February 27, 2006
Current Changes in Society, Families, and Schools
Major changes have been occurring in the everyday lives of families over the last generation. Elkind discussed a shift from the modern time period in the 1940’s to early 1960’s, to the post modern time period from the 1960’s to the present. He reports that schools begin to mirror the changes in society and families. Parent involvement in schools brought about changes; for example, the Disability Act requires schools to meet the needs for all students. Also, full day kindergarten classes were developed because the majority of mothers of young children worked and needed childcare. Halpern believes that despite these changes in family structures, the world of work is still organized for a family that has a stay-at-home caregiver. However, Halpern states that the curriculum in schools has become more advanced and supports different viewpoints in a multicultural world. Elkind suggests that postmodern schools must incorporate different teaching styles and cultural views to meet the needs of children from all ethnic groups. He states that schools have realized that all children do not progress at the same rate and that learning is more complex for today’s students. However, Elkind believed that the curriculum is being pushed down and more demands are placed on younger learners. Vygotsky also believed that development occurs through a socially mediated process that is culture specific, and that by looking at the culture, educators can better understand the student. Parent and community involvement is crucial for the success of postmodern schools. Delpit points out that educators must discover who their students are outside the classroom. Educators must form a better understanding of the family and communities that their students derive from. Delpit explains that the basic skills that teachers expect students to have come from middle class backgrounds. Many times, children of poverty lack these basic skills, and are at a disadvantage because their background does not match the typical background of the middle class teacher. Delpit expresses that schools often focus on how to get the parents to the school, instead of how to get the school to the parents. Sometimes schools must go to the parents and focus on the specific needs of their children. Many times with African-American children, written notes home will not provoke parents to participate, but a phone call or face-to-face communication will increase the likelihood that parents will participate.
On the other hand, Bryan focuses on resilience, or the ability to overcome difficult and challenging life circumstances and risk factors. She expresses that racial and ethnic minority students in urban schools often feel powerless in a majority dominated school culture. Often, minority students are overrepresented in special education programs and underrepresented in gifted and talented programs. Bryan explains that children need supportive adults at home, school, and in the community. Support is also needed during extracurricular activities and Saturday and summer enrichment programs. Students need challenging educational experiences and a network of achieving peers to produce a strong belief in and sense of self. These protective factors reduce the negative effects of adversity and the stressful events in children lives. Overwhelmingly, the school-family-community partnerships promote a potential source of the protective factors that foster educational residences in children. Having an effective school-family-community partnership improves school programs, school climate and increases parent’s skills and leadership. Connecting families with others in the school and community improves children’s chances of success in school and in life as well. This partnership builds social capital or a network of trust that...
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