Social and Cultural Capital
At MEA Central, the purpose of our curriculum is to ensure that our students can 'meet every citizen as an equal.' We know that this cannot be achieved through excellent academic results alone, so we aim to ensure our students experience a gamut of rounded cultural and developmental opportunities through our co-curriculum.
In 1988, Ed Hirsch published ‘Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know’, which argues that certain cultural touchstones should be required for all students to memorise and understand. Hirsch contends knowing Shakespeare and Lincoln is just as important as learning your ABCs and multiplication tables. Why? Because a culturally literate person will more quickly identify idioms, jokes, and allusions and understand the full meaning of the references a text makes. Hirsch sees cultural literacy as necessary to allow students to “thrive in the modern world.” He states, “Cultural literacy constitutes the only sure avenue of opportunity for disadvantaged children, the only reliable way of combating the social determinism that now condemns them to remain in the same social and educational condition as their parents.”
In order to meet other citizens as equals, we understand that many of our students will not have been afforded many of the diverse range of experiences as other students across the country. Many of our students, for example, will never have been to see an opera or have read the Bible. Students may also have also had a limited understanding of the many different faiths and cultures that they live amongst in our diverse city.
The intention of our Social and Cultural Capital curriculum is to give students not only a greater understanding of themselves and others but to develop their ability to draw upon cultural knowledge across the academic curriculum.