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Asian indian mothers' involvement in their children's schooling :
b an analysis of social and cultural capital
h [electronic resource] /
by Susan Chanderbhan-Forde.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
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Dissertation (EDD)--University of South Florida, 2010.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
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ABSTRACT: This qualitative study utilized concepts drawn from the theories advanced by Coleman (1988) and Pierre Bourdieu (1987) to examine the extent to which Asian Indian mothers utilize embodied cultural capital and social capital (specifically social norms and social networks) in their engagement in their children's education. Using interviews with 12 Asian Indian mothers whose children were enrolled in a large urban school district in West Central Florida, the study examined their beliefs about the value of education, the origin of those beliefs, their roles in their children's education, family and community norms surrounding education, and how they utilized social networks to assist them in negotiating the American public school system. Several themes emerged from the interviews. Mothers' habitus included a view of education as critical to building a secure future for their children. They attributed their strong emphasis on education to personal experiences within their own families and particular historical and local conditions present within Indian society, including a history with colonialism, overpopulation, and a very competitive schooling system. Mothers' habitus also included playing an extremely active role in their children's educations, including extensive academic supplementing of the American curriculum. Academic supplementing was based on both their perceptions of a lack of rigor in the American elementary school curriculum and their belief in the importance of continuous learning for children. How participants' habitus likely functioned as embodied capital in interaction with schools is discussed. Participants reported that norms about education in the larger Asian Indian community included an emphasis on educatio as central priority in the lives of children as well as competitiveness around academics. They indicated that this competitiveness had both positive and negative effects on children. Partly due to their lack of knowledge about the American school system, mothers reported extensive use of co-ethnic social networks to access information that they used to help them support their children's educational success. They discussed how the composition of these networks limited their usefulness and how they sought knowledgeable outsiders to compensate for these weaknesses. Implications of the findings for researchers are discussed and suggestions for future research are offered.
Advisor: Michael J. Curtis, Ph.D.
x Psychological & Social Foundations
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
Asian Indian MothersÂ’ Involvement in Their Chil drenÂ’s Schooling: An Analysis of Social and Cultural Capital by Susan Chanderbhan-Forde A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of Psychological and Social Foundations College of Education University of South Florida Major Professor: Michael J. Curtis, Ph.D. Constance V. Hines, Ph.D. Kofi Marfo, Ph.D. Linda Raffaele Mendez, Ph.D. Date of Approval: June 25, 1010 Keywords: immigrants, norms, parent invol vement, education, Coleman, Bourdieu, culture, ethnic-specific capital Copyright 2010 Susan Chanderbhan-Forde
Dedication For my mother who sacrificed her life so th at I could have oppor tunities she was never afforded. And who showed me what it means to never, ever, give up. Shilling Love Shailja Patel They never said / they loved us Those words were not / in any language / spoken by my parents I love you honey was the dribbled caramel / of Hollywood movies / Dallas / Dynasty / where hot water gushed / at the touch of gl eaming taps / electricity surged / 24 hours a day / through skyscrapers banquets obscene as the Pentagon / were mere backdrops / where emotions had no consequences words / cost nothing meant nothing would never / have to be redeemed My parents / didn't speak / that / language 1975 / 15 Kenyan shillings to the British pound / my mother speaks battle Storms the bastions of Nairobi's / most ex clusive prep schools / s hoots our cowering / sixyear old bodies like cannonballs / into the all-white classrooms / scales the ramparts of class distinction / around Loreto Convent / wh ere the president / se nds his daughter / the
foreign diplomats send / their daughters / be cause my mother's daughters / will / have world-class educations She falls / regroups / falls and re-groups / in endless assaults on visa officials / who sneer behind their bulletproof windows / at US and Br itish consulates / my mother the general / arms her daughters / to take on every citadel 1977 / 20 Kenyan shillings to the British pound / my father speaks / stoic endurance / he began at 16 the brutal apprenti ceship / of a man who takes care of his own / relinquished dreams of / fighter pilot rally driver for th e daily crucifixion / of wringing profit from business / my father the foot soldier, bound to an honour / deeper than any currency / you must / finish what you start you must / march until you drop you must / give your life for those / you bring into the world I try to explain love / in shill ings / to those who've never ga uged / who gets to leave who has to stay / who breaks free and what they pay / those who've never measured love / by every rung of the ladder / from survival / to choice 50 Kenyan shillings to the pound / we cry from meltdown pressure / of exam after exam where second place is never good enough / th ey snap / faces ta ut with fear / you can't be soft / you have to fight / or the world will eat you up 75 Kenyan shillings to the pound / they hug us / tearless stoic at airports / as we board planes for icy alien England / cram instru ctions into our pockets like talismans / Eat proper meals so you don't get sick / cover your ears against the cold / avoid those
muffathias / the students without purpose or values / learn and study / succeed / learn and study / succeed / remember remember remember the cost of your life
Acknowledgements First and foremost I am grateful to God for making all my accomplishments and successes possible. I am sincerely grateful to the mothers who participated in this study for taking time out of their busy lives to share their thoughts and experiences. For her assistance with participant recruitment and her unfailing support I am deeply indebted to Sri Jyothi Venkatachelam. I also thank my committee for their patience and the extensive amount of time they invested in order to help me finish this piece of work. Dr. Curtis, I will always be incredibly grateful for the amazing support and guidance you gave me in developing my professional id entity. Dr. Hines your grace, professionalism, passion and commitment are examples I hope to emulate in my career. Dr. Marfo, you are my intellectual inspiration. Moreove r, I am humbled by how gene rously youÂ’ve given of your time to guide my development. Linda you have my deep gratitude for your patience, kindness, and steadfast belief in my capabilities. IÂ’m especially indebt ed to Tasha-Neisha Wilson for the time she invested in this project and her keen critical feedback during the coding and analysis process. Thanks to Jo shua without whom none of this would have been possible; I owe you so much. My family has been amazing: my thanks to my parents, Brother Greg and Sist er Barbara, Peter, Dave, Sama nthra, and Christina for your love and unfailing support. I could not ha ve done it without you. Nicola, you have done so much for me; thank you for always, always supporting me. Reggie, I am so grateful for your generous and unwavering support. Than ks also to Decia, J.C., Vanessa, Jessica, and Allison and all the others whose support ha s helped me to persist to this point.
i Table of Contents List of Tables iv Abstract v Chapter One: Introduction 1 The Indian Cultural Context 9 Asian Indian Immigration to the U.S. 12 Purpose of Study 13 Research Questions 13 Significance of Study 14 Definition of Terms 15 Asian Indian/Indian 15 Theoretical Concepts 15 Social Capital 15 Cultural Capital 16 Embodied cultural capital 17 Habitus 17 Delimitations of Study 17 Limitations of Study 18 Chapter Two: Review of Related Literature 19 Social and Cultural Capital: Overview 19 Social Capital 19 Cultural Capital 23 Current Study 25 Social and Cultural Capital & Non-immigrant Parents 26 Social and Cultural Capital and Immigrant Parents 37 Asian Indian Families 46 Qualitative Research 48 Chapter Three: Method 49 Participants 49 Participant Recruitment 50 Instrumentation 52 Demographic Questionnaire 52 Background Questionnaire 53 Interview Protocol 53 Data Collection Procedures 55
ii Data Management 56 Data Analysis 57 Development of Codes 58 Theme Analysis 62 Credibility 63 Non-Leading Interview Questions 64 Consistency Checks 64 Member Checking 64 Peer Debriefing 65 Chapter Four: Results 67 Participant Demographic Characteristics 67 Description of Families 67 Description of Interviewees 71 Participant Descriptions 74 Anjali 74 Anumita 74 Chapala 74 Meenakshi 74 Neha 74 Noor 75 Radha 75 Rani 75 Reshmi 75 Roshni 75 Sudha 75 Vidya 76 Summary of Participants 76 Question 1: What Role does Embodied Cultural Capital Play in Asian Indian MothersÂ’ Engagement in Their ChildrenÂ’s Education? 77 Beliefs About the Value of Education 78 Education ensures financial security 79 Education is dependable 80 Education makes you a better person 81 Origins of Beliefs About the Value of Education 82 Parental encouragement and support 83 Indian society 84 Struggle against colonialism 86 Indigenous educational traditions 88 Beliefs About Parent Role 90 Active participants 92 Academic supplementing 93 Reasons for Academic Supplementing 93 Forms of Academic Supplementing 96 School-based involvement 102
iii Frequent communication with teachers 106 Importance of staying home 108 Community Beliefs about Active Participation 111 Community Beliefs about the Role of Mothers 113 Do MothersÂ’ Role Beliefs and Forms of Engagement Constitute Embodied Cultural Capital? 115 Question 2: What Role do Social Norms Play in Asian Indian MothersÂ’ Engagement in their ChildrenÂ’s Education? 118 Family Norms Regarding Education 118 Present effort ensures the future 119 High expectations 121 Community Norms Regarding Education 123 Education is a central priority 125 Competitiveness around academics 129 Competitiveness motivates children 130 Competitiveness impacts children negatively 132 Question 3: What Role do Social Networks Play in Asian Indian MothersÂ’ Engagement in Their ChildrenÂ’s Education? 134 Formal sources of information 140 Trading information 142 Learning from experienced members 144 Information about academic supplementing 145 Limitations of using the network 146 Knowledgeable outsiders 148 Receiving Context 151 Chapter Five: Discussion 157 Embodied Cultural Capital 160 Social Norms 166 Social Networks 170 Receiving Context 172 Limitations of the Current Study 174 Implications for Educators 175 Implications of Results for Researchers 177 Suggestions for Future Research 180 References 182 Appendices 184 Appendix A: Study Descri ption for Association/ Community Members 189 Appendix B: Study Cover Letter 190 Appendix C: Demograp hic Questionnaire 192 Appendix D: Informed Consent 193 Appendix E: Semi-structured Interview Protocol 197 Appendix F: Background Information Form 201 Appendix G: Codebook 204 About the Author End Page
iv List of Tables Table 1 Characteristics of Participant Families 69 Table 2 Academic Grades of ParticipantsÂ’ Children 71 Table 3 Characteristics of Interviewees 73 Table 4 Themes from Beliefs about the Value of Education 79 Table 5 Origins of Beliefs about the Valu e of Education. 82 Table 6 Themes from Beliefs about Pa rent Role 92 Table 7 Themes from Family Norms 119 Table 8 Themes from Role of Community Norms 124 Table 9 Themes from Social Networks 136
v Asian Indian MothersÂ’ Involvement In Thei r ChildrenÂ’s Schooling: An Analysis Of Social And Cultural Capital Susan Chanderbhan-Forde ABSTRACT This qualitative study utilized concepts dr awn from the theories advanced by Coleman (1988) and Pierre Bourdieu (1987) to examine the extent to which Asian Indian mothers utilize embodied cultural capital and social cap ital (specifically social norms and social networks) in their engagement in their childrenÂ’s education. Using interviews with 12 Asian Indian mothers whose children were enro lled in a large urban school district in West Central Florida, the study examined thei r beliefs about the va lue of education, the origin of those beliefs, their roles in thei r childrenÂ’s education, family and community norms surrounding education, and how they utili zed social networks to assist them in negotiating the American public school system. Several themes emerged from the intervie ws. MothersÂ’ habitus included a view of education as critical to building a secure fu ture for their children. They attributed their strong emphasis on education to personal e xperiences within their own families and particular historical and local conditions present within Indi an society, including a history with colonialism, overpopulation, and a very competitive schooling system. MothersÂ’ habitus also included playing an extremely active role in their childrenÂ’s educations, including extensive academic supplementing of the American curriculum. Academic supplementing was based on both th eir perceptions of a lack of rigor in the American
vi elementary school curriculum and their belie f in the importance of continuous learning for children. How participantsÂ’ habitus likely functioned as embodied capital in interaction with schools is discussed. Participants reported that norms about education in the larger Asian Indian community included an emphasis on education as central priority in the lives of children as well as competitiveness around academics. They indicated that this competitiveness had both positive and negative effects on children. Partly due to their lack of knowledge about the American school system, mothers re ported extensive use of co-ethnic social networks to access information that they us ed to help them support their childrenÂ’s educational success. They discussed how th e composition of these networks limited their usefulness and how they sought knowledgeab le outsiders to compensate for these weaknesses. Implications of the findings fo r researchers are discussed and suggestions for future research are offered.
1 Chapter One Introduction The population of the United States is b ecoming more and more diverse. At present, immigrants comprise over 12% of the U.S. population, about 35 million people (U.S. Census, 2000). About one in five children in the United States currently lives in an immigrant household (Surez-Orozco, Todorova, & Louie, 2002) and the parents of more than 15 million children in the U.S. are immigr ants (Urban Institute, 2004). Historically, the largest number of immigrant families has b een concentrated in six states (California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey New York, and Texas). However, recent U.S. Census data indicate that some midwestern and southern states (e.g., Id aho, Iowa, Georgia, and North Carolina,) are now outpacing those states in the number of resident immigrant families (Urban Institute, 2004). Fo r instance, between 1990 and 2000 North Carolina and Iowa saw 270% and 182% increases, respectively, in their population of immigrant families (Urban Institute, 2004). In large school districts, the percentage of immigrant families is often high. For instance, 48% of the children in the New York City public schools are from immigrant households (Surez-Orozco, Todorova, & Loui e, 2002). The increasing diversity among AmericaÂ’s school-aged population has meant ne w challenges for American scholars and educators as they attempt to understand fam ilies from a variety of immigrant groups and support the academic achievement of these chil dren. For instance, the traditional BlackWhite achievement gap has become much more complicated with successive waves of
2 immigration by different groups to the U.S. Academic achievement data show the complicated nature of the differences among immigrant subgroups. For instance, Hispanic students (with the exception of t hose of Cuban descent) have higher dropout rates than do native born whites as well as lowe r levels of college degree attainment (Pew Hispanic Center, 2000). Asian American st udents, while often discussed as a model minority, (Prashad, 2000) have variations among subgroups. For instance, Southeast Asian students (e.g., Cambodian, Laotian, Hm ong) have high dropout rates and low levels of postsecondary degree completion in comparison to native born White American students (College Board, 2008). In contrast, data for Chinese, Korean, and Asian Indian students show low numbers of high school dropouts and high levels of postsecondary degree completion in comparison to native bo rn White Americans (College Board, 2008). Data indicate that while approximately 24% of Americans complete a BachelorÂ’s degree or higher, approximately 64% of Asian Indians do. These statistics reflect different schoo ling experiences for different immigrant subgroups, with some immigrant parents expe riencing a realizati on of their hopes of educational success and upward mobility for their children while others watch their children experience school fa ilure and downward assimilation in their host country. Educational researchers and sociologists who study the educati onal experiences of minority groups in American society have ex amined how various theories account for the different educational experiences of various groups in society, including immigrant subgroups. These explanations include genetic factors (e.g., Hernstein & Murray, 1994), oppositional identities (e.g., Ogbu, 1974; 2003) and segmented assimilation (Portes &
3 Zhou, 1993). Two explanations advanced relate to the idea of how intangible forms of capital can be leveraged in order to support childrenÂ’s educationa l achievement. The economist Glen Loury (1977) is often cr edited with being one of the earliest social science thinkers to introduce the idea of social capital that social relationships, like physical capital, can be transl ated into something of value that is tangible. The idea that parents possess vary ing degrees of capital and that it can be leveraged to influence the academic success of their children was advanced by James Coleman (1988), one of the most influential proponents of the idea of social capital. He argued that social capital is a form of capital that exists in the relati onships between people. An individualÂ’s ties to other people allow him or her to gain acce ss to a broad range of resources. Coleman (1988) focused on three specific forms of social capital and discussed them in terms of how parents could use each form to engage in their childrenÂ’s edu cation and to promote their educational success. The first form of social capital Coleman discussed was obligations and expectations that is when favors and obligations are traded between people. Coleman suggested that this requi res groups where ther e is a high degree of trustworthiness between individuals. With re gard to education, an example of this would be trading favors with other parents such as babysitting or picking up students from school. The second form of social capital Coleman discussed was information channels He noted that information is costly to acqui re as it requires time and attention, but that social networks contain the poten tial to gain information. In formation gained from social networks can then be used to facilitate ac tion. An example of this in the educational arena would be parents exchanging informati on about the best schools in a city or the best teachers in a particular school.
4 Finally, Coleman discussed social norms as a form of social capital that can reward behaviors like academic achievement a nd that are more effectively maintained in social networks characterized by a high de gree of closure (everyone knows everyone) or intergenerational closure. Coleman (1988) de scribed intergenerationa l closure as Â“Â…the parentsÂ’ friends are the parents of their childrenÂ’s friendsÂ” (106). Analyses that have used data from larg e scale studies, particularly the National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS), have found that social cap ital (operationalized using ColemanÂ’s ideas) impacts outcomes lik e academic math achievement (Santos, 2002) and college attendance (Mul lis, Rathge, & Mullis, 2003). However, some authors (e.g., Portes, 2000) have criticized ColemanÂ’s work for its uncritical discussion of capital, which does not consider societ al influences on what is de fined as capital and who can obtain it. They argue that this omission m eans that research using ColemanÂ’s concepts has the potential to contribut e to discourses that ignore th e historical and societal oppression of some groups and the pr ivileging of other groups. This omission is addressed by the work of French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu (1987) who as part of his larg er theory of social action de scribed forms of capital that individuals possess. Given th at BourdieuÂ’s work was pa rtly intended to, Â“Â…capture human interaction and the sources of power in these interactions which perpetuate systems of domination and subordinationÂ” (Hor vat, 2003, p. 5), his ideas more critically examine the nature of capital. Bourdieu, whose work predated ColemanÂ’s, argued that people possess varying amounts of capital and that this capit al is influential in the educational process. Like Coleman, Bourdieu (1986), discussed social capital. He
5 defined social capital as social relationships that yield bene fits for childrenÂ’s education and socialization and argued that parents can access this capital to benefit their children. More significantly, Bourdieu (1986) also introduced the concept of cultural capital He argued that people possess this capital to varying degrees and that it shapes parentsÂ’ engagement in the education of thei r children. Bourdieu discussed three forms of cultural capital: objectified capita l, institutionalized cap ital, and embodied capital Objectified cultural capital co nsists of cultural goods lik e books and dictionaries. Institutionalized cultural cap ital consists of educationa l credentials and degrees. Embodied cultural capital is expl ained through the mechanism of habitus Habitus can be understood as the dispositions, attitudes, valu es, and behaviors that parents possess. When a parentÂ’s habitus is aligned with what is valued by the institution with which he or she is interacting (e.g, a school) and when that habitus as sists parents in navigating that system to obtain their desire d goals, it becomes embodied cultural capital (Horvath, 2003). Bourdieu (1987) contende d that the three forms of ca pital he described explain the differences in educational experiences between groups of children. He said: The notion of cultural capitalÂ…is a theoretical hypothesis which made it possible to explain the unequal scho lastic achievement of children originating from the different social classes by relating academic success, the specific profits which children from the different classes and class fractions can obtain in the academic market, to the distribution of cultural capital between the classe s and class fractions. (p. 47) Furethermore, Bourdieu criticized the e xplanations of differe nces in academic achievement between groups advanced by his contemporaries and argued that:
6 They neglect to relate scholastic invest ment strategies to the whole set of educational strategies an d to the system of reproduction strategies, they inevitably, by a necessary paradox, let slip the best hidden and socially most determinant educational investment, namely, the domestic transmission of cultural capital. Thei r studies of the relationship between academic ability and academic investment show that they are unaware that ability or talent is itself the product of an investment of time and cultural capitalÂ…scholastic yield from educat ional action depends on the cultural capital previously invested by the family (p. 48). Although Bourdieu focused on class as the mechanism that shapes habitus, his ideas can be extended to families from diffe rent cultural backgrounds. In fact, more recent research has focused on how the conditions shaping the lives of disadvantaged populations result in them br inging different levels of cu ltural capital to bear on their interactions with societal in stitutions. As McNamara Ho rvat (2003) notes, habitus is, Â“Â…shaped by the objective conditions of lived existenceÂ…the habitu s is generated by the social conditions of lived experience includi ng race, ethnicity, geogr aphical location, and gender (p.2). Further, in the U.S. a sm all number of researchers (e.g., Lareau and McNamara Horvat, 1999) have extended Bour dieuÂ’s ideas about cultural capital to examine how social conditions that shape lived experience, like race, impacts interactions with educational institutions. In Engla nd, Crozier (2008) has examined how immigrant parentsÂ’ approach was characterized very di fferently by parents and the school. Thus, for the purposes of this study it is argued that ethnicity and im migration status, shaped by larger social and historical fo rces in the home country as we ll as local conditions in the
7 destination country interact with the particular conditions of lived experience to shape the habitus of immigrant families. Bourdieu discussed embodied cultural capital as being transmitted through habitus, the body of tacit knowledge and assumptions that individuals possess. Depending on what knowledge is valued by a particular institutional context (e.g., schools), habitus can be valued embodied cu ltural capital (Grenf ell & James, 1998). Bourdieu was also explicit in arguing that cultural capital is transmitted in families. He stated: Â…the initial accumulation of cultural ca pital, the precondition for the fast, easy accumulation of every kind of useful cultural capital, starts at the outset, without delay, without wasted time, only for the offspring of families endowed with strong cultural capital (p. 49). A limited body of research has examined Coleman and BourdieuÂ’s ideas about social and cultural capital using qualitative methods. Ho rvath & Lareau (2003), for instance, found that middle class, poor, and working class American parents differed in their beliefs about schools and their approach to schooling. In the case of middle class parents, their belief that th e school experience was one that could be customized to fit their childrenÂ’s needs, constituted a kind of cultural capital that impacted the kind of school experience they were able to secure for their children. With regard to immigrant parents, researchers have found evidence that immigrant parents access forms of social capital, specifically social norms and social networks, in supporting their childrenÂ’s education. Zhou & Bankston (1998), in their ethnography of Vietnamese families in New Orl eans, point out that, Â“particular patterns
8 of social relations embedded in the ethnic community can serve as sources of social capitalÂ…Â” (p. 20). Bankston (2004), base d on his and ZhouÂ’s research with the Vietnamese community in New Orleans argue s that high achievement in this group was maintained by, Â….cultural values that are conducive to achievement and by bounded social networks that maintain these values Â…respect for elders, cooperation, and acceptance of authority are not simply ac knowledged but are practiced as a result of the mesh of ethnic social relations surrounding children of Vietnamese descent in the United States (p. 177). In addition to tightly bound social networks present in the Vietnamese community that maintained social norms conducive to academic achievement, Zhou & Bankston (1998) also found that the communityÂ’s social netw orks were important in supporting academic achievement. For instance, Vietnamese co mmunity associations provided after-school assistance in academic subjects to Vietnamese students. Zhou and BankstonÂ’s (1998) work and Horv ath and LareauÂ’s (2003) ethnographic work are exceptions in the literature on soci al capital and cultural capital. Overall, studies relating to social capital have tended to use large data sets. This has resulted in researchers operationalizing social capital in ways that do not allow them to gain an indepth understanding of the nature of concepts like intergenerational closure, parental networks, and parent-child discus sions (Santos, 2002; Kao, 2004). Furthermore, very little research con ducted in the U.S. has used BourdieuÂ’s concept of cultural capital to examine how parents engage with their childrenÂ’s schooling. The few qualitative st udies (Horvath & Lareau, 2 003) that have illuminated
9 the way in which cultural capita l functions to impact home-sc hool relationships have not examined the experiences of immigrant groups in the U.S. In particular, the educational experiences of Asian Indian students and their families in the U.S. remain largely unexplored. The present study seeks to exam ine how mothers from a specific immigrant group (Asian Indians) engage in their childrenÂ’ s education and to what extent they draw on various forms of social and cultural capital to do so. Forms of capital to be examined in this study are drawn from the work of both Coleman (1988) and Bourdieu (1987). These forms are embodied cultural capital, soci al norms, and social networks. The study promises to provide an in-depth examination of the nature of the forms of capital that a little-studied immigrant community, Asian I ndian families, draw upon to support their childrenÂ’s education. In doing so, this study has the potential to increase our understanding of the important topic of the educational experiences of immigrant families. The Indian Cultural Context India, located in southern Asia, on the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal is a vast country, containing a va riety of religious and cultura l traditions. A history of conquest by Persian or Mughal invaders and co lonization by the Bri tish has meant that Hindi, Urdu, and English are spoken widely as are a variety languages native to local areas and states, (e.g., Tamil). (Isaksen Leonard, 1997) With regard to religion, India is the bi rthplace of both Hinduism and Buddhism. Today, approximately 80% of Indians are Hi ndu. However, India has the second-largest population of Muslims of any country in the world as well as large numbers of Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, and small numbers of Jews.
10 Caste is an important organi zing principle of society fo r the Hindu majority of the Indian population and to a lesse r extent for Muslims. A ccording to Bhattacharya & Schopeley (2004), Traditionally, each caste is associ ated with a fixed and inherited occupation. The Hindu caste system in India has four orders, with Brahmin (priests) at the top of the hierarchy, followed by Kshatriya (warriors), Vyasha (common people), and Sudra (untouchables) at the bottom (p. 85). Caste is fixed at birth, setting serious limits on social mobility, and cannot be changed. However, socioeconomic status, whic h is separate from caste, can be changed. In India, education has often been the met hod used to do so. Bhattacharya & Schopeley (2004) note that it is important to understand that in Indian society, educati on is valued partly because education and English literacy were important tools in IndiaÂ’s struggle for independence. In addition, na tional and state governments heavily emphasized education post-independence as a way to modernize and improve India. Bhattacharya & Schopeley (2004) also not e that the self-con cept is positioned within the family system in Indian culture. Thus they say, Within the hierarchical structure of Asian families, success is not understood in individualistic terms, but rather as a matter of enhancing family pride and honor. Parents openly e xpress their expectations of their children, including academic achievement, in terms of fulfilling family obligations and enhancing family pride and prestige (p. 85).
11 In contrast to American society, which te nds to place the needs and desires of the individual first, the authors assert that obligation to fam ily is a foundational value of Indian society, regardless of class and caste Furthermore, the authors argue that, in examining parental expectations and child renÂ’s compliance with these expectations among Indian families, it is important to understand that concepts from the Hindu religion play a role in creating expectations. They explain, Dharma refers to rules that depict vi rtuous and appropriate behavior. The duty of parents to care for their childr en is based on the belief that God has entrusted the parents with the care of those children; the reciprocal duty and honor due to parents from childre n arises from the belief that the parents are acting as GodÂ’s earthly representatives. Karma illustrates the reciprocal nature of fate and states that oneÂ’s behavi or in past incarnations as well as in the present life will determ ine future events and fate not only in the present lifetime but in future incarnations as well. Karma thus serves to reward those who fulfill the obligations of dharma and punish those who do not (p. 85). For most of the 20th century, India has been characterized as a Third World country, struggling to cope w ith overpopulation, high rates of infant mortality, and low literacy rates. India continue s to struggle with human develo pment; in fact, it is number 134 out of 182 countries on the United Na tions Human Development Index which measures factors such as the rates of life expect ancy, infant mortality rates, and literacy in a country (Human Development Report, 2009). However, in recent years, India has
12 come to be known as one of the worldÂ’s most successful emerging economies. It has made economic gains thanks to globaliz ation, leveraging large numbers of highly educated English-speaking work ers to make itself a destination for outsourced work from the U.S. (Friedman, 2006). It has also benefited from an educated, young, and technologically-savvy entrepre neurial class that has helped move the Indian economy beyond outsourcing to creating innov ative domestic companies. Some attribute this devel opment partly to the Indian governmentÂ’s prescient investment in the creation of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). These are postsecondary institutions created in newly independent India, that focus on developing a skilled workforce in the area s of science and engineering. Ironically, it is these same IITs that have helped to give a large number of young Indian s the skills they need to emigrate successfully to the U.S., taking with them the skills and knowledge developed at the government-funded IITs (Friedman, 2006). Asian Indian Immigration to the U.S. Historically, Asian Indians have been im migrating to the U.S. since 1899 (Isaksen Leonard, 1997). The first wave of Asian In dian immigration involve d Sikh laborers who immigrated to California during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The major factor that contributed to the second and largest wa ve of Indian immigration, which began post1965, was changes in U.S. immigration law. Pa rtly due to the effects of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and the need for skilled labor in the American economy, there were revisions to the 1965 U.S. Immi gration and Naturalization Act which eliminated limits on immigrants based on country of origin and ga ve preference to edu cated immigrants. For their part, large numbers of Indians desired to immigrate to the U.S. for the financial
13 opportunities it provided (Friedman, 2006). This led to the immigration of large numbers of Asian Indians and th is continues today. According to the 2000 Census, Indians ma ke up about 2% of the total U.S. population and 15% of the Asian American population. However, Asian Indian immigration has increased by 106% since the 1990 Census, making India the second largest source of legal migrants to the U.S. Currently, the populati on of Asian Indians in the US. is approximately 1.7 million (U.S. Census, 2000). The 2000 U.S. Census provides a profile of Asian Indian immigrants to the U.S. as a group that is proficient in English a nd highly educated. The majority of Asian Indians who immigrate to the U.S. do so with a Bachelors degree or higher (U.S. Census, 2000). Purpose of Study The purpose of this exploratory study wa s to examine the role Asian Indian parents played in their childrenÂ’s schooling, an d in particular the extent to which they accessed various forms of social and cultural capital to engage in their childrenÂ’s education and promote their educational success. The findings of this study will contribute to the literature on immigrant parents, Asian I ndian parents and schooling, social and cultural capital, and immigrant parents. Research Questions 1. To what extent do Asian Indian mother s access different forms of social and cultural capital to engage in their childr enÂ’s education? To answer this central question the following areas will be examined.
