14 SES 12 B, Getting Parents Involved in Schools: A Challenge Across Europe
In most schools parental information evenings are a usual format to come into contact with parents and to start with a ‘good’ collaboration. In Germany they are compulsory within the first four weeks of a school-year as a minimum. The main idea – as written down in recommendations of the government – is to give information, to get in contact, to initiate communication between parents and to elect representatives of parents. Such parental information evenings can be seen as a chance to motivate parents for home-based and school-based involvement (Paseka, 2014). But is this chance really used? Research about parental information evenings does not exist, so new grounds have to be broken. To answer the question the results of a school-development project will be represented. The project took place in a Primary school in Hamburg which is situated in a not-privileged area with a majority of low-income and migrant families. The teachers complain a lot about tacit parents not getting them involved in school affairs. As one of the strategies the school wanted to improve their parental information evenings. Six parental information evenings were audio-typed, transcribed and analyzed with qualitative methods (Bohnsack, 2010, Deppermann, 2008). In a macroscopical analyses the structure and the share of conversation between parents and teachers were looked at. In a microscopical analyses some of the passages were selected and analyzed with documentary method to look not only what has been said (reconstruction of discursive knowledge) but also how it is said (reconstruction of tacit knowledge and underlying assumptions). The main question was: How were parents addressed by the teachers? The findings show that there are some fields of unresolved tensions between treating parents as partners and adults on the one hand and treating them as ‘pupils’ and clients on the other hand. It seems that teachers want parents as supporters for them but not as too active partners in school-affairs.
Bohnsack, R. (2010). Documentary Method and Group Discussion. In R. Bohnsack, N. Pfaff, & W. Weller (Eds), Qualitative Analysis and Documentary Method in International Educational Research (pp. 99-123). Opladen: Barbara Budrich. Deppermann, A. (2008). Gespräche analysieren. Eine Einführung. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Paseka, A. (2014). Elternbeteiligung auf Klassen- und Schulebene. In D. Killus, & K.-J. Tillmann (Eds.), Eltern zwischen Erwartungen, Kritik und Engagement. Ein Trendbericht zu Schule und Bildungspolitik (pp. 111-130). Münster: Waxmann.
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