Issue 62, April 2013
Throughout the world, families' educational expectations have changed. Expectations have increased and become more diverse and, in many countries, this change seems to be accompanied by a loss of confidence in the capacity of schools to promote successful social integration of their children. Families are resorting to compensatory strategies with increasing frequency, in particular by looking to the education market.
Families' expectations, as examined through ten case studies focusing on diverse cultural, economic and geographic contexts, prove to be a powerful insight into the way educational institutions work. Decision makers are today confronted by completely new situations which lead to look at formal education in a different way, going beyond conventional thinking on "bad" parents, parental break-up or in contrast, parents purely as consumers.
The studies put forward in this issue show that the reality of relations between schools and families is multi-faceted and often shaped by education systems themselves. These findings call for a profound review of the roles of schools and parents in order to develop a mutual understanding and a shared definition of education.
An issue coordinated by Xavier Pons, Florence Robine
Introduction - Educational expectations of families: from misleading evidence to major challenges [pdf - 258 Ko]
Xavier Pons, Florence Robine
The educational expectations of families are a key focal point in the study of many educational phenomena in different socio-cultural contexts: the link between education and training, socialization factors, general or specific private and public interests, and even between political powers, individuals and the basis of citizenship. Four trends can be identified in ten proposed studies in issue 62 of the journal Revue internationale d'éducation de Sèvres:
1) The increase in expectations of families in several countries,
2) expectations vary significantly according to social groups,
3) they are shaped by changes in schooling and the role of the school
4) the increase in expectations is often accompanied by an increasing distrust of schools. Reading the articles provokes a profound review of the role of the school and the parents and a re-examination of the usual schools of thought relating to the educational expectations of families.
Disparity in the privatisation of education
Family and education in Japan
Claude Lévi Alvarès
The centralised education model in Japan has undergone significant changes over the last twenty years. In the light of schools needing to stand out and move away from their traditional character, parents have been invited to take on the role of informed consumers. Developments in school mapping and the increase in private alternatives in major cities have reinforced the trend towards a consumer approach in a system already characterised by the expansion of private schools known as Juku. The author traces these developments and examines the resulting reinforcement of inequality.
Beyond paternalistic goodwill
Working-class families and school in Brazil
Benjamin Moignard, Marcelo Burgos Baumann
This article looks at the relationship between schools and working-class families in Brazil, and examines the effect on educational expectations. In a context where the involvement of working class families in school is sought, there is a strong distinction in schooling between the public and private spheres. In this context working-class families organise, influence and develop certain set educational expectations within a school which, if it is turned around, is characterised by a paternalistic approach in its relationship with families.
Parents, families and school in a neo-liberal education system
Reflections on the expectations, inequalities and tensions in the English context
In England, neo-liberal education policies have led to certain types of parental behaviour which show that "parental involvement" goes beyond the simple task of checking their children's homework or listening to them read. Today, parents have a key role in their capacity to establish a market in education. They now expect to be able to choose a school for their child and to have the right to be actively involved in the life of the school. The article contains an analysis of the role and expectations of parents in this neo-liberal education system and studies the impact of this education market on their expectations and involvement. The main focus of this article is on the implications of the role given to parents and the structural inequalities which exist in this ultra-competitive area.
Educational expectations of families in the United States
The "American dream" and the differences in class, gender and race
This article looks at the way American families from different social classes, a range of ethnic and racial groups and immigrant communities manage to cope with the complexity of choice offered to them by the educational map and how they adapt their parenting to raise the best child they can. The author draws on traditional sociological studies in addition to her own analysis of the representative samples of American primary pupils and shows how educational expectations are complex social constructions.
School guidance and support: the Benin experience
Clarisse Napporn, Abdel Rahamane Baba-Moussa
Providing children with quality education is a priority for many Beninese families. Against a backdrop where, in their view, there are a number of shortcomings in the school system, they are investing heavily in tutoring and private lessons. The article reflects on the impact of this phenomenon and offers a critical analysis of it. The lack of training for tutors, from a wide variety of backgrounds, the accumulation of extra-curricular work hours not taking into account the right pace for the child and also the high cost of the sessions, which can take place in extremely variable working conditions, are some of the phenomena addressed by the authors in discussing the usefulness of this type of support. They also highlight the significance of the exploitation of the expectations of families by the providers as there is little regulation in this area. The article concludes with some points for reflection which address these major shortcomings.
The nature and effects of private supplementary tutoring in Europe
The parallel system of private supplementary tutoring is increasingly gathering momentum in Europe. To a certain extent, this phenomenon results from deficiencies In the conventional system. It also reflects the needs of families who are faced with increasingly competitive environments. The article gives an overview of the scale of the geographical distribution of parallel education and goes on to identify the operating methods and the areas concerned before tackling the question of which families are investing in this type of tutoring and why. Finally, the author focuses on the impact on public policy of the development of this parallel education and on the lessons to be learnt by school systems.
On the way to the emergence and development of Education Cities
Jean-Pierre Pourtois, Huguette Desmet, Vanessa Della Piana, Marcelle Houx, Bruno Humbeeck
Relationships between families and schools are complex and are often based on mutual mistrust. Can you imagine a school in which everything learnt has its place in the home environments of the children, and enables them combat to social determinism? The authors explore the area of coeducation in the context of action research carried out in Belgium over a period of more than thirty years on a generation of children who then become young adults and later parents. The article shows how the partnership between school, family and society is the key to an integrated approach in the education process. It includes a number of findings which influenced the action research, "Parent partners in education", and describes the methods and evaluations used and concludes by presenting the resulting concept of Education Cities.
Academic engagement of French working-class families
Between mistrust and active ownership of learning challenges
After having looked at the evolution of educational expectations of French families and in particular the emblematic shifts which have affected the relationship of schools with low-income families, this article focuses on parental support with school work among the working classes. Using the results of a recent ethnographic study, it shows that a number of working-class families, far from relying wholly on the school, develop an active ownership of the learning challenges and adopt educational mistrust towards the school. They seem to have adopted the position that school is not their own personal resource and that schooling to a large extent is shaped by factors outside of school.
Educational expectations of poor families in Morocco
An empirical investigation
In a developing country with relatively high levels of poverty and illiteracy, the involvement of parents can be the key to the educational and social success of children. To test if the educational expectations of poor Moroccan families has really increased, a pilot programme, the Tayssir programme, was set up in a poor area. The objective was to reduce the school drop-out rate by eliminating certain factors which reduce the demand for education, such as direct or indirect schooling costs. The results show positive attitudes towards the extension of children's schooling, even when subsidies are stopped. The level of education of parents does not seem to affect their educational expectations and subsidies being stopped does not trigger a change in their aspirations. Finally, the study shows a significant level of involvement by mothers, who are much more likely than fathers to invest and to put the subsidies to good use.
The increasing concern over schooling among working-class families
The case of French-speaking Switzerland
The Swiss secondary education system was reformed in the 1960s. This change, which is still ongoing today, is almost complete. In 1969 education for working-class pupils was extended from 13 to 15, although at a basic level, today a large majority of these pupils go on to higher education. Based on qualitative interviews conducted recently among the working classes, this article aims to show how this transformation, as well as the crisis in unskilled employment, has lead families in French speaking areas of Switzerland to engage in school issues as they are able and increasingly integrate school into their educational strategies.