14 a. What role does embodied cultural cap ital play in Asian Indian mothersÂ’ engagement in their childrenÂ’s education? b. What role do social norms play in Asian Indian mothersÂ’ engagement in their childrenÂ’s education? c. What role do social networks play in Asian Indian mothersÂ’ engagement in their childrenÂ’s education? This study employed a qualitative research methodology. The researcher utilized a semi-structured interview with 12 Asian Indian mothers about how they engaged in their childrenÂ’s schooling process. The theore tical framework guiding the study were conceptions of social and cu ltural capital articul ated by Coleman (1988) and Bourdieu (1987). MothersÂ’ engagement with their ch ildrenÂ’s schooling was examined in order to understand how mothers utilized social capital and cultural capital to participate in their childrenÂ’s educations an d to contribute to their academic success. Significance of Study Although exploratory in natu re, this study has the potenti al to make a meaningful contribution to the field of education. In the coming years, American schools face the task of educating increasing numbers of foreign-born students. Data on academic achievement paint a picture of vastly diffe rent outcomes for different subgroups of immigrant students, with some groups expe riencing alienation a nd unrealized hopes and others experiencing fulfillment of their drea ms for their children in the new country. Different explanations have been advanced to explain these differences. Explanations that focus on the forms of capital parents bri ng to bear on their child renÂ’s education have not been explored in depth in the U.S., pa rticularly using immigr ant populations. Thus,
15 the findings of this study have the potential to increase ou r understanding of immigrant families and education. Definition of Terms Asian Indian/Indian. This term generally includes anyone born in the country of India. It is important to note that this population is re ligiously diverse and includes Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and Jews. Theoretical Concepts As previously noted, Coleman (1988) discu ssed the role of so cial norms in the formation of social capital. Both Bourdi eu (1986) and Colema n (1988) discussed the importance of social networks. Bourdieu al one discussed the noti on of cultural capital, one form of which is embodied capital. This study focused on social capital (norms and social networks) and cultural capital, specifically the embodied form of cultural capital. The researcher reviewed the writings of Bourdieu (1986) and Coleman (1988) and prior research studies (e.g., Lew, 2007; Mullis, Rathge, & Mullis, 2003; Zhou & Bankston, 1998) to delineate the concepts of social capital and cultural capital for the purposes of this study. Social Capital. According to Coleman (1988), social capital is derived from social interactions, taking multiple forms, and facilitating certain actions. He described three forms of social capital, (1) obligations and e xpectations, (2) information channels, and (3) social norms, and noted that these forms can all influence childrenÂ’s academic achievement. For the purposes of this study, social cap ital was divided into two area s, social norms and social networks. Coleman (1988) noted that Â‘Â…soci al relationsÂ…constitute a form of social
16 capital that provides informati on that facilitates action.Â” (p. 102). Later research (e.g., Lew, 2007) has examined how parents leverage social networks to gain educational information that they utilized to engage in their childrenÂ’s education. Thus, social networks, with a particular focus on ethnic social networks were defined as parentsÂ’ social contacts from which they accessed information to engage in their childrenÂ’s education. Coleman (1988) alone discussed social no rms noting that they Â“facilitate and constrain actions (p. 105). He also noted that in social networks with a high degree of closure, or intergenerational closure in the case of parents and children, norms are more effectively communicated and supported. T hus, in families where parents know the parents of their childre nÂ’s peers and parents share the sa me norms, these norms are more effectively communicated and maintained than in social networks where parents have little contacts with the parents of their child renÂ’s peers. Thus this study examined the norms or Â“shouldsÂ” present around education in the families interviewed for the study and how intergenerational closure supported th ese norms. Given that prior research (e.g., Lew, 2007; Zhou & Bankston, 1998) found that norms present in ethnic communities played an important role in supporting ch ildrenÂ’s academic achievement, norms present in the larger Asian Indian community rega rding educational achievement were also examined. Cultural Capital Bourdieu discussed cultural capital as a kind of social currency which confers power and whose value is set by the dominant groups in society. He discussed three
17 forms of cultural capital: embodied capital, objectifie d cultural capital, and institutionalized cultural capital. This st udy focused only on embodied cultural capital. Embodied cultural capital. Bourdieu noted that embodied cultural capital "takes the form of long-lasting dis positions of the mind and body" (Bourdieu, 1987, p. 47). It is important to understand that, ultimately, embodied cultural capital is what is valued by the institutions (e.g., schools) with which a pers on interacts; it is wh at enables parents to successfully navigate a particular institution to obtain desired goals. Habitus. Bourdieu used the mechanism of habitus to explain the concept of cultural capital, arguing that embodied cultural ca pital is Â“converted into an integral part of the person, into a habitus. Â” (p. 48). Grenfell and James describe habitus as, Â“social inheritanceÂ” and note that it, Â“Â…implies habit or unthinking-ness in actions and dispositionsÂ…to act in a certain way, to gras p experience in a certain way, to think in a certain wayÂ” (p. 14-15). For the purposes of this study, participants Â’ embodied cultural capital, or habitus regarding education, was explicated through examination of their beliefs about the value of e ducation, their beliefs about th eir role in their childrenÂ’s education, the origins of these beliefs, a nd how they interacted with schools. Delimitations of Study This study was limited to Asian Indian mo thers residing in the State of Florida whose children attended a large urban school dist rict in West Central Florida. The 2000 Census data note that approximately 2 milli on Asian Indians resided in the U.S. and 104, 715 Asian Indians resided in Florida (U.S Census, 2000). Approximately, 6,500 Asian Indians lived in the county of residence of the participants in the study, about 30% of the total Asian population in th e county (U.S. Census, 2000). Since the study population was
18 limited to the State of Florida, this st udy may not have captured aspects of the experiences of Asian Indian families who reside in other states in the U.S. The sample used in the study was small in num ber and limited to a specific city in the State of Florida. Thus, the sample may not have represented the ra nge of experiences of Asian Indian families residing elsewhere in the U.S. In addition, a sample of this size may not have captured the social diversity of the Asian Indian population in the U.S, or even in Florida. Since the sample was primarily recruited through community informants, they may not have been represen tative of the Asian Indian community in terms of income, education level, and accult uration. In addition, those who volunteered for the study may have differe d in their beliefs and experi ences from those who did not volunteer. Limitations of Study A principal limitation of the study is that, due to social desira bility, participants may not have been forthcoming about thei r engagement in thei r childrenÂ’s schooling process and may have tried to cast themselv es in a favorable light by speaking very positively about their beliefs and their engagement in their childrenÂ’s schooling.
19 Chapter Two Review of Related Literature This review examines the literature re lating to social and cultural capital and immigrant parents. Research on social and cultural capital is discussed in terms of how the concepts have been defined in differ ent research studies and/or what effect researchers have found with regard to their association with academic outcomes such as grades, scores on standardized tests, enroll ment in four-year colle ges, and bachelorÂ’s degree attainment as well as outcomes such as the parent-school rela tionship and parentsÂ’ ability to obtain desired educational benefits for their children. The re view is divided into three sections: (a) a brief overview of the concepts of social and cultural capital, (b) research examining social and cultural capital and non-immigran t parents, and (c) research examining social and cultural capital and immigrant parents. Given the paucity of research on Asian Indian parents, research involving this group is integrated into the discussion of immigrant parents. Social and Cultural Capital: Overview Social Capital Coleman defined social capit al as a resource that exists in the relationships between people that allows them to gain access to resources. Coleman (1988) focused on three specific forms of social capital and di scussed them in terms of how parents use these forms of capital to engage in thei r childrenÂ’s educati on and promote their educational success. The three forms of social capital he discussed were: (1) obligations
20 and expectations, that is trading favors with other parents such as babysitting each others children or picking up students from school ), (2) information channels, exchanging information with other parents about schools or education, and (3) social norms, which serve to reward and sanction certain behavi ors, like academic achievement. Further, Coleman argued that norms are much more eff ectively maintained when there is a high degree of intergenerational closure, that is, children are a part of peer networks and are exposed to adults who share the same values as their parents. Kao (2004) gives the example of parents who restrict childrenÂ’s pe er network to co-ethnics who share a similar orientation towards achievement to illustra te ColemanÂ’s idea about intergenerational closure. Coleman contended that social capital is de rived from two types of relationships, parentsÂ’ relationships with their children a nd parentsÂ’ relationship with other adults, particularly the adults associated with th e school their child atte nds (Coleman, 1988). The concept received a great deal of attention and was the subject of a flurry of research after the publication of ColemanÂ’s 1988 article. Since then, a number of studies have examined the impact of social capital on academic achievement when it is leveraged by parents engaging in their child renÂ’s education (e.g., Carbor naro, 1998). Most of these studies have used a quantit ative approach, utilizing la rge data sets (e.g., National Educational Longitudinal Survey ) and have focused mostly only on the role of social norms and social networks, largely excluding ColemanÂ’s ideas about obligations and/or expectations. Researchers have tended to fo cus on intergenerational closure, that is to what extent parents know and in teract with the parents of their childrenÂ’s friends (e.g.,
21 Mullis, Rathge, & Mullis, 2003), while ot hers have focused on parent-child communication (e.g., Lee & Bowen, 2006). Perna and Titus (2005) note that Â“Col emanÂ’sÂ…approachÂ… stresses the role of social capital in communicating the norms, tr ust, authority, and social controls that an individual must understand and adopt in or der to succeedÂ…Â” and that Coleman focuses on identifying Â“ways in which parental involvement can buil d social capitalÂ”. (p. 488). More recent work by Lin (e.g., 2001) has focu sed on the social networks aspect of both ColemanÂ’s and BourdieuÂ’s work. Lin point s out that, with regard to social capital, the commonality between Coleman and Bourdi eu is that both of them believed that, Â“Â…Â“social capital consists of resources embedde d in social relations and social structures, which can be mobilized when an actor wishes to increase the likelihood of success in a purposive actionÂ” (Lin, 2001, p. 24). Lin focuses on how social networks can be used to access resources. While Coleman argued that closed networks were important for ensuring compliance with social norms conducive to academic achievement, Lin argues that weak network ties can be positive if parents and student s go outside of their networks to access networks that possess valuable information, for instance information about navigating the educational process. Those who study the adaptation and adjust ment of immigrant children have expanded on the concept of soci al capital in some important ways. One might expect, as Kao (2004) notes, that immigran t parents would have lower levels of social capital because they are outsiders in a foreign country and have fewer individuals in their social networks from whom to gain information a nd also fewer individuals to help enforce parental norms. However, she asserts that it is equally possible that, Â“Â…among other
22 same-ethnic immigrants, the intensity of the obligation and th e expectations for reciprocity should be greater, given the shared experience of migration and the sentimental attachment to oneÂ’s c ountry of originÂ” (Kao, 2004, p. 172). Indeed, researchers have found suppor t for ColemanÂ’s (1988) ideas about intergenerational closure and th e value of social networks in the stories of educational success in some immigrant communities. Specifically, they (Zhou & Bankston, 1988) argue that these communities are able to draw on ethnic-specific social capital in supporting their childrenÂ’s educ ational achievement. For instance, Zhou & BankstonÂ’s (1998) study of a poor Vietnamese community in New Orleans found that despite low levels of education and lack of familiarity with the American school system, Vietnamese students succeeded in school, la rgely because of the ethnic-specific social capital that they drew upon in their commun ities. With regard to social norms, dense networks of coethnics residing together re inforced beliefs and values that supported academic achievement. Social networks also played a role in the educational success of the children in the study because parents devel oped resources (e.g., after-school academic programs) that supported the academic success of their children. Alejandro Portes (2003), a l eading researcher in the ar ea of the acculturation of immigrant youth, notes that adaptation of the immigrant second genera tion is facilitated by human capital that immigrant families posse ss, for instance the capital to reinforce parental norms and access information a bout challenges and oppor tunities in their childrenÂ’s lives. Portes (2003) also s upports Zhou & BankstonÂ’s (1998) argument about the existence of ethnic-specific social capital and that this can contribute to the wellbeing of immigrants. He asserts that, Â“Social capital, grounde d on ethnic networks,
23 provides a key resource in confronting obsta cles to successful adaptationÂ” and that, Â“Strong ethnic communities commonly enfo rce norms against divorce and marital disruption, thus helping preserve intact familie sÂ” (p. 49). Portes (2003) also argues that this is a form of social capital that even immigrant communities that are poor have access to because it depends on how strong community members sense of obligation is to each other, not how much material w ealth they possess. Portes notes that if individuals in an ethnic community are professi onal and wealthy but feel no sense of obligation towards each other, it benefits no one. Instead, he argues that ethnic-sp ecific social capital Â“Â…depends less on the relative economic or occupational success of immigrants than on the density [sic] of ties among them.Â” (p. 49). However, Portes (2000, 2003) cautions research ers that it is important to examine immigrantsÂ’ context of reception as this imp acts the ability of im migrant communities to form ethnic-specific social capital. For inst ance, Portes asserts that Mexican Americans as a group tend to face an unwelcoming contex t characterized by un certainty over legal status, discrimination, and fear from natives a bout lost jobs. This vastly decreases their ability to form the tight social networks that contribute to the edu cational success of their children as the Vietnamese community in Zhou & BankstonÂ’s (1998) study was able to do. Cultural Capital The concept of social capital as discu ssed by Coleman (1988) has been criticized by some, including Portes (2000). He argued that a weakness of ColemanÂ’s discussion of social capital is that it uncritically accepte d social capital as equally available to all groups. In contrast, Portes (1998) and others note that Pierre Bour dieuÂ’s (1986) notion of
24 cultural capital is explicitly concerned w ith power and relations of domination and subordination. Bourdieu posits that capital becomes capital only because it is legitimized by the dominant groups in a society (Grenfell & James, 1998). Bourdieu discussed three forms of cultural capital, objectified, embodied, and institutionalized Objectified cultural capital rests in material objects (e.g., books, dictionaries, computer s). Institutionalized capital refers to educational qualifications and credentials. However, the present study focused on embodied cultural capital Embodied cultural capital is explained by Bourdieu through the concept of habitus Horvath (2003) notes that Â“Â…habitus encompasses the universe of experiences a nd background characteristics of particular individualsÂ” (p. 7). Grenfell & James (1998) de scribe habitus as, Â“social inheritanceÂ” and note that it, Â“Â…implies habit or unthinking-ness in actions an d dispositionsÂ…to act in a certain way, to grasp experience in a certain wa y, to think in a certa in wayÂ” (p. 14-15). When individualsÂ’ habitus meshes closely with the culture of an institution, for instance schools, the individuals are better able to navigate that institution to attain the goals to which they aspire. Bourdieu asserted that upper class parentsÂ’ dis positions, behaviors, and beliefs align more closely with the culture of schools and this results in a form of capital that they are able to use in interaction with sc hools to support their childrenÂ’s academic success. Although some research (e.g., Lew, 2007) has examined how immigrant parents access forms of social capital to engage in their childrenÂ’s education, very little research has examined immigran t parentsÂ’ engagement in their childrenÂ’s schooling using the concept of cultural capital.
25 Current Study ColemanÂ’s conceptual articulation of social capital has stimulated a great deal of educational research. While there has been far less empirical examination of BourdieuÂ’s articulation of embodied cultura l capital, his ideas address some important limitations in ColemanÂ’s work (Portes, 2003). Prior resear ch indicates that ColemanÂ’s ideas about social norms and social netw orks and BourdieuÂ’s ideas a bout embodied cult ural capital are important analytical tool s in understanding how parents engage in their childrenÂ’s education. Bankston & ZhouÂ’s (1998) work i ndicates that this is also the case for immigrant parents, with the addition that immigrant communities possess ethnic-specific forms of social capital that parents access in order to support their childrenÂ’s academic success. As such, this study examined the natu re of forms of social capital discussed by both Coleman and Bourdieu, specifically social norms and social networks. In addition, the study examined BourdieuÂ’s concept of em bodied cultural capit al. As previously noted, following Coleman (1988), social norm s were defined as Â“shouldsÂ” concerning education that existed in the families intervie wed for the study as well as the larger Asian Indian community. Social networks were defined as mothersÂ’ social contacts, particularly contacts from the ethnic community, from which they accessed information to engage in their childrenÂ’s education. Finally, mothersÂ’ embodied cultural capital was examined by analyzing their habitus in the ar ea of education, speci fically their beliefs about the value of education, th eir beliefs about their role in their childrenÂ’s education, the origins of these beliefs, and how they interacted with schools.
26 Social and Cultural Capital and Non-Immigrant Parents Dika & Singh (2002) in their review of research on the c oncept of social capital in education research point out that most research in education has tended to use Â“ColemanesqueÂ” approaches to understanding social capital and a much smaller number have used BourdieuÂ’s ideas about cultural capit al. Quantitative studies on social capital have tended to use regression-based analyses and to some extent HLM methods. Studies have also tended to use data from large scale studies, particularly the National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS), a large-scale panel study that collected data from a nationally representative sample of eighth grade American students on a variety of topics including school and hom e experiences. These studie s have explicated social capital in a variety of ways but have usually focused on ColemanÂ’s concept of social norms, reducing it to intergenerational closur e and then operationaliz ing this concept as parent-child discussions. Overall, only a sm all number of studies have used qualitative designs to examine the concepts of social capital (Dika & Singh, 2002). As previously noted, researchers have operationalized ColemanÂ’s ideas in a variety of ways in conducting research with parents. Mullis, Rathge & Mullis (2003) used NELS data to study th e effect of social capital on the academic performance of 24, 599 Black, White, and Hispanic middle school students. The au thors operationalized social capital using three va riables: resource capital, pare ntal networks, and student networks. The resource capital variable wa s defined as parental income, parental education, and access to educational resource s in the home including a place to study. The parental networks variable was measured by whether or not parents knew the parents of their childrenÂ’s friends, and if they were involved in any parent-teacher organizations.
27 The student networks variable was measured based on studentsÂ’ involvement in schoolbased extracurricular activities (e.g., science fair) and non school-based activities (e.g., youth groups). Of the measures used, the au thors found that resource capital was most predictive of educational achievement. Th e authors also found a strong correlation between parental networks and resource capital, which led them to suggest that parents with higher SES have more of an ad vantage in creating social networks. Lee & Bowen (2006) examined the involveme nt of parents from different social class backgrounds and ethnicities using a samp le of 415 fifth graders in the Midwest. They used BourdieuÂ’s theory as a framew ork, specifically his idea that families from different social classes posse ss different amounts of cultural capital to examine whether types of parental involvement differed depending on the social class background as well as the ethnic background of parents. They al so examined whether th e impact of types of parental involvement on academic achievement varied according to ethnicity and social class background. The four types of parent involvement examined were: discussing educational topics with pare nts, helping with homework, managing childrenÂ’s time spent on literacy and non-literacy activities, and parentsÂ’ educa tional beliefs and expectations for their children. StudentsÂ’ academic achie vement was measured by teacher report of grades. The researchers found that school-b ased involvement had a positive effect on academic achievement. Low achievement was associated with high expectations. However, the researchers also found that type s of parental involvement varied by ethnic group and socioeconomic status. For instan ce, middle and high SES White families had higher levels of school-based involvement than low SES White families and the other groups in the study. With the exception of monitoring childrenÂ’s time, a type of
28 involvement more frequently reported by African American and Hispanic parents, groups in the study were similar on the types of parent involvement examined. As for differences in the impact of types of pare nt involvement between groups, parent-child discussions had positive effects on achievemen t for European American children but not Hispanic children. Since the study did not assess the quality of the parent-child discussions, it is possible that parent-child discussion in European American homes differed significantly from t hose in Hispanic homes. Horvat, Weininger, & Lareau (2003) in their qualitative work, found that middle, poor, and working class families have differe nt amounts of both social and cultural capital and this impacts how they navigate the home-school rela tionship. Using a qualitative design, the authors used BourdieuÂ’s ideas about cultural cap ital and habitus to examine how middle class and working class pare nts differ in the strategies they use to deal with problems at school using a sample of 88 third and four th graders and their families in the Midwest. They found that pare ntal social networks for families of all class backgrounds were shaped by child renÂ’s participation in out of school activities; that is, parents knew the parents of their childr enÂ’s classmates through their childrenÂ’s participation in out of school activities. Middle class parents, probably due to their childrenÂ’s participation in a gr eater number of out of school activities, had larger social networks; they were acquainte d with a greater number of their childrenÂ’s classmates. Middle class parentsÂ’ so cial networks were also more li kely to include various kinds of professionals, including educat ion professionals such as teachers. In contrast, working class and poor parentsÂ’ social networks were characterized by kinship ties; most of the parents they knew were family members. The differing composition of these social
29 networks ultimately shaped how parents fr om different class backgrounds approached issues with their childrenÂ’s schools. The authors also found that when faced w ith two types of problems (inappropriate behavior on the part of a teach er and disagreements with ed ucational placement decisions made by the school), middle class, working class, and poor parents dealt with the problems in different ways. Faced with the i ssue of inappropriate be havior on the part of a teacher, middle class parents accessed their soci al networks to confront the school as a group, resulting in disciplinary sanctions fo r teachers who exhi bited inappropriate behavior. In contrast, po or and working class parents confronted incidents of inappropriate teacher behavi ors individually and not coll ectively, which resolved the problem but did not result in disciplinar y action against teachers involved. The researchers also found that middle class parents accessed their social networks to Â“customizeÂ” their childrenÂ’s school careers. For instance, when middle class parents disagreed with special education placement decisions, particularly gifted or learning disability placements, they uti lized the professionals in thei r social networks to access knowledge that allowed them to contest the sc hoolsÂ’ judgments. In contrast, faced with placement decisions that they did not ag ree with, poor and working class parents responded by simply accepting the schoolÂ’s decisions. Perna & Titus (2005), integrated aspect s of ColemanÂ’s (1988) and BourdieuÂ’s (1986) ideas about social capit al and LinÂ’s (2001) operationali zation of social capital as social networks to examine the relationshi p between parental involvement and college enrollment. The researchers used a hier archical linear modeling (HLM) design to examine NELS data on a cohort of 9,810 student s when they were in the eight grade,
30 sophomores in high school, seniors in hi gh school, and two y ears after high school graduation. They used parent i nvolvement to measure social capital. Parent involvement was measured using ColemanÂ’s ideas that social capital is derived fr om the parent-student relationship and the parent-sc hool relationship. The parent-student relationship was examined by measuring parent-student discu ssions about education -related issues (e.g., the SATs, topics studied in school, grades) and parental monitoring (e.g., family rules about maintaining a minimum grade point av erage, completing homework, and attending school regularly, etc.). Parent-school invol vement was measured by examining parentsÂ’ contact with schools (e.g., ex tent to which parents cont acted the school regarding studentsÂ’ academic progress or behavior and attendance), parentsÂ’ knowledge of studentsÂ’ progress toward high school graduation, and ho w often parents cont acted the school to volunteer). Parents contact with other parents wa s assessed by measuring the number of studentsÂ’ friendsÂ’ parents with whom parents reported contact. The study also examined school-level variables including how much th e school encouraged parental involvement (measured by an administrator survey), reso urces that could be accessed through social networks at the school (how many parents vo lunteered in classrooms, parent education and income for the school as a whole, and th e average of the student-level measures of parent involvement), and the extent to whic h weak ties might provide access to otherwise unavailable resources (measured by the standard deviation of family income at the school and the percentage of African American a nd Hispanic students at the school). The outcome variable used in the study was enrollme nt in a two-year or four year college.
31 Perna & Titus (2005) found support for ColemanÂ’s ideas about parent involvement as a form of social capital that promoted positive academic outcomes. They found that parent-student disc ussion about educational issues parent contact with the school regarding volunteering and academic issues were related to the odds of enrolling in a two or four-year college, even after a ccounting for income, parent education, gender, and race/ethnicity. There wa s also a close correspondence between studentsÂ’ and their friendsÂ’ post-secondary plans and studentsÂ’ actual enrollment. The authors also found that college enro llment was positively related to average family income at the school a student attended but also to average parental education and average parental education expectations of a ll the parents in a school. In addition, Perna & TitusÂ’ (2005) work found support for Bourdi euÂ’s ideas about soci al capital varying across different groups. In this case, they found that some groups were less successful than others at converting the social capital th ey possessed into a form that was useful for the goal of enrolling in a four-year college. While African American parents were successful, Â“at converting into college enrollme nt parental involvement in the form of parent-school contact about academicsÂ… they were less effective at converting into college enrollment parental involvement in th e form of parent-student discussions about education issues.Â” (Perna & Titus, 2005, p. 508) ItÂ’s possible that the content of the discussions differed in African American homes. More recent work also using NELS data has found that social capital predicts college attendance. Meier, Sandefur, & Cam pbell (2006) operationalized social capital as family structure (whether the child lived with two biological pare nts, one biological parent, etc.), parental expectations about college attend ance, parent-child discussion of
32 school activities, parent involvement in school, parent-school communication about academic matters, and intergenerational clos ure (whether parents knew the parents of their childrenÂ’s friends), and Catholic school attendance. Catholic school attendance was included as a measure of social capital because Coleman and others have suggested that Catholic schools constitute a closed community of parents, teachers, and administrators who share the value of high achievement for students. Using NELS data collected on eighth graders who were followed up in tenth grade, twelfth grade, and two years posthigh school, the authors studied th e impact of social capital on enrollment in a four-year college. They found that high pa rental expectations, parent -child discussion of school activities, attending a Catholic school, parent -school involvement, and frequent contact between parents and schools regarding academic issues positively impacted childrenÂ’s likelihood of attending a four-year college. Ho wever, the relationship between family structure and enrollment in a four-year coll ege was weak while intergenerational closure did not predict college attendance. The authors point out the importance of th e impact of social capital on enrollment in a four-year college saying that: Â…all else being equal, the predicted probability of four-year college enrollment for a student who often disc usses school activities with parents is 0.46 compared to 0.43 for a student whose family earns an income in the highest income quintile. Moreover, comparing families who never discuss school activities and those whom often discuss school activities results in a 20% divergence in the predicted probability of four-year college enrollment, whereas the divergence between those in the lowest
33 and highest income quintiles is more modest at 8%. Thus, some aspects of social capital can generate rewards si milar to financial capital, and they may be able to improve oneÂ’s chan ces of post-secondary education as much if not more than changes in other forms of capital. Santos (2002) examined the concept of intergenerational closure, part of ColemanÂ’s conceptualization of social capital and its relationship to math achievement. Santos (2002) used a NELS data set of 17, 652 eighth graders with follow-up data collected on the students in 10th grade, 12th grade and two years after high school graduation. Three variables were used to measure the social capital concept of intergenerational closure. These variables we re: Â“parents know parent sÂ” (whether parents knew the parents of their childrenÂ’s five closes t friends), Â“friends in schoolÂ” (whether the childÂ’s friends named by the parent were friends in school), and Â“friends named by parentsÂ” (in order to impose an upper bound on th e Â“parents know parentsÂ” and friends in schoolÂ” variablesÂ”). In additi on, a Â“parent-child school-related indexÂ” variable measured the extent to which parents communicated w ith children about school related topics and a Â“parent participation in school activitiesÂ” measured the extent to which parents participated in school activ ities. The studentsÂ’ 12th grade math achievement score was used as a dependent variable. Santos found that after controlling for background variables (i.e., SES, race, gender, prior ach ievement) parent-child discussion of schoolrelated topics and parent-child joint participation in school activities (e.g., sports, plays) were important predictors of math achieveme nt. However, the Â“parents know parentsÂ”, Â“friends in schoolÂ”, and Â“number of friends recalledÂ” variables were not significant predictors of math achievement. Despite the non-significant findi ng for the Â“parents
34 know parents variable, Santos ( 2002) notes that parental social networks could still play a role in childrenÂ’s math achievement. Prio r research has shown that the parents with whom parents form relationships because of childrenÂ’s school and non-school activities are an important of parental social networ ks. Thus, Santos notes that in this study, parentsÂ’ participation in sc hool activities with their children might have given them access to social networks that enabled them to be more effective in promoting their childrenÂ’s academic achievement. Santos (2002) also found that the Â“parents know parent sÂ” variable had a negative effect on achievement in schools with larger populations of African American students. However, Santos also found that a higher con centration of African American students in a school reduced the negative effect of the Â“par ents know parentsÂ” vari able. Santos notes that it is possible that in so me schools that were more se gregated, parents were more likely to form connections with each othe r and pass on information that supported the achievement of their children. He also notes that this points to th e need to study not only the quantity of parentsÂ’ social networks, but also the quality. He argues that, Â“Â…better measures of parental inte rgenerational closure are neededÂ” and suggests that Â“Â…ethnographic research could pr ovide richer information about this issue. For instance, regarding the kind of information channe led through parental networksÂ…(2002, p. 13)Â” A small body of qualitative re search (Dika & Singh, 2002) has examined cultural and social capital and how parents draw on th ese resources to engage in their childrenÂ’s education and their broader lives. Lareau Â’s (2003) ethnographic work that followed a small group of middle class and poor and wo rking class families captures BourdieuÂ’s ideas about habitus in the lives of American families from different class backgrounds.
