‘Diluting, decoupling, and dovetailing’: Considering new metaphors for understanding the changing International School landscape in China

Adam Poole, Tristan Bunnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A major development concerning the growth of ‘private English-speaking international schooling’ has been the transition from a ‘traditional’ mode of activity towards a ‘non-traditional’ context. This is especially the case in Asia, where the majority of international schools now reside. Moreover, we find that in mainland China two-thirds of the 900 schools are now perhaps better classified as ‘internationalised schools’, catering largely for Chinese nationals and being taught by a largely local teaching force whilst delivering a fusion of international and national curricula in a profit-driven paradigm. A major challenge is to picture and theorise this changing, and increasingly very different, landscape. Our paper offers a new imagery for discussion by using metaphor. Building upon the conflicting ‘diluting’ and ‘decoupling’ metaphors that have been recently introduced in the literature, we present here a conciliatory new imagery, that of ‘dovetailing’. This alternative, third metaphor suggests that the changing landscape in places such as mainland China involves models of private bilingual international schooling that are pragmatically ‘dovetailed’ with the national, fusing cosmopolitan sensitivities with the nationalist needs of the State. This metaphor is now ready to be developed and adapted in China and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Research in International Education
Publication statusAcceptance date - 1 Oct 2022

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