Educational policy analysis archives

Educational policy analysis archives

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Educational policy analysis archives
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Educational policy analysis archives.
n Vol. 3, no. 1 (January 02, 1995).
Tempe, Ariz. :
b Arizona State University ;
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida.
c January 02, 1995
Coordinating family and school : mothering for schooling / Alison I. Griffith.
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Arizona State University.
University of South Florida.
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t Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA)
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1 of 13 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 3 Number 1January 2, 1995ISSN 1068-2341A peer-reviewed scholarly electronic journal. Editor: Gene V Glass, Glass@ASU.EDU. College of Edu cation, Arizona State University,Tempe AZ 85287-2411 Copyright 1995, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES.Permission is hereby granted to copy any a rticle provided that EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES is credited and copies are not sold.Coordinating Family and School : Mothering for Schooling Alison I. Griffith Department of Educational Leadership, Counseling an d Foundations University of New Abstract: In this paper I explore the relationship between m othering work in the family and the social organization of schooling. In particular, I address the ways in which mothers coordinate and contest the textually-organized discourse of sc hooling In contrast to other studies of the family/school relationship, this research began in the experience of mothers whose children attend primary school. The data were collected thro ugh interviews with mothers in two cities in Ontario. Mothering work constructs families that ar e differently connected to schools -a connection strongly shaped by and constitutive of s ocial class. For mothers, children have a past and a future. Ou r children were babies, toddlers. Now they go to school. We want them to do well at schoo l but we are aware that schooling is only one part of their lives. Our children look just like ot her members of our family. We hope they will do well, be independent, be happy when they grow up. O ur children are unique individuals with a history and a range of possible futures. We know th at how they do in school will be part of how their futures are shaped. But our notions of the im portance of schools for our children's future may be quite different depending on our biographies our school experiences, our social class, our race or ethnicity. This paper explores the work of mothering for scho oling that shapes women's lives during the time our mothering is entwined with our childre n's primary schooling. Most research on the family/school relation begins in the school and the n moves to investigate the family and their interaction with the school. In contrast, this rese arch project began in the everyday activities of mothers as they construct the basis for their child ren's participation in mass compulsory


2 of 13schooling. Beginning in women's lives with women's experience brings mothering for schooling into view as work--actual activities that take time and effort to coordinate and contest the textually-organized discourses that shape the famil y/school relation. Beginning with Mothering Our research on mothering and schooling was inform ed by Smith's (1987) sociology for women--a sociology that begins in the actual life e xperiences of women and explores the social relations in which those experiences are given mean ing. In previous work, we described the ways that mothering work coordinates the uncoordinated s pheres of schooling and the labor market (Smith and Griffith, 1990). This paper also address es the coordinative work of mothers but from focuses on mothers' coordination with and contestat ion of the textually-organized discourses that shape the relation between the family and the schoo l. Discourse has been defined in a number of ways (Fo ucault, 1973; Jary & Jary, 1991; Rosenau 1992; Smith, 1990a, 1990b; Walkerdine, 1986 ; Weedon, 1987) but is typically conceived of as texts; any product that can be sepa rated from the immediacy of its construction (for example, books, films, video tapes, audio tape s). The conception of discourse used here builds on Foucault's (1973) insight into the intert extual organization of ruling or managing society. Texts are forms of signification linking l anguage and consciousness to the social relations of power in society. Social institutions, such as education, or the family are located in and structured by different "discursive fields" whi ch "consist of competing ways of giving meaning to the world and of organizing social insti tutions and processes" (Weedon, 1987:35). In a given institution, texts are structured to coordi nate with other texts in a discursive field--for example the intersection of child psychology and cu rriculum within the institution of education (Griffith, 1984; Walkerdine, 1984). Textually-organ ized discourses are both dominant and partial, shaping knowledge but always contested by other ways of understanding. Textually-organized discourses also act to organiz e relations between people and to shape action. It is not enough to 'offer' discourses to i ndividuals, they must actually take them up as everyday activities. The concept of textually-organ ized discourse used in this paper, then: "... goes beyond Foucault's conception of discourse as a conversation mediated by texts, to include how actual people take them up, t he practices and courses of actions ordered by them, how they coordinate the ac tivities of one with those of another or others. People enter into practices orde red by the texts of the T-discourse [discourses that are mediated by texts] and are act ive participants in its relations." (1993:51) Attention to the textually-organized discourses em bedded in talk about mothering and schooling brings into view the activities which ena ct, coordinate and contest the textually-organized discourses of schooling. Understanding Families through Schools The literature on families and schools is diverse but two lines of research dominate. One strand takes up the issue of parental involvement i n education (for example, Comer, 1986, 1988; Dauber & Epstein, 1993; Chavkin, 1993). These resea rchers note the strong achievement (for example, Henderson, 1987) and recommend a closer re lationship between families and schools (especially minority and working class families who se children have traditionally been less "successful" at school). This focus dominates the e ducation literature on families and schools. While changes in school organization are recommende d in order to make them more welcoming to parents, this literature is not strongly critica l of the schooling process. Rather, the research


