Ronald GallimoreEveryone's a teacher to someone (John Wooden)
Goldenberg, C. N. & Gallimore, R. (1995). Immigrant Latino parents' values and beliefs about their children's education: Continuities and discontinuities across cultures and generations. In P. Pintrich & M. Maehr (Eds.), Advances in Motivation and Achievement (Vol. 9, pp. 183-227). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.
Parents are more satisfied with their children’s school performance when teachers make efforts to involve the family in the child’s learning, and the children do better than those whose teachers are not reported to make such efforts. Many immigrant parents view U.S. schools as less stringent than Mexican schools. They expect homework and try to assist with homework to the extent that their level of schooling and English language proficiency permit. They are disappointed when they believe their child is not being held to a high academic and moral standard.
Parents are often not aware of how well their child is actually doing in school. Some do not fully understand the report cards they are provided and many rely on homework or observations of the child’s interest and engagement in homework tasks to make judgments about academic progress. For example, parents express doubts about the meaning of such terms as “satisfactory.” One father explained the grade point average as “points that go up to 3000,” perhaps reflecting the use in Latin America of the convention that 3.000 is equivalent to 3,000 in U.S. notation. On the whole, parents of lower achievers tend to rate their children’s performance much higher than the teachers. They interpret their child is doing well if he always wants to go to school or he always does his homework.
Teachers can make a difference in student achievement. In our Latino Home-School study, we observed first hand the effects of teachers’ sending regular homework, requiring reading aloud as part of daily homework, and contacting parents to involve them in the learning process. Teachers who did these things were highly praised by parents, and the students of teachers had higher standardized reading scores in both Spanish and English. In a related project in one of the participating elementary schools, project investigators worked with teachers and administrators on setting grade level expectations and working together to establish locally meaningful indicators of achievement. Grade-level meetings were used by teachers to study and implement better lessons based on the expectations and indicators. This process, which took place over a period of several years, resulted in marked gains in the reading and writing proficiency of students similar to those in our longitudinal sample.
Goldenberg & Gallimore (1995) PDF
Reese, L., Balzano, S., Gallimore, R., & Goldenberg, C. (1995). The concept of Educación: Latino family values and American schooling. International Journal of Educational Research, 23, 1, 57-81. (Reprinted in J. Q. Adams & J. R. Welsch, Eds. (1999) Cultural Diversity: Curriculum, Classroom, and Climate. Illinois Staff and Curriculum Developers Association).
When Latino parents use the term “educación”, they refer to the moral upbringing that they give the child, not just formal schooling. Most parents regard their major responsibility in the home to be teaching children the difference between right and wrong and fostering proper behavior as a foundation for academic learning (estudios). They talk of academic and moral education as inseparable and part of the same process. Thus, when they ask the teacher how their child is behaving in school, they view the child’s moral deportment as part of, not separated from, academic learning.
Reese, et al (1995) PDF
Gallimore, R. & Reese, L. J. (1999). Mexican immigrants in urban California: Forging adaptations from familiar and new cultural resources. In M. C. Foblets & C. L. Pang (Eds.), Culture, Ethnicity and Immigration. In honor of Prof. E. Roosens (pp. 245-263). Leuven, Belgium: ACCO.
“The process of cultural change is inexorable” for the Mexicano immigrants to California to whom we have been listening and talking for more than a decade. Some changes were anticipated and even embraced: they uprooted themselves and their families in search of better jobs, living conditions, and educational opportunities for their children. However, they have much more mixed reactions about changing their socialization beliefs and practices. For these families immigration to the U.S. set in a motion something more than a simple linear model of acculturation defined as the extent to which they substituted their natal beliefs and practices for U.S. alternatives (Phinney, 1996, p. 921).
