target culture with imports from the culture of the foreign language.

A number of factors come into play when students are introduced to a new culture through education and language (Slethaug, 2007). On top of this is the language itself as it is used in instructing the students about the target culture.  Available evidences reveal that modern education through language and learning styles promote acculturation and cultural confrontation while disguising the agents of cultural acquisition. The concepts of culture, cultural values, and cultural environment determine the way students are going to interpret new information that they get through learning. Characteristically, Slethaug (2007) observed that this culture was ultimately different from the one that they were used to. Therefore, it required to readjust or develop a new form of culture that was a cross breed of their own culture and the culture where the instruments of instructions came from.

Consequently, students learning a foreign language and by extension a foreign culture develop a cold perception of their own culture, thus negating the social responsibility of preserving their culture. Ultimately, foreign educational instruments including teachers and the language of instruction lead to a hegemonic situation where students from the target culture involuntarily appreciate more the foreign culture as opposed to their own culture. As proved by Samovar, Porter, and McDaniel, (2009), this kind of situation lead to what can be described as cultural erosion, meaning that the new culture carried by the instruments of education get to be glorified at the expense of their own culture. This paper will therefore address the ways in which cultural influences emanate from the instruments and organization of educational structures through language and other media.

The Role of Education in Societies

According to Nyland, Ramia, and Sawir (2005), education serves a number of purposes including the need to integrate and promote human relations. Through education, people from different societies get to learn and appreciate the culture and practices of other societies. Hence, they can appreciate why others believe in what they believe, why they act in a certain manner, and how they get to address natural challenges in their social, economic, and political life. The globalization outfit has also increased the need for the unified form of education since chances of a person interacting with another person has continued to increase on the background of advancing the technology and reducing personal space (Black, 2003).

In essence, education plays a crucial role in promoting the diversity of positive things and in encouraging uniform outcomes when it comes to addressing the challenges that people face in their daily lives. Early researchers in education like Noxolo and Raghuram (2009) affirmed that overriding the importance of education in societies was aimed at bringing understanding among different cultural groups. Thus, the instruments "have all firmly stated that cultural understanding and cross-cultural comparisons are a necessary component of education." Some instruments of education like language of instruction have been seen by early scholars in education as dictating the kind of cultural formation that sprouts after a society has undergone a generational contact with new forms of education. Evidently, language is even more important given that Montgomery (2010) argued in the research that "language does not exist apart from culture". This observation highlights the scale to which a foreign education and, by extension, a foreign language can impact the final cultural outfit that a society adopts.

Considering the power of education to change people’s perception of things, Johnson (2007) noted that education mainly has the capacity to change a culture of the society until it is completely transformed into something else in all spheres. Social structure in regard to relationships, practices, and belief systems can change in order to conform to the new culture introduced through education. The capacity of education to change the cultural sphere of a particular society is even more pronounced through the learning styles that promote cultural confrontation over cultural preservation.

To this end, Johnson (2007) further notes that there are numerous examples of societies that have undergone total cultural transformation thanks to the influence of education. As much as education has played a crucial role in civilizing different societies and indeed bringing a number of positive cultural changes to those societies, the influence on the culture is primarily seen as a negative one since education fails to nurture and preserve some impeccable practices in different societies. For instance, many African societies have abandoned their rich cultural practices because foreign education demonized those practices while promoting the culture of the Western countries.

In the end, such societies have acquired a crisis in their social strata because people cannot identify themselves with any specific kind of culture and an effort to preserve already endangered cultural practices and systems as they are met with awe and ridicule from the modern generation that prefers foreign culture as compared to its own culture. Characteristically, this cultural influence defines and dictates what people are going to worship, how they are going to talk, the kind of food they eat, the kind of clothes they wear, and even the kind of language they speak. It is not uncommon to find children in these societies speaking a foreign language, yet they do not know their own language. Klein and Chen (2001) contented that all this is done in the name of intellectual refinement or artistic endeavors that encourage the abandonment of a rich cultural setup in favor of a foreign form of culture that indigenous people know nothing about.

Similarly, Fairlough (1992) observed that the language stands out as a major influencing factor of the cultural confrontation and indoctrination. It means that learning a second language amounts to learning a second culture. He further argued that vocabularies used in a foreign language make it difficult for the learners to decipher intended meaning. Therefore, they end up doing a direct translation and mess up the whole meaning in the process. It is said to be double edged as the blame is equally apportioned between the instruments of education in the target culture and the culture of origin the language is emanating from. On the one hand, there are poor education policies and structures in the target culture that do not encourage their children to appreciate their own culture before turning to a new culture. On the other hand, there are intentionally formulated education instruments including teachers and language that promote the culture of the place of origin while deliberately killing the culture of the society where the education instruments end up (Black, 2003).

