The African-American family is defined as networks of households related by blood, marriage, or function that provide basic instrumental and expressive functions of the family to the members of those networks (Hill, 1999). It is one of the strongest institutions throughout history, and still today. Family strengths are considered to be cultural assets that are transmitted through socialization from generation to generation and not merely adaptations or coping responses to contemporary racial or economic oppression (McDaniel 1994; Hill 1999). This definition is contrary to the belief that the Black family is an adaptation to harsh conditions, instead of an ongoing establishment. Hill (1999) discusses some of the qualities as effective for the survival of black families: strong achievement and work orientation, flexible family roles and strong kinship bonds, and strong religious orientation. These strengths, along with others can be emphasized in schools and used to motivate African-American students to succeed.
Contrary to what many people may believe, African-Americans have a strong motivation towards achieving. From the parents to the children, there is a strong orientation for wanting to learn and get ahead. Research has shown that black children have educational and occupational aspirations that are often equal to, and sometimes higher, than white children (Stevenson et al. 1990; Winfield 1991b; Hill 1999). African-American parents and students need help in turning this motivation into a reality. Teachers can take the aspirations of many black students and prompt them to better by having high expectations, regardless of race and class. Building upon not only the intellectual achievement, but also the self-esteem of black students can also help strengthen their achievement. Many studies have revealed that high self-esteem is strongly correlated with subsequent achievement orientation and upward mobility (Hill, 1999). The attitude of significant others...
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