Parents and teachers: Collaborative researchers

Year: 1994

Author: McLeod, Julie

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Despite the rhetoric of politicians, educators and organised parent bodies advocating the establishment of partnerships between parents and teachers, the reality of the school and classroom reveals that such partnerships have been difficult to achieve and have often remained essentially tokenistic and hierarchical.

This paper examines four different pictures of parent/teacher partnerships and establishes that, where reality most closely approximates rhetoric, there is an acknowledgement of parents' knowledge as an essential supplement to teachers' knowledge in enabling children's construction of meaning. In these contexts successful partnerships between parents and teachers are collaborative, mutually empowering, and responsive to contextualised need.

A collaborative action research model is developed which aims to facilitate the development of further successful parent/teacher partnerships. This model is implemented through the Oral Language for Literacy and Learning Project and is evaluated in both the macro- context of the Project and the micro-context of the classroom using participant observation, questionnaires and interviews.

The model is shown to have the potential to create and support partnerships between parents and teachers that are collaborative, empowering and responsive to context. The model acts as a catalyst for change in different contexts-the home, the classroom, the school, and the community. It is seen to benefit each member of the education triangle-parent, teacher and child.