Innovation and culture …are these analogous to coffee and tea?

coffee_or_tea     Seemingly, different but somehow related…

 coffee aroma

Innovation conjures up aromas of a freshly brewed cup of coffee – a youthful nose full of unexpected and exciting possibilities, whereas culture appears to be established and settled, much like the tea leaves at the bottom of the cup.tea leaves

Allow me to mix it up …like ordering an Earl Grey Latte instead of coffee, and suggest they are not so different.  Coffee and tea, both hot beverages brewed from some of the finest natural “jewels” Mother Earth shares with us, and they both influence our mornings – Likewise, culture and innovation both influence our learning.

coffee and tea


Often teachers use culturally specific examples to strengthen a concept, and stimulate a connection between the student and material; however, teachers can create unseen cultural biases with their use of culturally rooted slang and examples.

This is kind of like walking into a coffee shop only to feel like an outcast because you are not privy to the establishment’s

starbucks menu culture – you might be accustomed to ordering a small, medium or large, but when you look at the menu you see tall, grande, and venti – All of a sudden you are panic stricken – how do you order?

Students who are not native to the culture where they are learning experience challenges with understanding the language, slang, as well as the examples used to create more meaningful connections with the materials as these are “foreign” to them (Ramburuth &  Tani, 2009; Sulkowski & Deakin, 2009).


So… when a customer comes into my coffeehouse/classroom I must welcome them and try to:

  • recognize the cultural underpinnings of my instruction and the effect they might have on my learners.
  • use practices that are include all learners.
  • Not use slang or references that obstruct my students’ progress.
  • foster a climate that embraces the diverse learning population; kind of like offering more than one choice of coffee…


 Have you ever wanted to try something new like a pumpkin spice latte, but you were afraid because it was different?  Well, you are not alone in the coffeehouse or the classroom.  Conole and Culver (2010) suggested challenges to try new things like

Starbucks-Pumpkin-Spice-Latte technology in the classroom brew from having fixed mindsets and cultural resistance to the unknown.

Even though I am a gal who loves her nonfat unsweetened latte with an extra shot, I am also willing to try that pumpkin spice latte!

Take social media for instance – it is a cultural tool – it is a way we can share ideas and expand our perspectives on certain issues.  Furthermore, social media allows us to connect with individuals and organizations around the world, permitting us a glimpse into the diverse traditions and experience of individuals from other cultures than our own.

I believe social media broadens the learning environment to allow students access to learning material and access to multiple cultural perspectives – thus broadening their approach to thinking about information from a variety of perspectives; in essence, it has the potential to create a globally-minded student and future citizen.

keurigvarietyIt is like having the variety pack of K-Cups for your Keurig and sharing them with your friends!


Cheers…and boo!pumpkin foam




Conole, G., & Culver, J. (2010). The design of Cloudworks: Applying social networking practice to foster the exchange of learning and teaching ideas and designs. Computers & Education, 54(3), 679–692.

Ramburuth, P., & Tani, M. (2009). The impact of culture on learning: Exploring student perceptions. Multicultural education & technology journal, 3(3), 182–195.

Sulkowski, N. B., & Deakin, M. K. (2009). Does understanding culture help enhance students’ learning experience? International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management 21(2), 154–166.

Image Credits:

Coffee or Tea:

Excited Aroma Coffee:

Tea Leaves:

Coffee and tea

Starbucks menu board

Virtual coffeehouse:

Pumpkin Spice Latte:

KeurigVariety Pack:

Pumpkin Foam:


What are your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s