8 August 2015


In the words of Golda Meyer “The purpose of education is to civilize the thousands of barbarians that are born in to this world every hour”. If education fails to bring change in the learner, then it is worthless. Education is considered the most powerful tool in bringing change in man.
On one hand, education acculturates an individual; on the other hand, it preserves, transmits and develops the culture of a society. In short, education and culture are mutually interdependent, complementary and supplementary in all their aspects and activities. Thus the relation between education and culture is inseparable.

Culture plays a vital role in man‘s life. Education of various elements of culture can help man in the adaptation to the natural and social environment, development of individual‘s personality, socialization of the individual, proper use of leisure, and understanding other cultures and proper meaning of liberality. Education in culture is imparted mainly by the family, society and the school. Considering the importance of culture in man‘s life and the role played by education in the socialization and acculturation of an individual, it is worthwhile to analyse the changes that have taken shape in our culture. Before embarking on the discussion on the impact of education on culture, let us briefly understand the concept of culture itself.


Kroeber and Kluckhohn examined the history of the word ‘culture‘ in various linguistic settings. They reviewed the meaning of culture under a number of headings, such as psychological and genetic. They found 164 definitions. They also gave a definition of their own. But they wouldn‘t consider it the 165th, because it is contained in the others. “Culture consists of patterns explicit and implicit, of and for behaviour acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievement of human groups, including their embodiments and artefacts. The essential core of culture consists of traditional (i.e. historically derived and selected) ideas and especially their attached values; culture systems may on one hand, be considered products of action, on the other hand as conditioning elements of further action.”

Culture is the key that opens the door to an analysis of human societies and human behaviour. For example, take the case of shedding of tears: Why it is different on different occasions in different societies. Why men become saints in some societies for actions that would land them in jail in others. This can be explained better with the prevailing culture of that society.

All societies have their culture and they are unique. What we do is greatly conditioned by our culture – eating and drinking, loving and hating, playing and working; so is thinking. All societies seem to have ideas that are peculiar to their culture and that cannot be precisely translated into the language of another society. The problem is that while translating, one has to sacrifice either the flavour of the original or its meaning. As a French translator puts it “Translations are like women. When they are beautiful, they are not faithful, and when they are faithful, they are not beautiful.

Another interesting aspect of culture is that whether we learn and how much is a function of intelligence. But what we learn is a function of culture. Obviously, we can learn, only those things that are there in our culture, and especially, in complex societies only a small part of that. Our goals and aspirations are set for us by the culture of our society. For example, no Eskimo wants to win the Nobel Prize for literature. Yet another factor about culture is that it exerts influence upon biological factors and ultimately alters their character. For example, people starve in the midst of plenty because the food physically available to them is for one reason or other culturally tabooed. The cannibal chieftain cannot really understand why people in some societies would rather go hungry than eat their neighbours. The standards of feminine beauty are themselves cultural standards. In short, culture is the key concept in all attempts to explain and to understand the social life of man.

By culture we mean the system of norms and standards that a society develops over the course of many generations and which profoundly influence the everyday behaviour of people in that society. In more simple terms, culture is as people do. It is that complete whole which includes knowledge, beliefs, customs, art, morals, law and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of the society.

The purpose of culture is to give the society by conscious process of learning and experience, patterns of behaviour which are found useful for harmonious existence and smooth functioning in all occupations and interactions and thereby individual and group survival and perpetuation. It is the integrated social, biological, and ethnic, modes of behaviour of a group or a society. It is implied that even the possession of ideas, attitude, values, etc. from culture.

(i) Invisible Culture

Visible and invisible culture is otherwise called explicit / implicit or overt /covert culture. Much of culture is not only held outside conscious awareness but is also learned and taught outside awareness, hence, neither the cultural insiders nor the newcomers are aware that certain aspects of their culture exist. In multicultural education and in discussions of cultural diversity more generally, the focus has been on visible, explicit aspects of culture, such as language, dress, food habits, religion, and aesthetic conventions. While important, these visible aspects of culture, which are taught deliberately or learned consciously, are only the tip of the iceberg of culture.

