Cultural capital in action

By June O'Sullivan

| 08 May 2019

Last week, one of our nurseries curated a pop-up art exhibition at a central London venue. The art which was auctioned by the manager surprised him enormously as it raised £300 which will be used to fund a woodwork bench and some baby equipment. 

I observed the evening through the lens of cultural capital, an idea which is core to the LEYF pedagogy. We see it as the means by which we extend language and literacy through a whole range of pedagogical conversations, activities, experiences and deepening children's disposition for learning.

Creative acts - whether art, music, or a new idea - can, according to Vygotsky, deepen children's imaginations. It is a term new to many and will become even more recognised, though probably misunderstood as Ofsted make it part of the newly revised inspection framework, no longer common, now educational. 

Everyone has cultural capital, it's just that some is more valued than others. However, a nursery is a perfect place to translate cultural capital into a set of activities and creative learning on a more neutral basis. It's harder to ascribe external societal values to an activity where children from all backgrounds have worked together to create something new and different.  

Howard Gardner reminds us of the importance of having a creative staff who can embellish and fascinate children and ignite their spark by using creativity and imagination to bring fun and extension to their daily lives. If we do it in a way that builds cultural capital then we can open children's sense to a new world. 

Our pop-up exhibition in Soho was a good example of this.  

June O'Sullivan is the chief executive of London Early Years Foundation. This blog first appeared on the LEYF website 

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