The Space and Practice of Reading in Singapore Secondary Schools

Project Number
SUG 23/14 LCE

Project Duration
February 2015 - April 2017


This study takes a critical spatial approach to examine the intersection of reading and social class, particularly in the space of secondary school libraries in the Singapore context. Rather than viewing the learner as the locus of the problem, usually through the lens of deficit theory, as something to be improved, taking a critical spatial practice perspective enlarges the scope of the problem to examine both the learner and the system within which the learner is situated. Instead of focusing on back to basic strategies such as phonics and comprehension instruction to level up literacy rates within the nation, a critical spatial class-based lens moves the issue from student-as-problem to structure-as-problem in order to identify and locate systematic structural inequities embedded in reading policies and the day-to-day practices of schools. Viewing practice deliberately through the lens of social class alerts us to differentiation, the ideologies behind the differentiation, and how differentiation may work in practice to reproduce inequalities. Using the framework of the space of practice, I examine the micropolitics of practice situated within the larger macro-dynamics of specific socio-historical and cultural contexts to provide greater insight for rethinking policy and practice in context. In an earlier study (SUG8/13: A Study of the Reading Practices of Adolescent Readers in a Singapore Government School), the findings suggested that secondary school libraries were under-utilized and that a critical spatial approach could locate spaces of inequity within individual school’s organization of space and utilization of resources. In this study, I extend the research on spatial theory and literacy and on school libraries to better understand how to improve on school’s reading spaces through attention to space. More specifically, I map the physical, social and affective space of the school to identify the spaces for reading intervention in the research school.

Funding Source

Related Projects