Implicit and invisible aspects of culture are also important. How long in clock time one can be late before being impolite, how one conceives or experiences emotional or physical pain, how one displays such pain behaviourally, what topics should be avoided at the beginning of a conversation, how one shows interest or attention through listening behaviour, how loud is too loud or not loud enough in speaking, how one shows that one would like the speaker to move on to the next point – these are all aspects of culture that we learn and use without realizing it. When we meet other people whose invisible cultural assumptions and patterns of action differ from those we have learned and expect implicitly, we usually do not recognize what they are doing as cultural in origin. Rather we see them as rude or un-co-operative. We may apply clinical labels to the other people-passive-aggressive or suffering from low esteem.

Differences in invisible culture can be troublesome in circumstances of intergroup conflict. The difficulty lies in our inability to recognize others‘ differences in ways of acting as cultural rather than personal. Often we blame them – attributing intentions, judging competence- without realizing that we are experiencing culture rather than nature.

(ii) Kinds of Culture

According to the subject there are four types of culture.
1. Individual culture: Each individual has some personal traits and qualities which guide his habits of thinking and behaving in all fields of human activities. These personal likes and dislikes, interests, modes of thinking and patterns social behaviour constitute his personal culture.
2. Communal culture: As in the case of individual culture, different communities exhibit their distinct traits of life styles comprising specific modes of community beliefs and life styles. All the members of different communities show different traits known as community culture.
3. National culture: Similarly, each nation has some distinct national traits and attributes of character which condition its national patterns of ideals, values, modes of thought and behaviour. Such national traits are known as national culture.
4. World culture: Due to the rapid rise in the means of transport and communication, the world has shrunk into a small unit with the result that different nations of the world live together as members of a world community having common values, namely co- operation, sympathy, social service, social awakening and social sensitiveness etc. there by constituting a world culture.

(iii) Types of Culture

According to contents there are two types of culture in each society.
1. Material Culture: Material culture includes all those man-made things and objects which human society has created for its physical welfare in times of peace and war. Items such as clothes, utensils, homes, roads, ornaments, T.V., radio, various machines, gadgets and various means of transport and communication are some examples of material culture.
2. Non-material Culture: Non-material culture includes all those ideals, attitudes and values which modify the behaviour of man, language, literature, art, music, religion, customs, traditions etc. are some of the examples of non-material culture.

(iv) Education and Cultural Lag:

Due to rapid progress of scientific inventions and technological advancement, material aspect of culture has gone ahead and its area has been greatly widened. The modern society is gradually adopting more and more of these techniques and scientific achievements in their day to day styles of living, while the non material aspect of culture has been left far behind. The vast difference between the material and non-material culture is known as social and cultural lag. As the pace of material culture cannot be slackened, the need is to speed up the changes in the non-material cultural patterns of thinking and living. Both should proceed together in a corresponding pace as the two wheels of a chariot. Education is the only means to bridge this cultural lag. Through scientific inventions, investigations and discoveries many of our own Indian people are enjoying the fruits of material culture, yet there are vast masses of people steeped in ignorance, inertia ad utter backwardness. Education can do eliminate this cultural lag and inspire the general people to march on the road of progress and modernisation as they best can.

(v) Cultural Growth and Development

The growth and development of culture of a society is dependent on different factors which govern perception and learning and the development of behaviour. Different functions and institutions in societies are need based. In the course of time they give rise to cultural patterns. In other words, the needs determine many acts and functions which are passed on from generations to generations. Culture is, therefore, integrated with socioeconomic conditions and also the biological needs. It is not inherited or transmitted biologically. Culture is constantly undergoing change. Culture is therefore, a dynamic ongoing process. Culture binds the individuals in society together. When new things happen in a society, there is growth and development of culture. Culture is thus the progressive growth into humanization and liberalization of the human spirit.


Education and culture are intimately and integrally connected. The cultural pattern of a society conditions its educational pattern. For example, if a society has a spiritual pattern of culture, then its educational procedures will emphasize the achievement of moral and eternal values of life. On the other hand, if the cultural pattern of a society is materialistic, then naturally its educational pattern will be shaped for the attainment of material values which promote pleasures of senses and material comforts. A society devoid of any culture will have no definite educational organization. Hence the culture of a country has a very powerful impact on its educational pattern.

