Cultural Learning Alliance

The best learning is embodied learning: a profound insight woven into a
memorable story

Michael Boyd
Artistic Director, Royal Shakespeare Company



What was your most memorable cultural experience when you were young and how has it stayed with you?

Below is a sample of your inspiring examples of the power of cultural learning. Please see the menu on the right for more videos and stories.

Kate Nash, Musician

Kate Nash, Musician
“Expression is really important”
Carole Lindsay-Douglas, Schools Music Association

When I was in the 6th form at a girls' high school in Norfolk, through my school, I was given the opportunity to sing in a massed choir (mainly comprising adult choral societies) in a performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion. It was my first real exposure to adult voices en masse, with orchestral accompaniment, and to the power of great music. It had a profound effect on me. A sleepless night ensued as the vibrancy of this glorious yet plangent music whirled around my head. I knew then, that I would have to pursue any and all opportunities that would permit me to have a life filled with nourishment like this.
Jacqui O'Hanlon, RSC

My first cultural experience was taking part in a school play. An English teacher called Mary Higgins joined the teaching staff of my secondary school and she began to direct whole school plays. We started with Scrooge, moved on to My Fair Lady and eventually ended up doing The Winters Tale. Those plays were hugely important to me. They seeded a love of theatre and drama work that lasts to this day. Through the process of taking part in the plays I learnt about the impact that powerful learning experiences have on children. I also learnt some valuable lessons about team work and developed a confidence about speaking in public. I draw on all of those in my current job. Twenty years later, I now run the education department at the Royal Shakespeare Company and hopefully enable other children to have a similar experience to the one that inspired me.
Dr Maggie Atkinson, Children's Commissioner for England

Brought up in a mining family in South Yorkshire, I grew up surrounded by cultural experiences. Dads, mine included, grew and competitively showed prize flowers as well as food. Many people’s parents were male voice or women’s choristers or brass band members. I learned to garden, cook, sew, shout at the local lower league football team, sing solo and ensemble pieces, play the piano, and appreciate local dramatic and operatic productions. My comprehensive school taught me to act, appreciate literature and art. Took me to museums and galleries as a matter of course. All these influences are part of my very being. They inform how I do my job, love my family, pursue my adult cultural interests with the same passion as I did then, and value my origins. And I’m delighted to say that I could no more single out just one event from this rich palette, than fly!
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