Expedition 9: Culture Wheel
Students reflect on their cultural values and compare their cultural profile with other students in Japan and the United States.
What does it mean to be an American? To be a Japanese? What values and traditions influence our behavior and social relationships? In this activity, students explore their own cultural values and way of being. After completing an online survey, the web site generates a “cultural profile” for comparison and contrast. By comparing their profile with other individuals, students gain a deeper understanding of the spectrum of values found in society and across cultures.
1. Introduce the activity with a question for individual reflection and writing. Give students two minutes to begin generating a list of “What values distinguish Americans from other cultures?” Next, pair up students to share and enlarge their reflection on the question. Provide an additional four minutes (two per person) for the pairs to share their reflections.
2. Lead a class discussion on the inquiry question. Ask students to share their reflections and what they discovered in pairs. Invite the class to challenge assumptions being made and seek clarification. Create a master list of “values that distinguish Americans from other cultures” and see if the class can reach consensus on the top five values.
3. Divide students into groups of 2-4 students and distribute copies of the “Culture Wheel” survey. After students have completed the survey, provide time for them to access Virtual Expeditions, enter their personal survey information and generate a profile. Invite the students to compare their profile with others in their group and samples posted online.
4. Debrief the activity with a class discussion.
• What did you learn about your cultural values? Do your values relate to the values the class identified as being uniquely American? Why or why not?
• What values distinguish Americans and Japanese? Do these values reinforce stereotypes? Why or why not?
• Stand-up Spectrum. Choose selected statements from the Culture Wheel survey and ask students to line up in a continuum based on their values. What values dominate? What does this say about our culture?
• What Does it Mean? Reflect on the question “What does it mean to be an American?” and write an editorial expressing your views.