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Examining Cross-cultural Observations

This modelling the tools is incorporated into critical challenges at grade 10, however, it can be adapted for use at all grade levels.



Anticipate students' receptivity.

This challenge addresses three pairs of opposing concepts, each of which reveals a lack of cultural sensitivity of one form or another:

  • value judgements about other cultures may be based on "cultural superiority," i.e., using our "superior" standards to judge other cultures—whatever we do is always better, or "cultural relativism"; i.e., believing that no culture's practices are better or worse that another culture's practices—whatever any culture does is acceptable
  • interpretations of other cultures that may be rooted in "ethnocentrism," i.e., inappropriately applying our concepts and beliefs to explain another group's practices, or "radical uniqueness"; i.e., the impossibility of explaining another culture because no one other than those in the culture can understand anything about its practices
  • generalizations about other cultures that may be rooted in "stereotypes," i.e., the oversimplification or exaggeration of the practices of a group, and "radical individualism"; i.e., the impossibility of generalizing about a culture because each person or event is so individualistic.

To meet diverse learning needs, you may want to address one, or perhaps two, of these conceptual pairings. Alternatively, rather than presenting all three pairs in one session as we have described, you may prefer to take students through the challenge using one set of concepts and later ask them to revisit the same documents a second and third time after introducing each of the other pairs of concepts. Because of the complexity of these concepts, we propose a four-step process:

  1. analyze a document individually
  2. analyze a document in a group
  3. peer-critique other students' analyses of a document
  4. analyze yet another document.

You may wish to eliminate one or more of these steps.

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Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
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