For instance, Black (2003) argued that it is hypocritical for the formulators of foreign education materials to use excellent examples of items found in their country being aware that such things are not available in the country where the educational material finally ends up. The illustration of a language given by Arenas (2009) that frequently refers ice bergs to a desert society that views morning dew as a problem that exemplifies how the culture of that society will be eroded through such kind of education.

Arenas (2009) further argued that the issue of bridging inequality between cultural practices also undercuts the role that the education systems had played in bringing the new culture, more precisely the rise of the third culture in many societies across the world. The Western form of cultural practices gained prominence several years ago. However, in some countries such as Middle East and Africa students exposed to foreign education have almost developed a new form of culture described as the third culture with new vocabularies that are mostly a corruption of their own language and of the foreign language (Stromquist & Monkman, 2000).

The Purpose of Education in Monocracy

Due to the power of education to change the perception of people, Bex (1994) argued that education has been used by hegemonic cultures to forcefully influence the entire life of people despite the initial disguise of the originators of foreign education being the ones protecting the culture of the target group. A number of transformative changes have occurred with regard to how people in the target culture see their cultural values, practice their religion, and interact with eah other. On the overall, the whole life of people is influenced by the kind of education they get.

Furthermore, Bex (1994) observed that many people who have access to foreign education change not only their cultural values but also the way they speak and pronounce words. It is as though the foreign education takes full control of the entire life of people and start manipulating them through changing their cultural values, cultural environment, approaches to inequality, language, and vocabulary. All this is entrenched in cultural theories that have been articulated by researchers in this area to explain how people have been affected by the new form of education they get in classroom.

According to Connell (2007), proponents of foreign learning styles in a new culture aimed at instilling acculturation into a new cultural environment have a strong opinion towards the power of language to influence the final cultural outcome in a society. Connell (2007) further argued that "In the fifties and sixties, an anthropological and sociological view of language in connection with culture and society" manifested itself through language and learning theories. As such, the process of learning a new language in schools in most countries with the practiced monocracy is likened to the separation of culture and discourse and is mainly focused on influencing cultural practices of the target group (Stromquist & Monkman, 2000).

For this reason, education was introduced as a separatist view in terms of appreciation placed by the natives on their culture with some regarding the new form of culture as the one superior to their own while introducing inequality in the way different people accessed the currently famous or infamous new education. Invariably, the inequality has escalated to the gender inequality and men have been given the first priority to access foreign education as opposed to women. Festinger (1997) observed that this part was the continuation of barbaric cultural practices that many societies had perpetuated for a long time through patriarchal arrangements with women receiving second priorities in almost everything.

A number of scholars have cited a strong linkage between the language of instruction and the influence on culture. Many scholars including Gamage and Pang (2001) and Lunenburg and Ornstein (2011) support the argument that language is the main agent in cultural confrontations and argue that there can be no separation between the language and culture. Thus, teaching students new information through a new language is akin to teaching them a new form of culture which they have to consume at the expense of their culture (Stromquist & Monkman, 2000).

Consequently, the onus of teaching a new language rests on the capacity of instructional instruments to influence the culture and practice of the people. The cultural environment can either enhance or discourage the acquisition of new cultural practices. For instance, Pant (2009) observed that in the years following the Saudization of the Saudi Arabia culture, the local culture formed a firewall to the foreign culture in almost all areas and for a long time students in Saudi Arabia appreciated their religious and cultural practices prior to coming to learn any new culture (Lindner, 2008).

Lindner (2008) further observed that the level of cultural awareness in most Middle Eastern countries shows that the countries have managed to create a buffer zone that prevented the devastating influence of foreign education on their culture. It was sometimes done through the selective absorption of the kind of information coming from the Western countries. In addition, emphasis was put on learning Arabic language and mastering it well before contemplating on acquiring a foreign language (Hyde, 1994). It is unlike in many African countries where first languages are not taught in schools but instead children are introduced to the foreign language, preferably English, since the moment they step into school as toddlers.

Theories of Education and Culture

According to Grimshaw (2007), the process of learning is one of the most dynamic areas that educators and learners have to deal with on a daily basis. In every culture, educators and their students are regularly faced with the challenge of implementing new developments into the area of teaching and learning.They are urged to prepare students for the new syllabus different from what the students have used and to file and assess the performance of students in the universal language through portfolios and performance assessments. In the same manner, educators and instruments of learning are encouraged to invest into the research of teaching subjects and information that will be important in helping their students to fit the universal setup.

