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EAD 853B

Christopher Dunbar
407 Erickson Hall

Email: dunbarc@msu.edu

Mon 5-8:00
228 Erickson Hall
Office Hours: Mondays
Before class by appointment

Course Description

This 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.

Course Requirements and Grading

Class participation:

The 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.

Written assignments:

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 community relations.

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 class.

Reading Assignments

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 Inc.

Stephanie Coontz (1997) The way we really are. Basic Books

Herbert Kohl (1994). "I won't learn from you". The New Press


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 discussions.
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.

Grades will based on the following:

25% Participation, including co-leading one session and reflection papers
25% analytical paper
10% Reflection papers
40% Final paper.

Course Outline

Aug. 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

Sept.11 Who are the children in school?
Kohl, "I won't learn from you".

Sept.18 The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People's Children. Lisa Delpit. (1988)
Family School Links: Dunn and Booth. Chapter 1

Sept.25 Families: "The Way We Never Were". Coontz Chapters 1-5

Oct. 2 Families: "The Way We Never Were". Coontz Chapters 6-10

Oct. 9 Families: "The Way We really Are". Coontz Chapters 1-4

Oct.16. Families: "The Way We really Are". Coontz Chapters 5-9

Oct. 23 Family School Links: Dunn and Booth Chapter 10-11

Oct.30 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

Nov.20. Family School Links: Dunn and Booth. Chapters 8,9, 14

Nov.27 Family School Links: Dunn and Booth. Chapters15-18-Paper Presentations

Dec. 4 Paper presentations
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