Viewed against the background of Nazi Germany and some of the other horrors of the twentieth century, Plato's suggestion that an individual is unlikely to maintain his or her value- commitments and moral givens in the face of a surrounding culture that represents and rewards different values rings all-too-true; and it may threaten to engulf us in pessimism concerning the human future. For this reason, it is important to note that Plato's perspective is not as pessimistic as one might think at first. Note, first, that along with its darker implications Plato's insight concerning the power of culture to shape our outlook and conduct also carries the more comforting implication that if the culture surrounding us embodies and rewards conformity to desirable social norms, it will tend to call forth conduct in the individual that is coherent with these norms; it can lead us to behave much better than we otherwise would, stilling or in any case muting less desirable impulses that might, in the absence of the culture's pull, lead us to reprehensible conduct.
Evolutionary anthropology remerged in the twentieth century, as early as the 1930s but more influentially later in the century, and it continues today. Unlike its Victorian variant, evolutionary thought now emphasizes multi-causality, the interaction of multiple events to account for the development of societies, as well as the presence of multiple paths in the development of particular cultures. In both of these regards, Tylor’s central concepts of the uniform primitive mind, the single evolutionary path through three stages, and the universality of one human culture remain decidedly Victorian in their outlook, telling us more about the nineteenth century and its own culture, than they do about contemporary anthropological thought.
Peter Melville Logan, “On Culture: Edward B
I am indebted to Francis Schrag and Amy Shuffelton for calling my attention, in an earlier draft, to the fact that American culture is more plural than my account suggested; and this paragraph is intended to call the reader's attention to this point. While this is an important point to consider, I want to suggest that within the diversity of cultural influences a human being encounters in American society, there may nonetheless be certain voices representing particular values that speak very loud across these differences. To this extent, it would not be the case that the presence of multiple cultural voices in American society would operate to increase the strength of the school-culture.
How the Illuminati Influence the World - World …
Is not the same principle true of the mind, Adeimantus: if their early training is bad, the most gifted turn out the worst...Or do you hold the popular belief that, here and there, certain young men are demoralized by the instructions of some individual sophist? Does that sort of influence amount to much? Is not the public itself the greatest of all sophists, training up young and old, men and women alike, into the most accomplished specimens of the character it desires to produce?
National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies: …
To my way of thinking, there may -- and I use the word "may" deliberately to signify something short of full confidence -- be a way out of this dilemma. This way out is grounded in the insight that schools and families are not just vehicles of "direct instruction", but are themselves cultures. That is, they are social institutions in which are embedded a rich array of norms, customs, and ways of thinking. While it may true that schools, thought of as vehicles of direct instruction, are not in a position to compete with the beliefs and values that suffuse the larger culture, it may be that the culture of the school, if organized around a moral vision that improves on what is available in the larger culture, would prove a worthy competitor.
Social studies programs should include experiences that …
This distinction between schools as vehicles of direct instruction and schools as cultures and the suggestion that the power of schools as educating institutions lies largely in their influence as cultures are forcefully articulated by John Dewey in his classic book . Commenting on the desirability of bringing about a culture in which work is so organized that 1) a better fit obtains between aptitudes and interests, on the one hand, and occupational role, on the other, and 2) workers experience work as an arena in which to grow and to contribute to the life of the community, Dewey turns to education as the path towards this ideal. But in doing so, he explicitly disavows the suggestion that education can accomplish this mission via direct instruction. He writes: