A topic that seems to be gathering momentum in education at the moment is whether parents and communities should be involved...or engaged in their children's learning and place of learning.
In the article Larry argues that to "create the kinds of school-family partnerships that raise student achievement, improve local communities, and increase public support, we need to understand the difference between family involvement and family engagement". He goes on to explain that a school working toward family involvement focuses on tasks and "then telling parents how they can contribute". In contrast, once that is focussed on parent engagement asks parents what they think, dream, and worry about" and then forms a partnership with the parents to shape the school and the learning.
It's a really thought provoking article. There are some barriers that are only alluded to, which have implications for equity (such as those parents who are working three jobs and find it really tough to be engaged, or involved, in things outside of day-to-day survival). However, Larry does challenge schools to revisit how they are inviting parents to participate, emphasising that "invitations for parent engagement...tend to come as a result of conversation".
Larry concludes by asking "Does your school tend toward doing to or doing with families? Does the staff do more talking or more listening? Is the emphasis on one-way communication or on two-way conversation? Is your school's vision of its community confined to the school grounds, or does this vision encompass the entire neighborhood?".
It would be great to hear your thoughts and ideas - and initiatives that you are involved in, either as a parent or an educator, where you feel you are being invited to engage rather than only being involved.
Reference: Ferlazzo, L. (May 2011). Involvement or Engagement? Schools, Families, Communities. 68(8). 10-14
Image: Best-practices-next exit. CC ( BY ) licensed Flickr image by Barry Dahl: https://flic.kr/p/baSDrD
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