14 SES 16, Parent Engagement in Diverse Communities
The significance of parental involvement in children’s achievement in school is well documented. Therefore, and especially so when children’s achievement is challenged, professional support for parents concerning children’s learning is essential (Harris & Goodall, 2008). However, the support may put additional pressure on parents, expecting them to relate to their children in educational ways (Ramaekers & Suissa, 2012). Popkewitz (2003) marks such processes as “pedagogicalization of parents” (p. 35), turning the parent role into an educational project, aiming at advancing children’s future learning outcomes (Vincent, 2000). Hence, professional support for parents may run the risk of pedagogicalizing the parent role, which may be problematic and counterproductive in view of children’s learning (Ramaekers & Suissa, 2012). This paper reports from a study exploring these processes in the context of parents’ experiences on educational follow-up of children’s language learning after cochlear implantation (CI). Within the context of CI, parental involvement is considered essential for children’s learning (Boons et al., 2012) and professional support for parents is considered significant (Holt, Beer, Kronenberger, Pisoni, & Lalonde, 2012). This study investigates the following research question: What are the parents’ experiences on educational follow-up and how might their experiences be understood in light of a problematic connection between professional support and pedagogicalization?
The paper reports on a Norwegian study that explores parental perspectives on educational follow-up, in order to develop new knowledge that may contribute to the field of professional support for parents of children using an implant, as well as to the general field of home-school collaboration.
 A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted hearing device that provides access to sound to a person diagnosed with profound hearing loss.
The study is qualitative in design and the sample consists of parents of children using cochlear implants, engaged in various educational follow-up programs (children’s age range 2-14 years). Data include 27 written parental accounts on experiences with educational follow-up based on an online questionnaire with open-ended questions, as well as semi-structured interviews with 14 of these parents. Multiple analytical tools are applied, involving narrative approaches and content analysis. The research interest in educational follow-up is concentrated on how the parents make meaning of, and shape, their parenting role in the educational follow-up after cochlear implantation.
The parents value the professional support highly. They perceive their involvement their child’s learning as an obligation to educate themselves and to engage in teaching the child. For parents, this promises normalization on condition of taking the ‘right’ initiatives. Consequently, parents express worry about whether they do the ‘right’ things, or whether they do ‘enough’. In this uncertainty, parents find the professional support essential, negotiating a sense of security by working hard with the child (Bruin, 2017; Bruin & Ohna, 2015). A pedagogical parent role emerges, indicating processes of parent pedagogicalization. The aim of advancing children’s learning is viewed from an instrumental perspective, based on an input-output logic, anchored in structural training. Simultaneously, parents facilitate their child’s participation in social interaction, constantly removing barriers. From a sociocultural perspective (Vygotsky, 1962; Wenger, 1998), this may be seen as facilitating learning. However, due to the support’s predominant understandings of learning as instrumental, parents do not view this as related to learning. Within the framework of professional support, processes of parent pedagogicalization are apparent. These represent a normalizing pressure, which sees its task as fixing the child “whose capabilities and capacities do not ‘fit’” (Popkewitz, 2003, p. 51). Following Burman (2008), this line of thinking may contribute to normative assumptions about parenthood, becoming claims that parents put on themselves (Ramaekers & Suissa, 2012). Gewirtz (2008) argues that the pressure of a continuous parental obligation to learn about, and to support, children’s learning may be oppressive for families. The study argues that educational follow-up might offer space for reflection about professional support and its expectations of the parent role, including processes of pedagogicalization. The paper discusses how these processes are entwined in an educational culture of performativity and how they may induce a negative impact on families, children's learning and ultimately on educational equality.
Boons, T., Brokx, J. P. L., Dhooge, I., Frijns, J. H. M., Peeraer, L., Vermeulen, A., . . . Van Wieringen, A. (2012). Predictors of Spoken Language Development Following Pediatric Cochlear Implantation. Ear And Hearing, 33(5), 617-639. doi:10.1097/AUD.0b013e3182503e47 Bruin, M. (2017). Parental Involvement in Children’s Learning: The Case of Cochlear Implantation—Parents as Educators? Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 1-16. doi:10.1080/00313831.2016.1258728 Bruin, M., & Ohna, S. E. (2015). Negotiating Reassurance: Parents’ Narratives on Follow-up after Cochlear Implantation. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 30(4), 518-534. doi:10.1080/08856257.2015.1046741 Gewirtz, S. (2008). Give Us a Break! A Sceptical Review of Contemporary Discourses of Lifelong Learning. European Educational Research Journal, 7(4), 414-424. Harris, A., & Goodall, J. (2008). Do parents know they matter? Engaging all parents in learning. Educational Research, 50(3), 277-289. Holt, R. F., Beer, J., Kronenberger, W. G., Pisoni, D. B., & Lalonde, K. (2012). Contribution of Family Environment to Pediatric Cochlear Implant Users’ Speech and Language Outcomes: Some Preliminary Findings. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 55, 848–864. doi:10.3766/jaaa.23.6.8 Popkewitz, T. S. (2003). Governing the Child and Pedagogicalization of the Parent: A Historical Excursus into the Present. In M. N. Bloch, K. Holmlund, I. Moqvist, & T. S. Popkewitz (Eds.), Governing Children, Families and Education. Restructuring the Welfare State (pp. 35-62). New York: Palgrave McMillan. Ramaekers, S., & Suissa, J. (2012). The Claims of Parenting. Reasons, Responsibility and Society. Dordrecht: Springer. Vincent, C. (2000). Including parents? Education, citizenship and parental agency. Buckingham, United Kingdom: Open University Press. Vygotsky, L. (1962). Thought and Language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice. Learning, Meaning, and Identity. New York: Cambridge University Press.
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