Cultural Capital Studies

Every morning our Year 13 students start their day with 30 minutes of Cultural Capital Studies. The purpose of CCS is to give our students a solid foundation of knowledge based on some of the most influential ideas that have shaped western civilisation such as the theories of Plato, Copernicus, Adam Smith, Descartes, Wollstonecraft … to name a few. Through CCS our students should receive not only Powerful Knowledge but Knowledge of the Powerful so that they can have a seat at the table and access any industry or profession of their choosing.

Why do we have Cultural Capital Studies?

Try to think about something you don’t know? You can’t think about something you don’t know. No one can think about what they don’t know. The best you can do is ask, “what don’t I know?” As our thinking changes, so does what we hold to be true. Knowledge changes us.

Greater knowledge equals greater thinking:

  1. Knowledge is what we think both with and about.
  2. We cannot think with or about something we don’t know.
  3. The more we know about something, the more sophisticated our thinking.

The argument for Cultural Capital Studies

Not all knowledge is equal. Some knowledge has more cultural significance and is more powerfully rich than other knowledge. It is more valued in society. “Those who possess powerful, culturally rich knowledge are more likely to be successful – academically and otherwise” – David Didau, 2019, Making Kids Cleverer

“Education should be an entitlement to knowledge” Michael Young, 2014, the Curriculum and Entitlement to Knowledge

“If some people know something and others don’t, those who don’t will find themselves excluded or marginalised from the group which does. If, as is the case in every society human beings have ever developed, those in the more knowledgeable group have more power and influence, those excluded from the group will find themselves on the fringes of society” David Didau, 2019, Making Kids Cleverer

“If we tried to teach children a fully non-traditional knowledge set, they could not master the existing language of power and success” Hirsch, 2016, Why Knowledge Matters

“We should accept the truth of history, which is that white men have dominated intellectual life in the west … if we acquaint ourselves with the grammars of the west, it will help us to understand and succeed” Lindsay Johns, 2010, In praise of Dead White Men

It is true that western civilisation has been founded primarily on the knowledge of dead white men. This doesn’t mean that dead white men will continue to influence future thinking. However, all of our students need to learn powerful knowledge/ knowledge of the powerful and then learn to critique it. We can’t criticise something we don’t understand.

What knowledge do we teach in Cultural Capital Studies?

There is so much powerful knowledge that we could choose to teach in CCS. However, we have worked hard to condense this into some of the core powerful knowledge we think every student who leaves Year 13 should know. One question a student might ask is, “Why do I need to know about old theories?” It is a fair question, the reality is that even though many of these theories have been around for hundreds if not thousands of years they still influence some of key thinking of those in power. It is the Lindy Effect in action. The Lindy Effect states that the longer a theory has been around the longer it will continue to be around.

Is there such thing as too much knowledge?

We have more than enough capacity in our brain to learn everything there is to learn. Researchers judged that the total memory capacity of the brain is in the region of a petabyte (a million gigabytes) – roughly equivalent to the total contents of the World Wide Web (Bartol et al, 2015, Nanoconnectomic Upper Bound on the Variability of Synaptic Plasticity). For all practical purposes the limits of our long term memory are limitless. There is no such thing as too much knowledge.

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