Yesterday I had a chance to meet Steve Entrich, a doctoral candidate at the Univ of Potsdam near Berlin. Steve is planning to write a dissertation that will compare aspects of shadow education in Japan and Germany.
Steve presented his plans for his dissertation. In the discussion, including discussions with his supervisor, Wolfgang Lauterbach, it was clear that research on supplementary education and tutoring in Germany is going through the same development that many of us are experiencing elsewhere, i.e. suffering from the fact that our research interest seems to fall between institutional cracks, particularly in Faculties or Schools of Education where supplementary education fits neither with K-12 education (focused exclusively on formal, state-recognized schools), nor with adult education (focused on, er, adults).
However, I also learned that Nachhilfe (remedial tutoring) does attract a fair bit of periodic attention in the German press where it is largely perceived as a growing “problem”. One of the main concerns is with equity and class-specific access to educational resources. A focus on the inequality that is – at least on the surface – inherent in for-profit, fee-based supplementary education, seems to be an important “hook” to motivate this kind of research in academic contexts with a strong focus on inequality (continental European sociology, Korea, etc.)
While Nachhilfe thus shows up periodically in the German press, there is no sustained attention to this issue, nor has it become a focus for any research projects.
The discussions in Potsdam reinforced my sense that there is a great need for more exchanges among researchers with an interest in supplementary education.