Out of all the lessons that we can cover for our second blog I think the most important topic that we touched is Social Learning. Social learning is defined by as ” how people learn behavior by observing others behave.” I think that the ability for leaders to be able to learn something from other cultures and successfully apply it into their environment is how progress is made across the world. In my opinion, observational learning is the key way in which society has slowly reduced ethnocentric mindsets throughout the course of history. The more one interacts with people of other cultures or the more people study other cultures one can start seeing common denominators or adopted factors between another culture and your own.
I think social learning is part of pretty much every single being on this planet and is a primitive component to survival. If we use children as an example, parents tend to avoid swear words so their kids don’t repeat them or maybe they say please and thank you more around their children so that they will watch and learn. As an example, when I was about 12 or 13 I was in the kitchen with my 4 year old sister, the burner on the stove was on and I accidentally burnt my finger. Obviously my reaction was a cry of pain, but my sister observed the whole thing. Even though she didn’t speak much, she would not go near the stove since that incident. She learned from my negative response, to not touch the stove.
We find these same actions and reactions from other creatures in the planet. Lionesses teach their cubs how to hunt by observation, gorillas teach their infants to make nests out of leaves and where to find food, etc. With society today I think the tricky portion of cross-cultural social learning is that most countries don’t always want to adopt something from another country because it could be negatively portrayed. I think leaders sometimes struggle to follow a change because they don’t want to be the follower, they want to be the initial innovator.
For example, California has been struggling with droughts for many years, leaving behind dry rivers, reduced water reservoirs, and has seriously affected the state economically. It has been suggested that the state adopt what Israel has done to increase the water availability by building a de-salinization plant. Its a processing plant that turns ocean water in clean fresh water for consumption. People have opposed it with the excuse that it costs too much money, it would cost approximately 32 million American dollars to build. Comparatively, this is what has been spent by the hour to fund the war on terror, making it a total of 5.6 trillion since 2001.
I think that if leaders (but really everyone) were able to set aside their pride and accept that another country’s innovation can improve theirs and be capable of adopting the changes as well, society would be much more advanced than it is now. I think that a lot of global issues would have been eradicated or at east improved if leaders were able to confidently make changes in their country, regardless of who thought of it first.