Deep Cultural Exploration Emily Hoffman

My family identifies as a group from German, Irish, and English descent. I identify as a Caucasian female. We celebrate our German heritage every Christmas Eve by making a traditional German meal.

My family has been in America for decades. The last known person to live in Germany was my great-great-great-great grandfather from my father’s side. My family is said to have migrated to Missouri between 1816 and 1845. The rest of my family has grown up in towns around Missouri. Today most of my family still lives in Missouri, with a few relatives scattered around America.

I have lived in a suburban community for my whole life. I was born in Olathe, Kansas and moved to Overland Park, Kansas when I was a couple months old. I have lived in Overland Park since then. I have loved living in a suburban area, because there is just enough entertainment without the stress of a big city.

I would describe my family as apart of upper class. Both of my parents worked when I was younger until my mom decided to quit work and stay home with my brother and I. We could enjoy vacations while growing up and attended Catholic school for all my years leading up to college. My parents worked hard and stressed that I work hard, therefore I could live a pretty privileged life.

Both of my parents attended college and set the expectation that my brother and I would both attend college. My mother’s parents did not attend college; her father worked as a carpenter. My father’s mom went to nursing school and his father went into the military.

I continually hear stories about when my grandma and grandpa grew up. They lived in a small farm town, and their families grew up as close friends. They spoke about walking to a one room schoolhouse every day. My grandpa has also shared the story of when his horse kicked him off while he was riding it. They both grew up with a pretty simple life and worked hard and made a good living for their family.

When we gather for family dinners, we all say a prayer before eating. My grandma started the saying, "And all God's children say?" and everyone would say "Amen" after the prayer. Many members in my family started saying "uhh huh". Well the saying turned into, "And all God's children say?" with everyone responding "uhh huh". This saying has stuck with our family for a long time. We even had family shirts made with "uhh huh" printed on the back!

Every summer, my whole family goes on a lake trip. There are about 30 people total. My family from California and Illinois fly in, because you are expected to be there. My aunt and uncle also started the tradition of making matching family shirts and we still continue to have matching bumper stickers on our cars. Every year, we continue to gather as a family and play games and just spend time with each other. We constantly reminisce about our trips from years past. There are countless stories that could be told from each trip. Like the time we bathed my baby cousin in a bucket on a campground because it was so hot out. Or the times where my cousins and I fought over who got to wear my grandma's sparkly visors. These trips continually create memories that we can share with each other.

Growing up, I learned that respect was not questioning adults. My father taught us that you don't question his rules and you obey your teachers at school. Since his father came from the military, my dad believed in strict rules when it came to parenting. My mom was more relaxed and stressed the importance of working together and being corporative. With the mix of their parenting styles, I have grown up with traditional views with the ability to make my voice heard. I have been taught that respect should be given to those older than me, but it is sometimes okay to question why something is done the way it is.

Both of my parents are not very expressive when it comes to emotions. While my family didn't show a lot of emotion, I was taught to always be very aware of others emotions. My mom taught me how to be a compassionate person and look at someone else's viewpoint. I think because my mom was so caring towards me when I would have my breakdowns as a child, I have learned to care for others when they are in need. My dad has taught me how to be very strong and stand up for what you believe in. He has also shown me the importance of a genuine, dedicated love for family. Growing up with an older brother, you had to be pretty strong which has led me to turn towards sarcasm and humor to express my emotions.

I have gone to Catholic school my whole life besides college, leading me to not be exposed to a lot of diversity. I grew up with a lot of Caucasian, Catholic people. My town was large enough that there was a large variety of religions and races though. I would not say one religion or race was looked down upon. My family has always stressed the importance of getting good grades and finishing college. These were always high priorities in my life. I did live in a town where you were expected to have nice clothing and be properly groomed. I was not told to avoid those who didn't have nice things, but that was not the norm. My dad has always stressed the importance of giving back. Through this I have seen what a different life some people live and how grateful I am to be where I am. It was somewhat of a cultural shock coming to college with such a large variety of people and backgrounds. You encounter those who struggled to get by and it made me realize what a sheltered life I had lived. I continue to become more aware of the struggles around me.

I was expected to be respectful towards adults but also be myself. My parents always told us that if we saw people we knew in public, we should say hi and engage in a conversation. It was important to be nice and very personable when interacting with others. It was assumed that our teachers had your respect, but my parents would also acknowledge that they were not perfect. I was told that you should always give respect to authority figures, but they also don't have the final say in everything that you do. While authority figures have power, they are also human who make mistakes.