3 of 13attention spotlights changes in family and school a ctivities that will bring the two into closer conformity. The second strand is more critical of schooling an d raises questions about the social organization of inequality inherent in schooling. F or example, Connell et al. (1982) explored the gender and class inequalities that construct the fa mily/school relation in Australia. In this social relation, schooling structures unequal educational outcomes. Fine (1991) argues that the policies and practices of American comprehensive high school s work actively to produce school failure and to silence students' and parents' critique of s chooling. David (1980) argues that schooling is implicated in the ongoing inequality of women--it i s an integral part of the family-school nexus. Walkerdine (1984) brings into view the discursive l inks between education and psychology that shape our knowledge of children's maturation. The literature regarding families and schools shar es a common methodological understanding: The research and analysis begins in the school (or the state) and moves to the family. Children are viewed first as students and l ater as family members. I contend that this research strategy has implications for our knowledg e about the family-school relation. Indeed, this research strategy, while practical and underst andable as a locally-organized research practice, shapes the research within the discursive field of education. When research and theorizing begins in the school the textually-organized discourses of schooling permeate the research question, data collection processes and analysis. Lareau's (1989) study of the family activities thr ough which cultural capital is invested in children's schooling is an interesting example of t he discursive shaping of research practices. She describes the interconnectedness between families a nd schools relating the extensive work of mothers and fathers who organize, manage and activa te their family's cultural capital for their child's participation in schooling. As she notes, t his particularistic work is linked to the resources available to the family -the social relations of class. She examines the school-oriented activities of middle class mothers but which are unusual in wo rking class families and finds "... the density between parents and schools differs by class" (1989 :169). Most middle class families know how to coordinate their information and resources with the activities of the school producing an "interconnectedness between family life and educati onal institutions" (1989:10) that is not present in the working class families she interview ed. Lareau's research on families and schools is exemp lary. However, as is typical of research in this area, her research design began in the scho ol and provided for her entry into the lives of the families she interviewed. She selected these fa milies based on her knowledge of their children in the classroom. Her research design situ ates the families in the discursive organization of schooling. Her participant observation in two sc hools shaped her selection of informants and reaffirmed her focus on the family's construction o f cultural capital, leaving unexplicated the discursive construction of schooling as an institut ion in which culture can be capitalized. Consequently, there is a dimension of mothering wor k that Lareau does not address. We cannot see the ways that parents contest and negotiate the discursively organized knowledge about their children constructed in the school through categori es such as gifted, slow, a middle child, and so on. Methodology: The Standpoint of Mothering In our research, we began in the family, in the mo thering work that constructs the links between families and their schools. Our "institutio nal ethnography" (Smith, 1987) explored the social relations of schooling from the standpoint o f mothers whose children were attending primary school2. We began in the "standpoint of wom en" (Smith, 1987)--in this instance, the standpoint of the mothers whose experience gave us our entry to the social relations of the family/education nexus. We were concerned to develo p a research process that would illuminate


