Cultural Learning Alliance

Art, images, artefacts, songs, culture are the principal means by which human beings define themselves

Bob and Roberta Smith
ImagineNation: The Case for Cultural Learning



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.

Sir Stuart Rose, Chairman, M&S

Sir Stuart Rose, Chairman, M&S
“I probably couldnĀ“t do what I do without it”
Julie Bull, DCMS

In one of my very first English Literature A-level lessons, we embarked on TS Elliot with some trepidation. My English teacher, for whom I had a growing admiration, played us a recording of 'The Wasteland' read aloud by the man himself. I couldn’t begin to understand the work on any intellectual level but had a reaction deep in some other part of my heart or mind to the sheer scale and beauty of the language. I felt as if a door had opened somewhere, beyond which there were limitless things to discover, to learn, and to understand. We went on to delve into this amazing literary epic in the weeks to come. I wrote about the poem, thought endlessly about its intricacies and depths. I will still never understand parts of it – but therein lies its great power and mystery. It was the starting point for my choosing to study English Literature at university and to my life-long love of reading.
Dr John Steers, General Secretary, National Society for Education in Art & Design

Aged about 14 I was taken by my school art teacher to the local (not very good) gallery. We were asked to identify the work we liked best. I chose a drawing of Abbeville Cathedral by John Ruskin and when asked why, I said that I admired the detail in the drawing. The response was an immediate put down: 'Beware detail, young Steers'. I thought 'you can think what you like, I want to draw as well as that'. I've been trying to do so ever since for the last fifty years!
Bridget McKenzie, Flow Associates

It's hard to recall one memory because I was lucky enough for my childhood to be filled with culture. My parents are arts educators, so there were museums, books, music and inspiring friends. We know parental influence is a vital factor in young people's confidence in exploring culture. To pick one memory, it's Edward & Ruth Barker's sculpture studios in Norfolk. My dad taught summer courses there. We kids hung out in their garden, drawing giant hogweed, squidging clay into tree bark, flicking through books about Picasso. I remember feeling that art was something we could all do, children and adults, as it was simply looking and playing, over and over. I was privileged, not because of any special talents, but because I lived with adults who knew how to keep art in their lives.
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