Branch office Remscheid

Küppelstein 34
42857 Remscheid

Branch office Berlin

Greifswalder Straße 4
10405 Berlin

Marienburger Straße 3
10405 Berlin

Phone +49 (0) 30 – 48 48 60 - 0
Fax +49 (0) 30 – 48 48 60 - 70


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What is cultural education?

Achieving good practice

How to recognise good cultural education programmes

Good practice in cultural learning and arts education for children and young people relies on meeting the cultural-educational, artistic and structural criteria that make up the principles of cultural work with children and young people.

Educational and artistic criteria for good practice

Forms of cultural expression as a starting point

Cultural, artistic or playful forms of expression play an important and central role. They provide the impulse and the frame of reference for what happens, for example, experimenting with and acquiring forms of cultural expression by yourself or appreciating and exploring art and culture. All this is part of cultural education practice.

Focussing on strengths and interests

Cultural education for children and young people focuses on their strengths by asking what are you already able to do and what would you still like to discover or learn? What can each and every one contribute to designing or creating something together? Different forms of cultural expression help young people deal with questions and topics that interest or move them. Good practice takes the analogue and digital lives of children and young people into account and values and supports their curiosity and thirst for knowledge. The choices of artistic means, forms of cultural expression or playful methods are guided by the interests of the children and young people involved. In particular, this approach gives room to forms of expression that are shaped by the participants’ diverse backgrounds or specific youth cultures.

Voluntary participation is fundamental

Children and young people decide to participate in cultural education programmes or projects on a voluntary basis. Where attendance is mandatory, for example at school, they should be able to choose from a range of projects and forms of participation. The participants should co-determine the concept, process, topics, questions and forms of cultural expression of the programme or project as much as possible. Children and young people are regarded and valued as partners in a playful and aesthetic design process. They actively contribute to shaping the practical experience and realise that they can achieve something by working together. They are encouraged to develop and express their own positions and to discuss them with others.

Interaction of physical, intellectual and emotional experiences

Cultural education practice combines emotional, intellectual, physical and social experiences and, in particular, appeals to sensory and aesthetic perception. It is characterised by a dynamic alternation of intellectual and physical activities, verbal and non-verbal interaction, and sensations and reflections.

Diversity as the norm – inclusion as standard

Cultural education must be accessible and available to all children and young people. This also includes the way it is communicated. It approaches different backgrounds and experiences, the needs of different genders and age groups, and individual abilities with openness and appreciation. Discrimination is exposed and resolutely fought against. The individuality and diversity of the young participants are the basis of the joint cultural education process. The values of cultural education practice are based on human rights and guided by human dignity. Interactions are rooted in trust, mindfulness and respect. Cultural education practitioners and participants take each person, their individuality and their comments seriously and critically examine power structures and power relationships.

Children and young people are fully protected

Children and young people will find a safe environment in which they are fully protected from violence and any other form of abuse. Cultural education practitioners will be alert to any threat to the welfare of the child and will use all means at their disposal to take action against sexualised, physical or psychological violence, abuse or neglect.

Structural Conditions for Good Practice

A variety of subjects, formats and venues

If cultural education is to reach as many people as possible and appeal to their individual strengths, interests and needs, it has to cover a wide range of subjects and formats and offer a comprehensive network of informal, non-formal and formal venues, occasions and programmes. This includes cultural institutions, such as art schools, music schools, museums, libraries and theatres, as well as (open) youth centres, nurseries, schools and social facilities. Cultural and educational spaces and those who work there should not be subject to constant changes. They have to be able to offer their services reliably and continuously to be effective.

Qualified and motivated professionals

The quality of cultural education programmes can be guaranteed only by well-trained (culture) teachers and artists working under secure conditions. The different professionals and professions each have specific skills that enable them to deal with different people, encourage them to participate and guide them through their cultural education process. They are supported by volunteers who are given the option to gain relevant qualifications.

Coherent concepts and frameworks

The topics and questions discussed, the (cultural-)educational and artistic expertise and the organisation of venues and times have to form an overall concept that is backed up by a sound framework, such as the availability of rooms, materials and technical equipment. These conditions ensure that artistic processes develop their dynamics and cultural education succeeds.

The BKJ is committed to high-quality cultural education in youth work in cultural institutions and associations, schools and nurseries. The BKJ provides professional and strategic advice to anyone who is, or is planning to become, involved in youth work, the cultural sector or schools in a practical or academic capacity. Please feel free to get in touch with us. Our professional events are a great opportunity for networking, discussions and the exchange of knowledge and experience.


Funded by

Zur Internetseite des Bundesministeriums für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend

The German Federation for Arts Education and Cultural Learning (BKJ) is the umbrella organisation for cultural education in Germany.