Baby culture vultures

Sunday 21 October, 9.30am until 10.15am, Frobisher 4-6

The coalition government said earlier this year that no one could call themselves educated unless they’d had culture and art running through their education. This surely struck a chord with many teachers, parents, artists and musicians, who have long worried arts subjects have become marginalised in schools. Understandably, then, many welcomed the government’s announcement of a new £15million investment, following the recommendations of Darren Henley’s review of cultural education. But on closer inspection, the government’s strategy has less to do with investing in the arts as school subjects than making visits to museums and trips to art blockbusters part of school life. The investment also establishes a new ‘Cultural Education partnership group’ alongside funding for film academies, art and design ‘Saturday clubs’, youth dance, ‘heritage’ schools, and museum and gallery education.

But are we sure of what makes for a good ‘cultural education’? Why are cultural institutions, rather than teachers, being given the responsibility for developing cultural education programmes for schools? After all, culture includes everything from theatre, art, literature and dance to digital media, and increasingly young people’s ‘own’ culture – from rap to street dance – is given pride of place. Rearing a new generation of voracious culture vultures is not the same as giving children a solid grounding in art and music – teaching them to draw, for example, or how to read music. So might not the traditional subjects of music, art, literature and history be the best vehicle for educating children in the canon, aesthetics and the skills of artistic appreciation? Is a visit to the British Museum a substitute for a history lesson or merely an add-on? And is cultural education more about socialising the young to become the new audiences arts institutions desperately crave to prove their relevance, rather than a good-faith attempt at creating a new generation of art lovers?

Speakers
Dr Wendy Earle
impact development officer, Birkbeck, University of London; convenor, Academy of Ideas Arts and Society Forum

Sean Gregory
director, Creative Learning, Barbican/Guildhall School of Music & Drama

Piers Hellawell
composer; professor of composition, Queen's University Belfast

Chair:
Dr Tiffany Jenkins
writer and broadcaster; author, Keeping Their Marbles: how treasures of the past ended up in museums and why they should stay there

Produced by
Dr Wendy Earle impact development officer, Birkbeck, University of London; convenor, Academy of Ideas Arts and Society Forum
Dr Tiffany Jenkins writer and broadcaster; author, Keeping Their Marbles: how treasures of the past ended up in museums and why they should stay there
Recommended readings
Classical CD for newborns to inspire a love of music

Every newborn baby in Scotland will receive a classical CD to inspire a love of music.

BBC News, 11 October 2012

Cultural Education in England

An independent review by Darren Henley for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Education

Darren Henley, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2012

Henley review of cultural education backs arts in the national curriculum

Government responds positively to Henley review and pledges money for national film and dance academies

Lizzie Crump, Guardian, 29 February 2012

The Arts and the Creation of Mind

Learning in and through the arts can develop complex and subtle aspects of the mind, argues Elliot Eisner in this engrossing book. Offering a rich array of examples, he describes different approaches to the teaching of the arts and shows how these refine forms of thinking that are valuable in dealing with our daily life

Elliot W. Eisner, Yale University Press, 22 October 2004

Cultural Learning Alliance

The Cultural Learning Alliance is a collective voice working to ensure that all children and young people have meaningful access to culture in this difficult economic climate



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