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Cultural Analysis: !Kung San

Annotated Bibliography

Education in !Kung society

In the !Kung culture, there is no formal education process, at least not as we understand it. At a young age, children are carried by the mothers as they go out and gather food. In this way, they are introduced to what edible plants are available in the land as well as how to set traps for smaller animals. As they grow, they are given more freedom to play and entertain themselves in the village.4 This gives them the chance to see how the village works as well as exposes them to the personal relationships that are available in the village.

Young boys are given the chance to go out with the older men to utilize the skills of hunting that they learned through play and stories. Meanwhile, young women are taken with the older women to gain more knowledge of what food is needed to supply the village.

Because of the positive light given to the elderly in !Kung culture, the elderly are available to pass down wisdom and historical knowledge of the !Kung ways. This helps aid in retaining some amount of their past, even as the outside world encroaches more and more.

As the !Kung become more influenced by the outside world, children are starting to gain a more non-native education, including more about Christianity and the English language.

Functionalist Perspective

While not using a formal, Western view of education, the !Kung educational system is still very important. It serves as a way to pass along the knowledge of the roles that each person in the village needs to help the village to survive in the future. In addition, it provides the elderly a job function after they are unable to actively help in manual activities.

Conflict Perspective

Because of the needs faced by the village, there are no conflicts regarding the emphasis taken in the !Kung educational systems. The !Kung realize that the roles that they each take in life are important to the overall success of everyone in the village.

Symbolic Perspective

The education of the !Kung serves to continue to facilitate the roles imposed on the different gender groups. From a young age, they are exposed to these gender roles and the reasons that the roles exist. In addition, by symbolizing the elderly as keepers of knowledge, they provide a reason for the older age group to still be active in the community.

This site was created for SOCIOLOGY 1 SEC DE1 (21594) FALL 2005.