Therefore, it means that they are encouraged to prepare their students by enhancing cultural changes in order to suit the universal culture transmitted through language and teachers.  Grimshaw (2007) lamented that “experienced teachers often smile wryly when told to do this or that, whispering asides about another faddish pendulum swing, closing their classroom doors, quietly going about their business.” Instead, the new form of cultural assimilation even encourages the importation of not only the language of instruction but also instructors who come to teach students, their scanty knowledge of the local language, and local culture. A number of theories have therefore been advanced by professionals in the area of education and cultural confrontation to explain and quantify how the cultural setup and cultural environment can influence the kind of education that one consumes. 

As noted by Pant (2009), most learning experiences that students undergo in foreign education do not account for the cultural perspective of the native language. Inevitably, students in such an environment cannot escape the influence that education is going to have on the overall outcomes that they hold concerning their culture. The resultant organizationalstructure impedes a new form of culture that is different from the existing one at the moment the education starts. 

According to the proponents of language and culture, mastering and acquisition of the grammatical expediency and prowess in a foreign language through learning and teaching define the final outlook that a society under influence is going to have (Pant, 2009). Irrespective of the need to preserve cultural formation of the society accepting to condone a new education will definitely impart the learner with a new way of thinking, thus bringing about a cultural revolution that is difficult to avoid.

Evidently, victims of the educational influence on culture are young people who are encouraged to embrace the new education in light of the globalization wave sweeping across the world (Stromquist & Monkman, 2000). The same view is held by suchsociolinguists as Pepin (1996) who argued that the sociolinguistic competence mostly concerning the exploitation of social rules in the everyday use of language enhances the acquisition of new cultural traits through the social cultural awareness. It seems that the impact of the hegemonic approach of education cannot be avoided no matter how urgent preserving of the culture of a particular society is. As such, Ramsden (1992) noted that this part means that culture and education become integral parts that insubordinate each other.

As a result of the above mentioned approaches, several suggestions have been made with regard to making modern education qualified by incorporating some cultural practices and beliefs of the society through which new education is taught. According to Furnham (1993), many societies formulate policies and education curricula that are friendly and supportive to the local practices.

Similarly, Ryan and Louie (2007) observed that there was a need to look at the existing syllabus and transform the manner in which the student is introduced to a foreign education by ensuring that the elements of cultural practices taught through the foreign language structures conform to the local needs of the society, at the same time preparing the student to become a universal servant. As Schweisfurth & Gu (2009) observed, in teaching and learning a foreign education many teachers and instructors have always emphasized the fact that students need to acquire correct grammar for them to understand the aspects of education.

However, Schweisfurth and Gu (2009) further argued that it was not the case given that each cultural environment is different and objectives of every society for teaching a foreign education vary. It is likely that every society needs to learn correct grammar that in itself enforces the hegemony of the one culture over the other in order for them to fit the universal society. It will only undermine the efforts aimed at ensuring that cultural diversity of the human society is preserved instead of being curtailed and nipped in the bud through eroding education (Stromquist & Monkman, 2000).

Whereas it is important to have a point of meeting between culture and education, Stromquist and Monkman (2000) suggested that care should be taken to avoid a situation when educational instruments erase cultural foundations of a given society. The two argued that culture supersedes foreign education and that the real world education acquired by a student should actually reinforce the foundations of the cultural society by ensuring that students become agents of preserving the culture of their own society. It not as though one culture is superior to another and therefore every effort should be made to wipe out the cultural practice through education (Schweisfurth & Gu, 2009). The cultural indoctrination that different societies have embraced in terms of foreign education and foreign language is part of the evidence that education has the power to change things. Thus, that power can be channeled into positive transformations rather than into the current negative transformation of culture as witnessed in many societies of the world.

However, Stromquist and Monkman (2000) argued that it is already difficult to change that because foreign education is now transmitted not only through language and teachers, but also through technological media the contents of which depict the cultural prowess and superiority of the Western culture over other cultures. The Western allies have argued their role in making other parts of the world consume a new culture and abandon their own. Stevick and Levinson (2008) noted that it is not their fault because those societies have the opportunity to build their own content in the media and to encourage their population to stop consuming content from abroad and instead to consume their own content and culture.

Moreover, there are many theories concerning what is to be learned and which language should be necessarily involve, as Van Manen (1990) suggested, "promoting" the target language culture. With this progression from teaching culture to promoting culture, a language program ceases to be a culturally neutral environment since it encourages cultural-value confrontation along with the language acquisition. The difficulty of this approach is that the Western content has already dominated in the media and it will be difficult to dislodge it from the influential position it already occupies in the minds of other people (Stromquist & Monkman, 2000).  

