ICS Seminar Series - Megan Watkins

Date: Thursday 5 October 2017
Time: 11.30am–1pm
Venue: EB.G.02, Western Sydney University, Parramatta South campus

Megan Watkins

(Institute for Culture and Society)

Qualified Inclusion and Selective Belonging: Schooling, Multiculturalism and 'Asian Success'


Schooling often operates as a crucible for aspiration and anxiety. In migrant-based nations such as Australia, these are increasingly ethnicised. This is especially evident in the concern over the phenomenal performance of many students of various Asian backgrounds in Australian schools prompting heated debates about Asian 'tiger mothers' and their over-achieving 'dragon children'. With recent research around multiculturalism as a backdrop, this paper examines how students, parents and teachers in one New South Wales selective high school negotiate the phenomenon of 'Asian success'. Such schools are very often the object of media attention with increasing numbers of Asian students seen to be displacing those of Anglo-Australian background and academic enquiry generally focusing on their role within neoliberal agendas of school choice. Little research exists, however, on relations within these schools; how students of Asian backgrounds respond to criticisms of Asian success and the reactions of the Anglo majority to their more recent 'minority' status. This paper examines the responses of various members of one school community to these changing demographics; the qualified inclusion that policies of multiculturalism seem to encourage and the forms of selective belonging that result.


Megan Watkins is Associate Professor in the School of Education and member and HDR Director of ICS. Her research interests lie in the cultural analysis of education and the formation of human subjectivities. In particular, her work engages with issues of pedagogy, embodiment, discipline and affect and the interrelation of these to human agency. These interests mesh with her exploration of the impact of cultural diversity on education and the ways in which different cultural practices can engender divergent habits and dispositions to learning. Megan also has extensive experience as a literacy educator, conducting pioneering work in the field of genre-based approaches to teaching writing and post-progressivist pedagogies. She is a recipient of two Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkages grants: 'Rethinking Multiculturalism/ Reassessing Multicultural Education' and 'Discipline and Diversity: Cultural Practices and Dispositions of Learning'.

She has worked in a consultancy capacity for the New South Wales Department of Education and Training and the Australian Curriculum Corporation.