Shadow Schools—Tamil Educational Success in Norway

  • Paul Thomas University College of Southeast Norway Department of Education


 This paper considers Tamil educational success in Norway. Employing Bourdieu’s cultural capital as a conceptual lens, the factors that drive Norwegian-Tamil parents’ educational ambitions for their children are explored. In-depth interviews with parents and classroom observations reveal a distinct habitus secreted through a historical legacy that valorises learning coupled with a discourse that perceives Tamil culture as one facing an existential threat at the hands of more powerful neighbours. The findings, it is argued, draw attention to the salience of parents’ educational backgrounds and ambitions for their children. Furthermore, it is argued the findings highlight important lessons to be drawn for mainstream educators in Norway, an egalitarian country that traditionally aims at “universalizing” such capital through mainstream educational institutions.

Author Biography

Paul Thomas, University College of Southeast Norway Department of Education

PhD in Education (King's College, London)

Associate Professor in pedagogy

University College of Southeast Norway

Department of Education

Drammen, Norway




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