4 of 13the everyday/everynight experience of mothering. We conceived of mothering as involving caring, intentionality, time, energy; as situated i n the particular histories of the women who talked to us; and as a unique experience which has, nonetheless, a social basis which would allow us to have an interview conversation about motherin g work. Shaping the research to bring into view the experience and work organization of mother ing was a strong theoretical and methodological focus. Our research design ethnographically explored the links between the work of mothers in the family and the textually organized discourse of schooling. We began in our experiences as single parent mothers, exploring particularly those areas in which we could see that our mothering work had been organized by the daily requ irements of schooling. We took the interview topics we had found in our experience and began to interview other women about their mothering work. As we constructed the interview nar ratives with the mothers, the interview topics shifted, expanded and contracted (Mishler, 1 986). Only when we had finished talking to the mothers d id we begin the second level interviewing at the schools. We deliberately struct ured the school interviews to reflect the issues raised in the mothers' narratives. In other words, the research was organized the discover the social organization of mothering, not the perspecti ve of the school on mothering. Tracing the social relations that shape women's experiences of mothering but which do not necessarily originate in her experience was the focus of our st udy. We interviewed women in two cities in Ontario. Our first interviews in Steeltown were lengthy, ranging from two hours to six hours. Three mothers were working class--the family income was derived, in part, from hourly wages; the parents education ranged from high school to college completion; the neighborhood was well-es tablished, close to the major city industries, the houses were small; the neighborhood school was characterized by the Board of Education as serving low socioeconomic status families. Three mo thers were middle class--the family income came from salaried, professional employment; the pa rents education ranged from a few years of college to post-baccalaureate degrees; the neighbor hood was removed from the city's industries and was well established, the houses were large and expensive; the local school was characterized as one attended by children from midd le class families. The narratives resulting from those interviews are accounts of complex inter actions between their families and the schools. Unfortunately, we were unable to complete our research design in this community because the Board of Education refused us permissio n to interview their teachers and principals. Nonetheless, the interviews are a rich source of kn owledge about mothering for schooling (Griffith & Smith, 1987, 1990; Smith & Griffith, 19 90). The second group of interviews were conducted in M otortown; a city with a similar history, population and industrial base. Again, we selected two schools in neighborhoods that, according to Canadian Census and Board of Education records, varied by social class. Border Elementary is located in a well-established, middle class, professional neighborhood. Downtown School is located in the inner city and serves a we llestablished working class neighborhood as well as the hostels for homeless families. We inter viewed 12 mothers (six mothers in the working class neighborhood and six in the middle cl ass professional neighborhood) as well as the principals and primary-level teachers in the two sc hools and assistant superintendents in central office. These second interviews were shorter (one a nd one-half to two hours). Interviews from the two research sites (conducted between 1985 and 1987) opened the interactive processes between families and schools for our inquiry. Mothering Work When we look at mothering work, we see that it tak es a variety of forms that encompass the range of possibilities for mothering in our soc iety. Each family negotiates the form that work


5 of 13will take based on the particular biography of fami ly members and the links constructed between the family and the larger society. For example, a f amily that includes a mother that is a clerical worker and a father that works on the line in autom obile manufacturing will have a family work organization that is different than one in which th e mother works exclusively in the home and the father is a mid-level manager. Nonetheless, each fa mily, typically through the work of the mother, constructs from its own biography and socia l location (gender, race and class positioning) the linkages that coordinate her child (ren) with mass compulsory schooling. The challenge, then, is to discover ways of describing the variety of family work organizations while recognizing that they are not infinitely various bu t simply variations on the possible themes socially recognizable as mothering for schooling. O ur focus is the mother's work of articulating her unique family to the discursively-organized sch ool processes--mothering for schooling. Textually-Organized Schooling Schools are work places organized textually. Think for a moment about curriculum: in Canada, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, a nd some school systems in the United States, primary-level curriculum is described as ch ild-centered (Walkerdine, 1984). This is an organization of knowledge about childrens' maturati on that coordinates curriculum with their cognitive, physical, social and emotional stages of development (Griffith, in press). Curriculum in the classroom has already been structured and sh aped by a number of people in a number of different places. For example, research on children 's development is reported in journals and taught in education and psychology courses in teach er training programs. Textbook authors draw from that research in their writing. Curriculum con sultants at Boards of Education review textbooks, make recommendations for adoption and pe rhaps work with educators to implement the curriculum guidelines (Apple, 1993). In this ex ample, we can see classroom curriculum as a textually-organized discourse that configures the w ork of teachers, curriculum consultants, textbook authors, psychological researchers and stu dents. Textually-organized discourses shape both the limi ts and the possibilities of our knowledge about children's education (Walkerdine, 1 984). It also frames our understandings about families and the work of mothers in families (Griffith, in press). In seeming contradiction, schools and classrooms are different one from the o ther and yet all teach to a standardized curriculum. As we saw above, textuallyorganized d iscourses are both dominant and partial. Weedon notes: "The most powerful discourses in our society have f irm institutional bases, in the law, for example, or in medicine, social welfare, e ducation and in the organization of the family and work. Yet these institutional loc ations are themselves sites of contest and the dominant discourses governing the o rganization and practices of social institutions are under constant challenge."( 1987:109) Each mother, child/student and teacher acts in rel ation to the range of possibilities available within a schooling process organized disc ursively. Constructing the Family/School Relation Mothering work constructs the family's relation wi th the textually-organized discourse of schooling in a number of ways. We might visualize i t as a tapestry made up of a number of threads woven between the school and the family. Fo r some families, the tapestry is thick and lush as the mother coordinates the activities and o rganization of the family with that of the school--getting the child to school on time, going to report card conferences, monitoring the child's school progress and so on. In others, the t apestry is threadbare and the teachers and


