S-Space College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학) Center for Social Sciences (사회과학연구원) Korean Social Sciences Review (KSSR) Korean Social Sciences Review (KSSR) Vol.02, No.01/02 (2012)
The Academic Performance Gap between Social Classes and Parenting Practices in Korea
- Shin, Myung Ho
- Issue Date
- Korean Social Sciences Review(KSSR), Vol.2 No.1, pp. 221-253
- Parents’ Socioeconomic Status (SES); Academic Performance; Educational Aspirations; Parenting Practices; Paradox of Perceived Value of Education; Korea
- This study attempts, using qualitative research methods, to identify a series of complex
processes and mechanisms that turn the differences in parents’ education level and
occupational status into the gaps between their children’s academic achievements. Highly
educated parents with high occupational status are obsessed with top universities while
less educated parents with low occupational status tend to be less interested in educational
capital. Highly educated upper-middle-class parents themselves have strong educational
aspirations. They also try to inspire educational aspirations and academic enthusiasm in
their children through their early and deep involvement in a long-term educational strategy.
They repeatedly teach their children to have aspirations toward higher professional status
as well as a competitive attitude in academic performance. In contrast, the less educated
working-class parents do not emphasize the importance of having a high level of education
and ‘a good educational background’ to their children.
The differences in the educational aspirations and parenting practices between the two
social classes primarily derive from their varying life experiences in the social structure.
The upper-middle-class interviewees said that their obsession with ‘a good educational
background’ was closely related to their fear that their children could fall from the middle
class. In contrast to the middle class interviewees, the working-class parents had no memories
of painful experiences related to their lack of higher education. They claimed that they rarely
ever felt inferior and that they rarely regretted their low level of education. In addition, they
did not believe that their lives were more difficult due to their ‘low education’.