Culture & Cultural Issues
fabola A visit to the magical 142 Throckmorton Theatre, one of the beacons of culture in Mill Valley, CA. While I was auditioning for a part in their Snow White play, I took a few more quick pictures of this creative center, which aims to unite our community through the transformative power of the arts. This historical venue opened in 1915 as the Hub Theater, showing silent movies and vaudeville -- and was an Odd Fellows Lodge in the 1950?s. Artistic director Lucy Mercer gave it new life as a vibrant home for local art, comedy, drama, music and community. It is based on the belief that the arts are essential components of a rich and rewarding life, and are an indispensable part of human inspiration and education. We host a celebration of community action at the Throckmorton in November 2017, on the one-year anniversary of the Mill Valley Community Action Network (MVCAN), our grassroots political action group. We will feature an evening of art, music and storytelling, and honor people who found their voice and took political action this year. We hope hosting this event in this inspiring setting can energize our community as we prepare for 2018, and engage more of our neighbors to keep democracy alive! Learn more about the Throckmorton Theatre: throckmortontheatre.org/ See more photos about the Throckmorton Theatre: www.flickr.com/photos/fabola/sets/72157688983259855 Learn more about our MVCAN anniversary: www.mvcan.org/anniversary See more photos about our MVCAN anniversary: www.flickr.com/photos/fabola/albums/72157686122049373 Learn more about MVCAN: www.mvcan.org/ #art #millvalley #mvcan #theater #throckmorton
Culture affects who we are, how we think, how we behave, and how we respond to our environment. Culture can be described as the patterns of “thinking, feeling, and potential acting” that all people carry within themselves. The source of these patterns lies in the social environments in which people grew up (Dunn & Marinetti, 2004).
Cultural patterns affect our the nature of our experience and how we learn. In the context of outdoor education, culture has many possible points of relevance, including:
One area of cultural research is with regard to personal and cultural identity and how this influences outdoor education experiences.
For instance, Purdie, Neill & Richards (2002) found that students who rated themselves as being "less Australian" also tended to report lower personal development gains from a government-conducted outdoor education program. This at least indicates a need for further work in understanding how culture and cultural identity interacts with outdoor education experiences.
Purdie and Neill (1999) also reported on difficulties experienced by Japanese students in an Australian-based outdoor education program (e.g., reluctance around activities such as swimming in a river and dressing and undressing near fellow students in a coeducational setting). Such observations are consistent with broad cultural and psychological research which suggests that cultural and personal identities are a powerful filter through which individual experiences are interpreted.
One of possible reasons for the nil or negative effects of outdoor education programs is culture shock. Students who feel least connected with the culture promoted within outdoor education programs are at risk of experiencing culture shock, which results from loss of contact with familiar culture and the stress of trying to handle new cultural demands.
In many ways, entering an outdoor program is like entering another country where environmental and cultural differences require adaptation of a participant’s behavioral norms and expectations. The circumstances of a novel outdoor community require participants to adapt to the new environment, establish new relationships, and redefine themselves within a new context. Adaptation may be easy for participants who are familiar with outdoor settings or have had similar experiences, but for those who have had little exposure to the outdoors the process can create many personal and interpersonal difficulties. (Fabrizio & Neill, 2005)
Fabrizio and Neill (2005) have proposed similarities between the stages of cultural shock and the cultural adaptation that takes place during outdoor education programs:
Models of cultural adaptation provide a useful framework for outdoor education program design for all students, and particularly for those who could benefit from extra support to move and learn through the crisis (culture-shock) of living in new worlds. Essentially, the issues can be addressed in three phases:
Ultimately, successful adaptation in an outdoor program can lead to valuable learning of acculturation skills and cross-cultural competence. Greater understanding of self and an ability to adjust and adapt to new situations are beneficial to learners and transferable to many areas of everyday life.
Although these speculations and pieces of research can be cited, the reality is that it is still early days in developing a mature understanding of culture, culture issues and the phenomenon of outdoor education. Much remains.
Given the acceleration of changing demographics in the United States and internationally…comparative studies involving classifications of people from a variety of backgrounds and countries will become more vital when developing research designs in the future. Studies in culture and ethnicity, for example, have surfaced more substantially than ever before. Nonetheless, these topics continue to lag far behind other areas of inquiry. In a race- and class-based global society, our social science discourse must do a better job of reaching across cultures and different class structures in a shared human experience rooted in mutual respect and empowerment. The more knowledge we gain – “for the good of all” – will only advance experience education well beyond the usual rhetoric regarding the so-called enlightened virtues of research.
Bacon, S. B. (1988). The effects of racially homogeneous and heterogeneous Outward Bound groups on the self-report survey scores and drop out rates of minority students. Greenwich, CT: Outward Bound USA.
Dunn, P., & Marinetti, A. (2004). Cultural adaptation: Necessity for eLearning. Learning in the New Economy e-Magazine (LiNE Zine).
Fabrizio, S., & Neill, J. T. (2005). Cultural adaptation in outdoor programming. Australian Journal of Outdoor Education,9(2), 44-56.
Gray, M. S. & Roberts, N. S. (2003). Culture, competency and risk management: Where will the three meet? Camping Magazine, 76(6), 50-53.
Johnson, C. Y., Bowker, J. M., & Cordell, K. (2001).Outdoor recreation constraints: An examination of race, gender, and rural dwelling. Southern Rural Sociology, 17, 111-133.
Loynes, C. (1998). Adventure in a bun. Journal of Experiential Education 21(1), 35–39. [ERIC abstract]
Neill, J. T. (2001). A profile of outdoor education programs and their implementation in Australia. Japanese Outdoor Education Journal, 5(2), 1-9.
Purdie, N., & Neill, J. T. (1999). Japanese students down-under: Is Australian outdoor education relevant to other cultures? Australian Journal of Outdoor Education, 4(1), 48-57.
Purdie, N., Neill, J. T., & Richards, G. E. (2002). Australian identity and the effects of an outdoor education program. Australian Journal of Psychology, 54(1).
Roberts, N. S. (2003). Teaching about diversity issues in natural resources and outdoor recreation courses: Challenges and complexities. In W. Timpson, S. Canetto, E. Borrayo, & R. Yang (Eds.), Teaching Diversity: Challenges and Complexities, Identities, and Integrity (pp. 227-246). Madison, WI: Atwood Publishing.
Roberts, N. S. (Ed.) (1996). NAALA in experiential education: Beyond participation, (Special Theme Issue on Ethnicity and Culture). Journal of Experiential Education.
Roberts, N. S. & Drogin, E. B. (1993). The outdoor recreation experience: Factors affecting participation of African American women. Journal of Experiential Education, 16(1), 14-18.
Roberts, N., & Rodriguez, D. A. (1996). Multicultural issues in outdoor education. ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools Digests.
Rodriguez, D. A. & Roberts, N. S. (2005). Understanding the influence of gender and ethnicity on evaluations of outdoor leader effectiveness. World Leisure Journal, 47(1), 32-44.
Seaman, J. (2005). Adventure as cultural borderwork. Journal of Experiential Education, 27, 300-304.
Washington, S. J. & Roberts, N. S. (1999). Adventure education for teaching cross-cultural competencies. In S. Priest & J. Miles (Eds), Adventure Education (2nd edition), State College, PA: Venture.