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Teachers’ and Parents’ Experiences of Using Parents as Resources in Swedish Primary Education
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2014 (English)In: Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences: 5th World Conference on Educational Sciences / [ed] Jesus Garcia Laborda, Fezile Ozdamli and Yasar Maasoglu, Elsevier, 2014, Vol. 116, 1587-1593 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Education for all children has since the 1960s been a main goal in Swedish school politics. In spite of these efforts children's social and cultural backgrounds still affect their study progress. A growing body of international research is currently highlighting changes in society and education policy in which the importance of parentś democratic rights to influence primary education through home-school cooperation is emphasized. These cooperation practices may be harmonious and/or fraught with conflict. The purpose of this paper is to analyse how teachers and parents experience parents as resources in primary education with a special focus on what teachers expect from “ideal” mothers and fathers and what parents expect from “ideal” teachers. It is an explorative study using inductive qualitative analysis of 30 interviews with teachers and parents in a mainstream district in Sweden with an increasing immigrant population. The result indicates an overall agreement around what we label as a “mother responsibility” discourse in regard to home and school practices; a discourse, where mothers expect to become teachers’ servants on teachers’ demands. There are, however, discontents expressed in regard to these power relations. The article concludes discussing these discontents in relation to expressed goals in school politics on democracy, gender equality and parents influence on primary education. We recommend that teachers’ and parents‘experiences are taken serious in further strategies to include parents as resources; strategies that are in line with an inclusive and democratic pedagogy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2014. Vol. 116, 1587-1593 p.
Series
Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, ISSN 1877-0428 ; 116
Keyword [en]
Critical thinking, prospective science teachers, science education
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-82967DOI: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.439ISI: 000335471201122OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-82967DiVA: diva2:664204
Conference
5th World Conference on Educational Sciences
Available from: 2013-11-14 Created: 2013-11-14 Last updated: 2014-07-03Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. "Det ska funka": Om genus betydelse i relationen hem och skola
Open this publication in new window or tab >>"Det ska funka": Om genus betydelse i relationen hem och skola
2013 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This compilation thesis examines parents' and teachers' approaches to curriculum objectives that involve shared responsibility between home and school regarding the children's upbringing and education. On the basis of four articles, the meanings of good teachers, good parents, and a good cooperation practice along with the meaning of gender in home-school relationships were examined. Questions were asked from both a teacher and a parent perspective about concrete practices and constructs with respect to this cooperation. The overall aim was to conduct an exploratory study on the importance of gender in the home-school relationship. The first article explores the use of gender and diversity in research on home and school relationships. In the second article, access to the research field of “home and school relationships” was problematized. Article 3 analyzes teachers´ and parents´ experiences regarding parents’ being resources in the primary school setting. The article focuses on what teachers expect from "ideal" mothers and fathers as well as what parents expect from "ideal" teachers. Article 4 analyzes the experiences that teachers and parents have with regard to the practical consequences of home and school cooperation. The theoretical starting point includes feminist poststructuralist theories and discourse analysis. Inductive qualitative interviews were executed in a mainstream district in Sweden with an increasing immigrant population; the interviewees included 25 parents and the eight teachers who taught their children. In order to interpret and to understand the meanings of the interviews, two context analyses were conducted. One involved the mapping of the local context and preconditions that surrounded the study's informants with respect to the socio-economic context, local school plans, action plans, and management of the educational activities. The second involved analyzing the rhetoric of governance and policy in the longer term, regarding the importance of gender in the home-school relationship with respect to the former Swedish elementary school and the current nine-year compulsory school. The thesis’ main results show that gender has great importance in homeschool relationships: Women/mothers bear the overall responsibility for engaging in cooperation, while this responsibility is largely made invisible in the research. In concrete home and school practices, the responsibility is also mostly not problematized. The study analyzes the construction of a cooperation practice that operates in two versions and affects performative practices at both home and school. Through a “mother responsibility” discourse in regard to home and school practices, mothers are expected to become teachers´ servants based on teachers´demands. The result indicates that both parents and teachers express attitudes that may raise questions regarding whether they, despite the curriculum mission to counteract traditional gender patterns, are truly dependent and reliant on a cooperation practice in which mothers are made particularly responsible and thus contribute to asymmetric gender patterns. The study’s results are surprising, given all government interventions in the Swedish compulsory school, which, since the 1960s, have focused on gender equality through education, training, and research. Both parents and teachers viewed the cooperation practice as a practical aid in their efforts to manage their own professional roles. The conditions for cooperation are based on the fact that the dominant discourse that emphasizes female care and responsibility is never challenged. Instead, the cooperation practice focuses on supporting those processes in which women are key leaders and where male teachers and fathers have only a limited responsibility for specific activities. In order to change this gendered situation, both the structural factors on the outside as well as the gender-blind approaches on the inside must be challenged in parallel so that sufficient strength can be mobilized to counter a normalization process that is reinforced by intersecting effects.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Pedagogiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, 2013. 74 p.
Series
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Pedagogiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 0281-6768 ; 109
Keyword
gender, home school relationships, post-structuralism, discourse analysis
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-82969 (URN)978-91-7459-770-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-12-13, Humanisthuset, Hörsal E, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-11-22 Created: 2013-11-14 Last updated: 2013-11-19Bibliographically approved

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