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Why is studying culture and society worthwhile?
Across different cultures worldwide, the role of a teacher is generally considered to have same responsibilities and tasks to perform like following a fixed curriculum. Teachers engage in the knowledge-transfer process, evaluating the performance of students and judging success of students by assigning grades. In most cases, teachers are bound by a fixed curriculum to follow. In such cases, teachers are not encouraged to do anything more than simply teaching, which remains limited to sharing of own knowledge on the subject. To a large extent, teachers are offered a flexibility in selecting their own method of teaching to achieve better outcome. Gobby and Walker (2017) argued that in the modern schooling systems, role of a teacher is not just limited to educating the students enrolled in the classroom rather their role demands far more than that. Teachers are the tone-setters in a classroom, develop an environment to make students feel comfortable, mentor the students, understand their needs and provide necessary support on a personal level.
In a conventional structure of a classroom, it is rarely expected from a teacher to make efforts to become aware of identify the culture, family background, financial status, and perspective on things of the students. According to Thomson (2002), a teacher can achieve more performance and engagement out of the classroom environment by engaging in the practice of becoming actively familiar with the cultural and social background of the students, as a way of understanding the perspectives that students follow. This approach is supported by the theoretical perspective of post-structuralism theory, which provides a new way of looking at the role of a teacher. According to this theory, different people can have different opinions and outlooks on a single event based on their vantage point and perspective (Gobby & Walker, 2017, pp. 86-117). For every individual, reality and experience of reality get shaped by the perspective followed by the individual, combined with observations and level of engagement. Perspective is a subjective thing for all individual, and the internal factors contributing to formation of perspective include filters like language, cultural beliefs, knowledge gained, financial status, social bonding, etc. Understanding the ways students are looking at a problem requires a teacher to understand the viewpoints and perspectives of the students, which is only possible by knowing about the students more on aspects like cultural background, financial conditions, upbringing of the students (Strong-Wilson & Ellis, 2007). For example- a teacher trying to explain the benefits and needs of gender-based income equality is likely to feel familiar and engaging to a student raised by a working single-mother compared to a different student who is rich. Due to all of these reasons, a teacher should not simply conduct teaching operations under the assumption that students share their perspective or viewpoint on the problems.
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