An individual’s sense of self and sense of being in the world ultimately is formulated by the society and culture around that person. The upbringing, social norms and expectations and even proclivities of the individual is first impressed by the society and culture surrounding him or her. This definition of sociocultural theory supports the Vygotskian idea that learning and personal development is a social process for the individual (John-Steiner, 1996). The society and culture in which a person exists, particularly in the formative years, plays a crucial role in shaping that person’s personality, values and skills (Kozulin, 2002). The ideals, values and experiences of the collective culture are passed down to each individual within that culture, with the structure closest to the individual having the most influence, usually a nuclear or extended family. However, if a larger or comparative, such as society as a whole, religion, or even educational environment has contrasting ideas or experiences, the individual reserves the right to challenge those nuclear norms.
In my particular case, my environment and family history has influenced me in some positive and negative ways. In some ways, I believe that I would not have the personal character or drive that I have without my family. A strong work ethic was instilled in me from the time I received chores to do when I was four years old and I knew I was responsible for those things. If I did not complete my obligations, there would be a consequences and I would have to do the work I missed and extra work. The sense of family obligation and responsibility is something that I carry with me in everything I do today. I consider what repercussions my actions might have, both positive and negative, and ask myself if my choices would make my family proud.
This strong sense of family pride and duty has led me towards many successes, most notably getting into college to pursue higher education. Without the support of my family, and a will to make them proud of me, there may have been points in my life that I gave up or made “easier” decisions. My family always pushed me to be the best I could be, and that I felt that if I did not try my hardest, I would be dishonoring what they have done for me. By having this sense of duty and family honor, I believe I have also learned more from my failures. I have learned that even though my family expects a lot of effort from me, that even if I do not succeed, my family will still love and support me. That sense of community and love is what fuels my sense of responsibility and duty.
- John-Steiner, V., & Mahn, H. (1996). Sociocultural approaches to learning and development: A Vygotskian framework. Educational Psychologist, 31(3-4), 191-206.
- Kozulin, A. (2002). Sociocultural theory and the mediated learning experience. School Psychology International, 23(1), 7-35.