35 Lareau found that middle-class parents engage in a cultural logic of child rearing that includes concerted cultivation while lowerand workingclass parents emphasize the accomplishment of natural growth She found that middle class parents Â“enroll their children in numerous age-specific organized activitiesÂ” and Â“view these activities as transmitting important life skills to childrenÂ” ( p. 748). In contrast, working class and poor parents Â“believe that as long as they provi de love, food, and safety, their children will grow and thriveÂ” (p. 748). She noted that the ways in which middle class parents rear their children transmit to them the attitude s and dispositions they need for success in school and the formal institutions of modern life. With regard to schooling, Lareau (2003) argues that part of the embodied cultural capital middle class parents brought to bear on their childrenÂ’s education was their understanding of schools as places that could be negotiated to customize their childrenÂ’s experience and fit their childrenÂ’s particular needs. In contra st, the cultural capital that poor and working class families in the study possessed consisted of an understanding that parents should defer to the expertise and j udgment of school staff and follow their lead. Lareau (2003) describes these pare ntsÂ’ approach to school thus: Most working-class and poor parents believed it was inappropriate for them to intervene in their childrenÂ’s day-to-day classroom experiences. They expected teachers to shoulde r the responsibility of educating children, and they presumed that if there were problems, the school would contact them, not vice-versa (p. 216-217). Chin & Phillips (2004) examined how pa rentsÂ’ social and cultural capital influenced the manner in which they accesse d resources in order to support their
36 childrenÂ’s development during summer break s. Building on LareauÂ’s (2003) earlier work, the authors were interested in examin ing why middle class families, in comparison to poor families, were better able to struct ure their childrenÂ’s li ves and put them in organized activities, particular ly during the summers. They collected ethnographic data on 32 Asian, African American, and Latino middle class, poor, and working class children. The authors found that poor and wo rking class and middle class parents were all equally interested in developing the skil ls and talents of their children. However, middle class parents were more successful at securing opportunities for their children to do so not only because of financial resour ces but because they had greater knowledge about how to match specific ac tivities to their child renÂ’s particular skil ls and interests, demonstrating more knowledge about how to st ructure academic activities so they were more appealing to children. Reay (1998) examined the role worki ng class and middle cl ass mothers at two London schools played in their childrenÂ’s schooling. She found that middle class mothers had higher levels of embodied cultura l capital than working class mothers in engaging with school staff as they were more assertive, socially confident, and had more knowledge of the school system. In addition, based on participantsÂ’ discussions of the role their mothers had played in their educ ation, she noted that middle class mothersÂ’ cultural histories included mothers who had provided extra academic assistance and resources in addition to school and that the middle class mothers in the study in turn engaged in the same actions with their children.
37 Social and Cultural Capital and Immigrant Parents Very little research has examined immi grant parentsÂ’ engagement in their childrenÂ’s schooling using the con cept of cultural capital. Res earch that has been done so far has defined social and cultural capital in different ways and produced sometimes contradictory findings. Portes (2002) used NELS data on 3, 400 second-generation immigrant children (Mexican, Filipinos, Korean, and Chinese) and compared them to 2,500 randomly selected native born (and born to native pare nts) children to assess the effects of social capital on academic achievement (GPA and a standardized academic achievement test). In keeping with ColemanÂ’s ideas, he operationa lized social capital as closure of parental networks (measured by parentsÂ’ knowledge of their childrenÂ’s fr iendsÂ’ parents) and parent school involvement (measured using an index of parentsÂ’ part icipation in school activities and frequency of school meetings with school staff about academic issues). Portes found that when childrenÂ’s age, sex, pa rent SES, knowledge of English, and length of time residing in the U.S. were controll ed for, the social capital measures had insignificant effects on academic achievement. Portes argued that his results show that, Â“Â…what really counts, at the end, is the so cial and economic status of the family, the children's ability in English, and their lengt h of residence in th e country. Once these factors are considered, the apparent effects of social capital largely disappearÂ” (Portes, 2002, p. 9). However, Portes noted that children Â’s nationality was predictive of academic achievement. He noted that Korean and Ch inese students overachieve in comparison to other students and Mexican stude nts underachieve relative to other students, even after controlling for their familyÂ’s SES backgr ound. Portes (2002) notes that some may
38 account for this by talking about Â“ethnic e ffectsÂ”, an explanation that says it is Â“Â…community networks and support, not isolated families, that play the central role in children's educational success.Â” (Portes, 2000, p. 9). While Portes (2000) acknowledges that ethnic-specific social capit al might be responsible for the success of the Korean and Chinese students in the NELS sample, he doe s note that their success might be better accounted for by cultural capital in the form of values inoc ulated in children during the socialization process, particularly as earlie r authors have pointed out that the Â“Confucian work ethicÂ” partly accounts for the high levels of academic achievement among many immigrant Chinese students. Kao & Taggart Rutherford (2007) also used NELS data to examine the achievement of immigrant students. Sin ce NELS surveys ask about the birthplace of children and parents, the authors were able to examine differences between a sample of 16,489 first, second, and third generation Asia n, White, Hispanic, and Black children. Social capital was operationali zed as intergenerational clos ure (how well parents knew the parents of their childrenÂ’s friends) and parent-school involvement (e.g., volunteering, and involvement in parent-teacher organizati ons). Academic achievement was measured using a composite of GPA and scores on st andardized reading and math achievement tests. The authors found differences in aca demic achievement by ethnic group and immigration status that were consistent with previous research. For instance, first generation Hispanic students have higher grades than second generation and third generation Hispanics. With regard to how much social capital was possessed by the groups in the study, the researchers found that first generation immigrant children and the
39 children of immigrants possessed much lower leve ls of social capital than did their third generation peers. As for the impact of social capital, th e authors found that intergenerational closure and parent-sc hool involvement positively impacted 8th grade academic achievement. The authors also found that social capital had differential effects for children depending on their race-immi grant group. For instance, Black students benefited more from the same level of parent -school involvement as White students while Asian students benefited less. For intergenerat ional closure, Asian students reaped more benefits in comparison to White and Black students. Kao & Taggart Rutherford (2007) note that immigrant parentsÂ’ lower levels of social capital, as measured by this study, is probably accounted for by their lack of familiarity with American norms and cust oms, and the English language, which would limit their involvement with parent-teacher organizations and their ability to form relationships with the parents of their childrenÂ’s friends, partic ularly if these parents were native born. The authors also note that thei r study, and by extension all studies that use NELS data, did not account fo r ethnic-specific forms of cap ital derived from close knit ethnic communities. They point out that the differential returns to social capital for minority and immigrant students might be, Â“Â… related to the norms, values, and beliefs reinforced by social networks, as well as th e parentsÂ’ and students Â’ ability to activate their social capital to produce favorable educational outcomesÂ” (Kao & Taggart Rutherford, 2007, p. 48). To answer this questi on and better illumina te the role social capital plays in academic achievement, they no te that it is important for research to explore the quality of social capital possessed by parents.
40 Zhou & Bankston (1998), in their research on a Vietnamese immigrant community in New Orleans, elaborated on th e concept of social capital in important ways, arguing that for immigrant populations their ethnic community can serve as an important source of social capital. The authors studied a low income immigrant Vietnamese community over the course of two years using ethnographic methods. The authors found that the high leve l of achievement of the Vietnamese students in the sample was maintained by cultural values conduc ive to achievement and bounded social networks of co-ethnic peers and adults that emphasized the same values and reinforced behavior that complied with these values. In addition, the Vietnamese community in the study provided students in the study with acad emic resources such as after-school language classes and academic programs that provided academic assistance as well as awards for academic excellence. Ov erall, the authors concluded that: Successful adaptation of Vietnamese in poor urban neighborhoods has been determined, to a large extent, by distinctive pattern s of ethnic social relationships...Systems of ethnic social relations exercise social control over their members, reinforcing both traditional values brought from Vietnam and aspirations to upward mobilityÂ…being enmeshed in these dense overlapping networks of social relations based on shared ethnicity creates a high degree of consensus ov er community-prescribed values and norms and effective means of social c ontrol, which can serve as a special form of social capital. (p. 222) In addition, the authors note that the instit utions present in th e community (e.g., afterschool programs) are, Â“Â…formal expression s of underlying networks of ethnic social
41 relations, whichÂ…for younger members offer direction and encouragement in school adaptationÂ” (p. 222). Lew (2007), in his study of Korean Ameri can students in New Jersey, found that social capital played a role in the success of one group and the failure of another group. He examined two groups of Korean student s, an academically successful group and an academically unsuccessful group to understand how class variability within co-ethnic Asian communities impacts second-generati on studentsÂ’ access to social capital and educational resources. His study of Korean American dropouts illuminates how social capital, derived in this case from co-ethnic ne tworks, can interact with financial capital to produce negative and positive outcomes for immigrant students. Based on the work of other researchers and theorists in the so cial capital literature, Lew argues that: If social capital derives from social relationships, then different groups of students and parents also have vary ing degrees of advantage based on class, race, and institutional discourse s within the network. Thus, social networks are implicated in the re production of inequalityÂ” (Lew, 2007, p. 375). Thus, LewÂ’s work appears to align with BourdieuÂ’s ideas about differential access to capital, in this case so cial capital, depending on fam ily background. In his study, Lew (2007) used ethnographic methods to exam ine the experiences of 42 academically successful Korean American students enro lled in an academic magnet high school program and 30 Korean American student s who were dropouts enrolled in a GED program. The sample included both 1.5 gene ration students (defin ed as students who
42 were born and raised in Korea and came to th e U.S. at the age of 9 or earlier) and secondgeneration students (those who were born and raised in the U.S.). Similar to Zhou & BankstonÂ’s work (1998) the author found that high achieving Korean American students maintained closer ties to co-ethnics at home, school, and in the community. In addition, th eir parents were often acquain ted with each other through Korean American churches or Korean Am erican community organizations. The highachieving students reported that these orga nizations and churches emphasized certain values for young people, specifically academic achievement, learning the Korean language, and maintaining close ethnic ties. These students al so reported that the parents of their friends shared the same value orient ation (particularly to high achievement) that their parents endorsed. Lew de scribed the influence of pare ntal social networks on high achieving Korean American students in the sample thus: Â“Through the structure of a closed intergenerational social-support ne twork among parents, community members, and peers, academically focused Korean Am erican students received multiple sources of social pressure to succeed in school.Â” (2007, p. 379). Like the high achieving students in the study, the dropouts also reported high parental expectations for academic achieveme nt. However, unlike the high achieving students, the Korean American dropouts did no t maintain close ties to their parents or their parentsÂ’ co-ethnic networks and, in fact reported that their parents had few ties to co-ethnic networks in the Korean American community. The high achieving students also reported that their parents accessed information from co-ethnic networks that supported their academic achievement, for instance information about elite high schools and how to prepare for entrance exams to these
43 schools. The parents of the high achieving stud ents used economic resources to translate their educational aspirations a nd the knowledge they gained from co-ethnic networks into actions that ensured the success of their ch ildren by sending them to private academies ( hag won ) in the Korean American community. These academies provided tutoring for academic subjects, for entrance exams to e lite high schools, and for college preparatory exams. The high achieving students reported that their parents learned about this resource through their co-ethnic networks in Korean American churches and community organizations. The parents also sent their children to pr ivate college counselors who spoke Korean and, as a result, these parents we re able to learn about the U.S. educational system and play a larger role in their childrenÂ’s college application process. In contrast, the dropouts in the study did not attend the hag won academies either because their parents could not afford to send them or because their families were dependent on the income these students brought in by working after school. Their parents, with limited knowledge of the U.S. educational system and no access to the knowledge present in co-ethnic networks, did not actively participat e in their education, leaving it entirely up to the schools. Finally, while most studies of social a nd cultural capital have examined these concepts in a static fashion, Auerbach (2004) examined how social and cultural capital can change in response to school-based in terventions. Specifica lly, she examined a program aimed at increasing college atte ndance among Latino high school students and how the program ultimately increased the soci al and cultural capital of the studentsÂ’ parents. Auerbach (2004) used ethnographi c methods to examine, over the course of three years, the experiences of 15 Latino parents in the progr am. She found that when the
44 program commenced, the Latino parents l acked basic knowledge about the college application process, such as the classes requ ired for college acceptance, but also lacked social networks that could provide them with knowledge a bout the college application process. The researcher noted that while particip ants did not leave the program with as much knowledge as more affluent parents in the school, the program was successful in changing part of their habitus That is, parents expanded their sense of what was possible for them and their children and changed th eir beliefs about what was appropriate and desirable for their children. Th eir participation in the program led them to see college as a viable option for their children. In additi on, parents modified some of their behaviors and beliefs that had functioned as obstacles to their childrenÂ’s college attendance. For instance, an immigrant father accepted the possi bility that college attendance would mean his daughter leaving home and other parents de creased household chores for girls so that they could study and earn bette r grades. The program also impacted social capital by helping parents form positive relationships with teachers and school staff as well as with other parents experiencing similar issues w ith the college proce ss and parenting. Crozier & Davis (2008) in a qualitative study of 197 Bangladeshi and Pakistani parents in two British towns found that parent sÂ’ lack of cultural capital negatively impacted the home-school relationship. Though the authors do not explicitly use BourdieuÂ’s concepts of cultural capital to explain their findings it is clear that BourdieuÂ’s concepts of habitus and cultural capital might be a pplied to the experiences of the participants in this study. The study assessed the parentsÂ’ relationship with the schools their children attended. The authors found th at the school had certain expectations of
45 parental involvement that the parents could not meet, partly because they were unaware of these expectations. They argued that th is information was informally disseminated through social networks such as Â“parents Â’ meetings and at the school gate, on the grapevine, between other [British] parentsÂ”, networks the authors described as, Â“spaces uninhabited, or not visited, by most of our parent responde nts.Â” (Crozier & Davis, 2008, p. 300). Parents in the study did rely on their social networks to gain information about how to successfully navigate the schooling process. Ho wever, since these social networks consisted of other immigrant parent s with equally low levels of knowledge of the British school system, the educational cap ital shared among parents was limited. Overall, Crozier and Davis (2008) found that a few parents in their study were actively involved in their childrenÂ’s e ducation and successful at navigating the educational system to secure benefits for th eir children. However, most parents in the study, regardless of social class background, we re Â“non-participantsÂ” in their childrenÂ’s education; they had little contact with the school, knew little about the education system, and left most major educational decisions c oncerning their children in the hands of the school. Crozier & Davis (2008) contend that the school had expectations for parent involvement and that the parents in th e study lacked knowledge of the schoolÂ’s expectations of Â“appropriateÂ” parental involvement; in the words of Bourdieu, this was not part of their habitu s. The authors assert that, Â“..the schoolÂ’s implicit expectations are based on an, albeit subconscious, assumption that all parents are Â‘like usÂ’: Â‘like usÂ’ being white and middle class and that Â“These explic it and implicit expectations underpinned the relationship between the school and the hom e.Â” (Crozier & Davis, 2008, p. 301-302). Using BourdieuÂ’s theoretical framework to analyze Crozier & DavisÂ’s results, it is
46 apparent that the study parentsÂ’ habitus did not mesh with institutional exp ectations; so no embodied cultural capital was created to help them navigate their childrenÂ’s schooling. Asian Indian Families There have been no studies that examine how Asian Indian families access social and/or cultural capital in e ngaging with their childrenÂ’s schooling. In fact, very few studies have examined how these families e ngage with their childrenÂ’s schooling. The few studies that do so (e.g., Abbas, 2002) ha ve been conducted in England and/or Asian Indian families were not the focus of the research, which included other South Asian populations (e.g., Bhattach arya & Schopeley, 2004). Bhattacharya & Schopeley (2004) in a st udy of the preand post-immigration beliefs about success of South Asians interv iewed 75 Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi parents in the New York City area. They f ound that, like the other parents in the sample, Indian parents placed a high value on educat ion prior to immigrat ion and strengthened their belief in its importance post-immigra tion due to the lack of economic opportunities they faced upon arrival in the U.S. In addition, during the pre-immigration period, parents had believed that they would be ab le to advance economically in America; however, following immigration, they placed th eir hopes in their children. The study also gave a more detailed picture of parental ex pectations, which the studies that use panel data sets have not done. In discussing the pa rental expectations of the Indian families in the study, they argue that: Â… the Asian philosophy of life may further accentuate the strong link between parental expectations of childrenÂ’s accomplishments and the childrenÂ’s responsibilitie s to fulfill the parentsÂ’ dreams of life success.
47 Four Asian culture-specific conceptsÂ— dharma, karma, maya, and atman Â—may serve as unique mechanisms for the intergenerational transmission of expectations and aspirations. (2004, p. 90)Â” The authors assert that Â”While parents expected their children to be educated and to succeed in life, this individual-level achievem ent is not valued as an end in itself but rather as a means to ensuring and enhanc ing the well-being of the entire familyÂ” (Bhattacharya & Schopely, 2004, p. 90). Abbas (2002) surveyed 109 Indian, Pakist ani, and Bangladeshi college students about their secondary experiences. The sa mple included 37 Indian students. He found that, compared to the other students in the study, the Indian students reported that their parents were very active in he lping them gain admission to se lective secondary schools. In addition, they reported that siblings assisted them with this process. Overall, limitations of the research on soci al capital include the use of large data sets which have limited the researcherÂ’s ab ility to gain an in -depth understanding of concepts like parental networks and intergen erational closure. Moreover, very little research in the U.S. has used BourdieuÂ’s (1986 ) concept of cultural cap ital to gain a more critical understanding of parental engagement with schooling. A small number of studies (e.g., Horvath & Lareau, 2003) have examined th e forms of capital that parents access to engage in their childre nÂ’s schooling; but, these studies ha ve not examined the experiences of immigrant groups in the U.S. Research that has examined the experiences of immigrant parents (e.g., Zhou & Bankston, 1998) has found that they access forms of capital rooted in their ethnic community. Finally, none of the research on social and
48 cultural capital has examined the experiences of Asian Indian families in the U.S. in depth. Qualitative Research Research on the role of immigrant parent s in their childrenÂ’s education has called for research to be attuned to the existing inequities in society, how the particular immigrant group being researched is affect ed by those inequities, and the receiving context for immigrants (Portes, 2000). Given this recommendation and the nature of the questions asked (an in-depth ex amination of the understandings of a particular group), the current study was conducted usi ng a qualitative approach. Qualitative research assumes that meanings are developed in peopleÂ’s experiences and that these meanings are understood th rough the investigatorÂ’s own perceptions (Merriam, 1998). Guba and Lincoln (1998) note that Â“human behaviorÂ…cannot be understood without reference to the meanings and purposes attached by human actors to their activitiesÂ” (p. 198). In addition, many qua litative researchers and theorists point out that the etic (outsider) view brought to bear on research problems may not shed much light on these problems without the emic (insider) view of groups, individuals, and cultures under study. The aim of this study was to gain an emic view of a particular cultural group (in this case Asian Indian mothers). In sum, this research was an in-depth examination of the beliefs and views of a specific minority group in U.S. society. A qualitative approach was selected because it allowed for examining in detail the experiences of individuals.
49 Chapter Three Method This study examined the engagement of Asian Indian mothers residing in the U.S. in their childrenÂ’s schooling. Specifically, the study examined the extent to which Asian Indian mothers accessed various forms of soci al and cultural capital in engaging in their childrenÂ’s schooling. This study employed a qualitative appro ach which allowed for an in-depth exploration of the perceptions and beliefs of study participants The selection of participants and the collection and analysis of data are discussed below. Huberman and Miles (1998) note that research ers should be explicit about their preferences and tell readers, Â“how they construe the shape of the social world and how they mean to give us a credible account of itÂ” (p. 181). Participants A purposeful sampling procedure was used to select the participants for this study. The sample consisted of 12 participants, mothers from 12 Asian Indian families living in the State of Florid a who had children enrolled in public K-12 schools during the 2008-2009 school year. The participant from each of the 12 families was the parent more integrally involved with the child or childre nÂ’s schooling, which in each of the families interviewed was the mother. All participan ts had resided in the United States for a minimum of two years, and held permanent resi dent status or were U.S. citizens. Only mothers whose children were enrolled in a si ngle large urban school district in West
50 Central Florida were included as participants in the study. Th is setting was selected for reasons of convenience (the researcher was located in West Central Florida and has contacts in the Asian Indian community in th e city in which the participants lived). Procedures used in the r ecruitment of study participants are described below. Participant Recruitment According to Frankel and Wallen (2000), purposive sampling is the process of using personal judgment to select a sample based on previous knowledge of a population and the specific purposes of the research. Th e sample was recruite d through two sources: (1) Asian Indian community members in a la rge West Central Florida city and (2) an Asian Indian community association located in the same city. The two avenues for participant recruitment were pursued simu ltaneously. The community members included a teacher of Indian dance and a community member active in a local Hindu temple. These community members were selected due to their acquaintance with large numbers of Asian Indian families with school-aged children. The researcher gave the two community contacts a brief oral description of the study as well as a copy of the Brief Study Description she had prepared (see A ppendix A) for their use when informing potential recruits for the study. In addition, they were provided a copy of the study consent form. They were asked to contact pr ospective families that fit the study criteria (i.e., Asian Indian origin, residing in the U.S., with children enrolled in K-12 public schools in the U.S. during th e 2008-2009 school year, etc.). Using the Brief Study Description, they provided pot ential participants with an overview of the study and asked them if they would like to be provided with more information. If potential participants were interested in receiving more informa tion, the association member or the community
51 member asked them for their addresses and fo r permission to share this information with the researcher. The researcher mailed potential participants: a cover letter (see Appendix B), a copy of the Demographic Questionnaire (s ee Appendix C), a consent form approved by the University of South Florida Institutional Review Board (USF IRB) for the Protection of Human Subjects in Research, Board #2 for Social and Behavioral Sciences, (see Appendix D) and a postage paid, pre-addressed return envelope. The Demographic Questionnaire which asked for demographic data (e.g., no. of years in the US; no of school age children in household and their grade level) was also mailed at this time. This questionnaire was used was used as a screen ing device to identify t hose participants who met the study criteria for inclusion in th e sample. The consent form mailed to participants indicated that: there would be two phases to the study, with th e first being the interview and the second being a follow-up for the verification of the interview transcript and analysis (the consent form noted that th is follow-up could take place in person or by telephone). The consent form also indicated the estimated duration of the interview and the follow-up meeting, noted that the interv iew would be recorde d, and described the procedures to be used to maintain confidentiality. In case potential pa rticipants misplaced the study forms, two weeks after the initial mailing, another mailing was completed to all non-respondents. This mailing included a follow-up letter, the USF IRB consen t form, and a postage paid, pre-addressed return envelope. Some families were referred to the researcher and contacted her for the purpose of arranging a face-to-face meeting. In these case s, the researcher explained the purposes of the study and gave the parent(s)/guardians co pies of: the cover le tter, the Demographic
52 Questionnaire, the USF IRB-approved consent form, the researcherÂ’s contact information (address, telephone number, and email address) and a pre-addressed return envelope. Potential participants were asked to return a signed consent form by mail if they wanted to participate in the study and to provide th eir mailing address to the researcher so she could follow up with them. In case potential participants misplaced the study forms, two weeks after the face-to-face meeting, the res earcher completed another mailing that included: a follow-up letter, the Demographi c Questionnaire, a USF IRB consent form, and a postage paid, pre-addressed return envelo pe. Overall, the researcher attempted to contact 15 Asian Indian mothers and received responses from 12 of these mothers. This procedure resulted in a participan t sample consisting of mothers from 12 Asian Indian families living in the State of Florida who had children enrolled in public K12 schools during the 2008-2009 school year. All participants had resided in the U.S. for a minimum of two years, and held permanent resi dent status or were U.S. citizens. Only families whose children were enrolled in a la rge school district in West Central Florida were included as participants in this st udy. This setting was selected for reasons of convenience (the researcher was located in We st Central Florida and has contacts in the Asian Indian community in the city in which the participants lived). Instrumentation The following instruments were used for the purposes of data gathering. Demographic Questionnaire This questionnaire (see Appendix C) was used to screen potential participants to determine if they met study criteria (e.g., le ngth of residence in the U.S., immigration status).
53 Background Questionnaire Participants were asked to complete a background questionnaire (see Appendix F) that included questions solicit ing basic demographic information such as income, highest education level, and household composition (single parent, two parent, etc), and information about their childrenÂ’s academic achievement. Interview Protocol A semi-structured interview protocol (see Appendix E) was developed within the context of this study to gather data relati ng to three broad doma ins of interest: a) embodied cultural capital, (b) social norms, and (c) social networks. For each domain, a series of questions and potential follow-up questions were devel oped. The process that guided the development of the protocol follows. A review of the literature identified no existing instrument for use in obtaining information about how Asian Indian parents acce ss cultural and social capital in order to engage in their childre nÂ’s education. Thus, prior theore tical literature (e.g., Bourdieu, 1987; Coleman, 1988) and how previous re search (e.g., Zhou & Bankston, 1998) has operationalized these concepts informed the de velopment of the inte rview protocol used for this study. As previously noted, this study focused on social capital (norms and social networks) and cultural capital, specifically the embodied fo rm of cultural capital. The researcher reviewed the writings of Bour dieu (1986) and Coleman (1988) and prior research studies (e.g., Perna & Titus, 2001) to de lineate the concepts of social capital and cultural capital for the purposes of this study. Once each of these concepts was clearly delineated interview questions were developed that correspo nded to these concepts. In
54 keeping with the theoretical framework of the study, the interview protocol was divided into three major topic domain s, embodied cultural capital social norms, and social networks. Based on the writings of Bourdieu (e .g., Bourdieu, 1987) and explication of BourdieuÂ’s theories by others (e.g., Horvat, 2005), the first topic domain on the interview protocol, embodied cultural ca pital, asked participants questions such as, Â“How would you rank the importance of education in comparis on to other aspects of childrenÂ’s lives?Â” and, Â“Overall, what do you think the role of parents should be in their childrenÂ’s education?Â” Based on ColemanÂ’s (1988) work and prior research on social capital, the second topic domain, social norms, asks ques tions such as, Â“How often do you engage in conversation with your child/children about sc hool, school work or their performance in school?,Â” Â“What kinds of topi cs do you talk about in thes e conversations?Â” and, Â“With whom do(es) your child/children typically engage in after-sc hool activities?Â” Questions in the last topic domain, social networks, were based on readings of both Bourdieu (1987) and ColemanÂ’s work, but more closely based on how more recent research (e.g., Lew, 2007; Lin, 2001) has unde rstood and examined social networks. Examples of questions asked in this ar ea include: Â“How would you rank the importance of the information that you receive from othe r parents in making educational decisions?Â” and Â“When you speak to other parents for e ducational information, who do you tend to talk to?Â” Carspecken (1996) recommends a semi-struc tured questionnaire as an appropriate approach to qualitative inte rviewing. Others (e.g., Font ana & Frey, 2000) use the term open-ended ethnographic interviews to descri be interviewing with a semi-structured
55 questionnaire. The use of a semi-structured protocol allowed for maximum flexibility on the part of the interviewer for pursuing topi cs of interest. Topi c domains and lead-off questions were used to organize the semi-s tructured protocol. Ca rspecken notes that interviewers should use concrete questions to identify abstracti ons and avoid asking abstract questions because it is important to Â“hear about the implicit theoriesÂ” from interviewees (Carspeck en, 1996, p. 156) constituting the ac tions of participants. He argues that Â“Often people act a ccording to one implicit theory, and talk out theories that are very differentÂ” (p. 156). Thus, although questions were developed to address the theoretical concepts in which the study was interested, the questions were worded in clear, concrete, everyday language. The protocol used for the study provided the interviewer with a lead-off question to begin interviewing in each area and possible follow-up questions aimed at eliciting additional information in the areas of interest. Carspeck en (1996) notes that during a qualitative interview Â“the researcher will sp end most of her time responding to things said by her subjects rather than asking questi onsÂ” (p., 155). Thus participants were given the freedom to expand on topics about which th ey wanted to elaborate and often did so. Data Collection Procedures The interviews were conducted throu ghout the summer of 2009. Once consent was obtained and it had been confirme d through review of the Demographic Questionnaire that participants met study criter ia (e.g., length of residence in the U.S.), the researcher contacted moth ers to arrange an interview time. Most interviews took place in the participantsÂ’ homes, but a fe w took place in public locations that were convenient for the participants (e.g., a lo cal coffee shop). Before beginning the
56 interviews, the researcher reviewed the in formed consent form with participants, discussed what participating in the study w ould require (e.g., audio taped interview), and reminded participants that they were free to withdraw from the study at any time. Interviews lasted for approximately one and one-half hours, with some interviews lasting longer than this time frame, and were audi o recorded. In addition to recording the interviews, the researcher took handwritten notes that usually consisted of impressions of the interviewees and comments on the topics discussed. These notes were subsequently typed up, usually within one day of the inte rview. After the interview was completed, participants were asked to complete a b ackground questionnaire (see Appendix F) in writing. Participants completed the questionnaire alone. Howe ver, the researcher offered to clarify any questions that were unclear for the participant. Each participant was thanked for her participation in the research and told to expect a follow-up contact to review her transcribed interview and the preliminary analysis of the interview. Data Management Each family was assigned a pseudonym. The researcher kept a list of the familyÂ’s names and pseudonyms in a locked file draw er in her home. Recordings of the interviews were also stored in this f ile drawer. Pseudonyms were also used in transcription of the intervie w data and in reporting the re sults of the study. A peer debriefer was used in this study (see the se ction on the Development of Codes for a detailed description of the peer debrieferÂ’s role); however, the tran scripts that the peer reviewer accessed contained only pseudonyms. Transcripts of interviews with families were stored in password pr otected files on the resear cherÂ’s computer.
