Teachers From Five Nations Share Perspectives on Culture and Citizenship

Summer, 2010

Source: Action in Teacher Education v. 32 no. 2 (Summer 2010) p. 42-55.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study examined the perspectives of preK-12 teachers from five nations regarding the concepts of culture and citizenship and the intersections of those concepts.

In this study, the authors asked two key questions:
How might opportunities for online discussion assist teachers in defining the evolving concepts of culture and citizenship?
and What implications for social studies curriculum and instruction result from these concepts' 21st-century definitions?

The authors gathered data on the perspectives expressed in online discussions among 125 in-service teachers enrolled in master's degree programs in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and the United States.


The rich and diverse perspectives that teachers voiced throughout the discussions indicated that they recognized themselves as educational purveyors influential in shifting and maintaining conceptions of culture and citizenship. These teachers considered skin color, national pride, citizenship status, familial habits, cultural etiquette, and religion as influential cultural markers in the community, forming complex layers in its politics, education, and social levels.

The teachers then focused on the changes in culture that citizens are experiencing in this century, concluding that the dynamic effects of such changes are strongly influencing citizenship roles.
These teachers agreed that global communications and economics influence cultural communities and affect the definition of 2 1st-century core values within a culture, thereby affecting how it views citizenship. Because developing countries continue to adapt the cultural values they perceive in developed nations, teachers voiced concern that economic drive will particularly affect citizenship, furthering gaps found in political status, educational status, and social justice.

Furthermore,. teachers began deconstructing confounding views of culture and citizenship through discussions in a group forum. From the deconstruction, the authors recognize a transformation that speaks to the discontinuity of social justice.

The discussions by these teachers support the notion that politics, education, and societal equality have strong influence. The consensus among the teachers in Ecuador, Paraguay, and Brazil was that their societies had more entrenched views in regard to the superior position of wealthy citizens and those who had lighter skin color and physical features that were characterized as European rather than as indigenous.
Many teachers from these three countries had visited in the United States and perceived the society as being more egalitarian and less concerned with a specific right culture.

Discussion from the 125 diverse classroom teachers from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and the United States reminds us that we should neither overemphasize differences nor presume that other cultures share identical ways of knowing, being, and valuing (Banks, (1995 . Intersections between the behaviors of citizens and the differing cultural backgrounds were evident, dynamic, and challenging.


This study found that the teachers participating in the online discussions of questions focusing on culture and citizenship viewed those concepts as evolving in this early part of the 21st century. Citizens' roles are framed by the culture in which they live. As that culture transforms, those roles will transform to fit the perspectives of the society. Transformative teaching and curriculum are necessary to address evolving concepts.

Banks, J. A. (2004). Democratic citizenship education in multicultural societies. In J. A. Banks )Ed.), Diversity and Citizenship Education (pp. 3-15). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Updated: Jan. 10, 2012