SCHOOLS, FAMILIES, AND COMMUNITIES
228 Erickson Hall
Office Hours: Mondays
Before class by appointment
course is intended for prospective and practicing school leaders,
and members of school communities. Its' focus is on the relationships
between schools, families, and communities. In particular, we
will look at children who comprise today's school population,
family structures from yesterday and today, schools as social
institutions, schools in their broader contexts, and examine methods
that will lead to improved school, family, and community relationships.
The first set of issues will focus on the children in our schools
and issues that facilitate their success or place them at risk
of social and academic failure. This includes school culture and
climate and an examination of the culture of power that exists
in many schools.
The second set of issues will consider schools, families, and
communities as institutions. In this section we will examine the
effects of changes in the traditional family and families today
using work by Coontz's. We will also examine family involvement
in schools and its impact on student academic outcome as well
as family school relations.
The third set of readings will focus on Family Involvement Models.
We will examine successful parent/school interaction at the early
childhood, elementary and middle school levels. Finally, the course
will focus on new directions that some communities are taking
to assure improved educational outcomes for their children.
Requirements and Grading
success of this class depends heavily on students to complete
all reading assignments in a thorough, thoughtful and critical
manner. This will require you to take notes while reading assignments,
write questions that arise as you read, and note points of contention
in your preparation to be an active participant in class discussions.
There will be little lecturing in the traditional sense, as the
course is intended to operate more like a seminar. Therefore it
is vial that students prepare for class by reading the assignments.
Each student is expected to co-lead one class reading. This co-leadership
will consist of the following: introducing the key topics and
issues to the class, leading the discussion centered on questions
intended to highlight themes from the reading. You are encouraged
to use creative classroom activities to highlight themes and ideas
about the readings. I strongly encourage you to think creatively
about how to carry out these activities. This will constitute
25% of the grade for the course.
Students are expected to prepare two written assignments for the
course. The first paper will be a 5-7 page (typed double space,
size 12 font with 1 inch margins all around) analysis of a current
school issue discussed in this first half of the course. Look through
your course outline, class notes, presentations, and class readings
to decide on a topic. The purpose of this paper is to allow you
an opportunity to clearly demonstrate your understanding of a critical
issue involving schools, families, and communities. The analysis
will separate the whole issue into parts for individual study. You
could discuss (for example) strengths and weaknesses of an issue
and provide possible remedies that will enhance school, family and
The second written assignment will be comprised of 12-15 pages.
Use the same format as the analytical paper. This paper will examine
a different/expanded aspect of the information presented in the
second half of this course. It must also deal with a topic discussed
in the second half of the course or it may be an expanded version
of topics from issues covered in the first half. The paper may discuss
an issue that exists in your individual school district or it can
be an issue discussed in a national context. It must be related
to one of the course topics.
You are expected to use library resources (such as scholarly journal
articles, and scholarly books) as well as other sources available
to you. It is imperative that we know what the research reflects
on your topic. You may want to gain fist-hand insight with some
aspect of your topic. This experience may be gained from interviews,
observations, and/or volunteer work etc. The intent would be to
provide you, as well as your classmates, with new and interesting
insights on your topic. The last class (perhaps two classes) will
provide an opportunity to present your key ideas and themes to the
The following books have been ordered and are/should be available
at the MSU bookstore:
Alan Booth & Judith F. Dunn (Eds.) (1996). Family school links:
How do they affect educational outcomes? Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
Coontz (1997) The way we really are. Basic Books
Herbert Kohl (1994). "I won't learn from you". The New
Written assignments will be assessed on the basis of their consistency
with the assignment; development and organization of the argument;
clarity of written expression; use of sources/resources. There
will be 1-2 reflection papers worth five points each. The two
page reflections will come from the class readings, video and/or
Class participation will be evaluated on the following criteria:
demonstrated mastery of the readings through periodic reflection
papers, how well you are able to invoke student participation
when you co-lead the class discussion. This assessment will be
based on the comprehensiveness of your presentation, its clarity
and originality of thought.
will based on the following:
25% Participation, including co-leading one session and reflection
25% analytical paper
10% Reflection papers
40% Final paper.
28 Course overview and introduction. What is culture? What is
the culture of your school? What are characteristics of urban,
rural, suburban schools?
Sept.4 Labor Day
Who are the children in school?
Kohl, "I won't learn from you".
The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People's
Children. Lisa Delpit. (1988)
Family School Links: Dunn and Booth. Chapter 1
Families: "The Way We Never Were". Coontz Chapters 1-5
2 Families: "The Way We Never Were". Coontz Chapters
9 Families: "The Way We really Are". Coontz Chapters
Families: "The Way We really Are". Coontz Chapters 5-9
23 Family School Links: Dunn and Booth Chapter 10-11
Family School Links: Dunn and Booth. Chapters 12-13
Nov.6 Family School Links: Dunn and Booth. Chapters 2-4
Nov.13 Family School Links: Dunn and Booth. Chapters 5-7
Family School Links: Dunn and Booth. Chapters 8,9, 14
Family School Links: Dunn and Booth. Chapters15-18-Paper Presentations
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