Only if education and culture were two dissociable, dissonant and indissoluble terms, could one speak of that kind of space inside which knowledge would move as in an Escher staircase. Oblivious to their intersections, knowledge would not occupy (one) place, but two, and would wander awkwardly from one place to another without finding a confluence or scenario of cooperation. It is on that platform, in that arena of knowledge collaboration, where ideas, talents and things are fertilised. With no option but to collide, knowledge would simply be an unknown voice.
There is no room for suspicion when talking about this leaded binomial under the convention of mutual demand. Education and culture… Perhaps one of the two terms could be passed off as superordinate to the other, if one knew, in the end, which is made up of which. But the Era of Disinformation, with the forgiveness of Castells, seems to have marked, at times, a distance between them, even if it is fallacious and hopefully fleeting. In the Aristotelian classification of knowledge, theoretical activity was proposed as the best possible life against the productive sciences and practical knowledge, which satisfied primary needs and the democratic exercise of freedom, respectively.
In the worst of the possible lives that we occasionally think we are living in, we have created educational systems that do not necessarily harbour cultural ones, but that compromise knowledge and subject it to the imperative of having a profession. Undoubtedly, educational institutions should not be isolated circuits of society, culture or history. But the reality is that we often peek into places of knowledge, expecting them to be, above all, places that popularise what is useful. And the useful thing is, simply, that which enables productive and practical knowledge to develop professionally, little else. That vision of knowledge as an immediately applicable matter – because it is necessary to live on something – is, however, on the brink of a new landscape that has been modelled not only by education in recent years, but also by industry itself. That is why culture is more than ever called for, with all its ramifications and lack of definition; because it completes what is useful and, especially, because it distinguishes it and makes it valuable. Its benefits, therefore, are two:
(1) Culture, although often outside the programme, complements the learning carried out in the educational system and capitalises on it. At the beginning of the 60s, the filmmaker Roberto Rossellini decided to leave the cinema to explore the didactic possibilities of television and create, consequently, a visual encyclopaedia for learning. This bold gesture to use the media in order to influence training from cultural creation is, in the end, similar to many other messages that technology offers us today. In fact, that education is in the process of implosion sounds already obvious. For this rupture of its own cavities, the circulation of knowledge through the cyber public sphere is partly responsibility, because, despite the misinformation that we alluded to earlier and the imperfect formulas of data acquisition, the internet displays a certain sense of democratisation regarding access to knowledge. Video tutorials, MOOCs, blogs, wikis… The horizon of learning widens, the ceiling rises. Then competition for knowledge which is useful becomes greater, and that is where the cultivation of other knowledge becomes essential due to its extraordinary contribution.
(2) Culture, although often unconsciously, becomes a sign of genuineness. In Notes Towards a Definition of Culture, T.S. Eliot wonders if, through education, culture can be transmitted to society and infers, to a certain extent, that education – also an object of inaccuracies – is nothing more than a tool at the service of cultural action. But culture can also be at the service of education in this system in which they have gone forward on parallel journeys, and where education has been understood as programmatic knowledge designed for what is useful. Confidence in culture as an instrument for learning acquires not only a supplementary benefit, because it complements knowledge, but also gives it a different aura, a differential element. And it is here, where its second virtue lies: in the space of education, where programmes suffer from such indicated rigidity, culture adds an enormously interesting additional benefit. It brings nuance, colour and depth to a monochrome and predictable landscape. If the added value of the 21st century professional involves the uniqueness of knowledge in the face of such formative competence, cultural education is, without any doubt, its great provider.
With regard to training in the visual arts, the academic Alain Bergala affirmed in an interview with Educateur (No. 10) that “any pedagogy has the duty to slow down images and time”. Indeed, education seeks unequivocally to settle and remain in the imagination of the person who acquires knowledge. As does culture, to interact with what we learn and, to a certain extent, sublimate it. In that moment of deceleration of images and times in which that fusion between culture and education takes place, talents emerge, differences emerge and the abyss between what is useful and what is truly valuable is highlighted. Because, at the end of the training, already in the industry, what is expected is not only what is useful, practical or applicable, but, above all, what is excellent.
Professor of Communication