Adapting education and learning experience to accommodate personal differences is one of the prominent topics in today’s pedagogy. In this blog, by using an example from color and language research I try to emphasize to what extent our cultural background can influence our vision and ultimately understanding of different phenomenon. Specially in the United States with its culturally diverse population, it is important to notice how language impact one’s perception of the world.
Cultural groups throughout the world talk about color differently—some don’t even have a word for color. The question is whether color perception a universal human experience or not? According to sapiens website
The debate sits at the center of an ongoing war in the world of color research. On the one side stand “universalists,” including the authors of TheWorld Color Survey and their colleagues, who believe in a conformity of human perceptual experience: that all people see and name colors in a somewhat consistent way. On the other side are “relativists,” who believe in a spectrum of experience and who are often offended by the very notion that a Westerner’s sense of color might be imposed on the interpretation of other cultures and languages.
In light of the fact that the Candoshi trip in Peru do not even have a word for the concept of “color,” Surrallés concludes that they are probably not using the words in reference to color at all but rather comparing one object to another more holistically. People’s notions of color are not the only perceptions that can be shaped by culture. According to some cross-cultural studies by Carlos Crivelli, interpretations of emotion as expressed in human faces can also be culturally influenced. The point is, if it is not only our genes and biological characteristics that shape our perceptions, knowing the influencing elements and adapting our teaching/learning methods according to those is a critical step towards a more inclusive pedagogic system.