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Title: A critical study of academic acceleration in the early years in Singapore
Author: Chua, M. L. D.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8497 9905
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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In Singapore, there is an extensive shadow system of commercial enrichment schools and tuition centres that provide extracurricular lessons to young children. Unfortunately, acceleration has often been associated with negative perceptions. It has been described as stressful or developmentally inappropriate. There have been concerns that it contributes to intergenerational social immobility too. In this dissertation, I undertook a qualitative study to examine and analyse academic acceleration in the preschool years in Singapore. 12 sets of parents and children across three socioeconomic groups were interviewed, as well as 10 of the kindergarten teachers who taught these children in their regular preschool settings. Lessons in 5 out of 7 of the enrichment centres attended by the children were observed as well. Using Foucault's notion of "governmentality" and Bourdieu's conceptions of "habitus" and "capital", the study found that meritocracy and pragmatism are widely referenced in Singapore. However, socioeconomic class mediates the extent and manner of ideological uptake across individual families and children. At the same time, the neoliberal ethos that has given rise to the free market of enrichment schools in Singapore has contributed to a perpetuation of socioeconomic inequalities. Enrichment centres have themselves become geospatial sites for the performance and reproduction of "habitus" and various kinds of symbolic "capital". Although alternate possibilities exist, especially in the light of human agency, reforms to resolve these issues are constrained by the deeply embedded assumptions and political "technologies" that have led to the present sociocultural and educational context for parents, young children and kindergarten teachers in Singapore. Whilst parents resisted ideological tenets occasionally, their resistance was primarily verbal and not enacted. Kindergarten teachers tended to maintain a silence about acceleration practices, even though they disapproved of them in private.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available