Sunday, July 5, 2009

Defining culture


A boy asks his uncle a question.

Boy: Culture?

Uncle: Culture, yes. The beliefs and behaviors of a society.

Boy: What are beliefs and behaviors and societies?

Uncle: Oh, well. Yes. Let’s turn it around. Society is people. Beliefs are what they think. Behaviors are what they do.

Boy: People thinking and doing.

Uncle: Like a man who thinks about God so he goes to church on Sundays.


Grownups can handle abstract definitions. For children, until their cognitive apparatus is in place, definitions need to be phrased in simple concrete words, preferably accompanied by examples.

And better if the main noun comes first.


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