8.5 Developing cultural and creative competences
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Formal education plays a prominent role in the acquisition of artistic and creative competences as well as cultural knowledge (history of art), particularly through artistic teaching content on the core curriculum up to lower secondary school level, which forms part of the broader programme of artistic and cultural education, implemented by National Education together with the Ministry of Culture.
This policy is enshrined in the Guidance and Planning Law of 8 July 2013 for restructuring French schools, which provides that artistic and cultural education in schools comprise "a learning path for all schoolchildren throughout their schooling", which is "implemented at local level" and in which "cultural and artistic stakeholders along with associations can [...] be involved".The importance of artistic and cultural education has been firmly established with the plan for "Arts and Culture in Schools (plan À l’école des arts et de la culture). See 8.3 National strategy on creativity and culture for young people
The learning outcomes of artistic and cultural education are to:
- Enable all schoolchildren to forge a rich and coherent personal culture throughout their schooling;
- Develop and increase their artistic practice;
- Enable encounters with artists and artworks and attendance of cultural venues.
This programme entails creating a PEAC - artistic and cultural learning path (parcours d'éducation artistique et culturelle) for primary and secondary schoolchildren. The point is to create complementary links between their different educational moments: while at school, at after-school or holiday club and during extracurricular activities. Three pillars underpin the learning path:
- Artistic learning (part of the core curriculum up to lower secondary school level); musical education, visual and plastic arts (primary).
- Encounters with artists and artworks through partnerships.
- Artistic practices which may be hosted in establishments and be built on outside the establishment.
- Monitoring of the child's artistic and cultural learning path via a digital platform: FOLIOS which enables formal documentation of learning paths, from primary school through to upper secondary schools (lycées). Schoolchildren have a personal online section on this platform, which teachers can access to update throughout their learning paths.
Other actions forming part of artistic and cultural education also foster the acquisition of creative and cultural competences. These include:
The culture correspondent (référent culture)
In each upper secondary school (lycée), a teacher can put him- or herself forward for the position of school culture correspondent (référent culture). In this capacity, s/he is responsible for the school's cultural life and for coordinating partnerships. These correspondents keep an eye on and implement the cultural aspects of the school's strategic plan.
Partnership between the CNC - National Cinema Centre (centre national du cinéma) and National Education
The partnership between the CNC, Ministry of National Education and local authorities has been running for some twenty years now. It takes concrete form through the projects "Primary school and the movies" (Ecole et cinéma), "Lower secondary school at the movies" (Collège au cinéma) and "Upper secondary school students at the movies" (Lycéens au cinéma) which, for the past twenty years or so, have given pupils and students the chance to watch high-quality heritage and contemporary films chosen with the CNC at partner cinemas. (This partnership is not systematic across all schools).
History of art lessons
History of art lessons are taught to all schoolchildren from primary school right through to upper secondary school level. They give the children insight into artworks from different artistic movements, periods and civilisations and, through a multidisciplinary approach, can be taught by all willing teachers in the form of shared projects. At lower secondary school, these lessons are delivered by history-geography, plastic arts and music teachers. Pupils also have digital resources to hand for rounding off or advancing their knowledge of history of art. Examples of such websites are:
Sociocultural education in agricultural schools
Students attending agricultural schools attached to the Ministry of Agriculture are able to attend "sociocultural education" (ESC) classes bearing on several spheres including the "cultural and artistic sphere".
The learning outcomes of classes in the "cultural and artistic sphere" are to nurture creativity and judgement and to educate in the different forms of expression and communication. The ESC teacher must give students the opportunity of studying works and of trying their hand at artistic techniques.
Cultural and artistic education can, in practice, involve:
- Implementing a range of individual and collective practices, giving precedence to the sensitive approach and work using the imagination;
- Developing projects incorporating the work of artists;
- Devising a cultural programme for the association of students or the school which fosters artistic mediation.
Non-formal cultural education and action associations develop their own artistic and creative training programmes and projects. There is no system-wide programme or framework bearing on the development of cultural and creative skills.
Training for "plastic arts and choir singing and music education" teachers is regulated by National Education. During their vocational training and study for the CAPES - postgraduate certificate in secondary teaching (certificat d’Aptitude au Professorat de l’Enseignement du Second degré), "Plastic Arts" or "choir singing and music education" specialism, candidates must acquire both practical and theoretical knowledge. The training and certificate arrangements are defined by legislation:
The learning outcomes of the plastic arts teacher training certificate (occupation) are to:
- Become well-versed in the history of artistic movements and techniques;
- Harness artistic culture and knowledge of plastic art;
- Situate and compare works of different kinds, from diverse periods, cultural and geographic areas;
- Analyse and explain changing practices in the plastic art sphere.
In addition, the examination for the certificate includes an artistic test aimed at "testing the candidate's artistic commitment, […] inventiveness and creativeness […] and know-how in terms of expression with plastic means".
Choir singing and music education
The CAPES - postgraduate certificate in secondary teaching, "Choir singing and music education" specialism has similar learning outcomes to the plastic arts specialism. The candidate must become well-versed in musical culture and technique and be able to pass musical knowledge on to students as well as develop a musical project.
