Iceberg Activity – Identity

Cultural Self-awareness

Cultural self-awareness pertains to the level of understanding each of us has about how we are influenced by the various cultural groups we belong to. This element of cultural competency asks us, as well as our students, to answer the following types of questions:

  • How does my gender influence who I am?
  • How does my  or my family’s current socioeconomic status (class) affect how I spend vacations?
  • What are some values I’ve learned based on the region of the country where I grew up or live currently?
  • How do my religious, spiritual, and moral beliefs influence what I interpret as good and bad behavior?
  • How does my ethnic or racial group influence my understanding of how family members should support each other?
Culture below the tip of the iceberg

Questions like those found above help us understand how culture influences us more deeply than we usually think. Cultural self-awareness is not about labels. It’s about answering questions such as:

  • What does being a part of a specific cultural group mean to each of us?
  • How are we influenced and informed by our cultural groups?
  • How do we check our cultural lenses that overtly and covertly influence our norms, behaviors, assumptions, and expectations?

‘What percentage of an iceberg is visible about the waterline?’

The answer is 10 percent. This means that 90 percent of the iceberg is invisible unless we plunge below the surface of the water. A surface-level look alone doesn’t allow us to see the depth and breadth of the full iceberg.

The same is true of culture. Many people take a surface look at how culture influences them and expect to see the full iceberg. The iceberg metaphor for culture helps us to notice what lies beneath.


Iceberg Activity Lesson Plan – Culture


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