57 Data Analysis Procedures Chism (1999) notes that, The analysis of qualitative data i nvolves several activities, including: becoming familiar with the data, selecting certain parts of the data as most relevant, sorting the data into categor ies, displaying the data for review, reading within and across categorie s for themes, and synthesizing the information. (p. 1) Data analysis was conducted during as we ll as after the conc lusion of the data collection process. As previously note d, qualitative methodologists (e.g., Huberman & Miles, 1998) point out that re searchers should be explicit ab out their preferences and pay attention to any potential bi ases and assumptions that ma y impact data collection and analysis. Consequently, the researcher main tained field notes to keep track of her thoughts, feelings, and impressions as she co llected data as a way of monitoring any biases that might influence analyses of the da ta. The researcher also reviewed these field notes for assistance in identifying areas in which she should probe more deeply with future interviewees. The tape recording for each interview was transcribed verbatim. Interviews were transcribed within a week of their completion. Then preliminary analysis was conducted on each transcript, with the researcher revi ewing the transcript and noting preliminary themes that she typed into a Microsoft Word document. These preliminary themes were shared with participants for their review as part of the member checking process. LeCompte and Schensul (1999) point out that, often, reviewin g fieldnotes and other data collected will result in new questions and interpretations to be tested by collecting more
58 data in the field. Thus, these preliminary anal yses were also used to help the researcher identify areas into which she should probe mo re deeply with future interviewees. For instance, the first participant interviewed discussed the competitiveness in the Indian community around academics. As a result, the re searcher began to ask other participants about competitiveness in the community around academics. Once participants had reviewed and approve d their transcripts and the preliminary analyses, the researcher began the second stag e of analysis. First, the study questions were reviewed so that they would guide the an alysis of the data. Second, transcripts were reread several times in order for the research er to become familiar with the data. Then, the transcripts were loaded into ATLAS.ti, a qualitative data analysis software package designed to assist in the pro cess of management of data dur ing the coding and analysis of datasets such as transcribed interview data (Muhr & Friese, 2004). ATLAS.ti is commonly used in qualitative research because it facilita tes the analysis of large quantities of textual data. The researcher is familiar with ATLAS.ti and had utilized the software prior to this study. It is important to note that a ll codes used in this study were researcher-developed. In this study, ATLAS-ti was not used to generate codes, but as a tool to facilitate the coding of large sections of text and to, in the later analysis stages, retrieve sections of text that corresponded to these codes; this is consistent with the use of qualitative data analysis soft ware programs in research (LeCompte & Schensul, 1999). Development of Codes Once the interview transcripts were entered into ATLAS-ti, the researcher began the process of developing a codebook. A code book is one of the tools used by qualitative researchers to label, sort, orga nize, and categorize qualitative data into meaningful units.
59 LeCompte and Schensul (1999) describe a codebook as Â“Â…a list of items to be used for the analysis of a particular collection of data.Â” (p. 85). They note that codes are Â“Â…names or symbols used to stand for a group of similar items, ideas, or other phenomenaÂ” (p. 55) and that codes are Â“Â…rela tively concrete items or units that are relatively easy to identify and well differentiated from each otherÂ…they have clear boundariesÂ” (p. 95). The researcher made the decision to use ATLAS-ti to assist in performing this preliminary coding because of the large volum e of data. As LeCompte and Schensul (1999) note, it is useful to use software pr ograms like ATLASin pr eliminary stages of coding, particularly when one is working with large amounts of data. The researcher used a combination of de ductive and inductive coding strategies to develop the codebook for the study. Huberm an and Miles (1998) point out that, Â“Qualitative studies ultimately aim to describe and explain (at some level) a pattern of relationships....Starting with them (deductively) or getting gr adually to them (inductively) are both legitimate and useful pathsÂ” (p. 185). LeCompte and Schensul (1999) note further that coding is often both deductive (driven by the theoretical framework of a study) and inductive, derived from the data co llected in the study. Thus the researcher used both deductive and inductive appr oaches to coding in this study. Using a deductive approach, the first step in developing the codebook was to examine the theoretical framework of the study for potential codes. For instance, Â“Origins of their belief systems about educati onÂ” was one of the codes identified at this stage). Next, using an inductive approac h, the preliminary analyses developed for participants to verify were examined for any possible codes that arose (e.g.,
60 Â“Competitiveness in communityÂ” was one of the codes identified at this stage). These inductively derived codes were added to the preliminary codebook. Continuing with the inductive approach, two transc ripts were randomly selected. The researcher read these transcripts and assigned codes based on meani ngs that emerged from her readings. Simultaneous to the researcher coding the two transcripts, a pe er debriefer coded the same two transcripts independently. The peer debriefer was an experienced qualitative researcher employed in the Anth ropology Department at the University of South Florida. This person was familiar with the research questions and the theoretical background used in the study. Carspecken (1996 ) suggests researcher use peer debriefers early in the coding process to question their choice of codes. Thus, at the beginning of codebook development, the researchers gave two transcripts, an interview protocol, and a copy of the research questions to the peer de briefer to code independently and to develop her own preliminary codebook in order to verify the researcherÂ’s choice of codes. Once the peer debriefer had coded the two transc ripts independently and developed her own preliminary codebook, the researcher and th e peer debriefer met to compare the preliminary codebooks they had developed indepe ndently. At this point, the researcher and the peer debriefer spent a great deal of time discussing th e transcripts they had coded, the reasons they had selected the codes they did, and the differen ces and similarities between their two preliminary codebooks. The peer debriefer and the researcher discarded some codes, added others, and refine d others. At this poi nt, the peer debriefer and the researcher merged the two prelimin ary codebooks they had created to create a working codebook.
61 Next, interrater reliability was computed. The researcher and the peer debriefer separated to code one randomly selected transcript independently using the working codebook. The researcher and the peer debriefer then met again to make the final changes to the working codebook based on their coding of this transcript and discussion, turn it into the codebook to be used for the study, and to calculate interrater reliability for the coding process. Interrater reliability was cal culated at the 81% leve l. This codebook was used by the researcher to code the remaini ng interview data; minimal changes were made to add codes that were needed to capture new ideas that emerged from the remaining interview data. See Appendix F for a c opy of the codebook used for the study. At this point, the researcher and the peer debriefer also had an extensive discussion about preliminary themes that app eared to be present in the data and about issues it would be important for the research er to take into acc ount while conducting her analysis. For instance, the peer debriefer noted that she believed it would be important for the researcher to consider the role that social class background played in influencing the findings. She noted that in the transcri pts she reviewed, mothers had expressed their belief that staying home allowed them to pl ay a more active role in their childrenÂ’s education and that it was im portant to consider whethe r, in comparison to poorer families, the familiesÂ’ financial resources made it easier for them to make this decision. Finally, the researcher used the completed c odebook to code the rema ining interview data by selecting sections of text and labeling them with the code or codes that appeared to best capture the meaning of the section of text.
62 Theme Analysis Using a hermeneutic-reconstructive met hod which required the researcher to make implicit meanings explicit (Carspecke n, 1996, 2003), transcripts were examined for themes that emerged across inte rviewees. When utilizing th is approach, th e researcher Â“takes the insiderÂ’s view of a cultural group and reconstruc ts tacit cultural themes and structures that members commonly employ to interpret the world [and] judge the worldÂ…Â” (Coln, Taylor, and Willis, 2000, para. 8). LeCompte and Schensul (1999) describe themes as being part of a category of data that are less concrete. They note that themes Â“Â…illustrate phenomena that are hard to operationalize except in terms of multiple discrete behaviors that do not have clean beginnings and endings, and that may have multiple meanings. Often these must be identified in terms of some cover term or category name that stands for a complex of behaviors or ideasÂ” (p. 95). After coding wa s completed, the researcher reviewed the codebook to see which codes aligned with which research questions in order to determine where to focus theme analysis for each research question. Multiple codes were assigned to each research question. For instance, fo r the research question regarding embodied cultural capital, assigned codes included, Â“Beliefs about the value/importance of educationÂ” and Â“Beliefs about their role in their children's education. Next, the researcher used ATLAS-ti to fi nd textual segments connected to each code and in turn to one of the research que stions. Then, the researcher initiated theme analysis. Theme analysis was conducted across pa rticipant interviews in an effort to find themes that cut across cases (Huberman & Mi les, 1998). LeCompte and Schensul (1999) describe several ways in which patterns or themes can emerge from data, including:
63 through declarations by participan ts (participants tel ling researchers that a pattern exists), frequency (participantsÂ’ talki ng often about a particular thin g), similarity (participants talking about a thing in similar ways), and in congruence with prior hypotheses (patterns emergence in accordance with theoretical frameworks guiding a study or prior experience). Theme analysis was conducted for each research question separately. Text segments were reviewed for preliminary th emes connected to the research question. Next, the researcher spent a large amount of time reading and rereading the text segments corresponding to each research question to furt her refine the preliminary themes. During this process, preliminary themes were revise d several times until they appeared to align with the meanings embedded in the data. Finally, themes were reviewed to obtain endorsement rates. Huberman and Miles (1998) note that in cross-case analysis, Â“Â…the tensionÂ…is that of reconciling the particular and the universal: reconciling an individual caseÂ’s uniqueness with the need to understand generic processes at work across casesÂ” (p. 194). The researcher balanced these comp eting priorities by reporting exceptions to themes, that is, in addition to reporting the views of participants who endorsed particular themes, the views of those who did not endorse particular themes were also reported. Credibility In any form of research, issues of vali dity are critical as such issues impact perceptions of the research. Carspecken ( 1996) points out that interviewing produces many subjective truth claims and that we are dependent on the honesty and accuracy of the self-reports of the participants. Qualitat ive researchers must also be concerned with minimizing any biases and seeing the experiences that participants relate just as they are
64 and not attempt to alter them or to read more into them than what is really there (Patton, 2002). Thus, researchers should be concerned ab out not altering the reality of the data. However, Carspecken (1996) and others (L incoln & Guba, 1998; Patton, 2002) describe procedures that should be used to address th ese issues and strengthe n the validity claims within interview data. Non-leading Interview Questions First, non-leading interview questions we re used. Interviewing in non-leading ways decreased the possibility that particip ants would tell the researcher what they thought she wanted to hear. Second, as much as possible, participan ts were encouraged to use terms in their own everyday language. This encouraged clarity and discouraged participants from using terms simply because those are the terms the interviewer used. Furthermore, three processes were include d to validate the analysis of the data: consistency checks, member checking and peer debriefing. Consistency Checks Consistency checks were conducted by review ing the transcripts of interviews to check for any discrepancies in the participan tsÂ’ responses. If inconsistencies were found, participants were to be asked to explain the inconsistencies. However, no inconsistencies were found in participantsÂ’ transcripts. Member Checking Member checking is a process which pr ovides a participant in the study the opportunity to review the transc riptions and conclusions drawn from his or her interview. Parent participants had the option to determin e if they were properly represented in the data. Patton (2002) notes that researcher s can learn a great deal about the accuracy,
65 completeness, fairness, and perceived validity of their data by having their participants react to what is described and concluded. In this study, participants were provided a reasonable opportunity to comment on the study data and conclusions. Participants were emailed a transcript of their interview and preliminary conclusions drawn by the researcher and asked to verify the transcript and the conclu sions drawn. Of the twelve participants in the study, ten ( 83%) replied to the researcherÂ’s email asking them to verify their transcripts and preliminary conclusions. Al l participants noted that they agreed with the veracity of their transcripts and had no comments or issues with the preliminary conclusions. Only one participant offered a cl arification and addition to the researcherÂ’s preliminary findings. She noted that she fe lt she was misunderstood on a point she made in her interview about diffe rences between American and Indian parents and the importance they place on education. Another participant noted that while she felt the transcript was accurate and the analysis was correct, she felt she sounded more assimilated than she realized at the time of the interview. Peer Debriefing A peer debriefer reviewed the researcherÂ’s notes, analysis, an d conclusions drawn in order to increase the validity of the research findings. The peer debriefer in this study is a researcher in the Anthropology department at the University of South Florida who has experience in the collection and analysis of qualitative data. This peer debriefer aided in ensuring that the study was not a ffected by researcher bias, preconceived notions, etc. The peer debriefer was inst rumental in assisting the researcher in developing codes used for the study, establishi ng interrater re liability, and, in the early stages of theme analysis, assisting the research er in detecting emerging themes in the data
66 and pointing out issues she believed it was impor tant for the researcher to be aware of in analyzing the data.
67 Chapter Four Results The present study examined how mothers from a specific immigrant group (Asian Indians) engaged in their childrenÂ’s educati on and to what extent they drew on various forms of social and cultural capital to do so. Forms of capital examined in this study were drawn from the work of both Colema n (1988) and Bourdieu (1987). These forms are social norms, social networks, and embodi ed cultural capital. The study provided an in-depth examination of the nature of the forms of capital that a little-studied immigrant community, Asian Indian families, draw upon to support their childrenÂ’s education. This chapter reports participant demographic ch aracteristics and the study findings. Findings are presented for each of the three research questions that guided the study with themes presented for each of the study questions. Participant Demographic Characteristics The participant sample was obtained us ing the purposeful sampling procedures and inclusion/exclusion criteria discussed in Chapter Three. The sample consisted of representatives (mothers) from 12 Asian Indian families from a West Central Florida Data to be reported were obtai ned through an in-depth interv iew with a mother from each of these families. Description of Families Demographic characteristics of the partic ipating families are reported in Table 1. The 12 families came from different areas of India including the south (Andhra Pradesh,
68 Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka), western India (i.e., Gujarat and Maharashtra) and the northeast (Assam). Based on Census data (U .S. Census, 2009), families in the study had household incomes that were far above the U.S. median household income in 2007 ($50, 240). Seven of the families (58%) reported an annual household income above $95, 000. Only one family reported an income of less than $65, 000.
69 Table 1 Characteristics of Participant Families (N=12) Characteristic N % Annual Household Income Less than 64, 999 1 8 65, 000 Â– 74, 999 2 16 75, 000 Â– 84, 999 1 8 85, 000 Â– 95, 000 1 8 95, 000 104, 999 3 25 Above 105, 000 4 33 No. of School-Aged Chil dren in Household 1 3 25 2 9 75 Grade Levels of K-12 Children in Household (n=21) K-2nd grade 3 14 3rd-5th grade 4 19 6th-8th grade 7 33 9th-11th grade 5 24 12th grade 2 10
70 The children of participating mothers range d in age from 6 to 17 years, with a mean age of 12 years. Eleven of the childre n (52%) were boys and 10 (48%) were girls. More than half the participantsÂ’ children (66%) were in middle or high school. Mothers reported that children were very active in a variety of activ ities within and outside the Indian community. ChildrenÂ’s activities included tennis lessons participating in community chess clubs and basketball lea gues, and volunteering through a volunteer club. Cultural activities include d: Indian classical dance ( Bharatnatyam ), Indian musical instruments ( mridangam Indian violin), performing in folk dances at the temple, participating in cultural associations speci fic to the region of India from which their parents came (e.g., Ta mil Association), Ballygokulam (an association that teaches Hindu children about IndiaÂ’s history and culture and Hinduism), and Swadhyay (a weekly group dedicated to discussing moral and philosophical issues raised by the Bhagavad Gita an Indian holy text). Table 2 below reports the academic grades of the participantsÂ’ children (based on the intervieweesÂ’ reports) from th e spring of 2009. All mothersÂ’ reported that children did very well academica lly. A few mothers noted that their children participated in academic competitions in the district (e.g., Math Bowl, Geography Bee) and had won academic awards (e.g., Tropicana speech award).
71 Table 2 Academic Grades of ParticipantsÂ’ Children (Spring 2009) (N=23) Description of Interviewees Table 3 provides a summary of selected ch aracteristics of the interviewees. The average age of mothers in the sample was 40.9 years. The number of years mothers had lived in the U.S. ranged from 4 to 42 years, with a mean of 16.5 years. The number of years they had lived in thei r native country before immigr ating to the United States ranged from one year to 32 years with a mean of 22.7 years. All of the mothers had at least a four-year college degr ee, four of them had Mast erÂ’s degrees and one had a professional degree. Eighty-three percent of th e participants reporte d that their highest Subject N % Math A 19 82 B 4 17 Reading/Language Arts A 21 91 B 11 47 Science A 20 86 B 3 13
72 educational level was completed in the U.S. Despite high levels of education, seven of the mothers were stay at home mothers.
73 Table 3 Characteristics of Interviewees (N=12) Characteristic N % Age (in years) 31-40 5 41 41-50 7 58 Religion Hindu 11 91 Muslim 1 8 State of Origin Andhra Pradesh 4 33 Assam 1 8 Gujarat 1 8 Karnataka 1 8 Maharashtra 3 25 Tamil Nadu 2 16 Immigration Status Permanent Resident 2 91 U.S. Citizen 10 1 Number of Years Lived in U.S. 1 Â– 5 1 8 6 Â– 10 1 8 11 Â– 15 4 33 16 Â– 20 4 33 21 and above 2 16 Number of Years Lived in India 1 Â– 10 1 8 11 -20 1 8 21 Â– 30 9 75 30 Â– 40 1 8 Highest Education Level Attained BachelorÂ’s degree 7 58 MasterÂ’s degree 4 33 Professional degree (M.D., L.L.B) 1 8
74 Participant Descriptions Each of the 12 mothers w ho participated in this study is described below. Pseudonyms are used to protect the mothersÂ’ identities. Anjali. Anjali is from the Tamil ethnic group, wh ich originates in southern India, but was raised in western India. Anjali is very active in the Indian community, participating in fundraisers and cultural events for one of the local temples and one of the cultural associations. In addition, she indicated that her children participat ed in a variety of cultural activities in the cityÂ’s Indian community. Anumita. Anumita is from a small city in th e southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Anumita said that she is not a part of any cultural associa tions, but that she has a large group of friends from the Indian co mmunity and that her child participates in many cultural activities in the Indian community. Chapala. Chapala is from Karnataka, a state in southern India. Chapala does not belong to any cultural associati ons and does most of her soci alizing with members of the Indian community by interacting with Indian families in her neighborhood. She indicated that her children participate in a cultural or ganization that teaches Indian children about Indian cultures and Hindu traditions. Meenakshi. Meenakshi was one of the youngest mothers in the sample. She is from a large cosmopolitan city in the western coastal state of Maharashtra. Meenakshi is very involved in a cultural organization in th e city relating to her home state and said her children participate in cu ltural activities related to this organization. Neha. Neha is from Andhra Pradesh, a southe rn Indian state. Like Chapala, Neha indicated that she and her children part icipate in an organization that teaches them
75 about Indian culture. Sudha is not a member of any cultural associa tions but her friends were drawn from the Indian community. Noor. Noor was the only Muslim member of the sample. She is from the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Noor reported that she was involved in her mosque, and engaged in a lot of social activities with other Muslim and non-Mu slim women in the Indian community. Radha. Radha is from the southern Indian st ate of Tamil Nadu. She indicated that she attends cultural functions in the Indian community as often as she can. Radha noted that her child participated in cultural activities in the Indian community. Rani. Rani is from Assam, a state in northeas tern India. Rani said that she does not participate in many cultural activities in th e larger Indian community in her city, but did go to the temple for major holidays. Ho wever, her children did participate in some cultural activities in the Indian community. Reshmi. Reshmi is from a large city in Mahara shtra. Reshmi indicated that she is not a member of any cultural associations, but attends one of the Hindu temples in the city regularly. She also repor ted that her close friends are drawn from the Indian community. Her children participate in a vari ety of activities in th e Indian community. Roshni. Roshni is from a large cosmopolitan ci ty in a southern state in India. Roshni stated that she attends cultural events in the Indian community and that her close friends are drawn from the Indian community. She also reported th at her child does not participate in cultural activities in th e Indian community, but attends them. Sudha. Sudha is from Andhra Pradesh, a state in southern India. Sudha is not a member of any cultural associ ations, but her friendship group is composed of other
76 mothers in the Indian communit y. She indicated that her children participate in cultural activities in the Indian community, specifi cally music and dance performances for festivals. Vidya. Vidya was born in a large cosmopolitan city in Maharashtra. She indicated that both she and he r husband are very involved in the Indian community in the city where they currently reside. She indicated that her child is also very involved in arts activities in the Indian community. Summary of Participants Overall, the sample was composed of Hindu families, with the exception of one Muslim family. Most of the participants in the study reported that they had lived in the U.S for several years but retained very close ties to India, often re turning once a year or every two years to visit family. Many of the mothers in the sample were stay-at-home mothers and indicated that they stayed at home in order to be there for their children. A few mothers were members of local Indian associations, but most were not. Many participated to some degree in cultural ev ents in the community, most often through attendance at the temple for festivals. Most of the participants reported that their children participated in cultural ac tivities in the community (e.g., performing in folk dances, taking classical dance classe s, and participating in Ballygokulam and Swadhyay ). Most participants had not experienced the K-12 or post-secondary education systems as students in the U.S. Interviewees had child ren at varying grade levels; but on average, their children were high sc hool and middle-school aged. Interview data obtained in this study were transcribed and analyzed relative to the three questions presented below. Patterns and trends are discussed be low; select verbatim
77 comments are included to illustrate specific beliefs or experiences identified in the analyses of the interview data. Question 1: What Role does Embodied Cultura l Capital Play in As ian Indian MothersÂ’ Engagement in Their ChildrenÂ’s Education? Bourdieu described embodied capital as residing in pers ons, that is, it rests in Â“culture and cultivationÂ” (B ourdieu, 1987, p. 48). Further, he argued that embodied capital is integrated into a person, and is his habitus his way of approaching the world, including schooling and educati on. Thus this question examin es the intervieweesÂ’ reports about their way of approaching schooling and education of their child ren as reflected in their beliefs and values about education and the origins of these beliefs. Analysis revealed that the beliefs about education that interviewees articulated reflected beliefs held by the larger Indian community. Furt hermore, mothersÂ’ responses about their activities connected to their childrenÂ’s schooling are examined to further illuminate the role embodied capital played in the mothersÂ’ engagement in their childrenÂ’s education. Analysis of interviewee responses in this area reveals that th e mothers in the study revered education, and that they felt it held mo re importance in their childrenÂ’s lives than anything else. Mothers believed that education ensures financial security and to a lesser extent that education is dependable and that education makes you a better person Mothers attributed their venera tion of education to various so urces, indicating that it was influenced by aspects of contemporary Indian society, the struggle against colonialism and to a lesser extent, indigenous educational traditions. Asked about their beliefs about their roles in their childrenÂ’s education as well as beliefs in the Indian community about the role of parents in their childrenÂ’s education,
78 mothersÂ’ responses centered on being active participants in their childrenÂ’ s education. Examination of mothersÂ’ responses about activities connected to their childrenÂ’s education in which they engaged indicated th at, in practice, being an active participant meant academic supplementing schoolbased involvement and frequent communication with teachers In particular, mothers reported that they and sometimes their husbands devoted large amounts of time to supplemen ting their childrenÂ’s elementary school curriculum. The engagement in academic supplementing appeared to stem from dissatisfaction with the American curriculum a nd mothersÂ’ belief that it was important for childrenÂ’s academic success to engage in small amounts of extra academic work on a daily basis and during the summers. Another aspect of mothersÂ’ beliefs about the role they should play in their childrenÂ’s education was the idea that, for Indian mothers, staying at home is important in order to best support childrenÂ’s educati on and development. Many of the mothers discussed this as a value presen t in the Indian community as well as a value to which they themselves subscribed. Beliefs about the Value of Education Examination of the interviewee responses regarding the value of education reveals a group of women who, without ex ception, deeply valued edu cation, noting that it is the key to security and achieving success in life. Three themes emerged from their discussion about their beliefs about the value of educat ion. Endorsement rates for these themes are reported in Table 4. All the mothers interviewed believed education ensu res financial security that it will provide for their childrenÂ’s fu ture; this seemed to stem partly from their socioeconomic background as middle clas s families in both India and the U.S., who
79 did not have large amounts of land or mone y to leave their children. AnjaliÂ’s words captured the mothersÂ’ perspective well in this regard; she describe d education as Â“the only wealth you can give your childrenÂ”. Moth ers (five) also expressed the belief that education is dependable that it is a form of security that cannot be taken from you. A number of mothers (five) also expressed the belief that education makes you a better person Table 4 Themes from Beliefs about the Value of Education Themes Endorsement Rate Education ensures financial security 100% Education is dependable 50% Education makes you a better person 41% n = 12 Education ensures financial security. Mothers noted that educ ation was the key to their childrenÂ’s future financial security, th at it would provide a d ecent standard of living for them or a Â“good lifeÂ” as expressed in ChapalaÂ’s words: Education, that will be the first prio rity, more than anything else because itÂ’s all about money. You get your edu cation, you can live a decent life. It ultimately just comes down to money. Radha indicated that education helps you to earn a living and is a more dependable way of earning a living than other methods. She said:
80 If you want to do anything with your life you need money and thatÂ’s just the bottom line and if you need to make that money you need to be educated. ThatÂ’s the only thing thatÂ’s going to get you there. Vidya explicitly expressed the belie f that education equals security: I strongly believe that yo u need an education. ItÂ’s security, thatÂ’s all it isÂ….when you have a good education you have a good job, especially in the market when things are getting tougher; the more equipped you are, hopefully, the more successful youÂ’ll be. Anjali expressed the view that as middle class families, education was the only form of wealth you can give your children. She said, Â“Education is the most important thing in life because itÂ’s th e only wealth that you can give your children.Â” Anumita stated, Â“I tell myÂ…kids you have to study; you donÂ’t have any property.Â” Education is dependable. Mothers also described education as something you could always depend on, that no one could take it away. They described it as something you could always fall back on in difficult circ umstances, something that could not be lost or taken away like money. Reshmi noted that she tells her children education confers knowledge which is something no one can take away. She said, Â“I am telling my kids always that knowledge has so much powerÂ…t his is the only one thing that nobody can take from you. This always remains in you.Â” Radha described her view that there were other careers, like those in entertainment that could provide a good living but that they are not secure. She said, Â“Â…you can be like Elvis Presley but those are all professions which go up and down. ItÂ’s not there for life, whereas if youÂ’re educated, th at stays with you for the rest of your life.Â”
81 Anjali indicated that her e ducation is a form of security no one can take away from her. She stated: That is one thing that nobody can take away from me. You might lose money, you might not be in a good state of health but education and knowledge, it goes with you. ItÂ’s very, very, very important. Chapala noted that education is something you can rely on in any circumstances and it helps to provide a decent life for future ge nerations. She stated, Â“If you want a decent life, you want a good life for your children, for your grandchildrenÂ….the one thing you can fall back on is education, no matter what happens and what situation youÂ’re in. Education makes you a better person. Although the mothers in the study believed that education was important to their childrenÂ’s future material securit y, five of them also expressed the belief that education makes you a better person, whether because it broadened your exposure to the world or ta ught you to distinguis h between right and wrong. Reshmi expressed the belief that, Â“If they [children] have a good education they can be good human being[s] too.Â” Radha expressed the hope that her daught er would become a good person because education teaches you values. She said: And I hope that she will be a good person because those are the things that educationÂ…teaches. [It] teach es you valuesÂ…besides giving you knowledge, it gives you an ability to di fferentiate between whatÂ’s right and whatÂ’s wrong. Roshni noted that education helps to t each children to make the right choices. She said, Â“I believe that edu cation is really importantÂ….kids have to be educated to be
82 able to make right and wrong choices in life. It helps them make those decisions better and it helps them get social skills.Â” Origins of Beliefs About the Value of Education Interviewees were asked about where they derived their beliefs about education as well as the sources from which they believe d the emphasis on education in the Indian community derived. Four themes emerged from their discussion: parental encouragement and support, Indian society, and the struggle against colonialism Endorsement rates for these themes are report ed in Table 5. Interviewees most often noted that they derived their beliefs about the value of education from the parental encouragement and support they had received through thei r lives for the pursuit of education, were influenced by particular features of Indian society, and the struggle against colonialism Though it was not discussed by a ma jority of participants it is important to note that two mothers also expressed the belief that indigenous educational tradition also influenced their beliefs and belief s in the larger Indian society about education. Table 5 Origins of Beliefs about the Value of Education Themes Endorsement Rate Parental support and encouragement 100% Indian society 41% Struggle against colonialism 33% n = 12
83 Parental encouragement and support. All of the mothers reported that their beliefs about the value of education stemmed partly from their families. Some told how their parents sacrificed so they could be educated. Chapala noted that her family was a middle class family that empha sized educational attainment: I am from a very middle class family and it was all about struggling and learning, and struggling and learni ng, and getting good grades. And you know, donÂ’t stop at just one degree. You donÂ’t want to beÂ…those typical girls who stop at just a degree or high school and then just get married and have children and settle down. Always study higher and higher. Reshmi expressed her belief that the em phasis on education in her family was handed down from generation to generation. She explained that, historically, her family worked the land and that each generation had made sacrifices in order for the next generation to transition from working th e land to working in a profession: Maybe this is from generation to gene ration because my fatherÂ’s father my [grandfather], we are [from a caste group that works the land] so we have landÂ….we were surviving from that. Bu t he [my grandfather] didnÂ’t want his son to be doing the same thing. He wanted to make sure his son went to college, so from then my dad learned to make sure [his children] went to college. Now I am thinking I want to make sure [of that]Â…so itÂ’s generation to generation. Asked from where she derived her beliefs a bout education, Neha said that her parents were the main source. She noted that her father did not have a lot of education but
84 worked very hard to ensure that she and he r brothers would be able to obtain college degrees: My dad worked so hard, he has hi s own business, he did everything independently. He worked so hard to get the house, to st art his business. He did maybe 10 [10th grade], stopped at that. I have three brothers, he didnÂ’t want me or my br others involved in the business because he knows how hard it is. So he wanted to educat e us very well so he earned a lot of money and he took some credits [loans] from outside. So he suffered a lot with that, the intere st and everything. Asked if her father emphasized her education less since she was a girl, Neha stated that her father had actually wanted very badly for her to pursue an engineering degree. However, pursuing an engineering degree woul d have required her to study away from home and live in a hostel and she was reluct ant to do that, so sh e pursued a degree in another area instead. Indian society According to some of the mother s (five), another important source of the strong emphasis on education was the nature of Indian society. Interviewees attributed the strong emphasis on educati on to the particular combination of circumstances that characteri ze India, that is overpopulati on, the absolute necessity for education to a good standard of living in India, and the hi gh level of competition for a limited number of places at good schools, all of which combined to shape the need for children to achieve at very high levels, acad emically. Asked about why she thought there was a strong emphasis on education in Indian society, Meenakshi said:
85 Basically I think because [IndiaÂ’s] still a developing country. Places like U.S. and Australia, theyÂ’re develope d countries, so people already are getting things; they take it for grante d. TheyÂ’ll get a house, theyÂ’ll get a car. But in India people are still gett ing there, so if you donÂ’t have [an] education youÂ’re not going to get a good job and have a good life. I think thatÂ’s basically the underlying though t of everybody, if you educate the kids we can come abroad and work here. We have the skill set so obviously youÂ’ll get that kind of money. In India, anybody can survive, even if youÂ’re not educated. But then the kind of life youÂ’ll get is totally different than if youÂ’re educated. Asked about the strong emphasis on edu cation in Indian society, Chapala attributed it to, Â“the living conditions, the job prospectsÂ… all the elite are very well educated.Â” Vidya, who discussed the long history of indigenous educational traditions in India, also noted that overpopulation in I ndia had strengthened the focus on education. She said, Â“Over time I guess the populati on was so high and there was so much competitiveness thatÂ…if you wanted to succeed, you needed to be more educated than the next person.Â” Sudha noted that the high le vel of competition in India around academics means that if she lived there, she would have to be more aggressi ve about her childrenÂ’s education: Because there is so much competitio n there [in India], everybody will get 100 out of 100. [And] if somebody is ge tting a little less than 100 they donÂ’t get seats in good schools. So ther e weÂ’d be pushing a lot but here [itÂ’s] calm and easy going.
