So, What Exactly Is Culture Anyway?
(And How Should We Teach It?)

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cellist-playing-celloSLC is delighted to feature this guest post from author and school library luminary Randi Schmidt. Make sure to check out the links to free excerpts from her latest book on guided inquiry and the humanities research project at the end of the post!

Recently I saw the documentary film, The Music of Strangers, which explores how and why the renowned cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, gathered together a large assortment of accomplished musicians from across the globe to form an ensemble and perform as The Silk Road Project for the past 15 years in various parts of the world.  The group first came together at the Tanglewood Music Center in western Massachusetts during the summer of 2000.  However, September 11, 2001, changed everything and transformed how people viewed the world and the interaction of different cultures.  Yo-Yo Ma saw this as an opportunity for the Silk Road Project to use culture and its diversity to create positive and trusting transformations.

Yo-Yo Ma discussed the nature of culture in the film and how culture essentially provides meaning to all human lives.  As the world experiences increasing intersections of different cultures through the proliferation of media, multicultural societies, conflict-driven movements of people across the globe, and other forms of globalization, humanity is provided with numerous opportunities to examine the essential nature of culture as it is differentiated across the globe.

Cultures which can be experienced first-hand through direct contact may also be communicated indirectly by various means and through the media.  Whether one experiences culture directly or indirectly, questions about these experiences begin with an effort to know what culture is and how interactions with others can be understood and evaluated.  In our book, A Guided Inquiry Approach to Teaching the Humanities Research Project, we begin to examine the meaning of culture.

Our book was written to enable educators to assist their students in accessing and making sense of multiple forms of information in an ever changing world.

We’re pleased to be able to share the following free excerpts exploring the questions “What is culture?” and “What is cultural criticism?” The first excerpt provides a ready-to-use student workshop with handouts, while the second provides grounding theory for instructors.

“What Is Culture?” Student workshop and handouts

“What Is Culture?” Introduction

randi-schmidtRandell K. Schmidt served as head librarian at Gill St. Bernard’s School in Gladstone, NJ. Her published work includes Libraries Unlimited’s A Guided Inquiry Approach to High School Research. She is also the lead author of Teaching the Scientific Literature Review: Collaborative Lessons for Guided Inquiry, Second Edition. She holds a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Master of Library Science degree from Rutgers University.

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