Knowing What I Know Now
In a general sense, I have to admit that the course enabled me to clarify my own understanding of the concept of critical thinking and make it more concrete and operable.
Basically, I reckon that critical thinking appears to be a specific mode of thinking which implies the constant dissection of various biases and stereotypes which might invisibly dictate the person’s judgments and behavior. In fact, there are a lot of different statements about the world that seem to be merely taken for granted. However, in no way all these statements are universally correct. Thereby, the considerable utility of critical thinking lies in the fact that the person who practices it obtains the capability to thoroughly evaluate the statements that people unconditionally tend to rely on in their everyday life. In this way, the person might detect the statements which misrepresent the factual state of affairs and just refrain from elaborating them in the future so as to make own vision of the people and the world more adequate and justified.
Seemingly, such an understanding of critical thinking might allow me to develop more sophisticated judgments regarding numerous issues. More specifically, I guess that the people within my culture share not only the same values and beliefs which let them make certain sense out of the surrounding world but also the same biases and prejudices which might have no substantial factual underpinning. In this respect, I hold an especially suspicious attitude towards different statements which are claimed to express the common sense knowledge since some of those statements might appear to be just mere biases that evolved historically but do not reflect the actual state of affairs. Critical thinking allows me to assess any conventional truth which is unconditionally accepted by the people within my culture and explore whether it is justified well enough to be relied on. Such approach exposes itself even more clearly in regard to the people from other cultures due to the fact that it is precisely the skill of critical thinking that might allow me to genuinely understand the person from the culture which is entirely different from my own one. Unless I maintain critical thinking in order to conceive the different cultural perspectives, the statements of the person from other culture will seem defective to me and the communication will probably fail. In this context, I would try to make my own children understand the fact that there are different cultures and different visions of the world, and none of them can actually be regarded as the universally true one while the others are wrong. Respectively, I would try to relieve my children from the cultural insensivity since I believe that the cultural insensivity is actually a matter of ignorance, and those people who demonstrate it just do not have their critical thinking developed enough so as to understand that their vision of the world might not be the only one possible and representative.
Cross Cultural Research
One possible area of research might be the examination of the hypothesis which states that the cultural framework actually exerts a decisive impact on people’s attitude towards entrepreneurship. In terms of existing distinction between the individualist and the collectivist cultures, it might be supposed that the people who have been raised within the collectivist culture are less likely to engage in entrepreneurial activity since their core belief in the supreme value of the group would repel them from such generally individualistic activity as the private entrepreneurship. Basically, the examination of such hypothesis is likely to lead to the most eloquent results if it is focused on the cultures which might be regarded as the extreme points on the individualist-collectivist cultural continuum; good examples would be the culture of the U.S. as the individualist one and the culture of China as the collectivist one. Such research is to be conducted with the use of qualitative methods. More specifically, a set of interviews with successful American and Chinese private entrepreneurs might be conducted so as to identify their core values and beliefs as well as the extent to which they seem to differ from those values and beliefs which were imposed on those people during their socialization. Such research might contribute to understanding the way the culture shapes the range of the future activities for the young person and the way that cultural imposition might be transcended in the mature age. Even though the problem might be that some respondents would be unable to fairly assess the difference between their current beliefs and the beliefs which are typical for their culture, such research is still likely to produce the value and, possibly, unconventional results.
Another area of research might be related to the examination of the hypothesis which states that the members of the cultural minorities tend to be more ethnocentric than the members of the cultural group which is regarded as the dominant one within the borders of the particular state. Such research should refer to the state which embraces at least two groups with distinct cultures (for example, the French and the minority group of Arab immigrants in France), which have their relations politicized on the state level. It might be curious to discover whether the minority group tends to demonstrate more ethnocentric attitude as the defensive reaction to the pressure from the side of the dominant culture. Such research might be conducted on the basis of the quantitative survey which would reveal whether the percentage of the people with ethnocentric attitudes in the minority group is actually bigger than the corresponding percentage of the people from the dominant cultural group. In this way, some progressive insights into the factual outcomes of the modern multicultural policies might be developed. Even though the results of the surveys of such kind usually contain a certain statistical error, such research still might be sufficiently useful for the identification of the general tendencies related to the factual formation of ethnocentric attitudes.
That Was Then, This Is Now
Basically, I used to consider culture to be a set of common rules which are typical in the particular society. Such understanding of culture implies that there are certain rules of accepted behaviour in each society, and those rules are continuously transferred from the parents to their children so as to let them integrate into the society in a complete manner. However various those rules might be, they appear to exert primarily restrictive impact on the person since their acceptance results in the factual contraction of the scope of possible actions that might be taken by the person within the current social context. Nevertheless, those rules also assure the sufficient consolidation of the society on the basis of the fact that all its members are aware of those rules and try to follow them at all times. In this respect, the culture is understood as some normative framework in which all the members of the particular society are necessarily embedded.
Ultimately, I realized that the concept of culture cannot be narrowed to the mere rules which are expected to be followed by each member of the society. As a matter of fact, culture appears to be the comprehensive matrix of values, beliefs, and attitudes towards the world which are being shared by all people from that culture regardless of their realization of that fact. Culture constantly produces the meanings which allow the person to make sense of own life and the surrounding world, and those meanings are consolidated around some core principles which can be considered to be fundamental for that particular culture. In this respect, culture exerts an immense impact on the person; basically, it defines the way the person perceives the world, and that impact manifests itself in the basic patterns of the behaviour which the person learns during the socialization and then tends to elaborate in the various spheres of his or her life.
Where I Stand
As far as it regards my relation to the core cross-cultural dichotomies, I can share the following observations. Firstly, I am nontraditional rather than traditional since the substantial part of the traditional views and judgments does not seem appropriate for me and I prefer to explore some unconventional answers to the questions that arise. Secondly, I can state that I am more individualist than collectivist since I have certain personal values and goals which are my supreme priorities for life, and they are not likely to be dominated by any collective values. Thirdly, I am definitely more relativistic than ethnocentric because I understand that there are different cultures and my own culture is not to be considered as the most correct and virtuous one in comparison with others. Finally, I seem to be relativist rather than universalist since I do not share an opinion that the absolute truth exists.
Generally, it needs to be highlighted that none of the aforementioned insights seemed to actualize until the beginning of the course. Specifically, it is the continuous introduction of suggested texts that allowed me to assemble some coherent vision of the complex relationship between myself, my culture, and other cultures, and the establishment of such vision might be regarded as the most essential effect of the course on the whole.
I Know I’ve Been Changed
Since the beginning of the course, I have understood that the relationship between the person and the culture is possibly even more complex than the relationship between the person and the society since the culture serves as the fundamental ground for the existence of the society as such. I can admit that my understanding of my own cultural identity has become much more sophisticated and multidimensional. Now I realize that I am the direct product of my culture to a significant extent, and most of the characteristics which once seemed to be the genuine peculiarities of myself actually appear to be the mere effects of the cultural environment within which my socialization has taken place. And during the discussions with my colleagues, I kept noticing that most of them seemed to be experiencing the same broadening of the scope of thinking which had been impossible for us before. Generally speaking, I am sure that the course succeeded in providing me with a certain impetus for further expanding of my vision of the world and my understanding of the person’s place in it.
Basically, the poem seems to expose the emphatic portrayal of my background. It made me recollect some features of my own past that were thought as having already gone, and it was peculiar for me to notice how those memories arise again being as much lively as they were once. This is an incredible feeling, and I guess that the thoughtful composition of such a poem might allow any person to recover some forgotten beginnings of his or her current life experiences.