14 SES 10, Family Education and Parenting – Multicultural Aspects I
Parallel Paper Session
This paper presents findings from case studies of two primary schools engaged in an on-going European exchange project with two schools in Spain. The partners in the project aim to create a shared understanding of the application of the European Key Competences for Lifelong Learning in the context of their own curricula, especially in the areas of communication in a foreign tongue (Key Competence 2), digital competence (4), engaging all pupils in learning to learn (5), and the development of cultural awareness and expression (8). This paper will concentrate on one strand of activities designed to meet these aims: lifelong learning opportunities through parent and community language classes.
The advantages of parental involvement in children’s learning are well documented (Desforges and Abouchaar, 2003), with family learning representing one ways in which parents can become involved in their children’s learning. Family learning supports parents, grandparents, carers and other family members to take an active part of their children's learning, and become learners themselves at the same time. Studies have demonstrated the impact of family learning on both adults' and children's literacy language and numeracy skills and reported benefits include ‘practical and tangible gains (e.g. a certificate of achievement, improved vocabulary of child) to emotional and psychological gains (e.g. rediscovery of ‘old’ self, increased confidence in themselves and their children)’ (Brassett-Grundy, 2002). Increasingly, family learning activities have been recruited to address different concerns (public engagement with science, updating museum and galleries, breaking down cycles of poverty and disadvantage through early intervention; Lochrie, 2004; Whalley, 2007). Research into family learning has therefore concentrated on activities offered by hands–on science centres, museums and family literacy and numeracy projects, with little research into learning a second language as a family learning activity.
The two schools (one urban, one rural, with very different parent demographics) each decided to start up a Spanish Club to offer family learning activities outside the school day. In both cases, this was building on a history of cultural exchange activities involving children and staff, but was the first time either school had sought to involve parents directly in learning themselves. The motivations behind this initiative were linked to the project’s aims to develop cultural awareness and the skills and dispositions to promote lifelong learning, but in each case schools hoped that the Spanish Club might also offer an opportunity to engage with parents who, for different reasons, might not otherwise become involved in learning activities with their children. The Spanish Club was “something different” or “something extra”, operating alongside the figured world of school, but crafting a new kind of figured world offering the possibility of different roles and different relationships with attendant consequences for identity formation (Holland and Lave, 2001; Urrieta, 2007) – the “new you” or “old self” reported by parents in earlier studies of family learning. Our research seeks to capture the different pathways that the two schools followed to design a programme of activities to attract and engage their different parent populations.
Booth, T. and Ainscow, M. (2011) Index for Inclusion: developing learning and participation in schools. Bristol: CSIE Brassett-Grundy, A. (2002) Parental Perspectives Of Family Learning. London: Centre for Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning Desforges, C and Abouchaar, A (2003) The Impact of Parental Involvement, Parental Support and Family Education on Pupil Achievements and Adjustment: A literature review, Research Report 433. London: DfES. European Union (2006) Key Competences for Lifelong Learning – A European Framework. Official Journal of the European Union; 30 December 2006/L394. Available at http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/education_culture/publ/pdf/ll-learning/keycomp_en.pdf Heining-Boynton, A.L. (1989) FLES Program Evaluation Inventory (FPEI) Holland D. C., & Lave J. (2001). History in person: Enduring struggles, contentious practice, intimate identities. School of American Research Press: Santa Fe. Lochrie, M. (2004) Family Learning: Building all our futures. Leicester: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (England and Wales) (NIACE) Whalley, M. (2007) Involving Parents in their children’s learning. London: Paul Chapman.
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