Rather than wholesale abandonment of their cultural traditions, or insistence on replicating home country practices on new soil, the goal for most families is forging adaptive and acceptable practices by incorporating the new into their familiar model of child rearing and socialization (Reese, Balzano, Gallimore, & Goldenberg, 1995). This model which parents refer to as ‘educación’ has its roots in agrarian environments. Its key features of family unity, interdependence of kin, and obedience and respect for elders evolved as adaptive values in contexts in which an entire family works together as an economic unit and where child labor is necessary for survival (LeVine & White, 1986). Although agrarian values evolved in rural economies, they retain value for immigrants given their precarious lives in urban settings. The agrarian model for newly-arrived immigrants to the U.S. is “ a continuous source of meaning and guidance” (LeVine and White, l986).
Gallimore & Reese (1999) PDF
Reese, L., Kroesen, K. & Gallimore, R. (2000). Agency and school performance among urban Latino youth. In R. D. Taylor & M. C. Wang (Eds.), Resilience Across Contexts: Family, Work, Culture and Community (pp. 295-332). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum & Associates.
Our ten-year longitudinal study has focused on understanding and accounting for academic success as well as under achievement among urban Latino children and youth. Their agency, or lack of it, has been one area of investigation—that is, the decisions that individual children make, and the process of making them, which have an effect on their school performance. We reject approaches that define agency only in terms of youth opposition to oppressive structures or their decisions to resist mainstream schooling. That model of agency cannot account for academic success of some youth, is less theoretically satisfying than a socioculturally mediated model, and it does not seem to be consistent with our observations of Latino youths in early adolescence.
To be sure, some of the students in our sample are exhibiting oppositional behaviors, for example a boy who refuses to participate in cooperative projects in the classroom or a girl who forges her mother’s signature on a note so she can stay home from school. And it seems likely that as the students move into high school settings more and different types of oppositional behaviors will emerge. We believe others in our sample make choices which result in less investment of time in academic work, while still retaining a basic commitment to the requirements of school. Many of the studies of oppositional behavior have employed older samples than ours. So the most prudent conclusion to draw at this point is this: While more oppositional behavior may appear in the future, overt opposition and delinquency are not characteristic of our sample at the end of eighth grade.
Another caveat. At this point in time the success or relative success of some students at school is based on criteria set by parents and teachers and not questioned by students. It is possible as they mature they will develop their own goals and standards of success which may be at odds with those of the school.
With these caveats in mind, taking into account the full range of child strategies and activities, our observations suggest it is a greater degree of parent and youth agency—in the form of co-construction of positive ecological–cultural niche environments—that is associated with better academic outcomes in middle school. When the children have interests and make choices and the parents are also actively involved in structuring activities for and with their children, the academic outcomes are more positive.
For our middle school sample we have observed a wide range of academic performance as well as variations in home activities and agentic strategies. Although our study only includes at this time students and their families through seventh grade, we believe that the group will continue to exhibit school performance ranging from very high to very low and it is likely that higher performance will continue to be associated with the types of co-constructed activities we have documented here. Based on knowledge of the target children’s older siblings and their activities after leaving school—which range from working as teachers in the same schools in which we carry out our work to participating in gang violence, we predict that agentic behavior will affect outcomes for students beyond high school as well.
Finally, the perspective which we have adopted does not place individual choice and action above all else. This perspective recognizes the historically constituted structures and contexts which constrain families’ actions, making some choices more difficult to realize-or even conceptualize-than others. Societal institutions also have the potential to offer opportunities as well as constraints for individuals and families. For example, children in the community from which most of our sample was recruited displayed significant achievement gains when a high quality, well organized instructional program was implemented as part of a joint district-university project (Goldenberg & Sullivan, 1994; Goldenberg & Gallimore, 1991). Other efforts have improved the academic success of Latino youth elsewhere (Slavin & Madden, 1995, April). Organized, sustained efforts by schools and other community institutions to improve programming can have profound benefits, a fact that should not be obscured by the possibility of youth agency. Classrooms and other settings are the everyday conduits through which social and cultural institutions affect children’s experiences and their development and futures, and it is incumbent to stress the importance of improving the services delivered. At the same time, families—parents and children alike—have opportunities to shape the individual impact of these settings, through their choices of which activities to engage in, how much effort to invest in them, and how to carry them out. Macrosocietal structures are powerful, but families neither feel they are hapless victims, nor does it seem they always are.
Reese. et al (2000) PDF