Producing “Confident” Children: Negotiating Childhood in Fijian Kindergartens


Karen J. Brison is Professor of Anthropology at Union College, Schenectady, New York.


Kindergartens in Fiji contribute to incipient class-based identities in a society traditionally structured by ethnicity. Teachers emphasize making children confident, but define confidence differently with varying student groups, building class-based orientations toward person and society. Parental expectations also differ with many upwardly mobile professional parents preferring schools that promote identification with a transnational middle class, and fluency in English. These schools define confidence as the ability to monitor one's own actions to conform to the demands of a larger corporate structure. Kindergartens serving children from less affluent families, in contrast, often equate confidence with grounding in ethnic cultures and languages. One implication is that preserving ethnic languages and cultures becomes associated with being lower class. [kindergarten, Fiji, social class, globalization]