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.
David Cameron, Prime MinisterDavid Cameron, Prime Minister
It´s something that stays with you forever
Nigel Middleton, Chief Executive of Villers Park Educational Trust
Two events which occurred on the same day in 1968 stand out in my mind. Having arrived in Istanbul courtesy of an ancient Morris Minor, I was sitting in a crowded early morning dolmus en route to the Hagia Sophia when the seat next to was taken by a dancing bear en route with his owner to entertain the crowds of tourists waiting to go in. A few minutes later I was standing beneath the magnificent dome which, from its construction in 532AD, was the largest in the world for over a thousand years, towering over first the Christian practices of the Orthodox Church and then the Muslim ceremonies of the conquering Ottoman army from 1453. In those few short moments I underatood for the first time that my own cultural perspective was not the “right” one. From that time on, I have tried to be open to alternatives.
As a child I remember overhearing the music teacher at school rehearse a performance of the most ravishing song I had ever heard. I was 12 years old and I had no idea what it was, but something in the way the tune worked on my emotions made me fall in love with the girl I happened to be looking at across the classroom. I was in love with her for at least a week, and I have never forgotten the way the afternoon sunlight fell across her brown hair. I later learned that the music was the aria Voi che sapete from Mozart's ‘The Marriage of Figaro’, which is of course about exactly the experience I was undergoing (though at the time I couldn’t hear the words). What I learned from that was that the most intense and important experiences we have at school go on outside the curriculum, and almost always without the knowledge of the teachers. Consequently any attempts to regulate education by government, or anyone else, will miss the point and fail. It taught me no ‘skills’ at all.
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!