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National Cultural Values and Their Role in Learning: a comparative ethnographic study of state primary schooling in England and France

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ABSTRACT This ethnographic study attempts to define English and French cultural and educational values in primary school. It is maintained that pupil attitudes to education are derived from pupils' sociocultural backgrounds and that pupil attitudes predispose pupils to learning. Pupils interpret both what and how they learn through the medium of the culture to which they belong. English and French educational values are identified through classroom observation, teacher discourse and pupil perceptions. The comparative approach allows the contrastive characteristics inherent in each country's culture to emerge. It is argued that pupil understanding of such educational values as authority, thought or 'la pensee', control over learning and educational goals and how to achieve them are related to national culture and that they have an effect on pupil motivation. The paper is both an example of and an exploration into how culture may affect learning. It suggests that cultural values are more significant for learning than pedagogical styles as it argues that underlying educational values give meaning to styles of pedagogy.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 1997

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