Cultural Influences in Organization

According to Segall and Wilson (2004), understanding culture in organizations varies from one region to another. Instruments through which culture is passed down the line in organization may be the same but the interpretation attached to that culture differs. For instance, organizations use language and human resources to communicate their culture and ensure that the culture is inculcated in the daily routine concerning the functions of the organization.

Apparently, as Segall and Wilson (2004) stated that cultural practices of any organization is the summation of individual cultures that people within that organization possess. The organization management must therefore formulate policies that are capable of harnessing the individual cultural capacity in order to be able to come up with an all inclusive cultural environment that supports the work of not only the leading majority but also of the minority cultural groups in that organization. As such, Segall and Wilson (2004) argued that culture plays a role in influencing the overall functioning of the organization.

Further, Schein (2005) observed thatcultural practices in an organization ought to ambiguously stand out for new people in the environment. It means that the organization has cultural values that define the way people interact with each other in the environment. Schein (2005) further added that the organization culture is the final result that emanates from continuous negotiations over different values, systems, beliefs, and practices that come to define what the organization really stands for. As most organizations are now pooling their employees from different parts of the world, it is important to develop a unified kind of cultural practice within an organization in order to bring people from different cultural backgrounds together.  The organization, therefore, provides an environment that should foster cultural interaction instead of cultural confrontation that is evident in many institutions (Stromquist & Monkman, 2000).

Samovar, Porter and McDaniel (2011) noted that there is a direct linkage between the organizational culture and the education that the society imparts in its students. It happens because students are expected to work in different organizations. If they have acquired a biased form of cultural believes and practices, they may transfer this notion of their culture to organizations where they are going to work.

Ultimately, Samovar, Porter, and McDaniel (2011) suggested that the whole issue of the cultural orientation and acquisition in different organization is the representation of individual characteristics acquired through learning. For instance, if a student who has gone through a system with a priority to some cultural practices while undermining others goes to an organization with a different cultural environment, he or she may not be able to fit well in that organization and be therefore unable to work alongside the cultural practices of that organization (Walker & Dimmock, 2005).

Samovar, Porter and McDaniel (2011) agreed with the Stevick and Levinson’s (2008) observation by arguing that cultural influence in an organization is important in helping a student or an employee to inculcate values that are defined by that institution with regard to the way people associate with each other in terms of building relationships and respect to individual cultures.

Therefore, while the advocators of the culture-centered organization opine that its daily activities must have a cultural as well as a linguistic basis, they are aware of the dangers of the cultural approach. The difficulty of selecting cultural items representative of the target culture, the problems of contrasting cultural items between the native culture and the target one, and the possibility that foreign education does not impart enough cultural knowledge of a society or culture to select and present cultural items present challenges to the implementation of a unified cultural approach in organizations (Stevick & Levinson, 2008).  Contemporary critics of the culture-oriented organizations have elaborated on some of the ill effects of emphasizing culture sensitivity in organizations.

Carter (1999) observed that in a cultural environment “culture guides learning”. Hence, organizations should be aware that the overall outcome in their environment is a reflection of the kind of culture that the organization has set up. Through culture, organizations are able to formulate an environment that supports learning of the employees and enhances the way they operate and function through interaction. Carter (1999) further notes that the concept of culture is revealed in the way people respect and appreciate different cultures and also in the way they support minority cultural practices the contribution of which to the advancement of the organization is significant.

The overall result of acculturation and cultural confrontation in organization must therefore be geared towards supporting the tenets of the organization while appreciating the cultures of other people irrespective of their number. Brembeck and Hill (1999), however, argued that the emphasis on cultural practices in organization should be designed in such as a manner as to give equal opportunity for people to practice their cultural views without inhibition. It is a reference to the common practice when organizations may adopt language and practices that reveal a bias towards a given form of culture. Inevitably, Brembeck and Hill (1999) observe that people tend to be sensitive to the cultural outbursts that are commonly practiced in the management of organizations.

According to Montgomery (2010), the essence of having a unified cultural approach in learning is to enable people from different societies to interact through their cultures and to build a consensus on the issues that might divide them. The cultural approach to education and organization has the capacity to transform the perspectives that people might have of the culture of a different group. Therefore, Montgomery (2010) suggested that to be able to develop a positive influence of culture in education and organization, educational instruments such as books, ] language of use, and ] instructors need to conform and commit themselves to disseminating information and knowledge that enhances cultural preservation and appreciation.

