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

Adam Poole, Tristan Bunnell

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Abstract

A major development in recent years 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 (approximately) 900 schools that might be thought of as international 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. This 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 international schooling literature, we present here a conciliatory new imagery: that of ‘dovetailing’. This alternative, third metaphor suggests that the changing landscape of international schooling in places including mainland China involves models of private bilingual international schooling that are pragmatically ‘dovetailed’ with national forms of schooling, 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
Pages (from-to)3-19
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Research in International Education
Volume22
Issue number1
Early online date26 Mar 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2023

Keywords

  • China
  • International schooling
  • internationalised schooling
  • metaphor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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