Lesson 3: Culture as an Iceberg
About this Lesson:
This lesson provides students with a foundation for understanding and analyzing culture as well as a useful tool to do so, which will reappear throughout the curriculum. This tool, the Culture as Iceberg metaphor, will help students recognize their own cultural lenses and, as a result, understand Arab culture more authentically.
The central focus in this lesson is on the relationship between culture in the abstract–the underlying values and assumptions of a society–and culture in the flesh–the specific behaviors that derive from those values. It is important to understand that what people do and say in a particular culture, whether it be in America or the Arab world, are not arbitrary and spontaneous, but are consistent with what people in that culture value and believe in.
The model of culture as an iceberg, introduced in this lesson, helps students visualize the relationship between observable customs and invisible values and assumptions by identifying them and placing them on an image of an iceberg.
In this lesson, students will:
- learn the culture as iceberg model.
- Culture is a shared way of life among a group of people with common beliefs, values and customs that shape their worldview.
Curriculum Framing Questions
- How does culture influence our thoughts and actions?
By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
- identify the visible and invisible features of cultures.
Assessment & Evaluation of Student Learning:
- Properly place “features of culture” on an iceberg.
- Participate in discussion and debriefing about the iceberg model.
- Create an iceberg model about American culture.
- Write short essay.
Curriculum Standards Information
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
Standard 2.2: Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the products and perspectives of the culture studied
Standard 4.2: Students demonstrate understanding of the concept of culture through comparisons of the cultures studied and their own.
Use the following questions to help students understand how the Features of Culture can be used to enhance their understanding of other cultures.
- Does it make sense to compare culture to an iceberg? Can you think of other things to which the visible and invisible features of culture can be compared?
- How can a list such as “Features of Culture” help you understand differences among people? (Possible answer: Differences may seem less strange or unusual when we understand them as variations on fundamental characteristics that all cultures have in common.)
This lesson was adapted from Peace Corps World Wise Schools Lesson, The Iceberg.
- A Fundamental of Culture–Cultural Context In this lesson, students examine how the unwritten rules of culture depend upon the context in which an event or behavior takes place.
- Everyone Has a Culture–Everyone is DifferentFor more information on using these lessons and teaching about cross cultural understanding, click here.