The ultimate relationship between culture and education is evident from the fact that one of the major aims education is to impact to the child his cultural heritage. In any human group, the various elements and parts of culture evolve after thousands of years of the experience, and these are handed down as a whole to the succeeding generations. Hence every individual is born into a particular culture which provide him definite patterns of behaviour and values which guide his conduct in different walks of life. He has thereby saved the necessity of making fresh experiments every time. Obviously, then, culture plays an important part in man‘s life in the adaptation to the natural environment, in the adaptation to the social environment, in the development of personality and socialization.

Every society has a culture or a method of operating which is unique to it. To live harmoniously in a given culture, its members must be aware of the various modes of conduct which are acceptable to that culture. It is through the process of education that children and new members are apprised of these facts. Also, in order to survive, the individual must become acquainted with the nature of these things in his environment with which he may have to cope. In very general terms then, it may be said that universally, the purpose of education is to inform the individual about the nature of his culture and the acceptable methods of coping with that culture. The implication, clearly, is that education should teach the students of a particular country how to look at the world and doing things according to the way of doing things of his own country.

(i) Impact of Culture on Education

As mentioned above, culture and education have a give and take relationship. Both compliments and supplements each other in various aspects. The following are some of the influences of culture on education.

1. The aims and ideals of education are mostly determined by the values and patterns of society.
2. Curriculum is conditioned according to the culture of society. It is framed according to the ideals and needs of the society to realize the cultural values.
3. Methods of teaching and culture are intimately connected. The changing cultural patterns of a society exert powerful influence upon the methods of teaching also. The shift from the old teacher centred teaching to child centred education is an example. Socialized methods like project method, seminar, symposium, discussion, etc. are widely used in the teaching learning process because of the influence of culture.
4. Discipline is also influenced by the cultural values. The present cultural patterns of thinking and living are directly linked to our concept of discipline. The concept of repressive discipline of ancient and Middle Ages has been replaced by the modern values of life.
5. Text books which are written according to the formulated curriculum and promote and foster cultural ideals and values are welcomed.
6. Teacher who has imbibed the cultural ideals and values of the society only can achieve his mission successfully. Only such teacher is able to infuse higher ideals and moral values in children.
7. School is a miniature of society. The total activities and programmes of the school are organized according to the cultural ideals and values of society. Hence school is the centre of promoting, moulding, reforming and developing the cultural patterns of the society.

(ii) Influence of Education on Culture

Wherever there are human groups there is culture, i. e. a man-made part of environment and learned patterns of behaviour. Wherever there is culture, it is diffused and transmitted to succeeding generations by education. Since human beings live in groups, we might say that wherever there are human beings there is culture and education in various forms. School education is limited mainly to literate cultures. The role of education is much smaller in non-literate groups.

Just as culture influences education, much is the same way education also exerts a powerful influence upon the culture of a country. Following are the various ways by which education influences the culture of country.

1. Preservation of culture: Each country believes and flaunts the superiority of its own culture over the rest. Hence it tries to preserve its culture in its original form. Education is the only means to complete this task. Thus education preserves the culture of the society.

2. Transmission of culture: the process of preservation includes the process of transmission as well. Transmission of culture from one generation to another is the best guarantee of its preservation. In the words of Ottaway, the famous sociologist, “The function of education is to transmit the social values and ideals to the young and capable members of the society”.

3. Development of culture: The function of education is to bring about the needed and desirable changes in the cultural ideals and values for the progress and continued development of society, without which social progress will stratify and come to a naught. Education accultures individuals, modifies cultural processes by research and deeper investigations into all areas of human requirements.

4. Continuity of culture: Culture is the life blood of society. Without culture a society is bound to decay and die sooner or later. Education upholds the continuity of culture through its diverse activities and programmes. A society establishes schools to preserve and transmit its culture from generation to generation. It is found that some schools try to develop undesirable cultural chauvinism and superiority complexes among its children. Children should be motivated to learn more and more from cultural interaction among various cultures. Ideally education should help them to develop the qualities of tolerance and adjustment along with mutual give and take attitude. This cultural integration and cultural synthesis is the dire need of the world society in modern times. Dr. S. Radhakrishnan says that one of the important aspects of Indian culture is its perennial nature. He observed; “the more Indian culture changes, the more it remains the same. The power of Indian spirit has sustained us through difficult times. It is the intangibles that give a nation its character and vitality”.

