Signposting Cultural Capital

Cultural Capital is the skills, education, values, understanding and behaviours that is learnt by an individual which will give them an intellectual and economic advantage. The term originated from Pierre Bourdieu who used the term to describe the advantages (other than money) that people of a particular class accrue, which gives them advantage and social status.

The subject of Drama is rich with opportunities for accessing the development of cultural capital. However, we also need to be aware and accountable for how that cultural capital can be used to improve the learner’s chances in succeeding in Drama. The knowledge and experiences that the cultural capital brings to the curriculum goes into creating richer, broader, more complex and increasingly developed schema within the long-term memory.

We need to consider how we can use this additional knowledge and experience to improve learner’s proficiency and competency to access the higher ability levels of the cognitive processes. Learners operating at those higher-level processes are drawing on knowledge which does not just come from the teacher but also from the connections and comparisons made possible by their additional cultural capital.


Signposting is the most effective way of helping learners understand how, when and why these additional experiences and knowledge will help them gain ground in their learning.

Schema are formed automatically within the long-term memory. The teacher may attempt to influence that formation but cannot design it. One such way to influence its formation is to teach knowledge with cues which will help with retrieval. Signposting is similar in both use and application.

Where possible, signposting needs to take place at the point of experience and at the point of use. We need to be able to say that when students are doing a vocal warm up they can use those same vocal techniques when they are speaking in a presentation. We must be able to say that with each new performance project their self-belief, courage and self-confidence will grow. It is essential that we tell them the knowledge of the play that they have just been to see at the theatre will help them develop their own theatre making practice.

Likewise, we need to signpost when they are about to give a presentation, create a performance or write an essay that they can draw on those additional experiences and knowledge. Not only that they can do but should do. Should do because doing so will help them to speak more eruditely, create more resourcefully and write more informatively.


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