Cover image: Culture Chat

Culture Chat

Kieran Halliwell, a newly qualified primary teacher, explains how a 15 minute 'culture chat' each day has broadened horizons in the classroom At the dawn of 2013, in a little classroom in Oxfordshire, a mixed Year 3/4 class (ages 7-9 years) began a five-week project called Culture Chat. The project, which was originally an experiment in exploring understanding, engaged the children and ignited their curiosity so much that now, five months later, it’s still growing.

What is it?

Culture Chat OutcomesCulture Chat is, quite simply, time put aside to discuss culture and explore the world around us. Our class spent 15 minutes a day discussing our own knowledge and experiences, reading the blogs of travelling friends and asking questions about them - and compared life in other countries to life in our area of the UK. Culture Chat is rooted in a philosophical approach and its success is dependent upon it being child-led. The project aims, initially to be met at the end of the five-week project, were as follows:
  • Have a broader cultural knowledge.
  • Have developed curiosity and questions about other cultures and ways of living.
  • Be able to identify similarities/differences/make comparisons between life in England and life in the link bloggers' destination.
  • Make comparisons between our current knowledge and experiences and that of the link bloggers.
However, as well as meeting these aims, it had many other unforeseen benefits in other areas of the curriculum too, most notably in writing. This should not have come as any surprise as we were doing shared reading daily and shared writing whenever constructing our own blog posts. In addition to this, there was a lot of discussion and peer reviewing between the children.

Main benefits:

  • Improved writing skills (see our first blog post compared with week 4)
  • ICT skills and knowledge covered in context, particularly e-safety aspects
  • Geographical knowledge
  • Correction of religious and cultural misconceptions
  • Increased confidence in children and positive relationships between them.
To me, the most rewarding part of Culture Chat was the growth in confidence of certain children in the class and the sudden interest in, and appreciation of each other’s backgrounds. In an ever growing multi-cultural world, it is important that misconceptions are addressed and similarities/differences appreciated.

The here and now

Despite my leaving Ash class in February 2013, Culture Chat has continued at the children’s request. They have maintained their blog and their learning, and we now use a country as a theme for each month. We are keen to link with more schools/organisations to build a hub of cultural curiosity, led by children but educating everyone.

Develop Culture Chat in your classroom

  • Create a working wall for the learning that will inevitably ensue (see mine here)
  • Dedicate 15 minutes a day to the exploration and discussion of cultural knowledge, recording any questions the children have. (I used to stick Post-It notes to the display wall.)
  • Use Google Earth to show where places are in context
  • One day a week, maintain a page on the Culture Chat website to share your journey, or set up your own blog…
Follow Kieran on Twitter: @Ezzy_Moon Think Global’s Global Learning Guidelines help primary and secondary schools to consider how to develop a global learning school. These guidelines are a reflective tool that schools can use during a staff CPD session, and consider how to develop a whole school approach to global learning. This blog by Kieran is an excellent example of a school that is developing outstanding global learning students through their day-to-day school curriculum activities. The guidelines state that "an outstanding global learning student is curious about the wider world and seeks to broaden his or her horizons", and Culture Chat is a great starting point to do this. We're keen to share other examples of outstanding global learning in schools. If you have an example, why not write a blog for us, and share it with the 8,000+ educators who visit our site each month? Contact us at, providing details of what you’d like to blog about.