Publicatie: Caring for Cultural Freedom: an ecological approach to supporting young people’s cultural learning

Caring for Cultural Freedom: an ecological approach to supporting young people’s cultural learning
digitale publicatie
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95 p.
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This report examines young people’s cultural learning within the London Borough of Harrow. It makes a contribution to recent debates concerning the value of understanding the cultural sector ecologically. It provides new ways to interpret how cultural opportunities operate for young people within cultural ecosystems: complex networks operating within and across a range of scales, including home, school, the borough, the region, and the nation. It thereby raises fundamental questions for policy and practice regarding how young people’s cultural learning can best be supported on an ongoing basis.

The report’s overarching proposal is the need to develop ‘caring’ approaches to supporting cultural learning ecologically. Following Joan Tronto’s account of the four characteristics of care,2 this means developing practices of managing cultural ecosystems that are not only ecologically competent (effective in cultivating and sustaining vibrant interconnections), but which are – through the approaches they develop to partnership working and creative citizenship – attentive and responsive to the views and needs of young people, and responsible for the health of the ecosystem as a whole.

Research questions:

  1. Which cultural activities and interests are valuable to young people in Harrow and why?
  2. What kinds of creative citizenship are young people involved in – making and contesting ‘versions of culture’, and creating cultural opportunities for themselves and others?
  3. Is it possible to identify key aspects of cultural learning within the cultural ecosystems of Harrow?
  4. What kinds of intervention, if any, would support healthier, more democratic cultural learning within the cultural ecosystems of Harrow?
  5. How should cultural learning within and across cultural ecosystems, operating at different scales (e.g. within and across home, school, local authority, region, and nation) be investigated – which methods are most useful?

10 key findings:

  1. Supported autonomy – a central goal.
  2. Co-produced knowledge is essential.
  3. The psycho-geography of cultural opportunity should be considered, and factored into how we give support to young people’s cultural learning within and across cultural ecosystems. By psycho-geography
  4. Safe spaces & holding environments are vital.
  5. Spaces of listening are key.
  6. Mentoring can help cut through inequalities.
  7. Tipping points & opportunity costs can be mitigated.
  8. Creative citizenship / positive deviance has great potential to expand cultural capability, and democratise cultural learning within and across cultural ecosystems. 
  9. Partnership working needs both adaptability and clarity of purpose.
  10. Ensuring democratic governance is a long-term challenge.

Cultural ecology

Ecological language is increasingly evident in cultural policy and practice. In his 2015 report, The Ecology of Culture, John Holden conducted a literature review
of research in this area and interviewed 38 cultural practitioners around the UK. He explains that the term ‘cultural ecology’ has been used within the discipline
of anthropology since the 1950s. It means, “the study of human adaptations to social and physical environments.”

But the use of the word ecology in relation to the cultural sector is a more recent phenomenon. Two reports from 2004, published almost simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic, but written without any contact between the authors, employ ‘ecology’ as a metaphor (Holden (2004), Rand (2005)). These may not be date the idea that the cultural sector can be thought about in ecological terms became more widespread. (Holden, 2015: 5).

voortgezet onderwijs, basisonderwijs, kinderen, jongeren, infrastructuur cultuureducatie, cultuureducatie, cultuuronderwijs, cultuureducatie-instellingen, Verenigd Koninkrijk, informele verbanden, cultuureducatiebeleid, culturele ecosystemen, ecosystemen
Auteurs (2)
Corporatieve auteur
N. Wilson
J. Gross
Links (1)