The rest of the iceberg

This weekend, with UN Day coming up, I am thinking about culture. An important yet cryptic element in our everyday interactions, the behaviors and expectations engrained in our students’ brains heavily impact their behaviors and expectations in our classrooms.

icebergThere are many definitions of culture, which primarily refer to the arts, beliefs, and customs of a group of people. I once attended a workshop where culture was defined as the “collective programming of the mind” that distinguishes one group of people from another. I like this definition, because I think the word “programming” really evokes an idea of the invisible parts of culture: the mindsets, the attitudes, the values. These are at the core of any culture; they are often so deeply rooted in our upbringing that we don’t even realize they are there. Yet they heavily influence the way our students (and parents) approach school, teachers, community, and learning—and likewise the way we, as teachers, approach students, parents, and curriculum. So as we approach a day where we celebrate an organization that brings together the many peoples of the world, I am taking some time to reflect on what my students bring to the table, and how I use that in my classroom.

How do you see the effects of your own multicultural environment? What challenges and blessings does a heterogeneous classroom present?

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19 Responses to The rest of the iceberg

  1. Hi,

    Would I be able to use your Cultural Iceberg image in my PhD (properly referenced). I’m not sure if the image will make it all the way to publication (as I revise things).
    The PhD is in public health through Massey University in New Zealand and is an analysis of longitudinal health outcomes for sub-groups of the indigenous people of New Zealand.
    The tentative title is:
    Te Korowai Māori: Does strength in Te Ao Māori mean better health outcomes in later life.

    Kia ora,
    Brendan Stevenson

    • Janine Janine says:

      Hi Brendan,
      I’m happy to have you use the image in your work, as long as it is properly referenced. I hope it will help more people to understand–and respect–the deep complexities of culture and the incredible number of factors that (we don’t even realize) affect the way we live our lives.

      Kind regards,

  2. Luigi Zanasi says:

    In case you don’t know, your wonderful diagram seems to be going viral on facebook.

  3. Dear Janine,
    I have been training “Mediation” as conflict management.
    This term I will be conducting an experimental in-service training for primary school teachers as part of my PhD thesis.

    I will be pleased to use your iceberg diagram at your approval
    as part of the multicultural section my training with reference.
    Thanks in advance
    Msc. Nüket GÜNDÜZ
    Lecturer Atatürk Education Faculty
    Near East University, Cyprus

    • Janine Janine says:

      Dear Nüket,
      I will be happy to see my iceberg diagram helping more teachers to understand their students. You are welcome to use the diagram as long as it is properly referenced.

      Kind regards,

  4. I would like to include your iceberg image in a training manual for staff at our outdoor living history museum, with your permission. Their job (the interpreters) is to model the culture of a specific ethnic group who arrived in Canada 125 years ago. Some of them are decedents of that culture, but all of them are 125 years of change away from the lifestyles of their ancestors. The image will serve to remind them to think about the “below the surface” aspects of culture, which they need to demonstrate for visitors to our museum (the “about the surface” visitors can quickly figures out on their own).

    Thanks for coming up with the great image.

    • Janine Janine says:

      Hi Kevin,

      You are welcome to use the image, as long as it is attributed to me and references back to this site. I am glad you’ve found it helpful!

  5. Vassiliki Katsigianis, Chanel Raffele, Marjorie Beaudoin says:

    Hello Janine,
    We are a group of students in the Bachelor of Education program at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. As part of a course entitled Diversity in the Classroom, we are creating a curriculum project on interculturalism, inclusiveness, and harmonious coexistence. In addition to being a graded assignment for this course, our project might also be chosen by our teacher as an entry into the 2016 Curriculum Design Competition organized by the Observatoire sur la Formation à la Diversité et à l’Équité (Observatory on Education towards Diversity and Equity).
    After finding a piece of your work on Facebook, The Cultural Iceberg, we were able to link it back to your blog, Janine’s Music Room ( ). We are highly interested with this piece, and would greatly appreciate your permission to use it in our project. To be certain, your piece will be credited to your name, as well as linked back to your webpage.
    Please let us know whether or not you agree to our use of your piece in our curriculum project both for our graded assignment and the design competition by replying to our comment.
    We look forward to hearing from you,
    Vassiliki Katsigianis
    Chanel Raffele
    Marjorie Beaudoin

    • Janine Janine says:

      Yes, with proper credit, I am happy for you to reference this in your curriculum project. I’m glad you’ve found it useful!

      • Rika says:

        Hi Janine
        I would also like to make reference to your cultural iceberg picture in an article, but I struggle to find your full name to use as reference. Would it be sufficient to use ‘Janine’s Music Room’?

  6. Janet Evans says:

    I would like to use your Cultural Iceberg illustration with my adult learners of French in a high school district adult education program. I often tell them examples of these aspects of different cultures. I would give proper attribution and link to your website.
    Your chart is so clear and spot on.

  7. Jendi Reiter says:

    Great chart. I’ll add it as a resource for writers on our site. We want more contest entries with nonwhite characters but are often discouraged by their stereotypical depictions.

  8. Dear Janine,

    My computer “editor” software backed it up to Edward T Hall 1976. But I would still like to use your iceberg! It is a handy tool.

    Thank you!

    • Janine Janine says:

      Sure, Rebecca, as long as it is properly referenced, I would love to spread the knowledge! There are many versions of the iceberg out there, so the concept is not new. I’ve developed the content based on my experiences to create this one. Cheers 🙂

  9. Byron Despres-Berry says:

    Where is religion in this iceberg

    • Janine Janine says:

      Hi Byron, and thanks for the question. I purposely did not include the word “religion” because the term itself has so many interpretations and presumptions. I have included religion through “beliefs and assumptions,” “core values,” “family values,” etc. in order to break down the many things that comprise the cultural implications of religion.

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