5. Development of personality: Education employs diverse cultural patterns of thinking, behaviour and items of cultural values so that children are physically, mentally, socially and emotionally developed to the maximum extent. Thus education aims at developing the personality of the child.

6. Removing cultural lag: Material culture develops at a fast pace due to scientific researches and innovations, whereas non-material culture consisting of ideals, values and norms lags behind creating a gulf between the two. Education is the only means to bridge this cultural lag by its activities and programmes of development.

7. Attaining unity: For the unity of mankind, there should be diffusion of culture of various groups in the world. The cultural isolation should go, and there should be no iron curtain between one culture and another. Dr. Zakir Hussain observes, “The characteristic mark of an educated man should be a positive attitude towards the goals of culture, that is, towards the ultimate objective values. The attitude should be the cherished product of educational and institutional activity”.

8. Correction of cultural ills: Education is corrective for the cultural ills. By explaining the dimensions of culture, education corrects egoism and false individuation. Educational enlightenment does not imply only aesthetic appreciation of art and beauty, it also means having kind and generous heart and soul. Culture liberates the mind. Literacy and moral education and education in arts constitutes real techniques for realization of the cultural values.

9. Education and racial prejudices and antagonism: Education reduces racial prejudices and antagonism, which result from ideas about other cultures. Imbibing of one‘s own culture, taking pride in it and preserving the same is a patriotic act. But resisting any change in it shutting doors to the entry of other cultural patterns and maintaining a strong iron curtain to preserve one‘s culture shows jingoism. It is not conducive to the cultural growth. Cultural diffusion is good for the individual cultural group, and for the humanity as a whole.

10. Human culture as a whole: Too much of emphasis on one‘s own culture will lead to disunity and lack of international understanding which is one of the tasks of education This is possible by bringing about diffusion of various cultures. Education should treat human culture as whole, “like a flower with different petals, and each petal representing one cultural group”. Education should strive for unity in diversity and not over-emphasise diversity.

11. Function of school: A school is the simplified environment to explain the present culture of the society and the school education makes the child imbibe the same and even makes its own contribution. The school (in its broader meaning) determines the quality of culture with a view to play the role of cultural construction-agent. Education, being the absorber and reflector of culture, is the best medium for the initiation of the rising generation into the cultural norms and process of the society. Due to the concerted efforts of the government and other agencies in the area of education people have come to realize the importance of education. More and more people are taking interest in education. Parents want to send their children to schools. Of late there is an enhanced demand for English education. More and more English medium schools International Schools, ICSE, CBSE, and State Board Schools are opened and they all get enough and more students. This is a clear indication of the trend in motion. This is the result of renewed demand for quality education. This has been accelerated by the impact of Globalization also. Co- education, now a days, receive better acceptance by the society. The intensity of resistance against sex education in schools now faces less opposition. All these can be considered as the positive results of education.

12. Inter-cultural understanding: Education can promote inter- cultural understanding among various cultures. To quote Dr. S. Radhakrisnan, “the greatness of a nation is to be measured not by its material power and wealth but by the inter-cultural relationships of its people”. Inter-cultural understanding refers to the development of that insight and attitude in the individuals who, rising above their own selfish and narrow interest, find out the really valuable items in all other cultures, besides their own. It is now realised by educational planners and educationists alike that we should provide such educational experiences and programmes which develop this understanding of other‘s culture and that development of such understanding will promote co-operation and through a process of give and take, a cultural synthesis will take place. Education will be able to achieve the goal of national culture so essential to national unity and national integration. Klausmeir says “Inter cultural education is concerned with helping students to understand the differences and likeness of individuals who comprise our society and the world”.

13. Education of culture and for culture: Culture enables a person to appreciate good ideas and art. It enlivens human interests and social efficiency. A cultured person is neither too assertive nor too dogmatic and aggressive. He does not manifest extremes of passions or violence of feelings or extravagance of language. Education plays a crucial role in the making of such persons.

14. Flux in the traditional culture: Culture is in constant flux. It changes as society changes. No nation has had constant cultural traditions. India is no exception to it. Every generation adds something new and modifies something old. The family bond in India is considered to be one of the strongest in the world. The joint family system is gradually disappearing giving way to nuclear family, bringing freedom, although at the same time accentuating loneliness and insecurity. We can see that the pattern of nuclear family and its culture is being accepted among the educated rapidly, among the semi-educated progressively and among the illiterate gradually. Due to education, and coming to contact with other cultures, our food habits are changing, our dress pattern is changing, our appreciation of art has new criteria time to time, and our religious beliefs are undergoing change. Majority of people have come to welcome these changes without much resistance even though there is a sort of resistance from certain quarters due to vested interest or pressure from certain religious sects etc.

