How well do you know your culture?


Culture is uniquely human and diversity of culture is equally human.  The Axe Handles Academy quiz on culture focuses on the ways in which we know our own culture and those cultures of others.

Cultural Studies is the component of the Axe Handles Academy which prepares students to think about their own identity as members of their own culture and also to think about ways in which their culture differs from other contemporary cultures and the cultures of the past.  We can think of no better preparation for a world in which steadily increasing cultural contact is becoming the norm.


At the time of writing this the field of 'cultural studies' had not yet emerged in American intellectual life.  Now to avoid confusion we would prefer to call this component Comparative Culture Studies.


1.  Define the boundaries of your culture. Be able to justify the boundaries you choose.  How do you identify a member, by language, by place of residence, by appearance, by food, by other means?

2.  In what bioregion did your culture originate and does it reside there now?

3.  What are the primary sources from which you can learn your culture?

4.  What languages do you need to know to study the significant teachings of your culture?

5.  What people do you need to know to study the significant teachings of your culture?

6.  Define a myth and give one example from each of three cultures, including your own as one culture.

7.  Define the difference between a classic book and a sacred book.

8.  Discuss the difference between pride in your own culture and arrogance.

9.  Discuss the ways in which different cultural traditions deal with pride and arrogance.

10.  How has the language used by members of your culture been affected by laws, religion, education, and social identity.

11.  How does your culture deal with outsiders, misfits, handicapped, or exiles?

12.  Does your culture use isolation or alienation as a punishment, and if so, for what offenses?

13.  Name three works in your literature that deal with self-concept and alienation.

14.  Is it possible to be an independent thinker without being alienated?  Give several examples from world literature to support your positions.

15.  Is alienation a good or a bad condition?  Give at least three works from world literature to support your position.

16.  How is pride displayed in your culture?  Show how that is different from at least one other culture.

17.  How does education contribute to alienation.

18.  What is the effect of alienation on the children of alienated individuals?

19.  What reasons do you have to be proud of your culture?  Of your country?  Of your family?  What other groups are you proud to be a part of?

20.  To whom or to what do you owe your main duty?  and why?

21.  Give three places you might encounter conflict in your loyalties and discuss how you might resolve those conflicts.

22.  How has the history of your country been influenced by the ideas of philosophers?  Give two or three examples.

23.  Which aspects of the Constitution of the United States of America would Confucius or Mencius have agreed with and which aspects would they have disagreed with?

24.  Draw up a hierarchy of your loyalties from among such categories as friends, parents, siblings, extended family members, local governments, state government, federal government, your culture, your clan, the people of the earth, an ideal, or any other categories you wish.  Justify your hierarchy by reference to your culture and show how your hierarchy differs from at least one other culture.

25.  Which is the most durable medium for the preservation of culture, the spoken word, print, or electronic storage (tape, chip, etc.)?  Justify your choice.

To do well on this test a student will have to integrate knowledge from many areas of the humanities.  He or she will also have had to study significant selections from the classics of his or her own culture as well as other cultures.  The student will also need to study anthropology to be able to think comparatively about culture.  More than that, however, the student will have to have thought deeply about his or her own place in the cultural world.

Again, this is just an example of what we mean by the thematic, humanities approach of the Axe Handle Academy.  By organizing around significant themes such as Alienation and Self-Concept, Pride and Arrogance, or Conflict of Loyalty students will learn significant portions of world literature, history, and philosophy without losing any of the essential knolwledge we are now requiring.


the academy

the curriculum


life of the land

comparative culture studies

responsive communication