19 SES 05.5 PS, General Poster Session - NW 19
General Poster Session
Private tuition, also known as private supplementary tutoring, is an education phenomenon that lasts for quite a number years worldwide. In fact , It has become an part of the educational environment to such an extent that nobody questions its existence (Bray M., 1999). As a result, this upsurging phenomenon promotes the marketization and industrialization of education, which is represented by various institutions that take private tuition as products.
In China, the past a few years witnessed a surge of institutions of private tuition, people from different age groups are easily found bustle in and out between schools or workplaces and these institutions, among which K12 students account for the majority (Peng, 2007). Since 2016, two major media in China, namely, People’s Daily and Xinhua Daily, has been publishing a series of articles that blame institutions of private tuition for teaching content and teaching approaches that burden K12 students and hamper their creativity or further development. However, contrary to such criticism, an increasing number of students and their parents are enrolling into institutions of private tution for better academic performance or development of overall ability.
Based on the contradiction concerning private tuition and its affiliated institutions, this paper applies a critical spatial lens of Levebvre to explore the reason why private tuition remains a prevailing education phenomenon in China and the strategies those institutions used for constructing self-authority and enrolling students. More specifically, the objective of this study is to illustrate and clarify the hidden mechanism of production and reproduction of this education space.
French philosopher/sociologist Henry Levebvre viewed space in critical ways, he considered space as social, real, socially produced and constitutive (Susan L., 2009). He took the complexities of all spheres of life into account, then furthered the former understanding of space and extended the connotation of space from economic field to a wider variety of fields, including politics (social relations, class, hegemony), arts (culture, taste), education (stratification, social equality), gender (stereotype) and so on. As for Levebvre, the pioneer philosopher/sociologist in spatial researches, “space” and “production” are the core twin ideas of his analysis on space. In his world-renowned essay The Production of Space (1991), he strove to reveal “the multiplicity of ways in which ideas are produced, humans and labor are created, histories are constructed and minds are made in social spaces”.
In the same book, Levebvre claimed that his theories and concepts on space is to expose the actual production of space. Since he was particularly concerned with the space that includes social practice, interaction, imagination and symbolization. Therefore, he identified and developed three major conceptualizations of space to clarifies the multi-dimensional space of social practice (Susan L., 2009), namely, spatial practice (the material or perceived space), representations of space (the conceived or imaginary space), and representational space (the lived or experienced space). These three concepts are concluded as Trialectics of Spatiality by Soja (1996).
In this study, institutions of private tuition serve as the social and real space, within and out of which social relations are stretched out. The daily operation of these institutions can be theoretically interpreted as a mode of spatial production and reproduction. Moreover, the Trialectics of Spatiality helps to explore the reason why private tuition remains a prevailing in China and the strategies those institutions used for enrolling more students and shaping their own authoritative reputation.
Since this study seeks a theoretical interpretation of certain social space as institutions of private tuition, I choose interpretive research as th main approach. Genrally, documents serve as the main source of data. Besides, data collection also include participant observation of courses in institutions of private tuition and interviews with students and their parents who register for these institutions and the teachers of these institutions. Specifically, I chose New Oriental, the most famous institution of private tuition, as the research setting. Its promotion brochures and introduction on websites were selected as materials for document analysis. Meanwhile, I have conducted nine one-on-one interviews with students, parents or teachers to explore the popularity of private tuition and institutions’ strategies for self-appealing.
First, due to the dual promotion of anxiety over academic performance in China’s examination-oriented context and institutions’ profit-oriented business strategy, the education space experienced an unprecedented shift from in-school space to out-of-school space, which is represented by various institutions of private supplementary tutoring. Second, as Levebvre pointed out the dual feature of social space as uniform but fractured, each institution of private tuition coincides with this definition. Each institution will press ahead with distinct strategies, including advertisement propaganda, developing online courses, adjusting class scale and schedule to achieve the reproduction of symbolic and economic capital within and of the out-of-school education space. Theoretically, the strategies can be interpreted by the trialects of spatiality (Levebvre, 1991), namely, spatial practice, representations of space and representational space. Third, each institution of private tuition will construct a system of discourse power in order to reinforce the image of itself, publicity and loyalty of its customers (students and their parents). Through this system, out-of-school education institutions endow themselves with the authority of formal in-school education, which symbolizes the production and reproduction of education space.
Bray, M., Poignant, R., Curle, A., & Philips, H. M. (1999). The shadow education system. Jessop, B., Brenner, N., & Jones, M. R. (2008). Theorising socio-spatial relations. Environment & Planning D Society & Space, 26(3), 389-401. Lefebvre, & Henri. (1991). The production of space. Blackwell. Pai, Peng. (2008). An Empirical Research on Supplementary Tutoring of Compulsory Education Students - Based on the Survey and Analysis in Hongshan District, Wuhan. (Doctoral dissestation, Central China Normal University) Soja, E. W. (1996). Thirdspace : journeys to Los Angeles and other real-and-imagined places. Blackwell. Susan L. Robertson. (2009). ‘Spatializing’ the sociology of education. The Routledge International Handbook of the Sociology of Education, 15-26.
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