Saturday, January 23, 2010

CLAM Post #3

I generally find the origin of names really interesting, so I explored a little bit of the "nomos" aspect of the Aberdeen's culture first. The origin of the name "Aberdeen" is purely geographic. The original name of the city was Aberdon, meaning "at the mouth of the Don," which was the main river at the time. Now that the city has expanded to also encompass the River Dee as well as the Don, the name expanded too; Aberdeen, meaning "between the rivers Dee and Don." These names helped people locate the city and lend a lot of information about the city's origins as a port, and now as an oil capitol.

I think that Hirsh is correct in thinking that learning is combining old concepts with new ones, and I also believe that cultural literacy is the same. I believe that in order to understand more thoroughly another culture, you first must understand your own. Fortunately, we get that taken care of in grades K-12, and everyday outside the classroom too-just by living in our culture.

You can take a classroom approach to becoming Culturally Literate: reading books, chatting online with people from other cultures, taking language and history classes. This is a really good base, learning facts, associating ideas with one-another ("culture is like grass, not tulips" after all). You can become very close to being very Culturally Literate this way, but I don't feel that you get the full effect until you can immerse yourself in a different culture: the nomos, ethnos, archon, mythos, and techne.

To me, a more hands-on approach to learning another culture is obviously the best way. For example, last spring I took a "Wildlife of China" class. In class, we discussed China's culture and how it relates to their wildlife conservation and ideals, and also how our country's ideals compare. I learned a lot in the classroom, but it wasn't until we actually visited the country, wildlife sanctuaries, habitats, zoos, universities, and historical sites that it all came together for me. It was an incredible experience, and gave me a great amount of perspective on our country's culture, and my own Cultural Literacy.

I have my parents to thank partially for my level of cultural awareness (I think I have more than the average American, but is that really saying much anymore?). They encourage me to travel as much as possible, and have taken us on many unforgettable family trips. I may not have appreciated the exposure as much when we took the trips that we took when I was around 8-10, but I still have memories, photos, random travel journals that I find when/if I clean my room, and the memories of my family. I try to stay aware of what is going on currently around the world, and also try to learn more about the world historically in class.

At first I didn't think that going to Scotland would be that much of a cultural awakening, because I think that we Americans see the United Kingdom as being pretty much the same as us. I know that that is not true, and I am so excited to get immersed! I know that this trip (I leave in 4 days!) will broaden my horizons in so many ways, and eventually I can call myself "Culturally Literate" without feeling completely arrogant.

1 comment:

  1. Bon Voyage to Scotland - I look forward to your blogs from there. (You might want to check a blog from a previous Scotland CLAMmer - Keith McGregor -