Chapter eleven culture, social change and education

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culture, social change and education



Chapter Objectives

At the end of this chapter, reader(s) should be able to:

  1. Define the term culture

  2. Mention two (2) types of culture

  3. Explain the characteristics of culture

  4. Define the concept of social change

  5. Identify the factors influencing social change

  6. Examine education as an agent of cultural transmission in Nigeria

Culture defined

When a child is born, he is physically and economically dependent on his parents and other adults around him. Also, he does not possess the behavioural patterns that are necessary for human survival in the society. Put in another way, the new child has a lot to learn from both parents and other adults around him. For him to survive and function effectively in the society therefore, the child must learn the knowledge, skills, values and ways of life of the society in which he lives. This way of life of the people is known as culture.

In the light of the above, culture can be described as the totality of the learned and shared behaviour, traits and beliefs which are idiosyncratic of or unique to a group of people. This definition brings out two fundamental aspects of culture that is, it must be learned and shared.

Similarly, culture can be seen as consisting of the thought and behaviour pattern that members of a society learn through language and other means of symbolic interaction, that is, beliefs, habits, customs and values; the homogenous factors which bind the people together as a social and cultural entity (Steward and Glynn 1981:72).

The most widely acceptable definition of culture has been given by Taylor (1871) who has defined it as that complex whole which covers belief, knowledge, morals, laws, art, custom and any other capabilities and behavioural habits that are learned by members of a society. This is why culture is said to consist of thoughts and patterns of behaviour that members of a group learn through language which itself is a part of culture – and other forms of symbolic interaction that tend to unite them as people

In view of the fact that man has no instinct to control his actions, his behaviour must be based on guidelines laid down by the society. These guidelines (culture) are usually learned and shared by members of the society. The essence of this is for the society to operate smoothly and effectively.

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