ADAPT Program -- Accent on Developing Abstract Processes of Thought


Date of this Version

October 1982


We can rarely send students to live in cultures we want them to learn about. Yet all of them are proficient in living in their own culture. Since I am asking them to do fieldwork in a culture that they are extremely well acquainted with, they are able to assume a level of competence and confidence that gives them great interest in the cultural system they are manipulating.

A learning cycle in anthropology consists of three stages: exploration, invention and application. One exploration phase of a learning cycle is cultural anthropology consists of, firstly, asking students to put their last names on the blackboard. I then ask them to do something meaningful with the last names, for example make a conclusion about American culture. Eventually students will conclude that the last names give an indication of national origin of the people in the room. The national origin of each person is investigated and then I ask them what conclusion they can make from the names. Ultimately, depending on what part of the country one is in they will conclude that there is a dominant group that appears on the board. In Nebraska, that group is English, with German a close second. In Albuquerque, it would be Spanish and English co-dominantly ruling the board. The final conclusion from this exercise is that the United States has a wide variety of peoples who have been acculturated under a dominant cultural system.