What is Cultural Capital?

By The Arty Teacher - September 16, 2020

What is cultural capital? In educational terms, it refers to the bank of cultural experiences that students can gain from different cultural opportunities.  E.g. Gallery visits, historic visits, music lessons, IT skills, dance lesson etc)  Families have historically passed down these advantages to their children by providing them with these opportunities.  Evidence shows that children with cultural capital do better in school and go on to do better in society, their career and the world of work.  Schools can have a huge impact on equipping students with cultural capital.

This video puts it in simple terms.

I’ve created this video in response to a group of art teachers who created a ‘Cultural Capital Think Tank’ which I read about on the NSEAD (National Society for Education in Art & Design) Facebook page.

When I think about Cultural Capital and the impact it has on later life, I try to imagine a person, who wants to make progress in their career, going to a network meeting without any Cultural Captial.  How difficult it would be to join in with the conversation and to build a social network.  It’s easy to see it’s impact on social mobility.

How can Art Educators Promote Cultural Capital?

Art educators are in a strong position to fill up students (metaphorical) schools bags with cultural capital both in school and through gallery visits.  The video below described three and half ways to engage your students with gallery education.

Cultural Capital in the UK

Cultural Captial is a term educators around the world should be aware of.  Here in the UK there has been a new emphasis on ‘Cultural Capital’ in education since OFSTED (The Office for Standards in Education) included this term in their new framework in 2019. It is good for the arts in schools as school leaders should be putting a greater emphasis on cultural capital. A great curriculum builds cultural capital.

What is Cultural Capital?

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The Arty Teacher

Sarah Crowther is The Arty Teacher. She is a high school art teacher in the North West of England. She strives to share her enthusiasm for art by providing art teachers around the globe with high-quality resources and by sharing her expertise through this blog.

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