The Importance of Technology for Making Cultural Values Visible

Xiaodong Lin, Charles K. Kinzer
2003 Theory into Practice  
This article explores the potential for using technological tools to foster teacher understanding of cultural diversity and promote teacher reflection. The authors review several studies in which different technologies were used in ways that allowed implicit teacher and student beliefs to become more explicit and thereby easier to reflect on. These studies were conducted inside and outside of the United States; the uses of technology for reflection are drawn across multiple cultures
more » ... ly. Three types of technologies are examined in more detail: technological artifacts (such as a software program), multimedia cases, and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). The authors conclude by examining the implications of the use of these technologies for teacher reflection and belief change. Those implications are also extended into suggestions for changes in preservice teacher education. W E CAN NO MORE ESCAPE the influences of our culture than can a fish live out of water. This article argues for the importance of understanding cultural values in both oneself and others, and highlights the special need for teachers to understand that cultural values can be made explicit in classrooms to enhance learning. Specifically, the purpose of this article is to (a) explore ways that technologies can help teachers obtain information and reflect on their own and their students' cultural values and beliefs, and (b) explore possibilities for highlighting cultural values in preservice education programs through technology. We begin by providing examples of the relationship between language and culture to show how miscommunication in classrooms and learning difficulties can occur through cultural mismatches. We then link technology to the study of culture and learning. This leads to implications for teachers and others who have an interest in understanding how technology can be used to make explicit cultural assumptions in classrooms so that teachers can create more culturally responsive learning environments. Cultural Knowledge Cultural knowledge-the implicit values and behaviors that form accepted practices within a cultural group-is acquired through lived experience and influences all aspects of our lives. While we can understand and empathize with others who have different cultural backgrounds, our own culture is unique to ourselves even while being shared with members from within the cultural group to which one belongs. 2 In this way, shared expectations and communication can occur within cultural
doi:10.1353/tip.2003.0033 fatcat:eaedsapht5badk2szsorngfmti