I signed up for Cross-Cultural Psychology last year because it is a requirement for the psychology major. Although I feel as though I’d rather be taking other classes, I am optimistic and expecting for me to find this course educational, useful, and interesting. So far, the class is going fine for me. I really like the discussion-based aspect of the class. One of my favorite classes had this structure last year, although it didn’t have this many people in it. I’m hoping that a bigger space will make the classroom experience more comfortable. I am also looking forward to getting stuff done in class. I feel as though assigning reading responses in replacement of tests is a great idea. I feel as though writing is a great academic skill and it will be great to have some academic papers on psychology in my documents. I am also looking forward to having more intriguing and enlightening discussions. I’ve usually found that listening to and discussing materials helps me to absorb and make sense of the material. Lastly, I am looking forward to having hands on activities.
The idea of a three hour class is very intimidating to me, so I’m hoping that some break up in the routine will be beneficial. Some aspects of the class, though, can be a little bit boring or frustrating. I would make the suggestion of shortening the lectures or working to ‘get to the point’ of articles or chapters. I’ve noticed some redundancy in all my classes this year. It can be very frustrating to go through pages and pages of concepts you have already been taught and need at most a five minute review on. I understand that not everyone has the same academic history, but I feel as though asking who knows what before going through slides or having us take pretests would be a good idea for making learning more effective.
I have already learned about the basics of individualism and collectivism, so I am ready for more details like studies and research findings (you know, the good stuff). Speaking of the good stuff, I’d like to move the discussion to the articles we’ve been reading for class. As I had mentioned before in class, the parenting articles, the ones about “Tiger Mom” and “Bringing Up Bebe” had a personal effect on me as an employed caregiver. The “Tiger Mom” article, particularly, was very hard to digest and I was concerned I would not be able to finish the article because of how physically repulsed I was by it (the “Bringing Up Bebe” article wasn’t too hard for me to digest, probably because it didn’t feature borderline abuse). Obviously, the articles are made to show how different cultures are when it comes to raising their children.
Child rearing, of course, is one of the few universal factors of a culture, including sex, food, shelter, and grieving. The “Tiger Mom” article describes the American culture with obvious distaste; it views it as a molly-coddling, soft, failure of a system. Even the gentler “Bringing up Bebe” article dropped subtle criticism on the American parent culture, depicting it as an obsessive parenting style in which the child consumes the parents’ lives and is given whatever is available that is instantly gratifying, like only the food they want and all the toys they could possibly use. However, as an American consumer, the Chinese parenting style seemed depicted as a harsh reign to churn out the best of the best, and the French parenting style seemed to view children as essentially small family members, unlike the clear line drawn between child and adult in America.
I feel as though the French parenting ideology, which involves independent play, limited resources while out, and early introduction to a proper diet seem like a not entirely bad idea; Americans could use some of the advice given in the article to avoid the need for instant gratification that seems to be prominent in Millennial and give their children proper nourishment. However, I feel as though the Chinese parenting style should be avoided. As I had mentioned earlier, it seems abusive, cold, and logistically, it makes no sense. If there is a competition with 10 children and all 10 of the mothers of those children want their kids to be the best, no matter how much the kids train, they can’t all come in first. Does a mother expect her child to be the best at everything?
And “Gen Me” accuses Americans of believing their children are special. I understand that test scores show that the Asian countries are ‘beating us’ but I really hope America doesn’t adopt this ideology in child rearing, because it doesn’t seem healthy. Of course, the “Tiger Mom” article does show an extreme. She may have raised her children very differently than the immigrant mother who lives across the street, just as I was raised differently than the other kids in my neighborhood. However, I do feel as though the couple of main points in the ‘generalized’ American culture (children come first, try your best, etc) is pretty accurate. For the general culture of China or France, however, I cannot be so sure and will take these articles as they are. Aside from “Tiger Mom” and “Bringing Up Bebe,” we also read the “Inverse Power of Praise,” which was an actual part of the psychology literature instead of a pop culture headline. I felt as though the inclusion of this article really balanced out the assignment and brought enlightenment to the two articles
. As an American and especially as an American caregiver, I found myself emotionally defensive and dissonant about my culture as it was being ‘attacked’ by the articles. However, the “Inverse Power of Praise” article helped me to view the problem from an objective and scientific standpoint. “The Inverse Power of Praise” does not so much shut down the American culture of parenting in order to shed light on another as much as it explains a phenomenon and reveals it in a scientific experiment. The article shows how kids react to praise and its effect on them. In the experiment, kids were given tests and were either told a skill based or effort based compliment. The effort-based compliment made the kids more confident and up for challenge. The article not only showed an error in our ways, but explained why that error is the way it is and how to fix it by replacing it with an alternative. I think it was a really well designed experiment and well written article and I wish more were written in this fashion. I know that, personally, I will be taking this into consideration when dealing with children.
Culture, though does not have to do only with childrearing. Culture impacts everything around us. I most agree with Matumoto’s interpretation of culture. Matumoto sees culture as a set of rules set up to show people how to act, believe, and think. As a believer in this theology, I would strongly suggest that Hamline University has a ‘college culture’ within itself. As a liberal arts campus full of young people, it is expected that any random Hamline you find values equal rights for the LGBT community, women, and minority races. The Spectrum group is freely advertized. Women’s resources and prevention of sexual assault are more frequently talked about both in everyday conversation, on Facebook, and by Hamline-affiliated groups.
Of course, not everyone holds these ideals on campus. In any culture, someone may have deviant ideals, behaviors, or values, but this deviance is usually kept to themselves and displayed in secret or with likeminded people. This is why we don’t really see people with “Vote Yes” or confederate flag shirts walking around campus, nor do you see people causally killing animals or worshiping Satan in the Twin Cities. The deviants know all too well their behaviors would have negative repercussions, like poor reputation, reprimand from the school, or overt confrontation, so they adapt by following cultural norms or at least refusing to participate in deviant behavior. Since all the students have most of the same general ideas on how to behave (show up to class and work, do your homework, be social, eat and shower every day, don’t kill other people etc) it keeps the population moving in an smooth and predictable manner, which is the main reasons that culture is formed and is so important to this school and the world around us.