The Broken Compass
Keith Robinson Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress LC225.3.R64 2014 | Dewey Decimal 371.192
It seems like common sense that children do better when parents are actively involved in their schooling. But how well does the evidence stack up? The Broken Compass puts this question to the test in the most thorough scientific investigation to date of how parents across socioeconomic and ethnic groups contribute to the academic performance of K-12 children. The surprising discovery is that no clear connection exists between parental involvement and student performance.
Keith Robinson and Angel Harris assessed over sixty measures of parental participation, at home and in school. While some of the associations they found were consistent with past studies, others ran contrary to previous research and popular perceptions. It is not the case that Hispanic and African American parents are less concerned about education--or that "Tiger parenting" among Asian Americans gets the desired results. Many low-income parents want to be involved in their children's school lives but often receive little support from school systems. For immigrant families, language barriers only worsen the problem. In this provocative work, Robinson and Harris believe that the time has come to reconsider whether parental involvement can make much of a dent in the basic problems facing American schools today.
In this, the sequel to his critically acclaimed and controversial The End of Homework, John Buell extends his case against homework. Arguing that homework robs children—and parents—of unstructured time for play and intellectual and emotional development, Closing the Book on Homework offers a convincing case for why homework is an outgrowth of broader cultural anxieties about the sanctity of work itself. After the publication of Buell's previous book, many professional educators portrayed reducing homework as a dangerous idea, while at the same time parents and teachers increasingly raised doubts as to its continued usefulness in education. According to John Buell, the importance of play is culturally underappreciated. Not only grade schoolers, but high school students and adult workers deserve time for the kind of leisure that fosters creativity and sustains a life long interest in learning. Homework is assigned for many reasons, many having little to do with learning, including an accepted, if unchallenged, belief that it fosters good work habits for children's futures. As John Buell argues convincingly, homework does more to obstruct the growth of children's minds, and consumes the time of parents and children who may otherwise develop relationships that foster true growth and learning. A unique book that is sure to fuel the growing debate on school reform, Closing the Book on Homework offers a roadmap for learning that will benefit the wellbeing of children, parents, and teachers alike.
Discovering Successful Pathways in Children's Development provides a new perspective on the study of childhood and family life. Successful development is enhanced when communities provide meaningful life pathways that children can seek out and engage. Successful pathways include both a culturally valued direction for development and competence in skills that matter for a child's subsequent success as a person as well as a student, parent, worker, or citizen. To understand successful pathways requires a mix of qualitative, quantitative, and ethnographic methods—the state of the art for research practice among developmentalists, educators, and policymakers alike.
This volume includes new studies of minority and immigrant families, school achievement, culture, race and gender, poverty, identity, and experiments and interventions meant to improve family and child contexts. Discovering Successful Pathways in Children's Development will be of enormous value to everyone interested in the issues of human development, education, and social welfare, and among professionals charged with the task of improving the lives of children in our communities.
Working mothers, broken homes, poverty, racial or ethnic background, poorly educated parents—these are the usual reasons given for the academic problems of poor urban children. Reginald M. Clark contends, however, that such structural characteristics of families neither predict nor explain the wide variation in academic achievement among children. He emphasizes instead the total family life, stating that the most important indicators of academic potential are embedded in family culture.
To support his contentions, Clark offers ten intimate portraits of Black families in Chicago. Visiting the homes of poor one- and two-parent families of high and low achievers, Clark made detailed observations on the quality of home life, noting how family habits and interactions affect school success and what characteristics of family life provide children with "school survival skills," a complex of behaviors, attitudes, and knowledge that are the essential elements in academic success.
Clark's conclusions lead to exciting implications for educational policy. If school achievement is not dependent on family structure or income, parents can learn to inculcate school survival skills in their children. Clark offers specific suggestions and strategies for use by teachers, parents, school administrators, and social service policy makers, but his work will also find an audience in urban anthropology, family studies, and Black studies.
How has the dominant social scientific paradigm limited our understanding of the impact of inherited economic resources, social privilege, and sociocultural practices on multigenerational inequality? In what ways might multiple forces of social difference haunt quantitative measurements of ability such as the SAT? Building on new materialist philosophy, Inheriting Possibility rethinks methods of quantification and theories of social reproduction in education, demonstrating that test performance results and parenting practices convey the impact of materially and historically contingent patterns of differential possibility.
Ezekiel J. Dixon-Román explores the dualism of nature and culture that has undergirded theories of inheritance, social reproduction, and human learning and development. Research and debate on the reproduction of power relations have rested on a premise that nature is made up of fixed universals on which the creative, intellective, and discursive play of culture are based. Drawing on recent work in the physical and biological sciences, Dixon-Román argues that nature is culture. He contends that by assuming a rigid nature/culture binary, we ultimately limit our understanding of how power relations are reproduced.
Through innovative analyses of empirical data and cultural artifacts, Dixon-Román boldly reconsiders how we conceptualize the processes of inheritance and approach social inquiry in order to profoundly sharpen understanding and address the reproducing forces of inequality.
Who holds ultimate authority for the education of America's children—teachers or parents? Although the relationship between home and school has changed dramatically over the decades, William Cutler's fascinating history argues that it has always been a political one, and his book uncovers for the first time how and why the balance of power has shifted over time. Starting with parental dominance in the mid-nineteenth century, Cutler chronicles how schools' growing bureaucratization and professionalization allowed educators to gain increasing control over the schooling and lives of the children they taught. Central to his story is the role of parent-teacher associations, which helped transform an adversarial relationship into a collaborative one. Yet parents have also been controlled by educators through PTAs, leading to the perception that they are "company unions."
Cutler shows how in the 1920s and 1930s schools expanded their responsibility for children's well-being outside the classroom. These efforts sowed the seeds for later conflict as schools came to be held accountable for solving society's problems. Finally, he brings the reader into recent decades, in which a breakdown of trust, racial tension, and "parents' rights" have taken the story full circle, with parents and schools once again at odds.
Cutler's book is an invaluable guide to understanding how parent-teacher cooperation, which is essential for our children's educational success, might be achieved.