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Raciolinguistics

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Sociolinguistics from the Periphery

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Academic Paper


Title: Introducing Event Horizon to explain different culturally-determined curriculum interpretations in Fiji.
Author: Béatrice Sylvie Boufoy-Bastick
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of the West Indies
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: This paper introduces the methodological construct of Event Horizon to explain how curriculum interpretation is culturally-shaped and how different cultures can translate a common curriculum into different teaching practices. This is a major finding that emerged from an in-depth comparative ethnographic study conducted in 14 rural Fijian and Indian secondary schools in Fiji over three years. This study is the first to observe and research the stark differences in how Fiji's two culturally-distinct ethnic groups operationalise the same English as a Second Language (ESL) curriculum prescribed by the Ministry of Education. It is the first study to show, and explain, the significant effect their different culturally based practices have on the considerable difference in academic attainment between the two groups. The two groups' different educational expectations were found to be associated with their different Event Horizons. Event Horizon is a methodological construct which emerged from the data analysis and explains these cultural interpretive differences. It conceptualises how much events in the future concern a person at the present time, and as a corollary how much a person is prepared to forego immediate gratification for future rewards, e.g. investing in education as a long-term plan for the future. It is indicated by social behaviours such as 'saving' and 'planning'. For instance, Indo-Fijians feel a necessity to plan well in advance for events we foresee happening well in the distant future and hence they have a distant Event Horizon. By contrast, native Fijians deal with events when they are nearly upon them and hence have a much nearer Event Horizon. The two groups' differential Event Horizons explain their much of their differential teaching and educational behaviours which result in their differential educational outcomes. The paper concludes that cultural interpretation of the curriculum e.g. the cultural values placed on formal education, is a major determinant of educational attainment.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Publication Info: World Cultures 12(2), 141-152.
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