86 Many of the mothers interviewed described th eir childhood in India as including rigorous study schedules that included long days of school with extra tuitions, out of school academic lessons that many Indian students, pa rticularly those from middle class families take to prepare for the rigorous college entran ce examinations in India. However, they did not describe these study schedules in negativ e or critical terms; instead, they appeared to believe that these schedules were quite normal and acceptable for children. Neha, for instance, described her rigorous school schedule that included the extra tuitions that her parents paid for, and how during examina tion periods her parents woke her and her siblings early in the morning to study: Tuitions, yes, morning weÂ’d go [at] ei ght oÂ’clock [at night] and weÂ’d come back at five or six oÂ’clock. Again weÂ’d go to tuitions; we came back at eight. So weÂ’d do homework and tuitions. Exam times they made us wake up at five oÂ’clock, four oÂ’clock, early mo rning; theyÂ’d sit with us, make us read for two hours, and weÂ’d go to school. Meenakshi contrasted her childrenÂ’s school experience to her own: We didnÂ’t have summers like these b ecause we already had more studies than kids here. These kids donÂ’t even study 50% of what we used to study in India. India is totally different...w e had tests right from kindergarten, and proper tests, not just fun te sts. We were doing addition and subtraction in kindergarten. In fi rst grade we were doing multiplication tablesÂ…theyÂ’re big on math and science there. Struggle against colonialism Four of the mothers interviewed discussed the struggle against colonialism as a signifi cant contributor to the strong emphasis on
87 education in Indian society. The mothers st ated that the lesson of independence for Indians was that if you were educated you c ould successfully advocate for your rights. Roshni expressed her belief that prior to in dependence, India had been, Â“Â…more of the underdog, male-oriented, uneducated societyÂ” and change came about partly because of education and that, Â“Â…what our generation of kids at least realized [is] that education is what is important.Â” Noor described her view about what Indians learned about the value of education from their struggle for independence: The Indian attitude [is], they think th at education is more important. The reason is [that] India had slavery beforeÂ…you know the British came and rural Indians, they were not educat ed, they were not able to defend themselves at that time. When the educated people came like Mahatma Gandhi and other people, they fought for their country so then the [education] came. Until then you know how India was, it was ruled by the British, and it was behind. So, from that time itÂ’s an Indian mentality that you have to get educatedÂ….That is the main reason why people always think, Â“We need to get educated, otherwise people will cheat us.Â” Radha said she felt that the struggle against colonialism taught Indians that they had to become educated so they could be equal to the colonizers, that education was the great equalizer that would increase oneÂ’s st atus regardless of skin color. You know [for] generationsÂ…I thinkÂ…we were a very repressed and suppressed community fromÂ…British sl avery and we always thought that just because the Britisher [ sic ] knows how to speak English and heÂ’s fairskinned, thatÂ’s what we need to achie ve. So most of us even if youÂ’re a
88 little bit darker skinned and you donÂ’t speak the language youÂ’reÂ…one rung lower. But if you are dark skinned and youÂ’re a professor then people look up to you and the way [you] look sort of goes out of the picture. Â“Wow, heÂ’s so good and he speaks so well.Â” So, I think over the years parents started te lling their children if you can read the book and speak like your average white sahib [Hindi word meaning sir, often used during colonial times to describe Bri tish males] then youÂ’re good. So then gradually that became [that] education was the way to go. She went on to note that Mahatma Gandhi by virtue of having gone abroad and studied was able to meet the colonizers on an equa l basis and demand IndiaÂ’s independence. We recognize that when Mahatma Ga ndhi went abroad and studied and came back and he was a lawyer, everybody looked up to him because he could speak well and he coul d sit at the same table and talk to his average white counterpart and say, Â“This is what I want and this is what I think we should do.Â” So everybody realized that if you could go to college and get yourself to that level where you coul d speak that way, then people would respect you. Indigenous educational traditions. Two of the Hindu mothers in the sample, Radha and Vidya, expressed the view that they felt the Gurukul tradition in India, which was a system of education dating back thous ands of years and derived from the Vedic scriptures (ancient Sanskrit writings that are foundational to Hinduism), had shaped the Indian reverence for education. Vidya had recently begun to study Indian educational
89 traditions and expressed that she felt that th e emphasis on education in Indian society originated in ancient traditions described in the Vedic scriptures. She said: If you go back thousands of years, it goes back to the Hindu scriptures, the Vedas where education is extremely important. And throughout it constantly says education and learning are a very, very important part of the Hindu culture and IÂ’m talking ab out 4000 years ago or so, in that range. Every child was expected to go and live at a guruÂ’s [teacherÂ’s] house. The typical translation for the word guru is one who dispels darkness. Every child, whether male or female, was expected to go and stay with their teacher for a peri od of several years and this was considered their schooling. This was an essential part of life so itÂ’s been handed down for 4000, 5000, maybe even more years. Radha described her understanding of the Gurukul tradition, noting that it has probably shaped the Indian perception of teachers as very esteemed figures. She said: Well, the Hindu religion and scriptures a lot of it was passed on by word of mouth and a lot of pla ces [had] what we call the Gurukul system, basically where the child lived with the teacher. [Traditionally the child] did everything for the teacher, starti ng from cooking and cleaning. And they did that for the teacher and in return the teacher taught them...and in return they cleaned up and took care of the guruÂ’s needsÂ….You know, in our country the teacher is almost ak in to god, you learn from them and you give back to them what you can. In India you always stand up and talk to
90 the teacher. You canÂ’t say, Â“Hey, IÂ’v e got a question,Â” and things like that. All of the mothers were asked if they received any messages about education from their religion. Most moth ers interviewed did not believ e that this strong emphasis on education came from their religious beliefs. The mothers frankly related to the interviewer that they were not sure what th eir religion taught about education. Noor noted that she was not sure what the Koran taught about education because she was not that knowledgeable about what it said. She sai d, Â“See I read [the] Koran, but I do not know the full meaning of [the] KoranÂ…I myself donÂ’ t know what exactly is there in [the] Koran, whether itÂ’s telling anyt hing about education or not.Â” Reshmi said that she belie ved religion taught about morals and values and didnÂ’t really address education. She said, Â“In re ligion, they are teachi ng us about religious [things]; they donÂ’t teach us about education. They teach us about morals, what kind of morals you should have in life.Â” Beliefs About Parent Role Interviewees were asked about what they believed a parentÂ’s role in their childrenÂ’s education should be as well as what they perceived th e belief to be in the larger Indian community with regard to what a pare ntÂ’s role should be. Two major themes and three subthemes emerged from their respons es. (Themes and subthemes for the beliefs about the parent role and corresponding endorse ment rates are shown in Table 6.). The first theme that emerged` in this area was active participants with the subthemes of academic supplementing school-based involvement and frequent communication with teachers The second theme that emerged was the importance of staying home Given
91 the mothersÂ’ belief that education was critical to ensuring their childrenÂ’s futures, it is perhaps not surprising that almost all the mo thers stated that it was their belief that parents should be very involve d in their childrenÂ’ s education, engaging in activities like constant monitoring of their childrenÂ’s progress, and helping them with academic areas in which they are weak. Thus, all mothers believed they should be active participants in their childrenÂ’s education. The mothers reported that the belief about being an active participant in their childrenÂ’s education wa s one that was widely held by most Indian parents. Analysis of interv ieweesÂ’ responses about their role beliefs as well as the activities in which they engage d to support their childrenÂ’s ed ucation indicate that, for the mothers, being an active participant was characterized by three subthemes ( academic supplementing, school-based involvement (e.g., PTA, volunteering in the classroom, etc.) and frequent communication with teachers ). A number of interviewees (seven) in the study also explicitly stated that they believed that for mothers to play an ac tive role in their childrenÂ’s education, staying at home is important The mothers stated that stayi ng home allows them to, among other things, give their children a strong foundati on in life and work with them on academic concepts. As was the case for mothersÂ’ beliefs about the need to play an active role in their childrenÂ’s education, mothers reported th at beliefs about the importance of mothers staying home were widely held in the Indian community at large. Finally, two mothers disagreed with what form parentsÂ’ participati on in their childrenÂ’s education should take. This is discussed below.
92 Table 6 Themes from Beliefs about Parent Role Themes Endorsement Rate Active participants 100% Academic supplementing 91% School-based involvement 91% Frequent communication with Teachers 83% Importance of staying home 58% n = 12 Active participants. Asked about the role they belie ved they should play in their childrenÂ’s education, all mother s expressed the belief that parents should play a very active role. Anjali discussed he r belief that parents should be very involved and that, for her, this meant being aware of how a child was performing in school and if that child had any difficulties, it was necessary for the parent to find a way to address these difficulties. She said: [Parents] have to be very involved, very involved. Try to find out what is the weakness of their child. If a child is struggling in a particular subject, try to make him more comfortabl e by get[ting] him extra help. Sudha noted that she felt it is her responsibility to closely monitor how her children are doing with their school work. She said, Â“I ha ve toÂ…see what theyÂ’re doing, what theyÂ’re not doingÂ….If I sit and watch TV and theyÂ’re doing their own thing, they might not finish all their work and theyÂ’ll get bad grades.Â” Roshni said that she feels parent s should care and be involved:
93 In general, I think parents shoul d care more, listen more, because sometimes itÂ’s not just th e ability to study but ther e are some other factors that are bothering them. And if parent s can help in solving those other issues, the children can concentrat e on education and go forward. Noor explained how she wanted her children to achieve at a high level so she sat and worked with them on academic concepts when they were young. She said, Â“I want my kids always to be the best. I want my kids to learn everything a nd be good in everything, always first. ThatÂ’s the reas on I always sat and taught them.Â” MothersÂ’ beliefs about playing an activ e role in their ch ildrenÂ’s education appeared to be reflected in their activities in three particular areas, academic supplementing school-based involvement and frequent communication with teachers Academic supplementing. Examination of mothersÂ’ re sponses about the kinds of activities in which they engage d to support their childrenÂ’s ed ucation showed that almost all of them engaged in extensive amounts of academic supplementing particularly of the elementary school curriculum, either by using tutoring servic es like Kumon or developing their own academic materials. Interestingly, this academic supplementing appeared to be driven larg ely by their perceptions of the American elementary school curriculum as lacking academic rigor as well as their belief that chil drenÂ’s minds benefit from small amounts of extra acad emic work on a daily basis. Reasons for Academic Supplementing Asked if their mothers had spent time engaged in academic supplementing with them as children in India, most of the moth ers in the sample said they had not. They stated that they engaged in this supplementi ng because of perceptions they held about the
94 American elementary school curriculum, that it wasted valuable learning time and failed to teach important material. Many mothers (8 of the mothers interviewed) shared the opinion that the American elementary school curriculum failed to adequately prepare students for the sudden Â“jumpÂ” in the curricu lum that takes place on transition to middle school and then high school. Anjali, for in stance, explained that many Indian parents supplemented their childrenÂ’s American elementary education at home because much valuable learning time was wasted. In her opinion, because of this, Indian children, in comparison to some American children, strugg led less with the curriculum in middle and high school. She explained: Up to the elementary level or I wo uld say even the middle school level, the standard of education compared to India is very, very poor and what is happening is, IÂ’m talking about Florida, they are judging all the children at the same level and they feel that these children shoul d not be bothered with more academic stuff because they wonÂ’t be able to handle itÂ….I cannot imagine a fifth grader coming ho meÂ…saying that he hardly has any homework or he just has five minutes of work. So much time is wasted at the elementary level. Middle school they are given a little bit and then suddenly in high school ev erythingÂ…gets very inte nse. But what happens is, Indian kids, we educate them at home because hardly anything is done in school, so Indian kids are able to handle the pressure of middle and high school much better compared to the ot hers, and then going on to college, the college drop out rates also are mu ch lower for Asian kids. That is what I have noticed.
95 Reshmi shared the view that a lot of time was wasted in elementary school in the U.S., and the curriculum suddenly became mu ch more difficult in high school, resulting in AmericaÂ’s problems with a hi gh drop out rate. She said: InÂ…American elementary school[s] they donÂ’t do anything, then in middle school they do little bit, and then in high school they have so much. ThatÂ’s why they have so many drop outs in high school becauseÂ…[kids] think they canÂ’t manage it; thatÂ’s why they donÂ’t go to college. I say [the] fundamental base should be stronger th en they [wouldnÂ’t] have a problem. But in elementary they play too much ; then suddenly everything comes so fast [and] they canÂ’t grasp so much. ThatÂ’s why kids are going to school; they want to learn something, so you shouldnÂ’t feel like they will be stressed out because at a young age thei r brain is working very well, they can learn however much you give them because they have so much grasping power. So we shouldnÂ’t thi nk, Â“Oh, this is their playing timeÂ”Â… we should teach [them]. Chapala expressed her view that children do little in elementary school and then the curriculum increases dramatica lly in middle school, saying: HereÂ…thereÂ’s nothing at all for elem entary and then all of a sudden thereÂ’s this big push that you get in middle school. I donÂ’t know how the kids deal with it. You know it has to be gradualÂ…I think that the kids at this age, elementary school are like sponges they absorb a lot more so you need to give them more and more. You donÂ’t have to wait for them to playÂ…and then thrust everything else in their faces when they come to
96 middle school. TheyÂ’re in absolute shockÂ…youÂ’ve been playing all this while and then suddenly itÂ’s like st udy, study, study, study. I donÂ’t think that works. Rani, who worked as an elementary school teacher, shared her view that there were certain really important concepts (e.g., obtaining fluency in ba sic math facts) and subjects (e.g., math and scie nce) that were not focused on enough in the elementary school curriculum. She stated that she fe lt that elementary schools used too much valuable instructional time on t eaching about things like holidays: In India we had things like rote me morization of multiplication tables, for instance. After you understood the con cept, you were expected to learn them. Whereas, over here I find that the emphasis is not thereÂ….And what I find [is] every holiday is celebrated in schoolÂ….It takes time away from teaching core courses. NoorÂ’s discussion of how she supplemente d her sonÂ’s school work reflects her dissatisfaction with the elementa ry curriculum as well as a desire to have her sons be more advanced academically. She said: I was not satisfied with what they were doing so I always made them do more at homeÂ…I used to get books from Barnes & Noble, a grade ahead of what they were doing and make th em practice at home. So always I would teach them at home one grad e ahead. Or, IÂ’d go to math.com or something like that and print out a lo t of worksheets and make them do at home so that they were always ahead one grade of whatever they were
97 doing. So that way when they go[t] to middle school they [were] already ahead, they [were] in advanced honors. Mothers also articulated that it benefited their childrenÂ’s cognitive development if they were engaged in some fo rm of daily academic work in addition to school and that during the summers it was particularly importa nt that children con tinue to learn. Neha described her husbandÂ’s beliefs on this topic. She said, Â“My husband gives more importance to studiesÂ….ItÂ’s his belief that every day they [our children] have to spend some time, at least two hours, studying so they wonÂ’t be last in [their] subjects. Anumita was asked why she thought that it was important for her children to, on a daily basis, do small amounts of academic work in addition to what they did in school. She explained that she felt that studying is a ha bit that must be developed over time. She said, Â“If you want them to do well in their e ducation, they have to slowly develop that habit of how to study.Â” Sudha articulated that she and her husba nd gave her children writing and math to practice in the summer because they felt they w ould forget what they learned in school if they didnÂ’t do some practice in the summer. She said, Â“We give them some writing or some math. Otherwise theyÂ’ll just forget everything. Maybe one day in a week they have to do some work, at least. Meenakshi discussed the importance of he r children engaging in academic work during the summer, saying that the brain gets Â“slackÂ” when, as in the summers, children take too long a break from studying. She said: Because if you donÂ’t study then the brain gets in [a] slack mode and then when school starts by the time your brain awakens itÂ’s already three
98 months past. I think itÂ’s important that you keep your brain occupied, learn something new. A couple of mothers also stated that they supplemented their child renÂ’s school work in order that their children stay one step ahead of the curriculum. Roshni, for instance, noted that she supplemented her sonÂ’s school work using books one grade higher so that he would have confidence in the material. Forms of Academic Supplementing All but one mother interviewed engaged in supplementing their childrenÂ’s school curriculum, particularly at the elementary level. Academic supplementing took various forms including outside tutoring services and materials mothers (and in some cases their husbands) found online or developed themselves Many of the mothers in the sample utilized Kumon (a tutoring approach origina lly developed for math by a Japanese math teacher and very popular among Asian American parents) at one point or another. Meenakshi noted that, previously in the summ ers, her son was enrolled in Kumon, even though he disliked it. She said: Take Kumon, for example,Â….everyday th ey have to do those sheets and so they donÂ’t do anything hard for summer, but they have to do it [the Kumon worksheets] but my son he r eally hates itÂ….ThatÂ’s why I reduce the papers, like one or two papers e ach day, still he doesnÂ’t like it. Anumita noted that she sent her son to Kumon to help build his con centration. She said: K____went to Kumon so when he was sm all for a lack of concentration so [he went] to bring up his concentration. He did it for five years. Later, when he was in seventh grade, he stopped.
99 Noor noted that she didnÂ’t feel Kumon was necessary if parents were willing to sit and teach their children. She said: [Indian parents] take their kids to di fferent classes like Kumon but I didnÂ’t take them [her children]. I just taugh t them at home. If you sit with your child and teach them, thatÂ’s more than enough; all you need to do is spend some time with the kids, at least one hour a day. Chapala discussed how she searched the Inte rnet and used workbooks she purchased and created her own math problems to supplement what her children learned in school. She said: I find a lot of resources on the comp uterÂ….I get a lot of extra books. My husband and I, we get books from SamÂ’s Club, workbooks. I review with them [her children]Â…and if I know [the yÂ’re] struggling with a concept, I create my own problems. Radha noted that her child had an aca demic program during the summer. She said she took advantage of one of the Stat e of FloridaÂ’s school choice options, Florida Virtual School (FLVS) to ensu re that her child engaged in some form of academic work during the summer. She said: We are fairly strict with her. Sh eÂ’s got a summer program for education even while sheÂ’s on summer break she needs to do an hour or couple of hours of [work] before she does a nything else. She [now] does Florida Virtual School on the computer so thatÂ’s a couple hours every morning.
100 Neha noted that, while her child spends quite a bit of time playing in the summers each day, he must spend a little time learning about a topic her husband selects. She explained: In the summer, my husband gives him a topic he has to learn in one week, like every day a little bitÂ….ThatÂ’s where my son learned about capitals; in one summer he learned about all th e capitals, India and all the world capitals. And the next summer he lear ned about presidentÂ’s names and the biograph[ies] of presidents. So, thatÂ’s how he spends [his] time, two hours [each day] he spends on studies. The remaining time he can play a game cube or whatever. Anjali noted that once Indian pa rents realized that the standa rd of education was not what it had been in India, they enrolled their children in a multitude of academic activities (e.g., spelling bee classes, Kumon) to he lp their development. She said: We try to do after school educati onal activities like sending them for Vidyalaya [Sanskrit word meaning Â“place of learningÂ”] and Sunday school and we have geography bees, national spelling bee classes on the weekends for a group of kids andÂ…you know they donÂ’t have to go for the competitions and win, those things I donÂ’t believe in. But at least get educated and use your time more wisely. The mothers reported that some members of the Indian community had developed two sets of academic classes that it offered to students, one was an SAT preparation class offered on Saturdays at a local state university. The other was more extensive, a series of academic classes held at the la rgest Hindu temple in the city. These classes were called
101 Vidyalaya and included English and math classes fo r elementary, middle, and high school students. Anjali described them thus: There are a couple of volunteers, profe ssionals, a few of them are doctors, a few of them are software engineers; some are teachers. They all get together and theyÂ…have cl asses from first grade to twelfth grade. A few of the university professors are also involved [in] traini ng kids for SATs. And they all meet every Sunday from 9-1 and then at one oÂ’clock they have a potluck lunch. The researcher reviewed the website of the Hindu temple to which Anjali referred and found that the Vidyalaya classes Anjali described did exist. Interestingly, the only mother who had uti lized these classes for her children was Anjali. All of the mothers we re aware of these resources, bu t none had yet utilized them. Radha said that she planned to enroll her child in these classes when she entered 8th grade. Meenakshi said that she felt she did enough with her ch ildren and that those classes were for working parents. She sa id, Â“I do enough, I think thatÂ’sÂ…more for the parents who donÂ’t have time to get involved with the kids, working parentsÂ…but since IÂ’m doing so much with my kids I donÂ’t want them studying on the weekends.Â” With regard to academic supplementing, it is important to high light the views of Vidya. She was a notable exception to the other mothers in the sample. She frankly stated that she did not believe in suppleme nting what the school was teaching and that children could do well without any academic supplementing. She shared that she felt Indian parents were Â“pushyÂ” and Â“competitiveÂ” for supplementing their childrenÂ’s
102 education. In response to a question about whether she supplemented her daughterÂ’s school curriculum with outside material, she said: No, IÂ’m opposed to doing those kinds of things. I find Indian parents to be very competitive and pushy. In the end, the kids turn out just fine. I think just because the kids arenÂ’t doing one hundred problems of multiplication every five minutes like the kidsÂ’ pare nts did in India doesnÂ’t mean that [itÂ’s the] wrong method of education. A nd I think half of the parents have that idea that itÂ’s [teaching in Am erican schools] the wrong method of education, that the only way to go is IB. ItÂ’s a matter of personal opinion. I think you go through the school system; you follow what they say and if you want to do something extra, do it But itÂ’s not lik e just because you donÂ’t do it youÂ’re stupid. School-based involvement. As part of their active participation in their childrenÂ’s education, 11 of the mothers in the study repor ted that they engaged in various forms of school-based involvement. However, with re gard to PTA (Parent Teacher Association) membership, only three mothers in the sample reported that they were members. Anjali was a member and paid dues, but did not atte nd meetings. Rani was extensively involved in her childrenÂ’s school when they were young and she was a member of the PTA. She noted that she chose to get involved because she thought it was important to learn more about the American school system. Interest ingly, RaniÂ’s school-based involvement eventually led her to her present career as a teacher. She said: After they [her children] were born, when they started going to school, I felt the need to learn more, because this was very important to me. So,
103 because it was so important to me and they were going to school and I didnÂ’t know anything about the system I went and volunteered. I was a volunteer parent since my daughter was in kindergarten. I was a PTA member, did everything that PTA does and got to know the system very well. And after that, the principal of the school I was in, she said, Â“Well, why donÂ’t you go into it?Â”Â….ThatÂ’ s how I became a teacher. Reshmi stated that she had wanted to join the PTA but that she was afraid she would not be able to contribute in the wa y that was expected. She said: I didnÂ’t go in the PTAÂ…because I didnÂ’t know if I could do itÂ…. Whatever I do I like to give 100 perc ent, I like to be my best. I was thinking I might not meet their expectat ion because I am not raised here. I donÂ’t know what I have to do. So thatÂ’s why I never went into it. I will go to a meeting or something but st ill I donÂ’t know what they do. All of the mothers in the sample, with th e exception of Anumita reported that they engaged in some kind of school-based invol vement. This consisted of volunteering wherever they were needed, lik e helping students with math as in ReshmiÂ’s case. Reshmi noted that when she first volunteered in her childrenÂ’s school she c ould only help with math because of the language barrier. She said: In the beginningÂ…they put me in the front desk and I was teaching whoever had a problem with math becau se that was the only thing I could teach because of my language barrier. Mothers engaged in various activities incl uding volunteering in the classroom, as in the case of Sudha who said, Â“I used to go and help with them, with the kidsÂ’ homework
104 and Friday folders.Â” Roshni noted that she re placed a sick member of the cafeteria staff for a few hours a day for a few months, while MeenakshiÂ’s applied the skills she previously used in her career to help out in the schoolÂ’s media center. While mothers who stayed home spent more time engaged in school-based activities, even those who worked indicated th at they still engaged in school-based forms of involvement. Roshni noted that when she was working, she made arrangements with her supervisor to take time off so she could be involved in her childÂ’s school. She said, Â“Even when I worked, it was a matter of disc ussing with my manager, taking a couple of hours off, doing it and then coming back and finishing my work.Â” Radha, who works in the medical field, engaged in the least amount of schoolbased involvement, probably due to the nature of her employment. When asked about the types of school-based activi ties in which she engaged, Radha indicated that she would have liked to be more involved in her childÂ’s school and that she di d what she could. She stated: Not much at all. I would love t o, but I donÂ’t have the time for that basically. I try to. The most I do fo r PTA is buy cupcakes and [donate] them. A couple of times IÂ’ve been to the school and talked to students [for the] Great American Teach-In about my profession, showing pictures and stuff. Half of the mothers interviewed indicated that they found it important to help out at the school to monitor what was happening. Neha, expressed this view: Â“I like to helpÂ…I like to volunteer thereÂ…when you vol unteer also you know what your kids are doing, whatÂ’s going on in the schoolÂ”. Chapal a supported this sentiment; her comments
105 reflect her belief that by being present at the schools she co uld protect her children from bullying by monitoring their inte ractions with other children and conveying to the other children that she was a parent they couldnÂ’t Â“messÂ” with. She said: Every now and then, I go and help out with the classroomÂ…if thereÂ’s something going on in the media cente r I pitch in for thatÂ….Once in a while I go to the cafeteria just [to] check on how theyÂ’re doingÂ…I want the other kids to know that I am there for the children and they canÂ’t mess with me, so thatÂ’s a reason I want to go thereÂ…and then I want to see what [theyÂ’re] doing [at] lunchtime, whet her [theyÂ’re] really eating or how [theyÂ’re] interacting with the rest of the class. In contrast to many of the other mother s, Vidya disagreed with the idea of monitoring what the school was doing. Vidya did engage in school-based involvement, but not to monitor the school. She articulated that she felt some I ndian parents engaged in Â“overkillÂ” and that a sc hool system existed and one should let the teachers do their jobs. Asked how important she felt sc hool-based involvement was, she said: You know I think itÂ’s important to so me extent but I think that overkill also is a problem. IÂ’ve seen some Indian parents who literally go and stand behind the teacher to ensure that the teacher is doing things right. I think thatÂ’s not right. I think you get involved, you be nice, you go and talk to the teacher once in a while, something has to be done, okay do it; but I donÂ’t think you need to do anything more than that. I mean they know what theyÂ’re doing. ThereÂ’s an educational system, there are
106 teachers, you get involved to help, but you donÂ’t get involved to be a nuisance. Anumita was the exception to the other mothers with regard to engagement in school-based involvement. Originally, Anumita didnÂ’t pursue this form of involvement because she had a young child at home, but as time went on, she didnÂ’t find it necessary. She noted that while she hears from other pare nts that their children ask them to come and volunteer or go on field trips, her children have never asked and sheÂ’s never done it. She said: No, I donÂ’t volunteer. I donÂ’t go on the fi eld trips. My son even today doesnÂ’t ask. Some children theyÂ’ll ask, Â“Mom, can you come with me, please Mom can you volunteer?Â” My kids donÂ’t ask. IÂ’ll ask, Â“Do you want me to come?Â” TheyÂ’ll say, Â“No, that Â’s fine.Â” Both of them. I didnÂ’t go with both of them on any field trips. They donÂ’t ask. Frequent communication with teachers. Almost all mothers (10) in the study articulated that they constantly communicated with their childrenÂ’s teachers, usually to monitor their childrenÂ’s academic and behavior al progress. In their communications with teachers, mothers appeared to be focused on learning about any areas of academic weakness or problem behaviors so they coul d act quickly to addr ess these issues. Reshmi described the kinds of things she talks about with her childrenÂ’s teachers. She said: Â…if they are doing the right thing, if th ey are doing good in class, if I have to do something more at home. Also if they are participating in everything and if they are in trouble or are they talking in class.Â”
107 Sudha noted that she did not wait for progress report s to communicate with her childrenÂ’s middle school teachers, but that she contacted them to check on, Â“Â…how the kids behave in school, what kind of books theyÂ’ll read, what theyÂ’ll do.Â” Asked what types of issues she typically talks to her childÂ’s teachers about, Anjali said she talks to teachers to find out if ther e are any areas in whic h her son is struggling so that she can get him the help needed. She said: If there are any issues, like if heÂ’s w eak in any particular subject, letÂ’s say writing. Then I communicate to the teach er and find out how we can help him excel or at least be more comfor table in writing. So those types of issues. Other than that if there are any behavior issues and the teacher needs to talk to me then I assure her that, you know, I will make sure that those issues are taken care of at home. It is important to note that not all the mothers interviewed endorsed frequent communication with teachers. Two of the mo thers in the sample frankly reported that they rarely, if ever, contacte d their childrenÂ’s teac hers. Vidya said that she did not use the school districtÂ’s onl ine system to monitor her childÂ’s grades as she trusted her child. Moreover, asked if she ever contacted her ch ildÂ’s teachers to check up on progress, Vidya said that she did not do so. She explained that she felt that the teachers knew their work and that she did not need to constantly check in with them. In a ddition, since her child had always done well in school and she said sh e had never felt she needed to contact the teachers. They are the teachers; they know what theyÂ’re doing. If she had a problemÂ…if she was working and she was not getting good gradesÂ…I may
108 call the teacher to find out, Â“Hey, can you tell me why this is going on, what she needs to do to improve?Â” Bu t we havenÂ’t had that situation and I donÂ’t see the purpose of questioning a teacher because theyÂ’re trained, theyÂ’re in that pos ition for a reason. Anumita, the mother who shared that she had never engaged in any form of school-based involvement, frankly expressed that she had very little c ontact with her childrenÂ’s teachers. She noted that she had gone to th e mandatory parent-teacher conferences at the elementary level, but that since they were not mandatory at the middle and high school levels, the only event she had attended thus far was the open house at the beginning of the year. She also explained that her childre n were doing well academically. She said: Until now, IÂ’ve never even been to school with my daughter. Parent teacher conference[s] at the elementary school, you have to go, but at the middle school and high school you donÂ’ t have to go. So I donÂ’t [have] contact with the teachers. I met the teachers for the open house, the school opening, thatÂ’s when I went to meet th e teachers, thatÂ’s it. TheyÂ’re fine, they get A grades and study, study and recently one got an award. Importance of staying home. In addition to their be liefs about being active participants in their childrenÂ’s education, some of the mothers (seven) clearly expressed the view that staying home is an important part of the role mothers play in their childrenÂ’s education and development. Mo thers articulated that they felt that by staying home they could focus on their children when they were young and give them a strong educational foundation. This was consonant with the moth ersÂ’ beliefs about the importance of education and the view that, as middle class parents, it was the mo st important legacy
109 they could give their children. Mothers often discussed the importance of a mother staying at home in relation to her career choices. Seve ral of the mothers (Anjali, Meenakshi, Chapala, Sudha, and Noor) indica ted that they were choosing to stay home presently or had chosen to do so at one time, in order to contribut e to their childrenÂ’s development. Anjali described how, with her husbandÂ’s input, she had chosen a profession that allowed her to be there fo r her children when they came home from school. She stated: When we got married, he [her husband] told me that he didnÂ’t want me to go out to work. He wanted me to be a homemaker and raise our children and be at home. And that was one th ing that was very important, that I need to be there when my child comes back from school. At the same time, I did not want to sit at home. And you know financially also I had to contribute to the family, so I deci ded that I would choose a profession where once they come back from school he [her husband] would take care of them for a couple of hours and then I would be there. Meenakshi explained how her desire to be give her childr en a strong foundation, particularly in education, had caused her to leave a career in the information technology field. She said: Right now IÂ’m not working. ItÂ’s infl uenced my not working decision so that I can spend time with the kids and their education. Because if they donÂ’t have a strong foundation thereÂ’s no point in me working now when they need me and then not working when they go off to college. IÂ’d rather wait and then work when they get old enough to do things on their own.
