Asian Childhoods: Exploring the lifeworlds of students in contemporary Hong Kong

Nicola Jill YELLAND, Sandy MUSPRATT, Yee On Christine CHAN, Caja GILBERT

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In this article, the authors discuss the findings of two surveys that were conducted with 10-year-old primary students and their parents in Hong Kong. They sought to gather empirical data about how the students spend their time in out-of-school contexts in order to interrogate the view that Asian students often spend much of their time studying, with little leisure time. The authors were concerned that there was an absence of empirical data on this topic. Increasingly, there is a recognition that Asian students perform well in high-stakes international tests, and a widely held view is that this is because they dedicate so much time to intensive academic study in contrast to their ‘Western’ counterparts. The social and cultural capital derived from doing well in school systems is an established feature of many global contexts. In the competitive environment that characterises education in Hong Kong, progression through the system is based solely on examination scores, and justified on the basis that this is both equitable and allows the best students to thrive. Tutorial schools that train attendees in the art of testing are multimillion-dollar industries – but who are the clients? In this article, the authors reveal that at 10 years of age, the out-of-school lives of the students surveyed contain many and varied activities. They attend school and, in out-of-school contexts, complete homework, participate in activities that both incorporate new media (for example, television and computers) and others (for example, indoor and outdoor play), and do not. Copyright © 2012 Symposium Journals Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-301
JournalGlobal Studies of Childhood
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


Yelland, N. J., Muspratt, S., Chan, C. Y. O., & Gilbert, C. (2012). Asian Childhoods: Exploring the lifeworlds of students in contemporary Hong Kong. Global Studies of Childhood, 2(4), 286-301.


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