Globalization in action: Elite schools and their borderless curriculum of travel and mobility

Year: 2012

Author: Koh, Aaron

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Elite schools take globalization seriously. But, how do they imagine globalization and put "globalization in action"? Drawing on Burawoy's (2000) sociological framework, "global forces, connectivity and imaginations", this paper reveals how two elite schools, Catheral College in Hong Kong, and Clarence High, in Singapore re-position schooling vis-à-vis globalization. From the broader global imaginings of the two elite schools, the paper then moves on to the micro analysis of the school's curriculum as an exemplification of "globalization in action". There is a visible articulation of learning outside the classroom and beyond its shores in the two elite schools. Students travel to far flung and regional countries for immersion, service learning, leadership training and study tour to widen their portfolio of academic credential; for elite schools know best that good grades for these high caliber students is a given. What they need to add on to their cultural capital are cosmopolitan sensibilities and dispositions. Elite schools clearly have this pedagogical mission in mind when they globalized their curriculum, but are these travels merely educational tourism as critics have suggested or does travel and mobility indeed shape their cosmopolitan sensibilities and dispositions? And is this for the nation or beyond the nation? The final section of the paper draws on interview data to discuss how travel and mobility shape students' subjectivity and affect, and their 'being' and 'becoming' in relation to the nation and/or beyond the nation.

Chair: Loh Chin Ee