110 Neha noted that she was looking for part-time j obs that would allow her to be at home for her children to teach them when they came from school. She said: IÂ’m looking for part time jobs so I can come back and teach themÂ…and cook and do everything. In that way my husband is very supportive. So heÂ’ll help [with] all of the chores [but ] I have to take care of the family and he also works most of the time. So if both of us are working I donÂ’t want the kids to suffer Chapala noted that she did not want he r children to grow up spending large amounts of time in daycare as it appeared to her that the children learned things she might find inappropriate, did not occupy their mi nds, and seemed stressed out. She said: And I donÂ’t want my children grow ing up in theseÂ…daycares where theyÂ’re learning all kinds of things and theyÂ’re just sitting and doing nothing, you know not productive. And the kids are so stressed out. TheyÂ’re just so sad. If you go there ju st for an hour after school, one hour, two hours, thatÂ’s fine. [But] if you have to be there before school starts and after school closesÂ…you just co me home to eat and sleepÂ….I would never put my children in that. Chapala also noted that she felt it was important to be at home when her children returned from school. She said: Being there after school for the chil dren is very important for them, because you only get to spend four hour s after they get back from school. [And] you need to be sitting with th em, talking to them, reading them stories, reading, working with them, giving them extra work.
111 Noor described her husbandÂ’s view that it was more important for her to stay at home and take care of her childrenÂ’s education instead of working. Her response indicates that she would like to work, but that she is torn between this desire and her belief that she would not be able to balance work and adequately support her childrenÂ’s educational success. She said: My husband thought I should take care of the kids because thatÂ’s more important for their education and si nce my husband is earning well, he thought I should stay home and take care of the kids. I want to work even now. If I get a job I mayÂ…but you know [the] kids are more importantÂ….If I go to a job itÂ’s nine to five and my kids come home at Â…three oÂ’clock so how will I do it if I go to a job? Child care and this and that? They wonÂ’t go to the activities [t hat] IÂ’m taking them to. If I go to a job, IÂ’ll be tired, I will be too tired to ask them the questions, Â“Did you do this homework, that homework?Â”Â….And the concentration of the kids will be gone. It is important to note that, given the hi gh household incomes for the majority of the families in the study, it was probably not a fina ncial hardship for the mothers to make a decision to stay at home with their children. Community Beliefs About Active Participation MothersÂ’ beliefs that parents should be active participants in their childrenÂ’s education appeared to reflect a value presen t in the wider Indian community. Asked about what they thought were the expectations or beliefs surrounding what role Indian parents should play in their childrenÂ’s education, all mothers reported that they felt there was a
112 strong Indian value centering on parents activ ely participating in their childrenÂ’s education. Some mothers said th at this role extended to all parts of childrenÂ’s lives and throughout their lives while others spoke just in terms of education. AnjaliÂ’s comments appear to reflect a view that Indian parents play an active role in their childrenÂ’s lives until they have achieve d a secure position. She articulated this by contrasting the Indian view of the role parent s play in their childrenÂ’s lives to what she perceived as the typical Amer ican approach. She said: Basically Asians, especially Indians, are family oriented so we support our children throughout, even after they are married, af ter they have children Whereas in the American society, once they are eighteen, most of the children are out of the ho use. IÂ’m not generalizing, that is what I have seen so farÂ….We feel that, whatever it takes, we first have to educate them. Once they are qualified and once they are on their own they are better able to support themselves. Wher eas in the American society what happens is when there is no financia l or family support children have to survive and they quit college and they go for all these short term jobs, working at McDonaldÂ’s and againÂ…[thi s] could be just limited to a few families. Vidya, although she had grown up in the U.S., stated that she felt there were certain beliefs in the Indian community about the role parents shou ld play in th eir childrenÂ’s education. She expressed it thus Â“Every Indian parent puts their life for their childÂ’s education. So parents get up early to make su re that their kids study for an exam, parents follow what their kids are studying and ju st in general, ov ersee everythingÂ”.
113 Rani shared that she believed it was a very Indian belief that parents should be very involved in their childrenÂ’s education and their childrenÂ’s lives as a whole, even when children were adults. TheyÂ’re involved, theyÂ’re advising, theyÂ’re informing, theyÂ’re pushing, theyÂ’re doing everything they can to see that [the] children get a good education, are doing well in life. N obody wants to neglect that. Whatever the circumstances, theyÂ’re always invo lved, they donÂ’t just let go. We find it very hard to let go as a culture actu ally. Like, okay, at 18 youÂ’re out of the house and youÂ’re done, [itÂ’s] not like that. ItÂ’s part of the culture I guess. Because right from birth through death, itÂ’s st ructured like that. We grew up like that with our parents. I d onÂ’t think we are going to change it here because itÂ’s so much ingrained into you. Community Beliefs About the Role of Mothers Mothers also indicated that they believ ed that the larger Indian community subscribed to the belief that staying home allowed mothers to adequately contribute to their childrenÂ’s education a nd development. Asked about the thinking of women in the Indian community about the decision to stay home versus pursuing a career, Meenakshi explained that there was a str ong cultural value in the Indi an community that emphasized mothers spending time with their children to in culcate them with their familial values. She noted that Indian mothers were often c oncerned about the values that children might learn at a daycare. She said that, in India, there were mothers who worked but that they had family members they could trust to care for their children. She said:
114 I think for us because we have been brought up in a different way, in a different environment, we want to be around our kids as much as we can to instill our values in them. Because if we are working theyÂ’ll go to child care and we donÂ’t know what values they Â’ll pick up there. Definitely not our values, you know, because they ar e with other kids from other families, other homes, different cultures so you donÂ’t have control of their upbringing. [In India] I ha d friends with working pa rents and they turned out all right. But then they were in India, they had grandparents, uncles and aunts. Here we have no one. ItÂ’s just us. Radha noted that in India, traditionally wo men do not work and described the typical Indian view that children will stray from the correct path if mothers do not monitor them closely. Though Radha had a demanding career as a doctor, a husband who monitored her daughterÂ’s academics, and described herself as a Â“modern thinkerÂ”, her comments reflect that, in some ways, she still shares the traditional belief about the need for mothers to be engaged in their childrenÂ’s education. She said: In India, most women donÂ’t workÂ….and most of the time most people feel that when the mother is not there to keep a personal eye on the child, the child sort of veers from the steadfast path and I think thatÂ’s trueÂ….ThatÂ’s [the] general thinking and even though IÂ’m more [of] a modern thinker I still believe that some of those thi ngs hold true. If I were not there to supervise personally, whatever my husb and sees or not, I donÂ’t think that she would be quite in the line that we want her to be unless I put my nose in there and see whatÂ’s going on.
115 While, she believed in the importance of moth ers monitoring their childrenÂ’s education, Radha also noted that having a working mother could be beneficial to children. She explained that she felt her daughter took more responsibility because she had a working mother. I think if I were at home she would be a lot more spoon-fedÂ….Every day I wake her up but on the days she has assignments to complete IÂ’m surprised when I come to wake her up she is already sitting here on the computer and getting it done. So she has responsibility. She knows I have to also go to work and she cannot rely completely on me. But if I were a non-working, stay at home mother th en she would probably be a little slack about that because she knows that she can get help from me. Do MothersÂ’ Role Beliefs and Forms of Engagement Constitute Embodied Capital? Based on BourdieuÂ’s (1987) ideas, families possess a body of values, knowledge, and assumptions and an a pproach to schooling, their habitus However, whether the habitus of a particular parent actua lly constitutes embodied capital is determined by the values of the institution with which he or sh e interacts and how useful this habitus is for negotiating the institution to obtain desired goals. Thus parents who possess certain beliefs, values, and approaches to schoo ling that schools perc eive as good and appropriate and that help them to navi gate schools are adva ntaged; the schoolÂ’s institutional values transform parentsÂ’ be liefs, values, and approach into embodied capital. An important question fo r the purposes of this study is Â“Can it be said that the habitus of the mothers in the study, the values, beliefs, and approach to schooling they
116 reported, constituted embodied capital with regard to the school system?Â” There is a strong argument to be made that the answer to this question is yes. MothersÂ’ veneration of education, their abiding belief that it would ensure a secure future for their children, which originat ed in their experiences in their family and was probably in turn shaped by the particular conditions that characterize Indian society (e.g., intense competition for a limited number of spaces in universities due to a large population and a history with colo nialism) meant they were incr edibly active participants in their childrenÂ’s education, st aying in close contact with teachers, constantly monitoring their childrenÂ’s academic progress and beha vior, and engaging in various forms of school-based involvement. Lareau (2003) and others have pointed out that schools, to a large extent, are shaped by middle class values, that middle cl ass forms of parent engagement such as volunteering in schools, communicating with school staff, and leveraging external resources to support childrenÂ’s educational success are valu ed in schools. The strong value the mothers placed on education, their monitoring of their childrenÂ’s academic progress, constant communication with teac hers, and their school-based involvement appear to be ways of engagement consistent with what schools value. Furthermore, mothersÂ’ perceptions of th e elementary academic curriculum in American schools as weak and their beliefs about childrenÂ’s cognitive development (e.g., the importance of continual learning for children) led them to extensive academic supplementing of the regular curriculum usi ng outside resources. For some of the mothers who were interviewed, their beliefs about the importance of a mother being at home to supervise children and teach them infl uenced decisions to stay at home. In some
117 cases a few of the women left successful careers to stay home with their children which probably gave them more time to e ngage in academic supplementing. Given what research tells us about how children acquire and become fluent in academic skills (e.g., Shapiro, 2004), it can be ar gued that an approach that involves constantly monitoring childrenÂ’s progress and supplementing academics at home, both during school and in the summers, gives studen ts more time to acquire skills and become fluent in them. This, in turn, would benefit children because it helps them achieve at a high level and reduces how much time teacher s need to spend with them on acquiring academic concepts, thus leading teachers and school staff to perceive them positively, creating or reinforcing positive perceptions of a Â“model minorityÂ”. Interestingly, the experience of one of the interviewees, M eenakshi, supports this. She described her childrenÂ’s teachersÂ’ positive view of her extra work with them at home: IÂ’ve been talking to all the teachers a nd they love the kids. TheyÂ’re like, Â“I wish all parents would do that yo u know, teach their ki ds a little bit.Â” Because they donÂ’t have enough time in sc hool. They appreciate it. ItÂ’s not [that] I ask the teachers, Â“Is it okay if I teach them these things during the summer break?Â” TheyÂ’re like, Â“Please do it. It makes life easier for us.Â” If there are twenty kids in the class an d four or five of them already know the concepts, they can work with th e kids who canÂ’t get the conceptÂ….So all of the teachers theyÂ’re like can yo u [give] classes for parents, how to teach them? [But], Â“No thank you. I have enough, two kids on my hands.Â”
118 Rani noted that she felt teachers and the public at large generally perceived Indian children as Â“brainyÂ”. She said, Â“I have a feeling that theyÂ’re supposed toÂ…academically achieve a lot.Â” In sum, it can be argued that the habitus the motherÂ’s brought to bear on their childrenÂ’s education was shaped by particular historical a nd local conditions, those of colonial and contemporary Indi a, and perhaps, to a lesse r extent, ancient India. Conditions the mothers met on arrival in the U.S. ( what they perceived as a weak academic curriculum), and their beliefs about the need for children to be engaged in continuous learning, also shaped their actions in some areas (e.g., academic supplementing). Fortunately for the mother s, their habitus functioned as embodied cultural capital in interactions with the Am erican public school system because, in the context of modern day American public school s, it contained elem ents that supported their childrenÂ’s academic achievement. Question 2: What Role do Social Norms Play in Asian Indian MothersÂ’ Engagement in their ChildrenÂ’s Education? Family Norms Regarding Education To examine the norms present in the fa mily concerning education and the role these norms play in mothersÂ’ engagement in their childrenÂ’s education, mothers were asked about what they told their child ren about education and school, and what expectations they conveyed to their children about school. Two themes emerged from the mothersÂ’ discussion, present effort ensures the future and high expectation for academic achievement (These themes are summ arized in Table 7). Analysis showed a norm about education present in the families that centered on present effort ensures the future that is, that childrenÂ’s current effort s in academics were laying a foundation for
119 the future. In addition, mothers conveyed high expectations for academic achievement. Mothers conveyed these norms to their ch ildren explicitly through conversations about the importance of education a nd their expectations and talk ing to them about their own struggles or those of family memb ers, to achieve educationally. Table 7 Themes from Family Norms Themes Endorsement Rate Present effort ensures the future 83% High expectations 100% n = 12 Present effort ensures the future. All the mothers in the study viewed education as critical to their child renÂ’s futures. In AnumitaÂ’s word s, Â“Without education there is no future.Â” Mothers reported th at in communicating to their children the importance of education for their future, they often connected their childrenÂ’s current effort to future career goals or a secure future. Roshni desc ribed how she explains to her son that hard work and persistence are required to achieve an education in the field (science) in which heÂ’s interested. She said: When I have discussions with my son, I encourage him to think about what he wants to do and just because it gets tough, donÂ’t give upÂ….Because at a very young age he had decided he wants to be a science student. So, to encourage that I tell him, Â“Just donÂ’t give up because itÂ’s going to be ten years of college or so mething like that. DonÂ’t take the easy way out.Â”Â….I say, Â“DonÂ’t give it up just because itÂ’s hard.Â”
120 Meenakshi reported that she explains to her s on that his efforts in his current studies are important to obtaining the nice th ings he would like in the future. She described what she tells him: He was complaining once, Â“I have a lot of studies, I donÂ’t like studying.Â” Sometimes he says that, at the end of school especially. I used to tell him, Â“ItÂ’s okay if you donÂ’t study, its fine with meÂ…but this is DaddyÂ’s house what are you going to do when you grow up? DonÂ’t you want to earn money and have a good house?Â” Reshmi said that she tells he r children about how she and her husband struggled in their early years in America. She noted that she explains to her children that what they currently have in life comes from her husba nd and her and that what they do now shapes their future. She said: I told them how we struggled when we came to this country because we [were] not coming with any pennies And I amÂ…telling them what you will do now, you will get it later. Beca use whatever you are seeing [now] is from us; so if you want this kind of future you must study [hard] to get this kind of future. Anumita said she explains to her son that hard work in the present is required in order for him to achieve his goal of being a surgeon who uses his surgical ski lls to help the poor. She said: He wants to do free surgeries to help peopleÂ….So if you want to do surgery, medic[ine], you have to do hard work now. You have to work hard now; then youÂ’ll get there.
121 Anumita also said that her husband tells th eir son about how he struggled to get an education. She said: HeÂ’ll [her husband] tell us when he was doing engineering, he faced a lot of problems. [He had] no money so he took a loan. He used to eat only one meal a day. So in [those] conditions he finished his B.Tech, Bachelors of Engineering, and then a MasterÂ’s in Engineering. High expectations. Almost all mothers reported that they and their spouses communicated extremely high expectations for academic achievement, that they communicated to their children that they shoul d always strive to excel, to receive the highest test scores and the hi ghest grades. Anumita noted th at while in American society it was okay to get grades of B or C she wanted her children to get AÂ’s. She said, Â“Here, the people say even if you get BÂ’sÂ…thatÂ’s fi ne. They donÂ’t mindÂ…A, B, CÂ’s are good. I believe all the time you should be an A stude ntÂ…I want my kids to get all AÂ’s.Â” Meenakshi noted that she and her husband e xpect that her child get all A grades and that when he does not, she asks fo r an explanation. She said: Grades, we expect all AÂ’s. If itÂ’s a B th en I have to sit him down. ItÂ’s not like he doesnÂ’t get any BÂ’s, he even got a C this time. But overall itÂ’s an A. As long as the overall [average] is an A, then IÂ’m fine with it. Noor reported that she is very clear with he r children that nothing but AÂ’s is acceptable and she enforces consequences when th ey do not achieve AÂ’s. She said: I always tell them even if you get ev en one B it wonÂ’t be good. I cannot tolerate even a B. I always tell them if you donÂ’t get an A, all your things are cut, like PSP [Play Station Portab le] or gamesÂ…IÂ’m going to cut your
122 chess club, tennis and everything. They ma ke sure that the next test they get good scores, so they wonÂ’t ha ve that kind of punishment. Roshni described a conversation with her s on regarding his FCAT Writes scores that captures the high expectations the mother s in the study have for their childrenÂ’s achievement, the idea that even if you are doi ng well, you always strive to be better. She said: His FCAT [Writes] scores came last w eek. He got a five out of six, the highest is six. Last year he got five and a half Two people score [the essays] and then if one gives a five and one person gives a six, itÂ’s five and a half. If both give five, itÂ’s a five. I said, Â“_____ how come you went from five and a half to five?Â” He said, Â“Mom, IÂ’m growing up, the prompts get tougher.Â” I said, Â“Yeah, but you have three more years to prepare for those prompts.Â” He roll ed his eyes and said, Â“Mom, youÂ’re never happy.Â” So, I always tell him, Â“ThereÂ’s always room to improve.Â” You cannot just let a kid know, oh heÂ’s really doing goodÂ…you always say, Â“Keep working at it, keep working at it.Â” While most of the mothers in the study e xpected their children to get the best grades, a few of them (three) noted that so metimes they understood this was not always possible. Rani communicated that living in America had taught her to become more relaxed about her expectations for her children. She said: I think I have kind of relaxed my ideas. He doesnÂ’t need to get an A all the time. ItÂ’s okay if he gets a B occasionally because from what I can see, he tries his best. I know that he has a few limitations. I donÂ’t expect as much from him as I do
123 from my daughter, for instance, because I know she can handle it more. But in India, the pressure is unrelenting. You have to succeed in what youÂ’re going to do. Over here, the pressure that I see is not as unrelenting. Chapala noted that she wants her children to do their best an d get A grades in school, but that she understood that this is not always possible. She said: I just want them to do their best, as long as theyÂ’re making AÂ’s thatÂ’s fine but you know here and there if theyÂ’re making a B or C or whatever, thatÂ’s fine too. I donÂ’t think that they need to be the to pper and the best and get AÂ’s and nothing [other] than an A, every time. I say thatÂ’s fine, if youÂ’re trying, I know youÂ’re trying th atÂ’s what IÂ’m happy about. Community Norms Regarding Education MothersÂ’ responses were also analyzed fo r the norms present in the Asian Indian community around education. Based on the moth ersÂ’ comments, four themes emerged in this area: education is a central priority competitiveness around academics competitiveness motivates children and competitiveness impacts children negatively (endorsement rates for these themes are shown in Table 8). The participants in the study indicated that the strong value attached to education and academics present in their families, was also present in the Indian co mmunity as a whole. Mothers reported that childrenÂ’s education is a central priority for members of the Indian community. Mothers often discussed the best schools, and progr ams, and how to support their childrenÂ’s achievement. Furthermore, because of mother sÂ’ insistence that their children participate in various cultural activities in the Indian community, children were constantly exposed to the strong emphasis placed on education.
124 In addition, all the mothers interviewed indica ted that in the community, there was a strong sense of competitiveness around academics This competitiveness manifested itself primarily in parents cons tantly checking on how other children were doing and comparing those results with how their own children were doing in school. In addition, many (eight) of the mothers also expressed the belief that this competitiveness motivates children to achieve at a higher level. However, many of the same mothers (eight) who viewed competitiveness as motivating also reported that competitiveness impacts children negatively usually by making children feel bad when they are unable to achieve what another child did or because they did not like being compared to other children. This competitiveness also appear ed to negatively impact mothers when some members of the network on which they depe nded for information withheld valuable educational information. This is discussed in more detail in the s ection on the role of social networks in the mothersÂ’ engagement in education. Table 8 Themes from Role of Community Norms Themes Endorsement Rate Education is a central priority 100% Competitiveness around academics 100% Competitiveness motivates children 66% Competitiveness impacts children negatively 66% n = 12
125 Education is a central priority. Mothers in the study repor ted that education was an overarching priority for their immediate soci al circles as well as for the larger Indian community. All the mothers interviewed noted that they believed that present within Indian culture was a strong emphasis on educat ion. Meenakshi said that she was brought up with the Indian belief that education is the only option in life. She said, Â“Education is first and foremost. ItÂ’s a major Indian belief. We were brought up that education is the only option you have.Â” Vidya, though she was raised in the U.S., not ed that for Indian parents, education was more important than anythi ng else in life. She said: I think the average Indian parent focuses on education whereas I donÂ’t think thatÂ’s always a necessity or a thought everywhere else. For Indian parents education is number one. Ther e are no two ways about it. Indian parents would stop their lives to make sure that their children get an education, whether itÂ’s an all around education or the schooling. ThatÂ’s just the way that people are brought up, that education is number one and everything else falls to the side. Noor noted that she felt that the strong value she attached to educati on came from India. She said, Â“Every other thing comes later on. IÂ’m an Indian. I give more importance to education than anything. Acad emics come first for us. Other thingsÂ…are after that. Asked where this belief came from, Noor sai d, Â“From India. Indian beliefs come from India soÂ….I was born and brought up there in India so th e culture is there in my bloodÂ….I cannot give that up.Â”
126 Chapala described how in India, ev en though certain individuals such as merchants are wealthy, they are not as respecte d in society and they themselves feel they are lacking because they are not well educated. She used a conversation that she had recently had with a supplier in India. She said: Someone can be a merchant and be well-off, and people respect their wealthÂ….Some of the business men are really not that well educated, theyÂ’reÂ…filthy rich [but] they donÂ’t speak a word of any other languageÂ….theyÂ’re intelligen t in a market, sales-wise Just yesterday I was talking to one of my su ppliers. [And] he was telling me, Â“I donÂ’t have anything in my head, IÂ’m not educated like you Madame.Â” So, he still has a complex about that. They know they Â’re doing well money-wise but then they think, Â“Oh, I wish I had been ed ucated and been doing my business.Â” They want their children not to be lik e themselves. They want them to be successful education wise andÂ…business wise. Neha noted that education was a constant topic of conversation for her friends and that they constantly shared he lpful information. She said: We talk about it, [education] most of us, when we go for a walk or we meet together. We talk about educ ation, how we have to be, how his grades areÂ…ideas on how to impr ove his [her sonÂ’s] studies. Mothers noted that this view of the importance of education in the community is often related to practical concerns a bout their childrenÂ’s future. Chap ala stated that most Indian parents view education as essent ial to a Â“good lifeÂ” She said:
127 I donÂ’t think there is any Indian pare nt that thinks education is not important. Everybody would think itÂ’s th e most important thing. Because if you donÂ’t have an edu cation youÂ’re not going to be able to live a good life. Anumita indicated that Indians spend a lo t of time talking about their childrenÂ’s education, because it is so critical to thei r futures, given that the world is such a competitive place. She said: Education is very important for the ki dsÂ….[IndiansÂ’ will send their kids to good schools only. They think the same thingsÂ…education takes [a] very important part in their lives. [The ] Indian community, we think like this, [the] world is a very competitive world so [in] this competitive world you have to survive. In addition to the fact that the mothersÂ’ social circles were mostly composed of other Indian families, they reported that their children were engaged in various cultural activities in the Indian community because of their desire for them to maintain a connection to Indian culture. For instance, Ch apala noted that her children participated in Ballygokulam (a cultural group for Hindu children th at teaches them about Hinduism and Indian culture) because they would meet a lot of I ndian children and learn about Indian culture, thus maintain ing their connection to India. She said: Because thatÂ’s where you get to meet many other Indian families, so many other kids at the same time. ItÂ’s like tw enty-five, thirty kids. You canÂ’t do that every dayÂ….I think itÂ’s the only way to keep them closer to India, itÂ’s almost like being in India.
