Cultural education
The value for social interaction

Ralf Seifert. Sächsisches Staatsministerium für Kultus (SMK); Photo: © SMK
Ralf Seifert. Sächsisches Staatsministerium für Kultus (SMK) | Photo (detail): © SMK

Numerous international declarations have guaranteed every young person the right to cultural education. Ralf Seifert is advisor on cultural education in the Saxony Ministry of Cultural Affairs and has there successfully implemented a variety of programmes for the cultural education of young people. In an interview with he talks about the value of an aesthetic education for social interaction.

Mr Seifert, how do you define cultural education?

The basic understanding of the Saxony Ministry of Cultural Affairs is based on the statements of the German Cultural Council, the Study Commission on Culture in Germany and the Federal Association for the Cultural Education of Children and Young People. Cultural education enables the development of various skills. We assume three key perspectives that are to be developed: the capacity of perception, the capacity of developing forms and the capacity for interaction in a social context. In order to throw light on and evaluate processes, we move not only on the level of pure production but also on the level of reception and reflection. These three levels include aspects of social participation.

Cultural education in the classroom

What role do schools play in cultural education?

Cultural education in Saxony has been established in the education plan since 2006 and in the curricula of all types of schools since 2004. We are of the view that cultural education must be rooted in the classroom. We therefore make many tools and formats available with which the multipliers can develop a high degree of effectiveness. Through creative exercises in advanced training courses, teachers are shown that in the field of culture there is not only one possible solution but rather very many coexisting equivalent processes which go to making up an artistic problem or a cultural task. They can then bring the experience they have gained into the classroom.

How does it look with respect to the responsibility of cultural institutions?

The cultural institutions of Saxony are an immense support in the implementation of services in cultural education. And since they also have an educational mandate, structures and networks are now in place so that we can develop joint approaches. The cooperation in bigger cities is naturally easier because there the concentration of cultural institutions is higher. Saxony, however, has more schools in rural than in urban areas. This is a real challenge that has confronted us for many years. We try to meet it with various idea competitions, cooperations and programmes.

Programmes and awards promote research-based learning

Could you name a few cultural educational programmes in Saxony?

We launched the programme “LearningCityMuseum in Saxony – School Children Discover Museums”, which initially was a pilot programme in cooperation with the Robert Bosch Foundation. Starting with the idea of learning through research, school children are encouraged to get in touch with museums about their questions. There they can then learn more about the culture and history of their region through their self-initiated projects. The other programme is called “Pegasus – Schools Adopt Monuments”. It awards prizes to schools for the best ideas. The children develop questions with which they want to explore a monument. They then receive financial awards and are themselves responsible for the progress of the project.

What other strategies of cultural education are there?

I’m fascinated by the program “Culture.Researcher!”, which is a joint programme of the German Children and Youth Foundation and the PwC Foundation Youth-Education-Culture. As culture researchers, school children study cultural aspects of their everyday lives. They get suggestions and ideas from experts. In the end, they present their research results and pose new questions. Saxony is taking part in this programme. I believe that such projects offer the opportunity to anchor cultural education in the education system on the long-term.