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ERIC Number: EJ1175202
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0362-6784
Culture, Pedagogy and Equity in a Meritocratic Education System: Teachers' Work and the Politics of Culture in Singapore
Lim, Leonel; Tan, Michael
Curriculum Inquiry, v48 n2 p184-202 2018
Drawing upon insights gained from the extant work on culture and pedagogy, this paper explores the ways in which, in an ostensibly meritocratic education system, ideas about students' cultural backgrounds and its relevance for teaching are interpreted, negotiated, and ultimately drawn upon to engage students in the low-progress academic tracks. Most prominently articulated in the US by Ladson-Billings in her study of the culturally relevant pedagogic practices of exceptional teachers of African-American students, studies of culture and pedagogy identify students' unique cultural backgrounds as strengths and these are nurtured to promote academic achievement. In Singapore, however, the state's official discourse of meritocracy has for long remained silent on the role of culture in students' learning and how it relates to the systemic underachievement of various social groups. Instead, the state has consistently appealed to meritocracy's principle of non-discrimination (especially in terms of ethnic differences) as being fundamental to the establishment of a level-playing field in the education system. Drawing upon qualitative data comprising lesson observations of and interviews with a group of teachers who teach in low-progress classrooms, the paper documents the creative approaches taken by these teachers as they engage their students in ways attuned to the latter's family backgrounds, home conditions, and personal aspirations. The findings suggest that in actively if sometimes unconsciously foregrounding such a cultural dimension in their teaching, the five teachers studied are resisting, even challenging meritocracy's principle of non-discrimination.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Singapore
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A