As a child, I did not call adults by their first name. I was told it was Mr. or Mrs. so-and-so. As I have grown up, my parents have become more relaxed and I now call my mom by her nicknames. I started calling her by her first name when she wouldn't respond to mom and it has stuck that I call her some form of her first name. We have a very close and friendly relationship!

Things that did not belong to a traditional viewpoint were considered shameful to my family. Tattoos are still a big thing that my family has strong viewpoints against. Having children out of wedlock or living together out of wedlock was also looked down upon. Also the idea of someone not being religious was looked down upon. While my family has very traditional values, my family is also forgiving and tight knit. No event in my family could pull us apart for good.

Having good grades was a major thing that earned me praise at home. My parents expected that we worked hard and made good grades. That is what my brother and I always did. When my brother's grade began to slack some in college, my parents didn't know how to react. Grades were and still are of great importance in my family.

As a child, it was not okay to talk back. The rules were set in place and you followed them. As I have grown up, I have found my voice more and question things. I will question why my dad made a certain decision or rule. While my dad struggles when he is questioned, he needs to be challenged at points because he is so set in his ways. My mother has taken a more relaxed role in my life, allowing her to become my best friend. While my dad may not always be okay with me talking back, he is proud that I have grown up to be someone who can stand up for themselves.

Some learning behaviors I believe every student should exhibit are being attentive and open-minded. When it is time for the student to focus on their work, they should put their best effort forward to get the most out of every lesson. With this, the teacher has the responsibility to create lessons that are engaging and interesting. I think the key to a successful lesson is variety of instructional styles and collaboration. Students should have time to work individually but also time to share and work with their peers. I think discovery learning is also a big part of keeping students excited and motivated. Learning by doing is a great way for students to fully expand their knowledge and understanding. A balance between the chance to show your own work and time to collaborate ideas with your peers is a great way to keep students attentive.

I think I formed these ideas about the learning behaviors of students through my own experiences in school and with teachers. I know I enjoyed school the most and was motivated to learn more when I had a hands-on approach with my learning. I have learned that students respond more to choices and the ability to take more responsibility of their learning. I have also formed these ideas from teachers who haven't been great. I would spend countless hours sitting in a desk and be lectured at, allowing me to form ideas of what I don't want in my own classroom. My experiences and teachers have made me pay attention to the foundation I want to build in my own classroom.

The messages I got about why others succeeded or not were about their education or work ethic. If a person didn't go to college, they were less likely to succeed in life and find a stable job. While college is not possible for everyone, I have been taught that it is a tool to help a person obtain a great job. If a person didn't work hard, they weren't going to advance in their career or find something they were passionate about. My parents have stressed the importance of putting your full effort into everything that you do and be smart about your money. My parents have always lived within their means and spent and saved wisely to get where they are now. Working hard allows a person to find new opportunities that they could have never dreamt of.

My culture taught me that everyone is intelligent and that believing in your own intelligence is very important. My parents have always supported what I wanted to do and let me know that I can do anything that I put my mind to. Education is very important throughout my whole family, and everyone supports your passions. My family supported me in the same way when my cousin decided to be a nurse and when I decided to be a teacher. While intelligence may help you pass a history exam, it is not going to teach you how to be a good person. My culture has taught me that intelligence is important and that intelligence comes in different forms.

I did not grow up believing intelligence is set at birth. My parents have always taught me to work hard at everything I do and that I will make mistakes. I was taught that I shouldn't give up if I fail the first time. I never thought of myself as a math person and now my concentration is math. My parents never told me that since I wasn't great at math in 4th grade I would never be good at math. They have praised me for my continued building of strength in math. My parents have always focused on working hard to reach your goals.

My mom has always joked that my brother and I got our smarts from her. I don't believe every part of your intelligence comes from genetics, but I believe that you obtain some abilities from your parents. Environmental factors and your work ethic are more of a determiner of your success. My parents have never told me that I am smart, because they were smart. I did well in school, because I never gave up and worked for what I wanted.

I did not believe some groups were smarter than others. Every person could do what they wanted if they put their mind to it. I never believed I was smarter than the person next to me; I maybe worked harder than they did or I might have been more passionate about the subject. I don't believe intelligence is the main factor that determines if you will be successful or not. People are able to accomplish the goals they have set if they reach for the stars!

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Emily Hoffman

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