Reflective Essay - Cultural Dissonance - Assessment Answer

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reflective essay

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Cultural dissonance is a term commonly used to describe the presence of discomfort, disharmony, discord that is usually arising when cultures are facing differences or inconsistencies (Heine & Lehman, 1997). In most cases we are always aware that there is no common or universal cultural ethics. That is because cultures are different and what is right in one culture is not necessarily right or the same for the other cultures. That perceived differences from one culture and the other is what creates cultural dissonance. The changes that occur are sometimes unexpected and not understood because of the various cultural dynamics. In my opinion cultural dissonance arises when one culture believes in a certain norm or value and yet another community perceives the norm or the ethic or value as wrong. Such cultural clashes normally arises from different backgrounds like identity, religion, speech, fashion, entertainment amongst many others. Cultural psychologists argue that cultural dissonance may affect the education system especially children that are vulnerable. Such children end up developing negative effect on academic achievements and hence hindering their personal academic development (Black, 2006).

While attending my studies at the university I also experienced cultural dissonance. That is because universities draw a wider range of student coming from all over the world. The cultural difference across the countries is stronger and irritating compared to cross cultural dissonance amongst people of the same country. Considering that I was a foreign student I experienced a lot of challenges. In most cases I was not feeling safe. That is because I was always surrounded by people of difference race and color that I was used to. The cultural dissonance came in because I was not feeling and could not develop a sense of belonging. People that share the same cultural practices tend to develop a sense of belonging and in most cases they appreciate themselves. I also experienced a lot of dissonance when I went to the cafeteria. The food served within the cafeteria favored the locals. I had very difficult time adjusting to the menu. In fact, in most cases I would only take beverages as the meat and the rest of the meals offered within the cafeterias were either tasting bad or smelling bad for my case. Cultural dissonance in this case arose because different cultures have their own cultural and preferred foodstuffs. In this case, I missed the foodstuff that I was used to. I could not locate them on the menu. I wished I could find them and at that point I would not care about the price. The most difficult part that also gave me trouble is my roommate. My roommate was Asian born and therefore had a strong tendency of religious practices. My roommate was a Muslim. I am not Muslim so we did not share the religious background. That already created a big difference in terms of our faith and believes. I did not like the perfumes they used. I disliked their stories and also their company. The stories they also made were so boring to me and so was also their mode of dressing. All these created a lot of cultural dissonance that I felt like withdrawing from the institution. Cultural psychologists argue that cultural dissonance may can provoke the tendency resulting to ethnocentrism or abandon the inherent culture and switch to the values and cultures supported by the school (Banks, 2006).

According to a research conducted by (Henfield & Washington, 2012) to investigate professional differences in terms of race, ethnicity, linguistic and cultural difference it was concluded that as much as teachers pretend to be color blind they fail to address some of the deep rooted biases that affects learners who are not members of the European and American dominant cultures. During my era of study I was able to witness the same in class. Most of the tutors especially the white tutors ignored home cultures of the students within the classroom something that created a lot of discomfort. I believe that if the tutors had vast knowledge about home cultures of their students then that would transform to academic excellence within the classroom. The ability of the tutors to also engage students who are not natives into instructional strategies that are non-dominant and engaging would also help in improving performance of the students in a classroom. I also tend to believe that such cultural dissonance impacts heavily on the type of jobs and careers that students have in the future. White tutors seemed to be so comfortable in sharing and engaging with fellow white students giving them more room for consultation and consequent success. In addition, the fact that we were foreign students also limited our success. The sense of belonging was not there as the tutors felt closer to the locals than to the foreign students. With that in mind it is evident that local students would flourish academically and end up graduating in elite courses compared to students of different origin and cultural background. I think it is wrong for teachers who have not been trained on cultural psychology to be allowed to determine normal behavior within the classroom based on the beliefs and norms of dominant culture in the classroom (Brown-Jeffy, 2011). That is because such teachers normally fail to identify the home cultural behavior of all the students and that results to a lot of stigmatization and in most cases leads to withdrawal symptoms of most foreign students. In broader terms we can refer to this as racial segregation which is still very dominant with the US classrooms.

In conclusion, cultural dissonance arises because of different cultural dynamics that may not be understood or may not be expected. It can also be concluded that cultural dissonance is here with us and it is inevitable in some cases. However, for the sake of proper educational and classroom environment it is necessary that tutors be informed on the proper ways of addressing home cultures of the students within the classroom before coming up with dominant and standard classroom culture. That will help in reducing cases of cultural dissonance within the educational sphere and educational segregation.

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