Leveling the Playing Field? Building Cultural Capital through Learning Destinations

Monday, 16 July 2018: 11:10
Oral Presentation
Can-Seng OOI, University of Tasmania, Australia
Becky SHELLEY, University of Tasmania, Australia
Cultural capital refers to cultural competences, either in the embodied sense of valued lifestyles or in the institutionalised sense of educational credentials. Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital has enabled researchers to view capital as a resource – one that provides scarce rewards and under certain conditions may be transmitted from one generation to the next. Children from lower socio-economic backgrounds may not exhibit the embodied sense cultural capital that supplements or enhances achievement in the formal education system.

In this ongoing project, we look at the Children’s University Tasmania, and how it attempts to use tourism places as resources to build cultural capital in the local community. While it is a project to support children in local communities, it employs a tourism framework to enhance learning. These are done through improving access to extra-curricular ‘Learning Activities’ to children aged 7 to 14, and engage the wider community as ‘Learning Destinations’ in the process. When a child becomes a member of the Children’s University Tasmania they are given a ‘Passport to Learning’ in which they record their participation in activities at ‘Learning Destinations’. The activities may include visits to galleries, museums, dance schools, music, sports clubs and heritage sites. After completing 30 hours of validated learning, their achievement is celebrated at a formal graduation ceremony, a significant cultural experience itself. The Children’s University builds a bridge for parents and guardians to visit places that they do not normally go in order to expose children to diverse cultural experiences.

This project arises from our good intention to support the Children’s University’s aim to promote social mobility by providing high quality learning out-of-school hours learning activities to children. But we now begin to question the research knowledge we are producing: Are we sanctioning particular types of "level playing fields"?