The shift from meritocracy to parentocracy in contemporary societies has resulted in a situation where children’s educational success increasingly depends on parents’ wealth and wishes rather than children’s ability and efforts. Better-off parents can afford extra learning activities to increase children’s competitive edge. This phenomenon is fuelled by ‘English fever’ in many non-English-speaking contexts, driving parents to subscribe to English private tutoring (EPT), or shadow education, for children. This paper reports on the findings from a larger year-long study on lecture-style EPT involving Hong Kong secondary students and their parents, schoolteachers and tutors. With a focus on the parental perspective, it expands the notion of parentocracy to EPT with qualitative empirical evidence from 14 parents. The findings unveil parents’ complex, ambivalent and contradictory attitudes toward EPT. These parents played a supporting rather than a dominant role in children’s education at the senior secondary stage. Despite their aspirations for their children, they did not have high expectations on the returns from their ‘investment’ in EPT because they believed children’s success ultimately depended on their own ability and efforts. This study reveals the subordinating role of parentocracy in a meritocratic curriculum where academic success is largely determined by results in high-stakes examinations. Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
CitationYung, K. W. H., & Zeng, C. (2021). Parentocracy within meritocracy: Parental perspective on lecture-style English private tutoring in Hong Kong. Language and Education. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/09500782.2021.1981924
- English as an additional language
- Lecture-style English private tutoring
- Hong Kong
- Shadow education