6 of 13principal may wonder if the mother really cares abo ut the child--getting the child to school after the bell but before the lessons actually start, mis sing report card conferences, waiting for the teachers to telephone before attending to the child 's school performance. In the family, the tapestry woven by the mother will be unique to her biography and circumstance. But where the threads connect to the school, there will be more s imilarities than differences in the mothers' work. Mothers' coordinative work brings the distinctiven ess of the family into relation with the textually-organized discourse of mass compulsory sc hooling. The following instances from our data will illustrate the coordination and contestat ion of mothering work. These narratives were selected from our data as exemplars (Mishler, 1990) of the range of distinctive mothering practices that coordinate families and schools. Ms. Kelly: Ms. Kelly lives in a middle-class profe ssional neighborhood and her children go to Border Elementary. She works full time in the home caring for her five children and her husband, a middle manager in the industrial plant t hat is the economic base of the city. Her husband works long hours and she does most of the w ork to connect her children with the school. For Ms. Kelly and the other mothers we spoke with, each of her children are unique; individuals with particular likes and dislikes, preferences and talents (see also DeVault, 1991). Ms. Kelly monitors the school work of each child c arefully to ensure they are doing as well as they can and that their particular talents are being developed. One of her sons was having difficulty and, during a report card conference, sh e and her husband discussed the problem with the teacher: "Well, I guess, we brought up--that particular son is left-handed and we brought up that subject at that time because we felt he wasn't bringing home enough work to give us an idea what he was doing in school. And we found out that he really wasn't doing work at school. He was avoiding a lot of the things, particularly the written work. And at that time, we brought up the subject o f him being left-handed and we honestly felt that was a good share of his problems And we got back at us that he was probably a typically middle child, second child And we didn't feel that way because when you have five children, I don't think that you get into that middle child business as much. And, I guess, the solution at the end was that we wanted him to do more school. And if it wasn't done at school, we wa nted it sent home. And, like, she did do that." There are two aspects of this narrative to which I want to draw your attention. First, Ms. Kelly monitors her children's school participation carefully. When she was unable to keep herself informed of her second child's school activities ad equately, she and her husband spoke with the teacher. As a result of this discussion, her son br ought more schoolwork home which allowed Ms. Kelly to monitor his school progress. This is a n example of the interconnectedness (Lareau, 1987) between middle class families and schools tha t is organized through the work of mothers. Second, Ms. Kelly has theorized the basis for her son's difficulty in school as "being left-handed." Ms. Kelly had read up on children who are left-handed and concluded that her son's problems could be attributed to the relation betwee n learning styles and left-handedness. This is a different conceptual understanding of children than that of the teacher who claimed: "he was probably typically a middle child" which is a famil y-based explanation. Neither Ms. Kelly nor the teacher came to appreciate the other's argument. The solution Ms. Kelly adopted was that the teache r would provide school work for Ms. Kelly's son to complete at home. This monitoring-re pair sequence (Smith & Griffith, 1990) coordinated Ms. Kelly's work process in the family with the discourse of schooling. She also challenged the attributions about family background that are part of schooling discourse (Manicom, 1987). Ms. Kelly's challenge brings resea rch and popular publications from


