Virtual Schoolbags Essay

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Thompson’s notion of the ‘virtual schoolbag’ is an important one for educators to know. Why?

Thompson’s theory of the ‘virtual schoolbag’ provides educators with an invaluable metaphor for the unique experiences, knowledge, talents, interests, challenges and difficulties that each student brings with them to school every day. Children from some socio-cultural backgrounds naturally feel more comfortable than others in the school environment (Thompson, 2002, p.5), the ‘virtual schoolbag’ highlights this disparity and can assist educators to enact a more relevant curriculum, in an environment that feels more inclusive to everyone. Diversity must be celebrated alongside similarities in order to provide all children with truly equal opportunities
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The Australian Curriculum encourages engagement with many cultures for the development of “intercultural understanding” (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2014). Knowledge of Thompson’s ‘virtual schoolbag’ can assist teachers to implement a curriculum equally relevant to all children, challenging the privilege and disadvantage that many feel is still entrenched in the Australian education system, helping to level the playing field.

The contents of children’s ‘virtual schoolbags’ are dependent on their socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. There is, according to Thrupp (2014), a “general middle-class advantage” and also, students arrive at school “unevenly prepared for the teacher’s cultural assumptions that inform his or her literacy teaching” (O’Brien, 1998. p.16). Children who are most prepared for academic success, reside in this advantageous position due simply to the family they were born into and the ‘cultural capital’ they consequently possess (Thompson, 2002, p.5). Whilst a child from a middle-class, Anglo-Celtic background might find the
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