A Cultural Mismatch Between School and Home: Home Culture Versus School Culture

By:
Dr. Ethel Una Pather
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This paper is based on empirical research conducted in historically white schools in South Africa. The previous dispensation enforced a separatist policy resulting in the provision of Indian Coloured and Black Education. Like the United States of America teachers compared the home culture of the pupils to the school culture, invariably blaming the home culture for black pupils’ problems. Extensive work conducted since the early 1970s in the United States of America examined the means by which teaching in school could correspond with the home and community structures of black students. These studies tended to concentrate on how pupils who are perceived as “other” because of their colour, language or social class, could be made to fit into the school system (assimilated). The terminology used in three of these studies on “cultural mismatch” (home culture versus school culture) namely; “culturally appropriate”, “culturally congruent” and “culturally compatible”, suggest the accommodation of the pupils’ culture to the conventional culture of the school.

In contrast to this terminology the notion of being “culturally responsive” has a closer relationship to home and community culture. Although schools in the USA had attempted reform, “teacher ideologies and beliefs often remain unchanged, particularly towards African-American children and their intellectual potential”. A similar situation prevails in South Africa where I conducted a close examination of teachers’ perceptions their ideologies and beliefs, as well as their reflections on their own backgrounds and those of their pupils. I draw on insights into the notions of “culturally appropriate”, “culturally congruent” and “culturally compatible” in the discussion of my findings and discuss a “culturally relevant” pedagogy.


Keywords: Cultural Mismatch, Home Culture, School Culture, Culturally Appropriate, Culturally Compatible, Culturally Congruent, Culturally Relevant, South Africa
Stream: Teaching and Learning
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Ethel Una Pather

Senior Lecturer, Department of Education
Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg

Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

I have spent over 25 years in education. I began my career in Education as a high school teacher and I taught History, Geography and English at senior level. I subsequently moves on to lecture at a university that catered predominantly for black students. At that particular university I taught Education to first year students as well as Subject methodology in History. As South Africa had at the time just gained democratic status it was exciting to investigate and explore the Social History of the marginalised black people of South Africa. In addition I taught a Bed Honours courses involving diversity and social jjustice, I also supervised Masters Students.
At my present institution my main function is to train teachers, and supervise Masters and Doctoral Students. I also lecture a course to BED Honours students entitled Diversity in Education. As a black South African I am passionate about Social justice, equality and equity in education. My PhD looked specifically at Multicultural Education. Since all schools have become multicultural I see the necessity to train teachers to teach in a Multicultural classroom. In addition I also see the need for anti-racist policies to be formulated and implemented. I have presented a number of papers at international conferences and have published some papers in Education Now in the UK.
I also assist the Human Science Research Council on a voluntary basis as a field worker and researcher, because another of my passions is empirical research. The most recent work that I did for the Human Science Research Council was the Role of Women in Science and Technology and Refugees HIV status in South Africa an overseas funded project. My community involvement includes a project with AIDS Orphans and Senior Citizens

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