There should be no culture that epitomizes cultural confrontation and indoctrination in whichever manner it may help the growth of universality and paticularism. It means that as much as culture need to be universal in its exposition, a deliberate effort should be made to preserve individual cultures and to avoid a situation when education leads to the development of the third culture that inhibits the growth or preservation of the target culture (Stromquist & Monkman, 2000). Cultural influence on the aspects of belief and practices cannot be underestimated since it has led to the extinction of some great cultural practices both in Western countries and in the third world countries where cultural confrontation has played out.

As argued by the proponents of the culture-oriented education and organization, the danger of cultural fascination is not that it will take class time that could be used to study the target language. Rather, the drawback is a cultural and not a linguistic one. Instruments of learning might misrepresent the native culture to the extent of undermining it. Therefore, Van Manen (1990) cautioned that "if the second culture is presented in such a way that false impressions arise, the alternative of 'no culture' is preferable”. It is a seemingly conflicting preference since proponents of the culture-focused education in schools claim that there is no alternative to teaching culture because of the intertwinement of culture and language.

Nonetheless, Nyland, Ramia and Sawir (2005) noted that caution should be frequently made while presenting the target culture or comparing the target culture with the native one.  The instruments of learning must consequently "avoid value judgments from without because of the danger of calling bad what is merely different, or calling good what is merely pleasing to the outside observer” (Nyland, Ramia, & Sawir, 2005). Nyland, Ramia, and Sawir (2005) contended that since foreign instruments of learning like instructors, textbooks, and language are seldom anthropological or sociological in nature, “in attempting to fit complicated cultural systems into a simplified framework ... we run the danger of imparting or reinforcing stereotypes of attitudes and behavior about the target or even the native culture.”

As a result of an increasing need to establish a non-partisan form of education across different societies in the world, Pepin (1996) observed that the actual role that the foreign education is going to play in the continuation of cultural practices needs to be overtly outlined. It will help in making choices concerning whether to embrace that kind of education with a view of encouraging both students and teachers to learn new information.

The main aim of the cultural influence through education and organization should thus be to promote the culture of the target society rather that to indoctrinate or confront the practices that are of great value to a certain group of people (Slethaug, 2007).  It can be achieved through the careful selection of the learning instruments that are specifically designed to promote cultural practices among the target population. It should also be done with the realization that such endeavors have the capacity to generate cultural shocks in other people. Therefore, they should prepare a way out if their programs fail to produce the desired results (Stromquist & Monkman, 2000).

In the analysis of the cultural influence on education and organization, I have outlined various factors that affect the level cultural influence learning can have on various societies. The paper has specifically dwelt upon the cultural values, learning styles, theories of learning, and the issue how foreign education has affected the culture. For instance, Walker and Dimmock (2005)argued that different instruments of education including the use of foreign language and teacher influence have also been analyzed. The views of different scholars who have previously discussed the issue of how education brings cultural confrontation and cultural indoctrination are discussed at length. With regard to the cultural influence of education and organization, I argued that education is a powerful tool that can transform the social, political, and economic landscape of a previously conservative society.

I also argued that the need to inculcate foreign education in societies that have been previously shielded from the influence from outside has been necessitated by the wave of globalization aided with advances in technology. The universality of education and continued shrinking of the personal space are the driving forces that make different culture across the world open up to new ideas. An important argument in this paper is that education cannot ruin cultures, but the negative impacts of education can be strategically initiated, especially when one culture wants to impose hegemony on the other. However, it should not be the case because the essence of education is to open up societies and to bring the integration of the purposes of development and prosperity. Through sharing of knowledge people from different parts of the world should be able to tackle challenges that they face and share experiences with a perspective of alleviating those challenges.

In conclusion, I have noted that cultural confrontation is an inconsequential constituent of the language study. To a certain extent, I assert that cultural influence resulting from education is not the singular concern which proponents of the acculturation offer as a way of dominating the discussions on culture and education through their argument that education with the help of a foreign language cannot be separated from culture. Contrary to what the education and the media portray, there is no culture that is superior to the other. As such, cultural confrontation that is typical of foreign education in terms of students should not dominate the concerns of the education policy makers, but rather concentrate on ways of improving their culture through education. I have suggested that the culture-oriented education should be taught to students through foreign languages that do not undermine the culture of students as inferior to the culture of the origin as it will lead to what can be described as the cultural shock, disparagement of local culture, or the emergence of a personal third culture that is the amalgam of the local culture and the culture of the country wherever the education comes from.

Order now

Related essays