Cultivating ‘depth education’ for their children’s future: What Chinese parents desire

Year: 2021

Author: Soong, Hannah

Type of paper: Symposium

Discussions of the public and public education have been conducted largely within the worldview of stable, Western societies, and some have been based on models to emphasise on ‘performativity’. One key example of a colonial engagement through education is the drive to perform and achieve good test scores. Since 1990s when the East Asian education systems including Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea topped the international TIMMS league tables, Western nations such as United Kingdom and Australia have been looking to the East by increasing standardization and competition. While Asia education appears to be thriving, more Chinese middle-class families are equally eager to embrace a Western style of education for their children (Soong, 2018 and forthcoming). In this paper, I am hoping to provide a transpositional assessment (Sen 2002) to demonstrate the emerging solidarity of how some Chinese middle-class parents struggle to solely focus on their child’s academic achievements at the costs of fulfilment.Based on a two-year interview study of a group of Chinese parents who send their children to accredited international bilingual schools in Shanghai, I understand aspects of the ‘public’ in ‘public education’ are not to be constructed by utopian or ideal types. The proliferation of such international schools has increased from around 2, 590 to 11, 450 to serve 5.8 million students, with the major concentrations in the Middle East, East Asia and Southeast Asia (ISC Research 2020); thereby, perpetuating the legacies of coloniality which are played out through formal structures of testing and competition. For Andreotti, education demands ‘depth’ and I argue parents have a role to play in this. On an individual level, although the Chinese parents are working towards realigning their educational practices so that they do not just participate in strategizing their children for a global world of foreseeable, but fierce, competition. Yet, they may have unintentionally caused their children stress at an earlier age than before. I argue that this is an example of a paradoxical and complex relational solidarity to resist their own ‘modern/colonial’ ontology and desire (Andreotti 2021) to ‘push’ their children to perform: one that is enmeshed within an ethics of parenting to rechart an alternate education.References:Andreotti V. 2021. Depth education and the possibility of GCE otherwise, Globalisation, Societies and Education, DOI: 10.1080/14767724.2021.1904214ISC Research. 2020b. “China Market Intelligence Report 2020.” Accessed 3 June 2021., A. 2002. Rationality and Freedom. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Soong, H. 2018. “What We Know About Why Chinese International Students Come to Australia to Study.” The Conversation, June 1., H. (forthcoming in 2021). Raising Shanghai-Chinese children by their middle-class parents: A Bourdieuian case-study in Mu, M & Dooley, K. (Eds). Bourdieu and Chinese Education: Transbordering Intellectual, Socio-educational, and Geopolitical Spaces. Routledge: London.