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Culture is an important aspect in the society that needs to be inculcated in students. It defines where people come from and who they are. There are numerous cultures in the world today and learning all of them is an uphill task. Students have in various occasions tried to express their culture through food, clothing and literature (Garner, 2010).  All this is done in a bid to have something that can be identified with particular cultures that students belong to. Whereas there are many ways that students can express their culture food, literature and clothing are considered to be among the major ways that students in learning institutions can use to express their cultural backgrounds. The importance for this is because students come from diverse cultures and with the emergence of international schools through globalization, students may see the need to be identified with their cultures. Students express their cultures as a means of communicating to the rest what their cultures are composed of and this form of communication can either be verbal or non-verbal.


The complexity of communicating about cultures has brought the need to express the same through other avenues such as food, literature, and clothing. It is also quite crucial for teachers to understand the various ways that students can express their cultures and decide which ways to allow them to express their culture without affecting their studies. The question that needs to be understood is; should children be permitted to express their culture through food, literature and clothes they wear? If so, how can they express their cultures this way?

Literature Review

Over the years there has been growing need for students in various institutions to identify with their cultures as a way of reminding themselves about their backgrounds. One way that teachers have allowed students to express their cultures is through food. Many cultures across the globe have particular foods that they identify with. For instance Asian communities may identify with curries, Chinese and Japanese may identify with pastas eaten using chopsticks, and Americans may identify themselves with fries while communities that come from coastal regions may associate their cultures with seafood (Garner, 2010).   

Permitting students to express their culture through food does not necessarily imply letting students eat the foods that are only associated with their cultures but showcasing their foods to the others who come from different communities (Kittler & Sucher, 2007). One way that teachers can allow students to express their cultures through food is by organizing food competitions that have cultural themes. For students to participate in such competitions, they can either do so individually or collectively. The purpose of the competition would be to foster and promote culture by re-interpreting customs that are linked with food.

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It would be important for teachers to note the various cultural backgrounds that their students come from so as to ensure that all the cultures are represented in the competitions. Teachers may also decide to encourage their students to have cultural food exhibitions. This may entail having the students showcase foods from various cultures in a certain day and inviting the public to the occasion. Such exhibition may not have a specific cultural theme since all the cultures that the students in a particular institution come from would be represented.

Students should be permitted to express their cultures to avert the culture shock that they experience as a result of being in a new environment that has different culture from the one they are used to (Carducci, 2009).   Culture shock in most cases leads to confusion and misunderstanding as students re not sure whether to entirely follow the new culture or to keep reminding themselves of their original cultures. Culture acts as a bond among people who belong to a particular community and it should therefore be instilled in students as it brings peace, cohesion and a sense of belonging. By expressing their own cultures, students feel connected to their cultural backgrounds and makes education to be seen as a tool for promoting cultural values instead of destroying them.

It is quite natural to face difficulties in adjusting to new cultures. In a learning institution students may have been brought up with differing values and beliefs that are all dictated by their cultural backgrounds. Due to these differences, it is significant for students to have various ways that they can express their cultures. Culture encompasses the environment that one lives in and includes dressing, language and literature. All these may influence the way one looks or behaves in a community. Students may experience unfamiliar clothes and food in the learning institutions that they join and hence making it paramount for the students to be permitted to express their cultures to prevent them from being faced off.

A study done by some anthropologists revealed that students can express their culture by the way they dress (Delaney, 2010). Many communities have clothes that are unique to their culture as well as fashion icons. Cultural dressings involve creativity in design that expresses unique forms of different cultures that students come from. If one come from an African country a dress that is designed to represent a particular culture may be used. This therefore means that a student is able to stand out from the crowd and be identified with his culture.

A more comprehensive study was done in the University of Cape Town to establish the impact of permitting students to express their cultures through food, literature and clothing and how this can be done effectively.

Scope of the Study

The study was done in the University of Cape Town with a sampling number of twenty students who were selected from diverse cultural backgrounds. The students used in the study also belonged in the age group of 16 -50 years.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to establish whether it was necessary for the teachers to permit their students to use food, clothes and literature to express their cultures. In addition the study was also to identify how effective was this in expressing students' cultures.

The method used for data collection in this study was through observation, questionnaires and face to face interview of the respondents. Ten questionnaires were distributed to ten students, face to face interview was done to five of the students while the remaining five were observed and the results recorded. The questions were similar in the questionnaires and face to face interviews. The same questions were also used in the observations.

Results and Findings

Out of the twenty students interviewed, 90% of them said that teachers should permit them to use clothes, literature and food to express their culture. 60% of the students thought that food was the least effective way of expressing one's culture while 70% of the students said that clothes were the most effective. All the respondents responded that the all the three ways of expressing culture were effective in one way or another.

In order to implement the findings of this research, a detailed action plan would be required to assist teachers in effecting the findings. First, the teachers need to understand the different cultural backgrounds that their students come from. This will help in ensuring that there are diverse cultures among the students before deciding how to permit the students to express their cultures. There should be regulations on the extent at which food, literature, and clothing should be used to express culture in students. If food is to be used to express culture, then all the cultures including the minority ones should be represented in the food themes to avoid discrimination. Clothes should be used to express culture if various cultures have specific clothes they associate with their culture. When literature is to be used for expressing culture, the teachers should be ready to guide the students to ensure that the required cultural values are instilled in literary events such as plays and drama.

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