The praxis of learning : negociando the rules of parental involvement with Hispanic parents
Urdanivia-English, Clemencia Carmen
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Game theory holds that human relationships can be analyzed from the perspective of a game: all people involved interact within certain rules, using specific strategies to achieve a goal or payoff. This dissertation examines parental involvement of Hispanic families from the perspectives of game theory (Bourdieu, 1990), participatory action research (Fals Borda, 2001) and critical education (Freire, 1982) to ascertain how parents and teachers in a U.S. public elementary school interacted (or not) around their aspirations for the children entrusted to them. The research was conducted with an average of seventeen parents of thirty-seven third-grade students, with data gathered from meeting and interview transcripts, journals, field notes and school documents. Chapters one and two establish my position as a player in a very serious game: teacher, researcher, Hispanic, lifelong learner. Chapter three explores the relationship between achievement and current models of parental involvement, suggesting a need for critical learning among all players. Chapter four details the research process and provides basic statistical information about the families. In chapters five through seven I document how the parents used strategies discovered with the group of co-investigators to enhance learning for their children and to learn with them. As a result, they helped their children make important connections between print, life, and learning. Through dialogic exchanges and critical examination of their daily practices, they challenged oppression and myths as they pondered the influence of such concepts on family life and on the child’s learning. Positioned in the middle as a researcher-initiator of this process, I encouraged a joint game to include teachers, parents, and students, refocusing on the child’s welfare as the goal. Chapter eight summarizes the public and private games these parents played. This research suggests that parental involvement must be reassessed and reconceptualized as a process of mutual learning in which all involved players, focusing on the child’s learning and development as their ultimate and common goal, critically analyze their day-to-day experiences in the context of oppression and power relationships.