7 of 13psychology on the effect of right or left brain dom inance on learning into competition with the conceptions of family background that permeate educ ation. Thus, Ms. Kelly brings the school's attention to the unique requirements of her childre n. This is one way mothers coordinate and challenge or contest the discourses that coalesce i n education. Ms. Arthur. Ms. Arthur lives in a newly-built neig hborhood across a busy road from Border Elementary. The school had, until recently, drawn only from an established neighborhood of middle class professional families. The new neig hborhood includes a wide range of families. Ms. Arthur worked briefly as a secretary before her children were born and now works at home full time. Mr. Arthur is a city policeman. They hav e two children, a girl and a boy. Ms. Arthur describes her children as being very di fferent from each other. "Well, I feel that Joey could use the extra like I guess I didn't do it with her because she was outgoing and she has got a good bubbly pers onality. If she doesn't get the information, she will get it, you know. She'll have her hand up and she'll ask questions and she questions everything. But Joey is shy and he's within himself a lot and I thought, well, if I did more with him so that when he came to kindergarten he's not going to stick and shake and he's not going to be like this.... Then at least he'll know how to go about it. He won't be bewildered and upset inside over not doing it." Ms. Arthur is describing the different kinds of mo thering work she does preparing her children for school. According to Ms. Arthur, her s on's unique ways of acting in the world place him at a disadvantage in the classroom. Thus, she i s preparing and monitoring her son's participation in the school more carefully than tha t of her daughter. Ms. Arthur's mothering for schooling has actively organized different school r elationships for her daughter and her son. Interestingly, her mothering work is organized in r elation to a schooling process that is seen to be the 'same' process to which each unique child must connect. Ms. Arthur and the other mothers we interviewed re flected on their mothering work while they monitored their children's participation in sc hooling. Where necessary, they adjusted their mothering work to coordinate with the schooling dis course. "M: I didn't do it with her so much. She knew most of her alphabet and different things so I didn't go into her upper case and lower case. I didn't think it was any ... and counting and all of that. But then when she hit kindergarten I realized well maybe I hadn't done enough. A: How did you realize that? In what way? M: Because she was capable of doing more than she d id. I realized she wasn't just average, she was kind of above average. I should ha ve been giving her more to occupy her." However, she expressed ambivalence at this structu ring of her interaction with her children: "I think that we have to do too much at home to kee p them going at school. She is in a mixed grade, grades one and two and I think it's quite a bit to expect grade one to come home and read every night and go over word lis ts and she has a test once a week. Every Monday she has a test. She comes home s ometimes on a Wednesday with a new word list and on Monday she has a test. She has to know the thirty new words."


8 of 13 This ambivalence does not appear in Ms. Kelly's in terview although their children attend the same school. Ms. Arthur coordinates her mothering work with the requirements of the school, but does so with some dissatisfaction. Ms. Arthur contests t he coordination of her family with the textually-organized discourse of schooling when she asserts that the school's expectations overly-structure her daughter's time leaving little for other activities Ms. Arthur considers important to her daughter's development. In the interview, Ms. Arthur does not describe tak ing the issue of having to do "too much at home to keep them going at school". Indeed, ther e is a separation between family and school in the Arthur narrative. Thus, we can begin to see the different ways mothers organize their work with the same school, coordinating and contesting t he textually-organized discourses through their everyday activities. Ms. Vernon. Ms. Vernon lives in a working class ne ighborhood and works in the home full time. Her husband is an engineer who commutes to the large city nearby to work. The neighborhood school, Downtown School, is described by its staff as an "inner city school" meaning that families who live in the neighborhood have few social, economic and educational resources to bring to their childrens' schooling. Ms. Vernon, like Ms. Kelly and Ms. Arthur, has wor ked actively to coordinate her mothering work with that of the school. She describ es one incident as follows: "... she was so scared to go to school. And I found out afterwards it was because she thought she would get a harsh word from this new te acher or get disciplined or something. Cause she has seen some of the kids [in her classroom] already going into the corner, or whatever they have to do. She d idn't tell me that at the time what it was.... And I talked to the teacher the next tim e I was there and I told her that she was going through an adjustment time. She missed th e kindergarten room. And she said that the day that she did come in late, the te acher had said to her: 'Rhonda, don't worry. You're not really late.' .... Ever sin ce that she was fine. She never had that problem. But that's what I found helped becaus e then I was able to find out from the teacher as well what had happened and what kind of discipline was being used." In this coordinative instance, Ms. Vernon speaks w ithin the discursive framework of primary schooling and brings that to bear on her un derstanding of the unique qualities possessed by her daughter. She talks about Rhonda as "going t hrough an adjustment time". She checks Rhonda's story with the teacher and adjusts her own behavior to fit with the kind of discipline being used at the school. Ms. Vernon also uses coordinative mothering strate gies in monitoring her daughter's progress through the standardized curriculum: "When we had the [report card] interview, the teach er was explaining how she did in all of the areas. And she said that her hope for all the children is it doesn't matter what mark they get if each child does their best an d enjoys it.... As far as her improvement, she has a tendency--its not in marks o r in any one area--she has a tendency to be a bit of a diddler sometimes. Like p utting on her clothes in the morning, all of a sudden she sees the cat or someth ing. and she goes off and starts playing and you have to remind her--that sort of th ing. The teacher said that in one area she is a bit slow, not that she is not doing w ell, but because she tries to do so well. Her printing, she got a very good mark in and it doesn't look like--but she tries to do her work so well that it does take time so sh e's a bit slow that way." Ms. Vernon's narrative constantly links her daught er as a unique person to her


