Brexit: Cultural Challenge or Opportunity?


Now that the concept of our exit from Europe is becoming clearer, in some peoples’ minds at least, perhaps it’s time to start thinking about what it might mean for our education and our culture. After all, it‘s possible to look at it as the greatest intellectual challenge of our time: For the first time in over 40 years we have the opportunity to contribute to a country – with a long and successful history – which will be starting a new relationship with most other counties in the world. In many ways it sounds great and very exciting. Or a foolhardy step into the unknown; it probably depends on which way you voted.

You could make a start with our government: A democracy. The ‘Mother of Parliaments’. Coming up for 800 years old, with our oldest universities not far behind. This gives us at least a pedigree to fall back on. Our confidence in world affairs derives from history like this. And we have institutions like Chatham House and the Royal United Services Institute to help us maintain our influence internationally and display our expertise in this area. The Commonwealth is still there to remind us of the number of countries willing to maintain the advantages and benefits of sticking together, too. We also have some of the world’s greatest tourist attractions, from the Tower of London to Stratford, so we’re hardly going to fall off anyone’s map!

You could argue that more than anything we have an outstanding cultural history and tradition; a special place for its practices and values in our national life. After all, our press and broadcasting is the envy of many in the world. We produced the world’s greatest playwright, our poets and novelists are second to none and our architecture, music and arts festivals are as good as anywhere in the world. Much of this is supported by the British Council whose job it is to promote awareness of the English language and to encourage cultural cooperation internationally. In fact their CEO has written an article on the implications of Brexit for outward looking organisations like his own – well worth a read.

So instead of fearing possible isolation, we should perhaps be grasping this opportunity with both hands to explore possible new links, alignments, opportunities and ideas. Ultimately, change is happening now whether we like it or not. The best way to make sure our cultural and educational heritage remains as fine and well respected at it is is to adapt and develop as soon as we can.

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I'm semi-retired after a successful and much enjoyed career in education. Funnily enough, my last job was as a tutor for OOL. I taught on courses providing professional training for school support staff, as well as A level English Literature and English Literature GCSE. I've had an interesting career, in schools, colleges, adult education, the Arts and a few other bits and bobs. At one stage I was also a local authority inspector. Now I'm a school governor, and am enjoying watching my young grandchildren go through their own first experiences of school. Through these articles I hope to keep you up to date with different aspects of education news – and also to keep you interested!

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