Cultural Considerations

Colors, Symbols and Numbers

MulticulturalMany teachers today wish to remain open to the personal responses their students have to text and some even give students the option to chose some artistic or visually graphic product to show what they know.  If you are like me, you may not be aware of the significance of certain colors, symbols, or numbers to students from cultures different from yours.  The Common Core Anchor Standards call for students to use visual and graphic depictions to communicate their thinking about a range of topics. See below.

For example, red is the color worn by brides in some Asian countries, but in the United States red has been linked with prostitutes – the Red Light District.  In some communities in India, white is the color worn by widows; in the United States is the popular color worn by brides.  See more on color on this  Color Symbolism Chart.

Consider the symbolic differences in the the snake/serpent/dragon

In numerous cultures, the snake is a positive symbol, one of fertility and power; whereas cultures steeped in Western tradition influenced by Judo-Christian scriptures , the serpent is a negative symbols, representing evil, demonic presence.  On the other hand, the symbol of the medical profession, is the Caduceus, with entwined snakes.

Numbers also are seen as powerful for good or evil, depending on culture and religion.  See this Chicago Tribune news article that discusses that issue.


Unless we include a component of these assessment assignments for which the students are asked to give an oral or written explanation for their choices, we may not understand, or even appreciate the depth of their reading and or accept as appropriate the colors and symbols or the significance of the numbers our young men and women chosen to include in their work.

 Common Core Anchor Standards for English Language Arts that encourage integration of visual arts.

  • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
  • Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
  • Speaking and Listening



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