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Dialogs on Diversity and Global Education

Edited By Mirja-Tytti Talib, Jyrki Loima, Heini Paavola and Sanna Patrikainen

Intercultural and ethical issues are part of our daily lives. They share characteristics that make them particularly sensitive and sometimes volatile. The challenges that increasing diversity brings into education and schools in general are many as can be seen in this volume, for instance, in the Scandinavian countries, Estonia, United States, Canada, Japan and China. There are conflicting interpretations of multiculturalism and interculturalism. Culture plays a key role in different interpretations: North America is more tuned into hybrid aspects of students’ identities, while in many European countries ethnicity still dominates the discussion. Good teachers make a difference. They have an understanding of the socio-political context of education as well as intercultural competence. The essays in this book portray multicultural, intercultural, and global as well as theoretical and practical approaches to diversity and education.

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Interaction in consultation discussions: Building partnerships with culturally diverse families Leena Andonov 171

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171 Interaction in consultation discussions: Building partnerships with culturally diverse families Leena Andonov Introduction Research indicates that home-school cooperation teacher interaction with par- ents and parents’ involvement in schools increases students’ achievement (Hen- derson & Berla, 1994, p. 6; Epstein, 1995, p. 701). Favourable experiences of home-school cooperation seem to benefit the cognitive and social development of students, meaning better attendance as well as test and homework, behaviour and attitudes. The task of establishing strong partnerships between teachers and parents requires overcoming possible problems in the cooperation relationship. Obstacles to successful partnerships between teachers and parents could be tack- led in parents’ evenings and other forums, where parents could be engaged in supporting the work of raising and teaching children at school. However to be supportive, parents must know what is included in the agreement. Researchers are beginning to understand the complexity of the interac- tions which take place between parents and teachers during parents’ evenings or consultation discussions between parents and teachers. During these brief en- counters, for which there is little if any teacher training or preparation, important issues of moral conduct, accountability, identity and responsibility are defended and negotiated (MacLure & Walker, 2000, p. 21). Teachers’ communication skills and partnership approaches are especially tested in home-school relation- ships where the background culture of the child is unfamiliar to the teacher. The school culture may discourage the role of parents if strategies for parent in- volvement are not planned and designed taking multicultural schools into ac- count. Consultation discussions with...

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