The Habit of Ethnocentrism

Subject: Psychology
Type: Persuasive Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 1106
Topics: Human Nature, Cognitive Psychology, Linguistics

Feelings, belief, and judgment have affected negatively my learning. I have been struggling to shift my own frame of reference to understand how other systems work. The way one sees and understands the world is very important part of learning. Transformative learning according to Mezirow (2012), allows an individual to effect change in the frame of reference. Being unable to understand my own experience have resulted in selective and limitation of my expectation and cognition. The habit of mind and point of view are the main areas that affect cognitive and conative as well as emotional components of a learner. The way a learner thinks, feel or act depends on the set of codes set by habitual ways (Mezirow, 2012). For instance, a cultural difference such as the beliefs shared by people of color could affect the way others feel, think or act when learning in a given situation. Learners base such feelings in a specific point of view and it tempts to affect the experience. Learning the culture of people of color does not require that the learner abandon their origin culture. I have been afraid of losing my own frame of reference. I have believed for many years that my own frame of reference is the only best way through which I could understand and learn about the experiences in the world. This paper will argue that the issue of ethnocentrism is complex and affects negatively the way people learn. 

Language, as well as culture, are closely connected and by not being able to understand and study other people’s language and culture makes my fear of losing my own frame of reference real. Many Americans who speak a single language believe that it is not possible for one individual to understand and speak one language completely. This assumption has been disapproved by many research that has pointed out that some people have understood and in fact, fluently learned more than two languages. While the point of view of people has been seen to continuously changing as a result of changing processes. I have been challenged many times by the assumptions that even my own frame of reference could be questioned. According to Mezirow (2012), learning has to be effected through learning from and helping each other. Many learners have not been able to understand that learning is transformative when learners learn from and help each other. Educators have also been affected by this assumption because they have not played a role in facilitating learners to learn from and help each other.

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Language has been an important component of learning. For instance, when one deals with a group of people such as those in a particular profession, the language being used is important in making sure that they become unique and separated from other groups. Doctors, for example, uses jargon that is only understood by those in the same profession. This according to Mezirow (2012), is specifically used by the doctor to separate themselves from their patient. Through using such jargons, doctors have a different view of the world. Many people from all language and cultural background have been affected by the frame of reference just as a result of language and culture. This has made these individuals to have a different view on different subjects. As learning is continuously changing the brain of the learner from one experience to the other, resistant that is always presented in the brain becomes a hindrance to the way people learn. Learning is not defined as a brain use but according to Mezirow (2012), learning involves brain change. When people know that they are required to change their brains in order to effect learning, they become very fearful. Through learning, brains are altered and it is this alteration of the brain that people fear. Many people think that learning is a process of using the brain and therefore would not like the idea that through learning their brains will be changed as a result of learning thus they resist learning. 

Also, the perception that the teacher has the learner’s brain as opposed to his or her own can affect the way an individual learns. When a teacher does not understand that learning is complex and that it requires that mental process has been repeated so that it can be ‘burned in’ (Mezirow, 2012). Many people fail to permit a continuous absorption of learning in that they fail to recognize how to solve issues and the need to modify their assumptions. People fail to question their actions even when it is obvious that their actions have been a failure to what was expected of them. They refuse to attempt solving these problems using other people’s point of view, therefore, negatively affects their learning.

Learning that is instrumental could help an individual to manipulate and control his or her environment. When an individual strives to put an impression on others of his or her own self, then this kind of learning could be that of impressionistic. Another form of learning is where a group of people learn about their group and this is known as normative. Communicative learning is where the meaning of a communication is being sought. In all these learning, many people have failed to understand that competing ideas could be supported using reasons. These reasons sometimes are not assessed because many people do not want to critically examine the evidence that made them support such reasons in the first place. When people fail to use instrumental learning and communicative learning, they fail to achieve a reflective criticism of the assumption that has been made by them or by others.

Moreover, learners have failed to seek alternative interpretations of their views because they are not alive to the fact that working together to come up with an interpretation that will be acceptable to other learners will be very dependable and closer to the real interpretation. The frame of reference of an individual fails to transform because people do not want to have a critical reflection on the assumption upon which such interpretations are based.

In conclusion, learning process could be negatively affected by people’s failure to transform their frame of reference to accommodate other people’s points of view so that they could have a strong position from which they could critically reflect on the alternative point of view. This issue is presented by ethnocentrism and fear to learn other people’s point of view. Also, many people fail to seek other forms of interpretation that are not known to them and thus do not have many points of view that could help in arriving at the most accepted interpretation.

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  1. Mezirow, J. (2012). Transformative Learning: Theory to practice.
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