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Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.129
Experiencing Culture: Teaching Anthropology to Young Children
In the past, the study of cultural anthropology claimed that in order to gain a cultural perspective one needs to acquire the ability to “stand outside oneself, to maintain a non-judgmental attitude, to empathize with people of alien cultures and to appreciate fully that their actions and beliefs made perfect sense from their point of view”. In other words, they were contradicting ethnocentrism and promoting the notion of cultural relativity in its purist form. Although today, the concept of cultural relativism has been challenged and reassessed, especially among human rights activists for being over simplistic and perhaps even naïve, it nevertheless provides a valuable starting point for teaching cultural diversity within the elementary school setting. By learning the cultural patterns of others, students come to realize that their own cultural behavior is part of a bigger picture and that their own Israeli/western values, beliefs and world view do not monopolize on what is good and bad or right and wrong. This paper discusses twenty-nine years of experience in applying this relativistic approach to teaching anthropology to young children, providing insights as to what can be taught, what can be learned and how the anthropological approach can be used to innovate changes in cross cultural relations both within the school system and beyond.