Development in education has given an impetuous in the socialization of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes there by giving them a feeling of oneness with all other castes in India. Another outcome of educational development is that the number of inter-caste marriages is on the rise. This has also resulted in a ceaseless campaign against dowry system, to ban which several State Governments have passed legislations.

The technological advancement, the result of education has helped him change his living habits. Machines are taking over more and more of man‘s mechanical activities. Now he has more leisure time at his disposal. There is tremendous burst of inventive skills.

The scientific attitude and training is relieving the Indian of his static background of the inherited past of dogma, superstitions, inflexibility, and loaded moral values and predetermined behavioural patterns. Today the Indian mind carries not only its racial and cultural memories but also the technological and scientific truths of others.

The population explosion is the single largest factor responsible for the breakdown of environmental patterns and social and economic mores. The impact of this is visible on all aspects of life. The small family norm is widely accepted among the educated. The media especially the visual media has helped in educating even the illiterate about the ill effects of having more children in one household, and weakening the wrong cultural belief of having a son for lighting the pyre and rendered meaningless many other cultural ills of the society.

15. Women’s status is on the rising in the Indian society. More and more people have come to accept the equality of sexes. The legislations by the Central Government and State Governments and the programmes of governmental and non-governmental organizations have given a fillip to this cause. Right to education, equal right to parental property, right to employment, equal wages for equal work, etc. have brought tremendous changes in the status of women and far reaching implications in the social, familial, cultural, economic, political, and other aspects of life. The recent attempt to pass the ‘Women‘s Reservation Bill‘ in the two Houses of Central Government is a clear indication of the sort of changes taking place in this direction.

Education has brought cultural changes in the distribution of possessions and rewards to women. Women now have equal rights in the parental property. Equal wages for equal job is an accepted norm at all levels. Of course resistance can be seen in various quarters. But further spread of education is sure to bring changes in the mind set of people and the positive attitude will become an integral part of our culture.

16. Realization of common culture by human beings: Education is intimately bonded with the intellectual, emotional, cultural and social life of the human race. On the one hand it enables the individual to realise the qualities with which he is endowed and on the other hand it gives him the realisation that all human beings share a common culture, which contributes to the common good. In the words of Addison, “Education, when it works on a noble mind, draws out to view every latent virtue and perfection”. Education derives its meaning and strength from the surrounding environment of things and men. So it cannot ignore the cultural values, which give meaning to the environment. Man learns from the circumstances in which he lives, the people he meets, the ideas he receives and the geographical situations and times of history. Education is the vital configuration of the societal system, shaping the personality of younger generation and their culture raising them for life and preparing them for the kind of society they live in and they should live in.

17. Attitude towards child labour is another field where we find drastic changes in values. There is a culture developed in the Indian society against employing children in carpet industry and other fields. Due to the efforts of government, the enactment of law making education free and compulsory for children between the age group of 6 – 14, the positive role of media and voluntary organisations in this direction and various programmes of government involving local people like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Adult education programs, have educated even the common public about the need and importance of education. This has resulted in more and more children and adults taking into education. They are becoming more and more aware of their rights and duties. The welfare programmes get more acceptance and diffused easily. Still there is a long way to go and much to be done in this regard.

18. Teacher as cultural reconstruction-agent: A resourceful teacher with his discontentment of things as they are can evolve new models of culture in conformity with the emerging aspirations of the society, through formal and non-formal education. This will enable the young to develop adaptive capacities and adjust to changes in the society. In the ultimate analysis the teacher is the conservator and democratic mediator of culture. He is the architect of the culture-to-be by drawing upon the old cultural experiences and reconstructing new experiences thus producing innovations.

The above discussion substantiates the fact that education has tremendous influence on various aspects of culture. Development in education brings progressive change in the culture of a society. Education makes the learner uncomfortable in the obsolete and irrelevant prevailing system in the society and constantly strives to bring change for the better.