Staff Interview 5: Rachel Ray Chouduri



So for my final staff interview I have interviewed Rachel Ray-Chouduri who is the Head of Expressive Arts, Assistant Head Teacher and Lead Practicioner for the Teaching and Learning Faculty!

Do our students have Cultural Capital?

"When I first started at Haggerston (15 years ago) there was a huge gap, especially in the Arts"
"In the arts there is a history out there (that is impossible to teach) that makes their vocabulary their understanding and their connections so much easier (if they knew about it)".

Ray interestingly highlighted the recent change in the demographic of our school due to gentrification of Hackney and the explosion of the arts in Shoreditch and East London:

"What we have now is that we have a different type of middle class young person due to their culturally knowledgeable parents

"(what i was used to was) trying to teach drama to people who had never been to the theatre"
"the head of music used to teach music where maybe one person had ever played an instrument before and now we have grade 8 piano, peoples fathers play in bands etc  and its a huge advantage to those students"

Is cultural capital actually an advantage? 

"We have always had incredible exam results in Drama (even with students who don't possess cultural capital)"

"But now with the new specifications it is quite serious, it shouldn't be called drama it should be called theatre.. which is a upper /middle class art form. We used to create drama based on young peoples own stories and now we have to look at theatre from the point of view of a director."

Now students cant create plays with their own words they have to use set texts and this hugely advantages people who have experience in that world (of theatre, shakespeare etc)

Context is also a huge part.

"The difference is that before it was 'this is what we want you to learn but how you do it can be through different methods' but now its much more prescriptive and 'you need to learn pre 20th century and Brecht"

How can we address cultural capital and the curriculum shift: 

"Our students are rich in cultural capital just not the right one"

- "We have tried to spend every last penny on taking the drama students to the theatre more"
- getting more professionals in to talk about how they make theatre.
- reading texts and buying texts.

Ray highlighted her lack of cultural capital when she was at home and how she got her exposure to culture through the type of school she went to.

"Cultural capital is a massive advantage... and we need more outside resources."


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