Given these four words:

Monkey, Banana, Cow, Grass.

How would you categorize them?

There may be two main ways to categorize these:

1. By Context:

A. Monkey & Banana (Context of monkey eating banana)
B. Cow & Grass (Context of cow eating grass)

2. By Category:

A. Cow & Monkey (Category of Animals)
B. Banana & Grass (Category of Animals’ foods)

According to a paper written in 1972 by cognitive psychologist Chiu Lian Hwang, the majority of Asian children would categorize by context (and have a more holistic view) by associating the animal with the food that it eats. The norm for Western children was to look at the categorize the cow & monkey together as being members of the animal kingdom, which is coming from more of an analytical viewpoint. The important thing here is that neither are wrong.

An interesting and thought provoking study. Especially in our modern, globablized, environment where me might find ourselves teaching a class with students of many different nationalities. In this situation, we are no longer dealing with topics such as teaching different learning styles, but the differences in teaching someone who was brought up, schooled and exposed to an Asian environment vs someone who grew up with Western education, environment and ideas.

A modern teacher must be able to sensitize themselves to such differences in upbringings amongst the members of their class. What do you think?

If you’d like to try this exercise a try with your class, try using this Quickfire I made:


Let me know how it goes!