128 Radha noted that her daught er participated in Bharatnatyam (a 2000-year-old South Indian classical dance) and played the Indian violin and that she felt it was a good way for her to learn Indian culture. She said: She does Bharatnatyam She learns violin, the vi olin sheÂ’s playing is a classical violin, Indian violinÂ….I donÂ’ t have the time to sit and teach her each and every nuance of the Indian cultu re, but this is my way of dealing with that. As a result of contact with their parent sÂ’ friends and their own participation in cultural activities, children sp ent large amounts of time with co-ethnic peers and were thus constantly exposed to both the emphasi s on education and the competiveness in the community. Reshmi stated that education is a constant topic of her social circle, whether in conversations between pare nts and children, or parents an d other peopleÂ’s children. She said: When we go to weekend get-togeth ersÂ…I think parents do discuss more about studying also. And the kids al so discuss a lot about studying. We have kids who are in public schools, pr ivate schools, everywhere. So what happens is as a parent I would ask them what activities theyÂ’re doing, or what book theyÂ’re using, and all that. I think itÂ’s just a discussion in general, [in the] community. Becau se education is important, our discussions tend towards that Â….everybody has [the] emphasis on education. Asked whether she thought her children shar ed her beliefs about the importance of education, Sudha said that she and her family spent a lot of time around members of the
129 Indian community, a community which strive s for high levels of education, and her children thus shared this belief. She stated: Â…all the Indian group, they want to be a sc ientist or a doctor or they want to be big things. [ItÂ’s] not like, Â“Okay, IÂ’ll stop in high school .Â” They donÂ’t have that attitude because I think th e Indian populationÂ…we mostly meet with Indians, all of them are very well educated, so I think they do believe. Anjali explicitly said that she felt her child ren being around other children from families who shared the same emphasis on education reinforced the messages she and her husband gave her children about education. She said: See what happens, is when the major ity of their friends are Indians, everybody comes almost from the same background, the same atmosphere at home. So, when they sit and ta lk they say, Â“You know what, yesterday I got in trouble because I didnÂ’t do my homework and my mom gave me a big lectureÂ…about how im portant education is.Â” And then the other guy would say, Â“Same thing happened to me la st week.Â” I think itÂ’s drilled in their brain. Competiveness around academics. In addition to the strong emphasis on education in the Indian community, the moth ers in the study reported that there was a strong sense of competition around academics in the Indian community. They noted that this competitiveness was usually in th e form of parents comparing childrenÂ’s performance in school and their achievements. Anjali noted that she is not competitive, but that this competitiveness, usually in the form of comparing children, is present in the Indian community. She said:
130 I am not competitive; let me make things very clear. Academically I do want them to excel but at the same time I want to make sure that they are clear about the conceptsÂ…theyÂ’re le arning. I never compare my children to any other child like some parents do. That competitiveness is not there in me but generally Indians are very competitive. They want their child to be the best. Noor said she feels the competiveness mostly takes the form of people trying to make sure their children are doing the same thing as other children. She said: Â…There is a lot of competitiveness. If the son is there in that class you have to put your son also in that clas s. If your son is in Kumon I should put [mine] in Kumon. I see a lot of things like that. Competitiveness motivates children Many of the mothers in terviewed appeared to simultaneously hold both positive and negative attitudes towards the competitiveness around academics present in the Indian community. Eight mothers commented that they believed the competitiveness around academics in the Indian community served to motivate children to achieve at a higher level academically. In fact, a few of the mothers stated that they drew on the competitive ness in the community to encourage their children. For instance, Roshni said, that the co mpetition in the community resulted in her son competing not only with himself but with others Â“I think that Â’s one thing, itÂ’s not only competition with himself but competition with all the kids also; because everybody has [the] emphasis on education.
131 ChapalaÂ’s comments reflect a struggle to use competition to motivate her children. She said that she uses comparisons to motivate her children and that she has found this to be successful with her daughter. She stated: We constantly talk about my husbandÂ’s nephews and my nieces and nephews and cousins making good grades. We compare constantly with other kids here. I donÂ’t know if thatÂ’s a good thing, sometimes I do criticize. But sometimes, I try to make it a healthy competition. That has helped my daughter learn a lot of re ading. It was more like a competition like, Â“She can read, why canÂ’t I read?Â” That has influenced them a lot. Noor indicated that she believes competition helps children to achie ve at a higher level and used the example of how competition within the family motivates her sons. She said: Competitiveness is good always. It s hould not be between the parents; it should be between the kids. When thereÂ’s a competition, the kids will shine. My sons, when the older on e gets an award, the younger wants to get an award. When the older one gets 100 the younger one wants to get 100. So you need a healthy competition in all things in life. ReshmiÂ’s comments indicate that childr en may sometimes settle for doing well and never strive to be the best, but that competition can give them an extra push. She said: Competition is beneficial. [They] shouldnÂ’t be like, Â“Oh, I am going to school and getting an A, I donÂ’t have to do anything.Â” Then they donÂ’t grow well. But in competition [the y] are thinking, Â“Oh, you are getting
132 this, why am I not getting it?Â” S o, they will try to do more and more because of that. Competitiveness impacts children negatively. Although the mothers discussed how the competitiveness around academics in the community can be motivating for children, some of them (eight ) also indicated that it has some negative effects. Meenakshi described how this competiveness manifested itself negatively when her son won an elementary school speech competition. She said, Â“ItÂ’s [the competitiveness] between the parents. WeÂ’ve had a few expe riences, when he won the Tropicana Speech, its like people do get offended. If he wins something they get offended, in a sense, because their kids didnÂ’t make itÂ”. Many of the mothers felt that this competitiveness sometimes impacted children negatively because some children were urged to achieve at a level they couldnÂ’t achieve or felt badly about being compared. Neha noted that she used to constantly compare her son to other children until she realized that it had a negative impact on him. She said: ThatÂ’s making your kid jealous. He feels like, Â“Oh, see Mom doesnÂ’t like me, she likes him a lot because heÂ’s getting good grades and everything.Â” So he used to feel like that, Â“Mom you donÂ’t like me? You like him a lot because heÂ’s getting good grades?Â” [My son] started asking those kind of questions, so thatÂ’s when I realize d, itÂ’s not a good thi ng to stress a kid like thatÂ…I saw based on my e xperience, I saw it in my son. Chapala noted that her son sometimes re acted negatively to the comparisons with other children. She said:
133 My son will sometimes complain, Â“DonÂ’t compare me with somebody else. IÂ’m not him, IÂ’m different.Â” Sometimes he feels badÂ… then I try not to carry it too far. Asked about disadvantages and advantages of the competitiveness in the community, Radha noted that she felt that it was sometim es too stressful for children. She said: The disadvantages are that sometimes it gets too much. ItÂ’s very stressful on the child, especially if IÂ’m a pare nt and I take note of [another child] and say you have to be exactly like that, see how that kid is doing you have to be exactly [like that], it destroys the kidÂ’s confidence. Overall, analysis of the mothersÂ’ re sponses showed that in the families interviewed. there exist nor ms that are supportive of high academic achievement including a strong focus on connecting childrenÂ’ s current efforts to their futures. In addition, parents also held high expectations for their childrenÂ’s academic achievement, with most parents emphasizing to them th at nothing less than A grades and the best academic scores were acceptable. These norms regarding the role of education in their lives and the high expectations regarding achievement were communicated to children explicitly through conversati ons. With regard to high expectations, children were constantly urged to strive to excel at the highest levels. In addition to the family, another import ant source of norms about education to which children were exposed was the larger In dian community, other ch ildren as well as parents. The mothers interviewed reported that their familiesÂ’ social circles were largely composed of other Indian families. In addi tion, because of a desire to maintain their
134 childrenÂ’s connections with I ndia and Indian culture, their children engaged in a variety of cultural activities in the Indian co mmunity with their co-ethnic peers. According to the mothersÂ’ responses, the emphasis on education and academic achievement present in the families was also present in the larger Indian community. Mothers reported that, in the Indian comm unity, education is a central priority for children, with parents focused on accessing the best education for their children in order for them to have a secure future. It app ears that children received the same messages about the importance of educati on that they received at home when they socialized with their co-ethnic peers and when they had contact with the parents of th eir co-ethnic peers. In addition to the emphasis on education, mothers also reported that there was a large degree of competitiveness in the Indian community around academics, often apparent in how many parents constantly co mpared their children to other children. Mothers stated that they found this comp etitiveness motivating for children as it encouraged them to achieve at higher academic levels. In fact, mothers sometimes used this competitiveness to motiv ate their children to achieve. Finally, although the mothers described the positive advantages of the competitiveness around academics in the community, they also expressed that it sometimes impacted children negatively, particularly when children felt badly about be ing compared to other children or did not achieve at the high level that other children did. Question 3: What Role do Social Networks Pl ay in Asian Indian MothersÂ’ Engagement in Their ChildrenÂ’s Education? As previously noted, mothers in the interview sample placed a high value on education and were very active participants in their childrenÂ’ s education. However, since
135 most mothers were raised outside of the U.S., they did not possess a great deal of knowledge about the U.S. educational system a nd were often concerned that their lack of knowledge would negatively impact their chil dren. MotherÂ’s responses regarding their use of social networks revealed that in some ways they used their social networks to compensate for their lack of knowledge of the American educational system. Analysis of the mothersÂ’ responses regarding their use of social networks to gain educational information revealed that they accessed their so cial networks to engage in their childrenÂ’s education in three major ways. First, mothers wanted to secure the best education for their children, an education that would chal lenge them academically. Thus, they were very concerned with accessing specialized programs in particular, FloridaÂ’s AGP programs at the elementary level, school choice programs such as academically challenging magnet programs at the middl e school level and the International Baccalaureate program and other academica lly rigorous programs at the high school level. Six themes emerged from mothersÂ’ re sponses to questions about the use of social networks: formal sources of information trading information learning from experienced members information about academic supplementing limitations of the networ k, and knowledgeable outsiders The mothers reported utilizing formal sources of information such as guidance counselors and school we bsites to gain information about these programs. However, the mothers also reported heavy utilization of their social networks to inform themselves about these programs. They reported that with mothers who had children of the same age, they engaged in trading information particularly about specialized programs that could benefit their children. Mothers also focused on learning from experienced members of their social networks, that is attempting to gain knowledge
136 from mothers who had previously gone thr ough the process of appl ying to specialized programs. To a lesser extent, mothers indicated that, within their social networks, there was a mutual sharing of information about academic supplementing either the need to supplement academics or how to do so. Finall y, as will be discussed later, there were costs to using the network, network limitations and a small group of mothers compensated for this by going to people outside of their social networks, knowledgeable outsiders Table 9 shows endorsement rates for these themes. Table 9 Themes from Social Networks Themes Endorsement Rate Formal sources of information 100% Trading information 100% Learning from experienced members 50% Information about academic supplementing 33% Limitations of the network 41% Knowledgeable outsiders 33% n = 12 To better understand mothersÂ’ extensive us e of social networks, itÂ’s helpful to understand the importance they attached to e ducation and their posit ion as outsiders in the American education system, that is pa rents who had never experienced the system themselves. As Radha reported, she tells her daughter that what has given her standing in society in America is her educa tion as a doctor. She stated:
137 And the only reasonÂ…I have some resp ect in societyÂ…itÂ’s because IÂ’m a [doctor] here and I have a certain st anding in society and people look up to me and people ask me questions a nd people ask my opinion only because of my education. ItÂ’s not because of anything else. Although mothers emphasized education and be lieved strongly that it was critical to their childrenÂ’s future, they were concer ned about their lack of knowledge about the American education system. Five of the 12 mothers interviewed noted that they were ignorant of important elements of the Ameri can education system and that they often feared they would miss something importa nt which would negatively impact their childrenÂ’s future. Rani expr essed her utter lack of knowledge about the college application process saying, Â…what to do next, like college sche dules for instance, I have no idea about what to do about thatÂ…now this is going to be a whole different world [and] since I donÂ’t know anyt hing about it, I donÂ’t know what the questions are. Anjali expressed this fear eloquently. Aske d about the kinds of questions she would usually have regarding her sonsÂ’ education, she said: First I tr[y] to find out if we are doing what we are supposed to do when it comes to, letÂ’s say for [instance] high school, since itÂ’s new to us. We [her or her husband] didnÂ’t go to school here, so I constantly ha ve this little bit of nervousnessÂ…that you know I have to find out more and see what is best for my child. If he doesnÂ’t get into the IB program then what are my other options? To try to get more AP courses? Or this dual enrollment? So
138 those kind of things, just mak[ing] my self aware, that my child should not be missing out on anythingÂ…thr ough some fault of mine. All mothers were concerned with securing the best education for their children that they could and social networks appeared to be a tool for doi ng so. For those who expressed anxiety about their lack of know ledge, they worked hard to secure the knowledge that would help them obtain th e best educational opportunities for their children. The interviews showed that all moth ers utilized social networks as a tool to assist them as they navigated th e American public schooling process. These social networks were largely co mposed of co-ethnic peers. Although, Coleman (1988) suggested that parentsÂ’ conne ctions with their ch ildrenÂ’s classmatesÂ’ parents might constitute a valu able source of educational in formation, all mothers in the study reported very little contact with the pare nts of their childrenÂ’s classmates. In spite of the fact that many of the mothers voluntee red in their childrenÂ’s schools, their contact with other parents consisted of mostly gree tings exchanged when children were dropped off at school. Noor described her relationshi p with the parents of her sonÂ’s classmates, Â“Not very close. I have talked to them about the car pooling for the high school and stuff like that and they call me on and off for that so thatÂ’s allÂ… not too much.Â” Reshmi expressed a sentiment that was common to th e mothers when they were asked about the parents of their childre nÂ’s classmates or American friends. She said that she knew the parents of her daughterÂ’s classmates well e nough to trust that he r daughter could go to their house and be safe, but not much beyond that. She said: We know each other but not well, well. We meet each other sometimesÂ….for me close means well, well. But we know them well
139 enough to trust [that she can] go to th eir house, because I have to trust them [for her] to go to their house. Meenakshi, who had elementary aged ch ildren, knew some of the parents who were homeroom parents, but noted that her interactions with her childrenÂ’s classmates parents consisted mostly of conversation exch anged when children were picked up from school. She said, Â“I know a few because th e homeroom parents I know and the rest I sometimes meet in the schoolÂ….Whenever we drop off the kids and pick-up, we talk.Â” All of the mothers reported that their soci al networks were composed mostly of co-ethnic peers, that is, other mothers from the Indian community. As Anjali noted when asked about the composition of her friendship network, Â“Yes, theyÂ’re all from the Indian communityÂ…I donÂ’t know intentional, uninten tional.Â” Vidya who was born and raised in the U.S., was asked from where she drew most of her friends. She sa id, Â“I guess cultural associationsÂ”. Rani was from a state in nor theastern India which has a different language and distinct cultural traditions when compared to the North and South Indian mothers that composed the rest of the in terview sample. She stated th at, although she did not always share the culture of her friends, she chose friends who shared the same mindset and values; and these friends were mostly Indian. She said: When I came here I didnÂ’t know an ybody. But as soon as my daughter went to school, I knew a whole lot of people, who IÂ’d never met but these are all Indian parents. See all of th em are different cult ures and different languages. But for the ones who are kind of like me, my mindset and my values, they are my very close fr iendsÂ….And they donÂ’t speak the same
140 language and they donÂ’t have the same cu lture also, except that we are all from India. Thus, mothers in the sampleÂ’s social networ ks were composed mostly of other mothers from the cityÂ’s Indian community. When mothers desired inform ation about education from other parents, they turned to these so cial networks, composed largely of co-ethnic peers. Formal sources of information. All the mothers interviewed indicated that they relied on formal sources of information to access information about the American schooling process in general, particularly a bout the rigorous magnet programs at the high school level in the district and the colleg e application process. Mothers most often reported relying on guidance counselors and th e Internet for information. As Meenakshi expressed, she relied heavily on the Internet, she said, Â“I go Google, thatÂ’s my first place. I always Google everything. I find most of my answers ther e.Â” Noor indicated that she had a good relationship with the guidance couns elor at her sonÂ’s school and that she learned a lot from this woman. Asked what he r first stop was for questions she had about her sonÂ’s schooling experience she said, Â“Guidan ce counselor, first to herÂ” and went on to note that Â“The student counselor tells us what to do and what not to do.Â” Despite their use of guidance counselor s and the Internet for information, the mothers were not satisfied with this source of information and turned to their social networks. All of the mothers interviewed i ndicated that they re lied on a network of Indian friends to trade a variety of educa tion information including the best SAT prep classes and special educational programs like summer science camps, and most often, information about magnet programs at the high school level. In making educational
141 decisions for their children, the mothers appe ared to attach special weight to the information obtained from this network in comparison to formal knowledge, information they found on the Internet or that they obtaine d through guidance counselors. Neha commented on this, saying that while the Intern et was valuable, she felt she learned more from conversations with others. She said, Â“Because I donÂ’t know anything, I try to do the online searchÂ…but if you talk a bout it you [learn] more things .Â” Asked about the value of information gained from her friendship network in making educational decisions for her child, Chapala noted that she valued this information more than information gained from formal sources, because it came from pe ople who thought similarly to her. She said: ItÂ’s very helpful, I mean I go to th e Internet and check it out but this [information from friends] is more important because itÂ’s first-hand information and theyÂ’ll be frank with you. If they donÂ’t like it, theyÂ’ll tell you itÂ’s not good. And then you will only be talking to somebody that you really get along with, so you know that they think like you. So you feel confident in their d ecision, so you go ahead. It is possible that extensive use of the social network, besides offering the mothers knowledge from a perspective similar to thei r own, is also in some respects a cultural norm for the mothers. Three of the mothers interviewed explicitly expressed the belief that using people as information sources was an Indian cultural norm. Rani expressed this most clearly, saying that social networks were impor tant and one thing that was missing from Indian social networks in the U.S. was the presence of people of varying ages.
142 The problem with immigrant parents over here is that they are all the same age. In India you have the old, the yo ung and all the in-betweens. So, if youÂ’re lost thereÂ’s always somebody to tell you that maybe you should do it this way, you know social networ kingÂ….And weÂ’re very vocal people, actually you know, we love to talk. Roshni noted that she did not usually ask her co-workers any questions because she perceived that Americans do not talk about thos e things and that she usually confined her questions to her Indian friends. She said, Â“Â… at work I talk but I donÂ’t get much because like I said theyÂ’re all [Americans]. So theyÂ…j ust take care of itÂ…so mostly itÂ’s my friends[hip] group, Indian friends.Â” Trading information. All interviewees reported that th ey utilized social networks to aid them in their attempts to locate and secure entrance into the best magnet programs in the district for their children, whether they are at the middle school level or at the high school level. As in most districts, these pr ograms constitute a form of school choice and entrance is not guaranteed. Thus all parent s in the district, including the ones who participated in this study, must familiarize th emselves with what offerings are available, the entrance requirements for each program, fi nd the best match for their children, and secure entrance for them. It is arguable, a nd certainly their comment s supported this, that the mothers in this study brought less know ledge to the table about American public schooling than other American middle class pare nts in the district. Most of the mothersÂ’ anxiety appeared to center on navigating the transition from middle school to high school and thus laying the proper foundation for thei r childrenÂ’s colleg e careers. Reshmi
143 captures this underlying anxiety that most of the mothers in the study demonstrated. She said: Right now I am worried about this common question, did they take the right subject? Did I miss something? Because I donÂ’t know if they took the right subjects. So, all of the c hoices kind of confuse you because there is room for worry and mistakes. Mothers constantly traded what they lear ned back and forth. Anjali described how information is shared in her social circle about educational programs. She said: If I know about a particular program that is good, it could be good for my child, it could be good for another ch ildÂ…we share it when we meet at parties or gatherings; we sit and talk about it. You know this so and so program offered at USF orÂ…at the TempleÂ…academic classes for SATs and stuff like that. Rani described how her friends shared in formation about their choice of high school programs for their children. She said: We all sat down and we kind of discussed all the options that we had, okay, itÂ’s a good school, itÂ’s a bad sc hool, donÂ’t go here, donÂ’t go there. And after that you kind of made up your mind. Roshni described the process of trading information in her social circle as Â“comparing notesÂ”. She said: When I talk to friends in the Indi an community, same age group itÂ’s more like comparing notes. Â“I heard this, is that right?Â”Â…She talks to her counselor, I talk to my counselor then if I learn something I say, Â“Hey, this
144 program is there, do you want it?Â” If she sees something about a college fair somewhere, sheÂ’ll call me up. Learning from experienced members. Another way the mothers (six) in the study appeared to access their social networks to e ngage in their childrenÂ’s education was in learning from experienced members, mothers who had dealt with th e topic about which they were seeking information. A number of the mothers in the study stated that they especially valued the perspect ives of mothers with older children who had faced the same decisions so they could benefit from thei r knowledge. Sudha descri bed this saying, Â“ItÂ’s very good information that weÂ’ll get from th e other parents because they already went through everything so they know good and badÂ…itÂ’s very helpful.Â” In describing her decision to put her son in an Advanced Gifted Program (AGP) at the elementary level, Chapala described how she tried to get a sense of the programs from parents who had children in it. She said: Â…and I was talking to her about that and I spoke to a couple of other people also, asked them if it was really good for the children. SoÂ… I found out what it was before I even put him in there. Noor stated that she gives a lo t of weight to what older ch ildren and their parents in her social circle have communicated to her b ecause they have gone through high school and that this information has prepared her for the steps she needs to take during her childrenÂ’s secondary schooling. She said: Friends ask me because I get the informationÂ… from the older kids. I keep in touch with them and I get all the informationÂ….[TheyÂ’ve] already finished high school and they have mo re experience about it. [Parents of
145 the older kids] also tell us what to do and what not to doÂ….We just listen to what they say. Their kids are su ccessful so when we ask them to helpÂ…we follow [what they say], itÂ’s very useful. And we know now, before we go to high school, we know a ll the procedures to go to college and stuff like that. Information about academic supplementing. All the mothers interviewed, with the exception of one, indicated that they s upplemented their childre nÂ’s school work in elementary school with extra academic work. Th ey usually did this because of their view that the American curriculum in elementary school was too slow or beliefs that even during breaks, children needed to be academi cally challenged, to build the habit of studying and to keep their brains active. This is described in more detail in the section on embodied cultural capital. A small number of the mothers interviewed (four), indicated that they learned of the need for academic supplementing or receiv ed information about resources that could be used to supplement their ch ildrenÂ’s education from members of their social networks. Neha noted that a friend advised her to supplement her childrenÂ’s work with extra academic work at home. She said, Â“Actually one of my friends s uggested thisÂ…because compared with the American syllabusÂ…theÂ…ti mes table they teach in second grade or third grade but in India we learn [that] fr om kindergarten.Â” Meen akshi described this reciprocal sharing about academic supplementing, saying, Â“I let everybody know; whenever I find a website that is good, I let everybody know... or [if] they find a good website they let me know.Â” Anjali noted th at she had learned from observing her child
146 that she needed to do something extra at home but that also, Â“Through friends when you talk to people. Â“ Limitations of using the network. While mothers in the study valued their social networks and relied heavily on these networks for information to support their childrenÂ’s educational success, analysis of the interviews showed th at a number (five) of the mothers believed that these networks ha d limitations. One issue was the limited knowledge contained within the networks if your network didnÂ’t co ntain members with older children. Neha explaine d this, noting that she had f ound that talking to Indian parents was not very helpful because, as immi grants, they knew little and had children the same age as her children. She said, Â“Som etimes we had to keep talking with the American parents....I wouldnÂ’t get that much information if I talked to the IndianÂ….TheyÂ’re just learning a bout it [and] my friend circle [has kids] my kidsÂ’ ages.Â” Rani noted that she felt it was helpful to compare notes with her friends, but that because Indian parents were immigr ants, they knew little. She said, My Indian friends are not a very good source of information. Because they are also in the same boat, they also are l ooking for information. In the sense that if they are discussing things then we all s it down and we discuss it, thatÂ’s okay. But how much do they know about it? Unless they went to school over here, no. So, we are all in the same boat. All mothers in the study discussed the high level of competition around academics in the Indian community. Almost all the mothers in terviewed felt that this competitiveness had negative aspects. Competitiven ess appeared to limit the usef ulness of social networks by parents either withholding valuable informa tion from the network or, in the case of
147 college preparation, duplicating what a nother child was doing. Although only three mothers, Chapala, Vidya, and Meenakshi had experienced this personally, all the mothers interviewed reported that they knew of situ ations in the Indian community in which parents had withheld information. Ch apala described how mothers withheld information. She said: IÂ’ve seen a lot of moms being soÂ…protective about the information about what the child is doing. They donÂ’t want to share; itÂ’s like only my child needs to excel, nobody should be above them, itÂ’s that kind of thingÂ….Yes, there are many moms who come and find out from you [what you are doing]. And when you ask them, Â“What are you doing?Â” [They say], Â“Oh, my daughterÂ’s not doi ng anythingÂ…I donÂ’t push her or anything.Â” And the next minute that girl comes and tells you, Â“Oh, my mom bought me this thing, my mom has put me in an AGP class and she got me tested.Â” Vidya described her experience with bot h parents withholding information and duplicating her daughterÂ’s activi ties. With regard to parent s duplicating activities she said: You know IÂ’ve found that a lot of Indi an parents will ask you, Â“What are you doing?Â” Â“What are you doing?Â” Â“What are you doing?Â” And then they go and do everything that you were pla nning to do for your kid but they do it better and thereÂ’s no room for your child in that project anymore.
148 She noted that, as a result of these experien ces, she had stopped sharing information with friends and only shared information with one other friend who she believed shared her non-competitive orientation. She said: I donÂ’t talk to peopleÂ…I canÂ’t say never. I have one friend that I do talk to. We both have kids in the same grade and neither of us is competitive. The parents get extremely competitive to the point that it feels like theyÂ’re nasty. IÂ’ve found out over the last thr ee or four years that my giving out information to everybody backfires for my daughter. IÂ’ve seen too many parents worry about, Â“WhatÂ’s my daughterÂ’s SAT scores?Â” Â“WhatÂ’s everybody elseÂ’s childÂ’s SAT scores?Â” Â“Where did so and so go to take their SAT prep classes?Â” Well, letÂ’s pu t them there and one other place but they wonÂ’t tell you wher e they put their kid. Knowledgeable outsiders Perhaps to compensate for the limitations of the network on which they relied so heavily, a fe w of the mothers (four) turned to parents outside of their mostly Indian social netw orks for guidance about educational decisions for their children. Vidya reported that sh e only shared information with one friend because she distrusted the social network due to her experiences. Vidya was also able to access information from outside her frie ndship network because she possessed an advantage in comparison to other mothers in terviewed. Unlike them, she was born in the U.S.,was educated here, and also had a num ber of highly educated family members who received their education in the U.S. She was thus able to turn to these family members when she needed guidance. This is illu strated by her experi ence with the college
149 admissions process for her daughter. Asked a bout how much help sh e needed during this process, she explained: I have a large family in the country and everybody grew up here. I have a cousin who graduated from Princet on two years ago, a Rhodes Scholar and another cousin who works [at Pr inceton]. We did talk to my dad several times. My father is a professor. Others in the study did not have this luxury. Though some of them had family members who were highly educated, they were all educated in India. Thus, these mothers appeared to turn to people they perceived as knowledgeable about the school system or had children who were very successful in schoo l. Chapala noted that she talked to mostly Indians with the excep tion of a couple of women from whom she learned a lot. Asked who she turned to for information about education, she said, Mostly Indians butÂ…I told you about these friends here, one White and [one] Black who is a teacher herself. So I would go and speak to [her] and ask her too what she thinks because I know her children are doing extremely well and theyÂ’re going to middle school. And thereÂ’s another White American, _____ who lives on th e other side on ____ Drive and she has twins and sheÂ’s almost like an In dian mom, sheÂ’s on top of all the educational activitie s and she takes them to every other class that I know exists in the worldÂ…and her children ar e brilliant. So I ask her sometimes what she thinks and what school is good and what is not good. Asked if she spoke to just Indian parents, Radha noted that she speaks to co-workers whose children she perceives are very successful in school. She said:
150 I talk to my colleagues at workÂ….Ri ght now thereÂ’s a [woman] whose son is very, very smart. He was in the Duke University summer program as a seventh grader. He had made very high scores in the SATs, almost matching those of a high schoolerÂ….So I rely also a lot on what she tells me. I talk to her very frequently. It is clear for the mothers who were in terviewed that social networks played a large role in their engagement in their ch ildrenÂ’s education. These mothers believed strongly in the importance of education fo r their childrenÂ’s futu re. Their children attended public schools in a large urban district in an era in which school choice increasingly plays a role. This means that parents who want an academically rigorous education cannot simply send their children to school but must navi gate the districtÂ’s choice process in order to secure entrance fo r their children to gifted programs at the elementary level and academically rigorous magnet programs at the middle and high school levels. In this context, the mothers in the study were to some extent constrained by their limited knowledge of the American schooling process. To secure the best education for their children, they accessed formal sources of information. However, their social networks, made up for the most part of other Indian mothers in the city, played a large role in the decisions they made. Moth ers traded information about the educational process, particularly about securing entran ce into the districtÂ’s high school magnet programs. Mothers particularly valued a nd sought out network members who had older children because they were experienced, and could share an insider perspective with them. Finally, mothers were able to gain information from these networks about academic supplementing.