9 of 13participation in the classroom. She speaks of her d aughter's home activities in relation to those she has discovered to be important in her daughter' s classroom. The teacher's comment that it "doesn't matter what mark" her students get as long as they are happy is not a remark you would be likely to he ar in a school located in a middle class professional neighborhood. In fact, it does matter what "mark" children get and enjoyment is only one part of the school experience. Those who receiv e consistently poor marks are more likely to drop out of school before matriculating and to stop participating long before (Fine, 1991). This kind of comment, whatever the teacher's intention, deflects Ms. Vernon's attention to her daughter's emotional experience of school and away from the cognitive skills on which middle class mothers such as Ms. Kelly insist. Ms. Vernon's coordination between school and home is not without its dissonances. Her family belongs to a Christian fundamentalist church whose teachings at times contradict those of the school. Ms. Vernon is critical of the school fo r not teaching Christian principles in the classroom. For her, the school is simply inadequate to the task of teaching her children. She spends time each day teaching her children the skil ls required by the school from books that support her religious practices. While she is very supportive of the school, spending many days helping in the classroom, she is also very critical of the school for the lack of religious instructio n available to her daughter. Her coordinative work, t hen, is one which links the textually organized discourses of education and religion through her mo thering work in the family. Coordinating Families and Schools Working class and middle class mothers not only co ordinate their family activities with the school's discursive organization, they also con test the conceptual frameworks that are part of that discourse by linking their child's particulari ties to other possible explanations, other discourses. But some discourses are more powerful than others (Weedon, 1987). Those mothers, such as Ms. Kelly, who are familiar with textually-organ ized discourses, such as psychology, that are already coordinated with schooling are able to use them to contest the school's explanations of and work with their children. We have found that, t ypically, these are middle class families able to bring extensive educational and economic resourc es to their children's education. Their activities with their children and with the school weave thick, lush tapestries linking home and school. Other mothers may be familiar with the discourses of schooling but choose to construct their children's education differently. Their famil y values do not necessarily coincide with those embedded in schooling discourse. For example, Ms. A rthur's concern that her daughter is spending too much time on school work does not supp ort the strong focus of Border Elementary on high academic achievement. Nor do the Arthurs ha ve the same level of educational and economic resources to bring to their children's edu cation as do the Kellys. Neither Mr. nor Ms. Arthur enjoyed their own schooling and they have co ordinated their family life to include activities such as hunting and fishing. These famil y activities are outside the academic focus of Border Elementary. Ms. Vernon's mothering work has strong similaritie s to that described by Ms. Kelly and Ms. Arthur. She is very involved in her child's sch ooling, she visits her daughter's classroom and is friendly with her daughter's teacher. She has co me to understand her child's school needs notably through her discussions with her child's te acher. This is a different level of discursive knowledge about schooling than that of Ms. Kelly. M s. Vernon is very involved with her church. Indeed, most of the books and magazines in her home are church publications. They provide the ground of Ms. Vernon's criticism of schooling but a ddress issues of religious not academic practice.


