Parents as Trainers, Kids as Creative Capital? UK Report Worth A Read if You Can Get Beyond the Weird Stuff
A new report published by the UK think tank Demos zeroes in on the important role that parents play in teaching kids about culture and creativity. We're the trainers of the next generation of cultural workers.
Perhaps I should mention that Demos is a Progressive Conservative think tank. While a lot of the points they make have a lot of validity, the way they phrase things can get a little creepy. Sometimes they seem to forget that most of us became parents for reasons other than to meet the future staffing needs of employers.
Parents as trainers, kids as cultural capital...and the family as a development site
"Educational and cultural institutions will play their part in aiding the transition to ‘thinking jobs’, but the development of the new skills required for future jobs is also dependent on the home environment," Making of Me study co-authors Jen Lexmond and Shelagh Wright write. "Evidence from developmental psychology tells us that soft skills – creativity, application and social skills – are developed in the earliest years. The family is therefore a key site for creative and cultural development."
But wait! - there are dividends, too!
Initiating the creative and cultural education of their kids also reaps major dividends for the family, the authors note: "Families that engage in creative and cultural learning activities together become more resilient. As an institution, the family becomes more meaningful and adolescents acquire better coping strategies for problems in later life."
The good stuff
When the report gets down to the real nitty-gritty, valuable points are made.
Here's Paul Collard, Chief Executive at Creative and Cultural Education, UK, for example, being quoted on the invisible barriers that keep families away from participating in creative and cultural learning opportunities (and, I would argue, from participating in other types of "free" community programs as well):
"Cost remains the most fundamental barrier to families engaging in creative and cultural learning. Even when opportunities are free of charge, there remains a stubborn suspicion among some families (especially low-income families) that such opportunities will not remain free. Then, added to this suspicion, are a multitude of anticipated risks: the risk not being able to afford it; the risk of added costs (for example, entry to a museum might be free but then what about food, the gift-shop etc?); the risk of being made to feel dependent on someone else; the risk of embarrassment etc. Therefore, there remains a real need for ‘low-risk’ invitations. Ultimately, creative and cultural learning opportunities need to be designed from a family perspective." (p. 18)
You can download a copy of the full report from the Demos website. Bizarre "parents-as-trainers-of-future-workforce" overtones aside, it really is worth checking out.