Plastic arts, history of art and music teachers have all kinds of teaching aids to hand for drawing up their art lesson plans and learning how to teach their subjects. These resources can be found on the National Education website, EDUSCOL, which, for each subject, outlines the learning outcomes and suggests teaching content.
What is more, when the teacher is also his or her school's culture correspondent (référent culture), s/he receives specific training in three main areas: knowledge of the artistic and cultural education environment, proficiency in the partner-based project methodology and making optimum use of shared resources.
Cultural facilitators and educators
Training in the cultural facilitation occupations is overseen, for the administrative aspects, by the Ministries of Sport and Youth, which award the facilitation diplomas.
"Cultural facilitation" is defined by the framework (référentiel) of the BPJEPS - Vocational Certificate for Youth, Non-Formal Education and Sport (brevet professionnel de la jeunesse, de l'éducation populaire et du sport), "cultural facilitation" specialism, which clarifies the role of the cultural facilitator.
This role must come within a non-formal education approach and foster "development of community ties", particularly for the people furthest removed from culture because of their social situation. In this regard, the facilitator designs and leads, completely independently, cultural events and projects with four key activities in mind:
1. Cultural guidance;
2. Organising group activities, developing expression and creativity;
3. Participation in implementing local partnerships in the realm of cultural facilitation;
4. Supporting amateur cultural practices and projects.
On the subject of developing creativity, the facilitator must carry out appropriate educational initiatives using technical tools and media that s/he is familiar with (in terms of their characteristics) thanks to the training modules.
The involvement of facilitators does not replace the need for artistic initiatives – rather, this should be complementary and serve as an invitation to take part in artistic and cultural practices.
Cultural sector professionals
The cultural sector spans several different occupations which can come under the private or public sector. Regarding cultural occupations coming under the administrative remit of the Ministry of Culture, these are listed in a directory (répertoire) of occupations of the Ministry of Culture, which describes all of the occupations practised by ministerial staff according to activity and competence.
In the same way as central government across France does, the Ministry of Culture primarily recruits civil servants through competitive examinations. Fixed-term contracts are also available.
The competitive exams are annual and prepare candidates for occupations in different sectors (administrative, documentation, education, research, technical aspects and surveillance, art occupations). Examples of the types of occupation accessible via the competitive exams of the Ministry of Culture are:
- State architect and urban planner
- Chief Architects of historic monuments
- Heritage curator
- Library stack staff
- Heritage and cultural services engineer
- Professor of national graduate schools of art
The courses giving candidates access to these occupations can be taken in universities and public or private higher education institutions.
The creation of places, spaces of creativity is most often carried out at the scale of the territories, on the initiative of the local authorities, especially the municipalities in partnership with the deconcentrated services of the Ministry of Culture.
The public establishment of the Parc de la Grande Halle at La Villette has created the "Micro-folies" which constitutes "flexible spaces of cultural democracy and playful access to the oeuvres of national museums". It is mobile structures backed by an existing cultural structure (media library or hall of a town hall in the absence of a cultural venue) which integrate a digital museum and a Fab-Lab.
The micro-folies mobilize among others 12 major operators of the Ministry of Culture : The Louvre museum, the Georges-Pompidou museum, the Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac Museum, the RMN-Grand Palais, the Palace of Versailles, the Museum Picasso, Universcience, the Philharmonie of Paris, the Orsay Museum, the National Opera of Paris, the Institute of the Arab World and the Festival of Avignon.
Since 2018, 200 "Micro-Folies" have been installed throughout France, targeting in particular territories with less cultural facilities. These Micro-Folies can be installed perennially or be on "tour" in several cities by stationing 6 months in each city. The state pays a part of the costs to support cities that want to install a Micro-folie in their municipality.
For more information on micro-folies see 8.6 Developing entrepreneurial skills through cultural activities.
For example, the Paris City Council has founded the artistic public institution 104, which is a centre for residencies, production and dissemination for the general public and artists from all over the world. As somewhere to come and give free rein to artistic practices, the 104 also hosts exhibitions, concerts and performing arts shows (dance, theatre, circus, etc.). This unregulated open venue can be accessed freely with no booking required by young people keen on practising their art with no restrictions. The 104 is financed by public funding, which includes grants allocated by the City of Paris, the institution's own income and an endowment fund relying on contributions from the institution's partner sponsors.
MJC - Youth and culture centres (Maisons de jeunes et de la culture)
MJCs are symbolic venues in terms of the cultural participation of young people. Set up in the postwar era, they really came into their own in the 1960s-'70s with the development of the non-formal education movement to which they still belong to this day.
Youth and culture centres are facilities open to all youths for practising cultural, artistic and recreational activities, developing their own artistic sensitivity and expression and forge their own identity as citizens. According to the confederation principles of MJCs, their role is "to help each [young person] to develop their sensitivity and intelligence and provide them with the cultural means necessary for them to thrive."
Indeed, MJC - Youth and culture centres (Maisons de jeunes et de la culture) are actually Non-formal education associations gathered within a confederation. They can be found all over France, across more than 700 branches.They rely on contributions from their members as well as public subsidies (municipal and ministerial). They have been accredited by the Ministry of Youth as their work is recognised to be in the public interest. These centres also receive funding from local authorities via Multiannual objectives and resources agreements.