10 of 13 Ms. Vernon's coordination and contestation of the family/school relation occurs in a different class context than that of Ms. Kelly and Ms. Arthur. The families whose children attend Downtown school have fewer social, economic and edu cational resources to bring to their schooling than do those of Border Elementary. Altho ugh both schools are accountable to the same textually-organized discourse of schooling, th e different resource levels have consequences for the kind of teaching and learning that occurs i n the school. Indeed, the teachers and school administration describe lower expectations for Down town School students than do the educational staff at Border Elementary. Concluding Comments In contrast to other research in this area, our re search was designed to begin in the work organization of mothering for schooling. From this "standpoint", we have been able to explore the coordination and contestation of the textuallyorganized discourses that shape the work of mothering for schooling. Thus, we can see mothering and schooling as a rela tion between families and schools that constructs the limits and possibilities for their c hild's participation in schooling. From the perspective of the schools, Ms. Kelly weaves a stro ng relationship between her family and their school. Ms. Arthur's coordination of her family wit h the school is weaker, contested by emphases on non-academic concerns. Ms. Vernon's involvement in her child's schooling follows the practices of the classroom while supporting the chi ld's emotional involvement in schooling. This is a relationship particular to Downtown School, on e which would be contested at Border Elementary. From the perspective of the mothers, th e tapestries they weave are thick and lush, filled with religious activity; hunting and fishing ; children who are left-handed. Their interaction with the school draws on complementary and competin g discourses that may support as well as oppose schooling. Thus, mothering work constructs f amilies that are differently connected to schools--a connection strongly shaped by and consti tutive of social class. Notes:1. This research was supported by the Social Scienc e and Humanities Research Council of Canada [#410-84-0450] and a Spencer Foundation Mini -Grant. 2. Our experience as mothers and researchers is sha ped by the same textually-organized discourses we are exploring. In a reflection on our research design and interview process, Smith (1993) has discovered a textually-organized discour se that permeated our practices in this research project. Her recognition of the interpella tion of the SNAF (Standard North American Family) discourse in our research activities brough t into view for us the interpellation of mothering work with the textually-organized discour ses that coalesce in the activities of schooling. References Apple, M. W. (1993). Official Knowledge. New York: Routledge. Bracey, G. W. (1988). Parent-School Connection. Phi Delt Kappan, 69, 369. Chavkin, N. F. (Ed.). (1993). Families and schools in a pluralistic society. SUNY Series, Family systems and the life cycle. Albany NY: State Univer sity of New York Press.


11 of 13Coleman, J. S. (1988). "Social capital" and schools Educational Digest, 53, 6-10. Comer, J. P. (1986). Parent participation in the sc hools. Phi Delta Kappan, 67, 442-446. Comer, J. P. (1988). Educating poor minority childr en. Scientific American, 259, 42-48. Connell, R. W., Ashenden, D. J., Kessler, S., & Dow sett, G. W. (1982). Making the Difference. Boston: Allen and Unwin.Dauber, S. L., & Epstein, J. L. (1993). Parents' at titudes and practices of involvement in inner-city elementary and middle schools. In N. F. Chavkin (Ed.), Families and schools in a pluralistic society (pp. 53-72). SUNY series, Famil y systems and the life cycle. Albany NY: State University of New York Press.David, M. E. (1980). The state, the family and educ ation. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. DeVault, M. L. (1991). Feeding the family: The soci al organization of caring as gendered work. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Fine, M. (1991). Framing dropouts: Notes on the pol itics of an urban public high school. New York: SUNY Press.Foucault, M. (1973). The order of things: An archae ology of the human sciences. New York: Random House.Griffith, A. I. (1984). Ideology, education and sin gle parent families: The normative ordering of families through schooling [Unpublished Doctoral Di ssertation]. Toronto: University of Toronto. Griffith, A. I. (in press). Connecting mothering an d schooling: The discursive organization of children's development. In Campbell, M. and Manicom A. (eds) Studies in the Social Organization of Knowledge. Toronto: University of T oronto Press. Griffith, A. I., & Smith, D. E. (1987). Constructin g cultural knowledge: Mothering as discourse. In A. McLaren & J. Gaskell (eds.), Women and educat ion: Canadian perspectives. Calgary, Alberta: Detselig.Griffith, A. I. & Smith, D. E. (1990). "What Did Yo u Do In School Today?": Mothering, Schooling and Social Class. Perspectives in Social Problems, 2, 3-24. Henderson, A. (ed.). (1987). The evidence continues to grow: Parent involvement improves student achievement. Columbia MD: National Comittee for Citizens in Education. Jary, D., & Jary, J. (1991). Harper Collins Diction ary of Sociology. New York: Harper Collins. Johnson, D. A. (1983). Family and School. London: C room Helm. Lareau, A. (1989). Home Advantage: Social class and parental involvement in elementary education. London: Falmer Press.Manicom, A. (1987). Constituting class relations: T he social organization of teachers' work. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation. Toronto, Ontario : University of Toronto. Mehan, H. The School's Work of Sorting Students. In Boden, D. & Zimmerman, D. H.(eds) Talk


