The "magic" of tutorial centres in Hong Kong: An analysis of media marketing and pedagogy in a tutorial centre

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Koh, Aaron
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2014
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Abstract

Why do more than three-quarters of Hong Kong’s senior secondary students flock to tutorial centres like moths to light? What is the “magic” that is driving the popularity of the tutorial centre enterprise? Indeed, looking at the ongoing boom of tutorial centres in Hong Kong (there are almost 1,000 of them), it is difficult not to ask these questions. This paper examines the phenomenon of tutorial centres in Hong Kong and seeks to understand what draws students to these centres. Combining theories of marketing semiotics and emotion studies, the author investigates the pivotal role of media marketing in generating the “magic” of tutorial centres, whose advertising strategy includes, for example, a display of billboard posters featuring stylishly-dressed “celebrity teachers”. The author reviews some of the literature available on the subject of tutorial centres. In a case study approach, he then maps out the pedagogy he observed in an English tutorial class, seeking heuristic insights into the kind of teaching students in the study were looking for. He argues that part of the “magical” attraction of what are essentially “cram schools” is their formulaic pedagogy of teaching and reinforcing exam skills. Finally, the paper considers the social implications of the tutorial centre industry in terms of media marketing of education and unequal access to tutorial services.

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International Review of Education

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60

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6

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Curriculum and Pedagogy not elsewhere classified

Education

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