5.b.3 – Where does the management of our own culture start from?

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July 3, 2010 — Riccardo Sabellotti - Giacinto Sabellotti

Where does the management of our own culture start from?

A child learns by following his personal curiosity, playing alone or with others, either children or adults. The role of the adult is important also in the game, during which he participates in the education of the child. A further contribution is in the encouragement that is given to children to play certain games rather than others, which is an elaborate form of teaching such as a “guided experience”.
Children trust their parents, and the motivation of the first is closely tied to the approval of  the second. No matter how hard a father and a mother try to explain to their child at an early age the benefits that will have in adult life from being obedient or from obtaining good marks at school, the main reason for the child to obey will always be to make his parents happy and not take care of his interests far ahead. In the education of their children are therefore the adults who decide what a child needs to know.
Even adults are curious, they like to play too, but if they have to learn something usually they do not do it to please their parents, but to satisfy their needs or solve some problems; this is a way to manage their lives, an activity that typically distinguishes adults from children. In adult life, it is the individual himself who determines what he needs to know. It is then perfectly natural for an adult, for choosing his cultural interests, to follow the criterion of practical usefulness, further than his personal tastes and the collective tradition. The possible criteria for assessing the significance of the various cultural fields have already been discussed before, but it is appropriate to remind them: a concept is more useful than another if:
– is used in a more important activity
– its applications are more numerous
– is used by more people
– is used more often.
According to these criteria, we can easily identify as particularly important the following cultural categories:
– the culture of collaboration, which includes verbal and written language and any other form of communication, and the education to values such as friendship, respect, work, family, team spirit, democracy and the rules for a proper social behavior (good manners), honesty; its importance is linked to the key role it plays in the survival of the individual and of the community, but we can obtain the same result with other criteria as well;
– the culture of taking care of our body, spreading the rules of hygiene, sport, a healthy and balanced diet, and safety rules in different situations: work, travel, leisure and education in values such as life and health; also in this case the importance for the survival of the individual is evident;
– the basic culture, on which the specialized culture is based, which includes many school subjects as mathematics, history, geography and philosophy, and values such as knowledge, objectivity, consistency and humility; its importance is linked to the number of applications that derive from it and to the number of people who use it;
– the specialized culture, typical of the working life, which role for the survival of the individual and the community is unquestionable;
– the common culture, which includes everything related to frequent and widely used activities, such as the use of cars or TV, which importance is due to the wide use that is made of it.
These five categories are certainly all included in the culture of which we have a real and objective need in life, just the one that we have to deal with in our personal opinion. We can easily notice, however, that most of us feel to be well prepared only in the last two or three; in the first two, which are so closely related to survival and well-being both physical and psychological, we all have serious shortcomings; in fact we have been educated to delegate their management to the traditions or institutions. How many will indeed raise the question of which group they belong or would be good to belong? Don’t we adhere to the group of supporters of a football team just because it is a fashion? Is there some practical benefit?
All of us find rather difficult to identify with the group of dissatisfied citizens, of the cheated, of those who pay the taxes, simply because the tradition hasn’t provided us with distinctive symbols to identify ourselves as such; fraudsters and dishonest politicians, the source of our main misfortunes and dissatisfactions, are hidden groups, speak and dress like us and this is enough to let them in our generic and anonymous group, while we are ready to compete if not to struggle with supporters of the opposing team, easily identifiable by their colors. How many of us today, despite of having a good job, consider it a value rather than a burden to be avoided?
We have already spoken at length puff poor education about democracy, to which we are all submitted: we only want to recall that it is the basis of almost all our problems. Even more evident is our poor education regarding the care of our health: how many of us neglect the safety rules for driving, at work or doing sports? How many of us start a diet without criterion copied from unreliable magazines for the sole purpose of looking good at the beach? How many of us smoke or use other toxic substances? There is no doubt then that there are very important cultural traditions that we are accustomed to neglect by simple imitation or habit. A good cultural management therefore starts by determining what we really need to learn and what maybe we should forget.

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