12 of 13 and Social Structure: Studies in Ethnomethodology a nd Conversation Analysis Cambridge: Polity Press. 7190.Mishler, E. G. (1986). Research interviewing: Conte xt and narrative. Cambridge MA: Haarvard University Press.Mishler, E. G. (1990). Validation in inquiry-guided research: The role of exemplars in narrative studies. Harvard Educational Review, 60, 415-441.Rosenau, P. (1992). Post-modernism and the social s ciences: Insights, inroads and intrusions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Smith, D. E. (1987). The everyday world as problema tic: A feminist method. Boston: Northeastern University Press.Smith, D. E. (1990a). The Conceptual Practices of P ower: A Feminist Sociology of Knowledge. Syracuse: Northeastern University Press.Smith, D. E. (1990b). Texts, Facts and Femininity. London: Routledge. Smith, D. E. (1993, March). The standard north amer ican family: SNAF as an ideological code. Journal of Family issues, 14(1), 50-65.Smith, D. E. & Griffith, A. I. (1990). Coordinating the Uncoordinated: Mothering, Schoolinng and the Family Wage. Perspectives in Social Problem s, 2, 25-43. Walkerdine, V. (1984). Developmental psychology and the child centred pedagogy. In J. Henriques, W. Holloway, C. Urwin, C. Venn, & V. Wal kerdine (Eds.), Changing the subject: Psychology, social regulation and subjectivity. Lon don, England: Methuen. Walkerdine, V. (1986). Post-structuralist theory an d everyday social practices:The family and the school. In Sue Wilkinson (ed.), Feminist social psy chology (pp. 57-76). Milton Keynes, UK: Open University Press.Weedon, C. (1987). Feminist Practice and Poststruct uralist Theory. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers. Copyright 1995 by the Education Policy Analysis ArchivesEPAA can be accessed either by visiting one of its seve ral archived forms or by subscribing to the LISTSERV known as EPAA at (To sub scribe, send an email letter to whose sole contents are SUB EPAA y our-name.) As articles are published by the Archives they are sent immediately to the EPAA subscribers and simultaneously archived in three forms. Articles are archived on EPAA as individual files under the name of the author a nd the Volume and article number. For example, the article by Stephen Kemmis in Volume 1, Number 1 of the Archives can be retrieved by sending an e-mail letter to LISTSERV@a and making the single line in the letter rea d GET KEMMIS V1N1 F=MAIL. For a table of contents of the entire ARCHIVES, send the following e-mail message to INDEX EPAA F=MAIL, tha t is, send an e-mail letter and make its single line read INDEX EPAA F=MAIL.


13 of 13The World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is Policy Analysis Archives are "gophered" at To receive a publication guide for submitting artic les, see the EPAA World Wide Web site or send an e-mail letter to and include the single l ine GET EPAA PUBGUIDE F=MAIL. It will be sent to you by return e-mail. General questions about ap propriateness of topics or particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, Glass@asu.ed u or reach him at College of Education, Arizona Sta te University, Tempe, AZ 85287-2411. (602-965-2692)Editorial Board John Andrew Coulson Alan Davis Mark E. Thomas F. Alison I. Arlen Gullickson Ernest R. Aimee Craig B. Howley u56e3@wvnvm.bitnet William Richard M. Jaeger Benjamin Thomas Dewayne Mary P. Les Susan Bobbitt Anne L. Hugh G. Richard C. Anthony G. Rud Dennis Jay Robert Robert T.


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