“Is it not reasonable to anticipate that our understanding of the human mind would be aided greatly by knowing the purpose for which it was designed?”
George C. Williams, Adaptation and Natural Selection

  “You cannot understand mental activity unless you take into account the culture setting and resources, the very things that give mind its shape and scope.  Learning, remembering, talking, imagining: all of them are made possible by participating in a culture.”
Jerome Bruner, The Culture of Education

“In traditional societies, intelligence is linked to skill in interpersonal relations, whereas in many industrial societies intelligence centers more on advanced abilities in the three Rs.  Yet despite these differences, the two definitions are derived in a similar way.  Both definitions are intertwined with issues of cultural survival – in traditional societies, maintaining the necessary social cohesion, and in industrial societies, providing the means to shape technology and advance industry.” Howard Gardner--  Multiple Intelligences: Theory in Practice  


Culture And Education: A Pacific Educator’s View

     Teaching effectively in one's own culture is a challenging, difficult, frustrating and rewarding job.  Teaching effectively in another culture is all that and more.   I began my Pacific educator's odyssey in 1980 as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Fiji and have since then also taught in American Samoa, Palau and Pohnpei.  I have been fortunate to live in the most beautiful places and work with the most wonderful and interesting people.  However, it isn't always just another day in paradise.  Adjusting to another culture that you happen to be living in is for many a very straightforward and common-sense thing to do, while for others it is extremely difficult and stressful or not considered necessary at all.   There is one thing I know for certain though -- adjusting makes for happier, healthier and more productive overseas experiences. 

     Successful teaching and learning is all about making connections.  Students learn by making neural and cognitive connections (networks) in their brains when they make connections in their minds (and bodies) between things they already know and new things they are trying to learn.  Teachers help students to do this by serving as interpreters of information, and as models for skills and other patterns of thought, emotion and behavior.  In order to be successful, teachers must be in touch with the lives, experiences, knowledge, skills and aspirations of their students.  This is easy when we teach in our own culture, but requires considerably more effort when we teach in another culture.

     This book is written primarily (but not entirely) for expatriates teaching in the Pacific.  It is also for anyone interested in improving teaching and cross-cultural communication in general, both expatriates working abroad and the host-country people they work for.  And lastly, this book is about an intellectual journey to discover the neuropsychological roots of everyday human culture and the influence which culture has on our thoughts, emotions and behaviors.

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