151 However, using the network was not wit hout its drawbacks. If oneÂ’s network did not contain experienced members, then the knowledge gained was limited because members were not educated in the U.S. and had no experiences to share. In addition, competitiveness meant that some members of the network withheld information or duplicated a childÂ’s activities, thereby causing th at child to lose his or her edge in the college admissions process. A few mothers ad dressed this by seeking information from people outside the network, knowledgeable outsiders. Receiving Context Portes (2000) notes that in order to avoid reifying theories about the cultural superiority and inferiority of particular im migrant groups during discussions of cultural and social capital, it is impor tant to pay attention to broad structural forces in society, particularly the receiving c ontext for different immigrant groups. For instance, for Mexican Americans, one of the largest immi grant groups in the U.S., it can be argued that a very different receiving context exists than that for Asian families. Portes (2000) describes this difference saying: Immigrants from Asia are beneficiarie s of a relatively benign reception in the United States, marked by the absence of persecution by government authorities, declining discrimination by natives, and the halo effect of successful settlement and adaptation by prior Asian cohorts. Mexicans, on the other hand, are regularly persecuted as potentiall y illegal aliens and are subject to much external discriminati on as "takers" of American jobs and bearers of an inferior culture (p. 10) Indeed, a few of the mothers in this study i ndicated that they believed there were by and
152 large positive perceptions of IndianÂ’s academ ic achievement in the larger American society. For instance, asked what she thought the perceptions of Indians were, Anjali said, Â“Most of the kids are very high achie vers and very academically smartÂ….overall you know, our community has been doing quite well.Â” In addition, when one examines broad struct ural forces like socioeconomic status and what it means for access to good public schools, Asian Indians, including this interview sample, also come to America with high levels of edu cation and earn higher incomes because they often come to America by obtaining HI-B visas, which are given to high demand specialty professions (e.g., engine ers, doctors). This means most Asian Indian families in the U.S. live in middle to high socioeconomic status (SES) neighborhoods and have access to better schools in contrast to other immigrant groups that may be stuck in segregated neighbor hoods and the poor schools usually present in these neighborhoods (e .g., Waters, 1999). However, although Portes discusses a Â“rel atively benign reception contextÂ” for Asians, the comments by mothers in the samp le do not support this Some mothers, particularly those who worked outside the home, discussed racism as an issue in American society. Chapala, though noting that perceptions of Indians had improved in recent years, said there were still issues, pa rticularly in the workplace. She stated: Nowadays I think itÂ’s changing quite a bit. They know that Indians that weÂ’re really very smart a nd bright and a lot of them know that most of the Â…top notch physicians and internists are Indians. Indians are kind of dominating the market in the IT fiel dÂ…every other IT job is taken by an Indian. But at the same time my husband does have issues and itÂ’s
153 sometimes people coming in yelling, Â“What are you doing? Do you know what youÂ’re doing?Â” Things like th at. And his colleagues get yelled at sometimes, the Americans they come and complain, Â“Oh, that fellow he doesnÂ’t know anything.Â” Or, Â“Go back to your country.Â” and things like that. There is a lot of that. Radha says she talks about her experiences with discrimination with her daughter and that she thinks many Indian parents feel ther e is no discrimination but they are mistaken in this view. She said: You know the thing I tell [my daught er] isÂ…you were born and raised in this country but youÂ’re always going to be a foreigner in this country, period. DonÂ’t be fooled by anything you see, there is prejudice. ThatÂ’s the bottom line and you have to learn to liv e with it. People are going to say things about you and theyÂ’re going to discriminate you from color or nationality or race standpoint even though it says equal opportunity, thatÂ’s not trueÂ….There are many Indian pa rents who think there is no more discrimination and that we can fight it and all thatÂ…[Bu t] I know. I went to ____ [and it] is an elite white school. I am I think the only non-white female foreign medical graduate who went through a residency program at ____. Surgical residency is a very cove ted thing in the U.S., even today. To go through a top residency program Â…there was discrimination, thatÂ’s for sure. Those who stayed home appeared to have less knowledge of racism. Anjali is an example of this. Asked if she ever discussed racism as an issue in the world, Anjali said,
154 Â“No, I donÂ’t share anything [about that] and I havenÂ’t had any experience as such and neither have they had so far.Â” Most of the mothers did not discuss racism with their children mostly because they felt that it would place a negative idea and an excuse for failure in their heads. Vidya is an example of this. Though she desc ribed the U.S. as a society in which, Â“Â…everything is equal but still you need to pr ove yourself one step more.Â” she indicated that she does not discuss this with her daughter because, as she explained, Â“I want her to be herself. I donÂ’t want her to work b ecause she feels inferior to anybody.Â” Mothers articulated that regardless of a ny discrimination, thei r children would be able to achieve at a high le vel as long as they posse ssed high levels of academic qualifications. Anumita said, Â“If youÂ’re good, if youÂ’re in the top of your class, if youÂ’re intelligent, wherever you go, youÂ’ll be fine .Â” Noor noted that regardless of discrimination, you could succeed and used the cu rrent president, President Obama, as an example of this. She said: I know a lot of Muslim Americans w ho are shining very well in their studiesÂ….they are doctors and engineers and lawyers. I donÂ’t think that [discrimination] plays a role here In AmericaÂ…no matter who you are you can shine if you are good. Obama, our President, is one of the examples so I donÂ’t think that matters here. It is also possible, as some have ar gued (Ogbu, 2003), that the mothers in the study compared their experiences with discrimi nation in America with the obstacles to educational and professional succ ess in Indian society and f ound that American society is
155 easier to navigate because high levels of education are more easily obtained and lead to professional success. Noor expres sed this belief. She stated: In India itÂ’s totally different. If you are a politicianÂ’s son, or if youÂ’re rich, or if youÂ’re [from a[ special caste Â….[you] can shine easily. Not the poor people. ThereÂ’s a lot of difference between India and here. You have to pay a lot of money and stuff. When you compare, here if you have a scholarship you can shine. Even t hough people are rich back home because of the caste [system], there is a lot of discrimination. And to shine from a poor family you have to be ex traordinarily good in studies, and you have to have contacts in the college or friends to help. Here, itÂ’s not like that. If youÂ’re really goo d in studies, if youÂ’re ab le to get past the SAT exams and medical exams and [get] good scores, you can go easily into medical school. Portes (2000) notes that the negative recep tion that some immigrant groups encounter Â“Â…inevitably affects the outlook of immigrants reducing their expectations of what is possible to achieve in their new country, a nd consequently, their aspirations for the childrenÂ” (p. 10). However, context of receptions are not fixed and unchanging. Furthermore, immigrant parents bring a hab itus with them, a habitus shaped by their experiences in their country of origin and this habitus doubtless shapes how they perceive and experience their context of reception. In the case of this study, the mothers possessed a strong belief about the power of education to ensure future security. These beliefs were likely shaped by the particular historical and local conditions of India, and their experience with immigration, that those who were educated we re able to immigrate here
156 and make a better life for themselves. They also perceived discrimination in American society as something that could be overcome by attaining high levels of education. This habitus, along with their access to stable neighborhoods and good schools, likely helped them to cope with negative aspects of th e reception context. Moreover, this habitus shaped the way they approached their childrenÂ’ s schooling: the active roles they played in their childrenÂ’s education, including academ ic supplementing, the family and community norms to which their children were expos ed that embraced education as the most important thing in life and critical to the fu ture, and the mothersÂ’ us e of social networks to navigate the American educational syst em. In interaction with the American educational system this habitus likely functi oned as embodied cultural capital that in turn positively impacted their childrenÂ’s academic achievement.
157 Chapter Five Discussion This chapter reviews the purpose of th is study and the research questions addressed. Next, findings ar e summarized for each of the research questions and discussed within the context of the salient literature. Then design and methodological limitations are discussed. The chapter concludes with a disc ussion about the implications of the findings for researchers and su ggestions for future research. This study brought together three often di sparate strands of thinking: theories about social capital, theories about cultural capit al, and the education of immigrant students. The increasingly diverse U.S. population and data showing that different subgroups of immigrant students have very different educational experiences have prompted scholars to use a variety of theo retical lenses to try and understand this phenomenon. The idea that capital, something of value, can exist within the relations between people was first advanced by the economist Glen Loury (1977). In the U.S., James Coleman (1988) advanced the idea that form s of social capital, in particular social networks and social norms, can facilitate or constrain act ion, that in the arena of education, it can play an influential role in parentsÂ’ participation in their childrenÂ’s education. Pierre Bourdieu (1987) the French sociologist, also noted that parentsÂ’ social networks influence the role they play in th eir childrenÂ’s educati on. Moreover, Bourdieu argued that parents bring to bear forms of capital of great value th rough their engagement in their childrenÂ’s education. The presen t study focused on BourdieuÂ’s theoretical
158 constructs of embodied cultural capital and social networks. B ourdieu argued that a personÂ’s habitus, that is, thei r beliefs, values, and ways of interacting, would become valuable embodied cultural capi tal through interactions with an institution that valued those ways of thinking and inte racting. A particular habitu s becomes embodied cultural capital largely because it meshes with inst itutional values and thus allows those who possess it to successfully navigate an inst itution to obtain desired goals. Bourdieu focused most closely on class in the production of embodied cu ltural capital, arguing that class background shapes a personÂ’s habitus. More recent scholarship (e.g., McNamara Horvath, 2003) has focused on other kinds of di stinctions (e.g., race) that also play an important role in shaping embodied cultural capital. A review of the literature on social and cultural capital revealed that there was very little research addre ssing these concepts, particular ly with regard to immigrant families. Research using ColemanÂ’s ideas a bout social norms and social networks has often involved large scale quantitative st udies (e. g., using National Educational Longitudinal Study data sets) that do not allow for an in depth understanding of his ideas. Similarly, very little research has examined Bo urdieuÂ’s ideas. The few qualitative studies (Horvath & Lareau, 2003) that have examin ed cultural capital and schooling have not addressed the experiences of im migrant groups in the U.S. The immigrant group selected for this study was the Asian Indian group. Among immigrant groups to the U.S., the educationa l experiences of Asia n Indian students and their families remain largely unexplored (Prash ad, 2000). India, located in southern Asia is a vast country containing an array of re ligious and cultural traditions. The Indian population is religiously diverse, majority Hindu, but with a larg e Muslim population and
159 sizeable numbers of Sikhs, Buddhists and Chris tians. Linguistic diversity is extensive; Hindi, Urdu, English as well as languages native to local areas and states are spoken widely (Isaksen Leonard, 1997). Caste, cla ss, and religion are a ll important organizing features of Indian society. Indian immigration to the U.S. increase d dramatically post-1965 due to changes in U.S. immigration laws and the desire of educated Indians to pursue financial opportunities in the U.S. Indian immigration to the U.S. c ontinues to grow at a rapid pace. Currently, there are approximately 1.7 million Asian Indians in the U.S. (U.S. Census, 2000). Furthermore, Census data show that the majority of Asian Indians who immigrate to the U.S. have attained a Bach elors degree or higher (U.S. Census, 2000). The present study examined how Asian Indian mothers engage in their childrenÂ’s education and to what extent th ey draw on various forms of so cial and cultural capital to do so. Forms of capital examined in this study were based on the theoretical concepts discussed by both James Coleman (1988) and Pierre Bourdieu (1987). These forms are social norms, social networks, and embodi ed cultural capital. The study used a qualitative methodological appro ach in order to provide an in-depth examination of the nature of the forms of capital that the partic ipants, 12 Asian Indian mothers, used to participate in their childrenÂ’s education. The central research question examined in this study was: To what extent do Asian Indian mothers access different forms of social and cultural ca pital to engage in their childrenÂ’s education? To answer this question the following areas were examined. a. What role does embodied cultural cap ital play in Asian Indian mothersÂ’ engagement in their childrenÂ’s education?
160 b. What role do social norms play in Asian Indian mothersÂ’ engagement in their childrenÂ’s education? c. What role do social networks play in Asian Indian mothersÂ’ engagement in their childrenÂ’s education? Embodied Cultural Capital In discussing how the findings of the present study relate to prior literature in this area, it must be noted that there is very litt le research that uses the concept of embodied cultural capital to examine the experiences of families with schooling, in particular immigrant families. Bourdieu explicated th e concept of embodied cultural capital using the mechanism of habitus He described habitus as the dispositions, attitudes, values, and behaviors that parents possess and argued that when aligned with what is valued by the dominant culture and the education system a parentÂ’s habitus can become embodied capital (Horvath, 2003). The pa rticipating mothers were aske d about their beliefs about the importance of education. Analysis of inte rviewee responses in th is area reveals that the mothers in the study had a deep respect for education. They prioritized education above all else in their childrenÂ’s lives, includ ing extracurricular activi ties. In part, due to their backgrounds both in India and the U.S. as middle class families, the mothers in the study believed that education ensures security and to a lesser extent that education makes you a better person Asked from where they derived their beliefs about education, the mothers said that it was due to the parental encouragement and support they had received for the pursuit of education, it was an Indian cultural value, was influenced by aspects of contemporary Indian society, and the struggle against colonialism A minority
161 of participants said that the strong emphasi s on education in Indian society was due to indigenous educational traditions of India These findings show that the mothersÂ’ habi tus, in particular their beliefs about education, was shaped by their position as mi ddle class families in India and the U.S., as BourdieuÂ’s ideas would lead us to expect, but also by a history of colonialism in India, specific characteristics of Indian society (overpopulation and an extremely competitive school system) and by local conditions in the destination country (an elementary curriculum that in the mothersÂ’ view lacked academic rigor). These findings align with Bhattacharya & SchopeleyÂ’s (2004 ) earlier findings that Indi an parents, prior to their emigration from India, placed a high value on education and that this stemmed partly from the Indian experience with colonialism. However, unlike the families in Bhattacharya & SchopeleyÂ’s study, the families in this study had been rewarded for their educational attainment; in fact, it was what enabled them to immigrate to the U.S., thereby strengthening their commitment to education Mothers were also asked about their beliefs about their role in their childrenÂ’s education, as well as beliefs in the larger Indian community about the role of parents in their childrenÂ’s education. They re ported that it was important to be active participants in childrenÂ’s education. Careful examination of their responses a bout what being an active participant meant showed that academic supplementing schoolbased involvement and frequent communication with teachers were important. With the exception of one mother, the participants repor ted devoting large amounts of time to supplementing their childre nÂ’s elementary school curriculum. They also reported that this stemmed from dissa tisfaction with an American curriculum that
162 they perceived as wasting a lot of time duri ng the elementary years. In addition, mothers believed that it was important for childrenÂ’s minds to engage in small amounts of extra academic work on a daily basis and during the summers. The finding that mothers played very active roles in their childrenÂ’s education aligns with findings by Abbas (2002) in E ngland. Abbas found th at Indian students reported that their parents had played very ac tive roles in their education, particularly in helping them to gain admission to selective se condary schools. However, these mothersÂ’ habitus differs from what other work (L areau, 2003) has found when examining the approach of middle class American mothers. The mothers in this study played very active roles in their childrenÂ’s education, as did the middle class American mothers in LareauÂ’s research. Lareau found that middleclass parents engaged in a cultural logic of child rearing that included concerted cultiv ation, that middle class parents Â“enroll[ed] their children in numerous age-specific organized activitiesÂ” and Â“view[ed] these activities as transmitting important life skills to childrenÂ” (p. 748). The mothers in the present study often enrolled th eir children in extracurricular activities for leisure, but more often to retain their connection to Indian culture. In addition, Lareau (2003) found that middle class American parents viewed schools as places that could be negotiated to al ter their childrenÂ’s experience in ways that fit their childrenÂ’s particular needs. However, LareauÂ’s poor and working class families deferred to the expertise and judgment of sc hool staff and often di d not question their judgment. The working and poor parents viewed educating their children as the schoolÂ’s job and relied on the school to contact them if there were any issues.
163 The mothers in the present study appeared to have an approach to schooling that does not completely fit with either the poor and working cl ass American parents or the middle class parents in LareauÂ’s (2003) study. The mothers interviewed took a much more active role than the poor and working cla ss mothers in LareauÂ’s research, staying in frequent contact with teachers in order to check on their childrenÂ’s progress. Like the middle class mothers in LareauÂ’s research, mothers participating in the present study sometimes asked for adjustments to be made fo r their children; for instance, in a couple of cases when children were acting out because they finished the work too quickly and were bored, the mothers asked the teacher to give the children extra work sheets. However, these mothers more often seemed to focus on what they could do to support their children rather than asking the school to provide accommodations. The issue of academic supplementing is an example of this When mothers realized, whether through their own observation or through conversation with other Indian mothers, that the elementary curriculum in America lacked academ ic rigor, most of them did not approach the school about this issue, instead they engaged in academic supplementing at home, both during the school year and during the summers. This issue was also addressed on a community level by the provision of extra acad emic resources such as weekend academic classes at the local Hindu temple. This al so contradicts Horvath, Weininger & LareauÂ’s (2003) finding with a sample of U.S. middle class parents that the parents tended to address issues with th e school as a group. The findings that mothers were active part icipants in their childrenÂ’s education also contradicted Crozier and DavisÂ’s (2008) findings with South Asian (Pakistani & Bangladeshi) parents in England. Crozier and Davis found that these parents were
164 Â“nonparticipantsÂ” in their children Â’s education and left most le ft most major decisions in the hands of the school. They also found th at parents lacked an understanding of what the schools perceived to be a ppropriate parent involvement. In contrast, mothers in the present study often volunteer ed at schools and worked very hard to ensure their childrenÂ’s educational success by tr ying to secure entrance for them to the districtÂ’s array of academically rigorous magnet and gi fted and talented programs. A number of mothers also expressed the belief that staying home is important in order to best support childrenÂ’s education and development. Mothers noted that by staying home they could work with their children on academic skills and support their development. Mothers discussed this as a value they held, as well as a value widely endorsed in the Indian community. This finding aligns with the results of ReayÂ’s (1998) research with middle class mothers in England, which found that middle class mothers provided extra academic assistance at home to their children. However, unlike the mothers in ReayÂ’s study who had experienced the provision of extra academic assistance in their families of origin, the mothers in this study had not. However, they had experienced their parents going above and beyond what was provided in school, that is providing them with extra lessons to help them attain high scores on the competitiv e college entrance examinations in India. Thus it can be argued that like the mother s in ReayÂ’s study, the mothers in this study possessed a habitus for education that include d the belief that it was normal to provide assistance and resources in addition to what the school provided. Bourdieu argued that parentsÂ’ habitus is transformed into embodied cultural capital depending on what is valued by the inst itution with which they interact (Grenfell
165 & James, 1998). Thus schools, based on what they value, transform the beliefs, values, and approaches to schooling of some parents in to embodied capital. It can be argued that the habitus of the mothers in the present study constituted embodied cultural capital. These mothersÂ’ strong belief in the value of education, that it was the only path to a secure future for their children, appear to ha ve originated in thei r experiences in their families when they were children, particular features of Indian society such as intense competition for a small number of spots in uni versities in an overpopulated society, and a history with colonialism. As a result, moth ers were extremely active in their childrenÂ’s schooling experiences, staying in close contac t with teachers, monitoring their childrenÂ’s academic progress and behavior, and often volunteering in schools. Schools, many researchers (e.g., Lareau, 2003; Lopez, Scribner, & Mahitivanichcha, 2001) have pointed out, value certain forms of engagement like volunteering, communicating with school sta ff in a supportive fa shion and leveraging external resources to support childrenÂ’s educational success. Lopez, Scribner, and Mahitivanichcha (2001) argue that schools privileg e certain forms of involvement over others. They say, Â“Â…the implicit assumption is that parents who are not involved in [specific] ways lack the ability to provide adequate home learning environments for their children.Â” (p. 256). Thus, the mothers in the study were fortunate in that their common forms of engagement probably meshed well w ith what schools value. This is supported by the mothersÂ’ reports of laregely po sitive relationships with schools. Furthermore, mothersÂ’ perceptions of a weak curriculum, the importance of continual learning, and their beliefs about st aying home meant that they engaged in a large amount of academic supplementing of th e regular curriculum. Since a large body
166 of research (e.g., Shapiro, 2004) indicates that extensive time engaged in practicing academic skills increases academic achievement, the efforts of the participating mothers likely helped their children achieve at a hi gh level and reduced the time teachers needed to spend with these children learning academic concepts. This no doubt contributed to the largely positive perceptions that teach ers and school staff had of the mothersÂ’ children. Thus, the mothers in the study possessed a habitus shaped by experiences in their families of origin, particular historical events in India, and features of Indian and U.S. society. These factors combined to shape their habitus for schooling. This habitus appeared to contain elements supportive of academic achievement and thus functioned as embodied cultural capital in interactions with the public school system. Social Norms Coleman (1988) argued that so cial relationships can yiel d benefits that can be translated into something of value, academ ic outcomes for instance. With regard to social norms he argued that they are a form of so cial capital which sa nction and reward behaviors like studying or earni ng high grades. He argued that social norms are more effectively maintained in social networks in which there is a high degree of closure, where everyone knows everyone. According to Coleman, social netw orks characterized by intergenerational closure, where parentsÂ’ friends are the parents of their childrenÂ’s friends would also serve to more effectively reinforce social norms Participating mothers were asked about fa mily norms regarding education. Their responses indicated that they conveyed to their children that present effort ensures the future that their current efforts in school were important for their future success in life.
167 In addition, mothers reported that they and their spouses conveyed high expectations for achievement to their children, that they shoul d always strive to ach ieve at the highest levels possible. Mothers conveyed these norms through conversations with their children about how critical education was to their lives and telling them about struggles they or family members had faced in attempting to secure educational credentials. The finding that parents exp licitly communicated to th eir children on a regular basis their expectations for hi gh achievement fits with Bha ttacharya & SchopelyÂ’s (2004) comments that, in Asian Indian families, expectations for academic achievement are explicitly conveyed to children and complying with these and other pa rental expectations are seen as part of the duty of children Prior research on social capital has indi cated that parent-chi ld discussion about educational issues impacts positive outcomes like college enrollment (Meier, Sandefur, & Campbell, 2006; Perna & Titus, 2005). However, these studies used la rge scale data sets like NELS so social norms were operationa lized by asking parents how much time they spent talking to their childr en about school-related topics In addition, these studies provided no information about the content of these discussions. Thus, this studyÂ’s findings about the content of these discussions sheds new light on this area. Findings also indicate that the moth ersÂ’ strong emphasis on achievement was mirrored by an emphasis on academic achievement in the wider Asian Indian community. Mothers reported that childrenÂ’s education is a central priority as a norm, noting that the best schools and programs and how to suppor t childrenÂ’s academic success were common topics of conversation in the community. Du e to their participation in various cultural
168 activities in the Indian community, child ren were constantly exposed to these conversations and, therefore, to the st rong emphasis placed on education. Mothers also reported there was a strong sense of competitiveness around academics in the Asian Indian community, that parents constantly compared how their children were doing to other children. Simu ltaneously, mothers reported that there was a belief that this competitiveness motivates children but that this competitiveness impacts children negatively as well. Previous research (e.g., Kao & Taggart Rutherford, 2007) has pointed out the need to better understand the quality of social capital possess ed by students. For instance, using NELS data, Kao & Ta ggart Rutherford (2007) found that intergenerational closure benefitted the achievement of Asian students more than African American and White students, but could not explain the finding. The finding in the present study that students were constantly exposed to both family and community norms that emphasized academic achievement may help to explain Kao & Taggart RutherfordÂ’s (2007) finding. It is possible that certain immigrant commun ities are more tightly knit, functioning as what Coleman termed closed networks and thus giving children more exposure to community norms about achievement. The finding that there existed social norms that emphasized academic achievement and children were exposed to these norms through thei r participation in cultural activities as well as through their parentsÂ’ friendshi p groups aligns with Zhou and BankstonÂ’s (1998) ethnographic study of a Vietnamese immigrant community in New Orleans. In Zhou and BankstonÂ’s study, norms conducive to academic achievement were maintained and reinforced by social networks of co-ethnic peers whose parents shared
169 similar values about the importance of academic achievement. In the case of this study, although the parents were not concentrated in a geographical location, they came into contact with each other through regular cultura l activities and gatherings of friendship groups. This appears to have been e nough for norms that encouraged academic achievement to be conveyed to children. This finding is also similar to Le wÂ’s (2007) study comparing high achieving Korean American students to dropouts. He found that parents of the students in his study came into contact with each other through Korean American churches or community organizations. Over time, students who were high achieving maintained contact with these organizations and reported that the pa rents of their friends from the Korean community shared the same strong emphasis on academic achievement that their parents possessed. In contrast, dropouts were isolated from these or ganizations and the larger Korean community. Overall, the findings of this study about social norms pertaining to education in the Asian Indian community are consistent with prior research that found that there exists in some immigrant communities ethnic-specific social capital which is a product of the relationships between members the commun ity (Portes, 2003; Zhou & Bankston, 1998). In this study, part of this ethnic-specific capital was social norms that supported achievement. In addition, as in Zhou & Ba nkstonÂ’s (1998) study, these mothers reported that groups of community members had crea ted various academic classes for students from the community. A few mothers had previo usly taken advantage of these classes and a few indicated that they pla nned to do so in the future.
170 Interestingly, the finding about competi tiveness in the Asian Indian community around academics and the effects of this compe titiveness has not been discussed in prior research regarding the achievement of immigr ant students or the re search on cultural and social capital. Ironically, the ethnic-specific capital that produced norms conducive to achievement and classes to support childre nÂ’s academic progress also allowed this competitiveness to flourish. Social Networks In his discussion of social capital, Co leman (1988) discussed the importance of information channels He noted that valuable time must be expended to acquire information, but that social networks contai n the potential to gain information with minimum expenditure of time. In the case of parents and education, parents can obtain information from social networks to ma ke decisions to suppo rt their childrenÂ’s educational success. More recent research (Lin, 2001) has termed this concept social networks Mothers participating in the present st udy highly valued education and worked hard to support their childrenÂ’s educational achievement. However, most of them were not educated in the U.S. and they openly expressed fears about how their lack of knowledge about the U.S. educational system might negatively impact their children. These mothers appeared to use social networks to compensate for their lack of knowledge regarding the American educati onal system, particularly in trying to secure information that would help their children access specialized programs like the districtÂ’s academically rigorous magnet programs. The social netw orks on which the mothers relied largely consisted of other Asian Indian mothers. Mothers used formal sources of information
171 such as guidance counselors to gain info rmation about their childrenÂ’s education. However, they engaged in trading information with other members of their social networks, particularly about specialized pr ograms that could benefit their children. Mothers also reported learning from experienced members of their social networks, that is, attempting to gain knowledge from mo thers who had previously gone through the process of applying to specialized programs. Mothers also benefitted from social networks in other ways specifically sharing of information about academic supplementing While mothers valued the informa tion they gained from their social networks, they reported that there were network limitations such as lack of knowledge and people withholding information. Some mothers compensated for this by going to people outside of their social networks, knowledgeable outsiders With regard to the use of social netw orks to gain information, this study found that the social networks the mothers accessed largely consisted of co-ethnics, other Asian Indian mothers. In fact, mothers reported ve ry little social contact with the parents of their childrenÂ’s classmates or with the pare nts of their childrenÂ’s non-Indian friends. MothersÂ’ use of their friendship groups to access information to support their childrenÂ’s educational experiences is similar to LewÂ’ s (2007) research findi ngs regarding Korean American parents in which high achieving st udents reported that their parents accessed their co-ethnic networks to gain informati on about elite high schools and how to prepare for entrance exams to these schools. For immi grant parents, it appears that networks of co-ethnics can help them to compensate fo r their lack of knowledge about school systems in the destination country. Mo thersÂ’ reports of constant tr ading of information supports KaoÂ’s (2004) contention that Â“Â…among other same-ethnic immigrants, the intensity of
172 the obligation and the expecta tions for reciprocity should be greater, given the shared experience of migration and the sentimental a ttachment to oneÂ’s country of origin (Kao, 2004, p. 172). The finding that competitiveness limited the usefulness of the mothersÂ’ social networks has not been discussed in other res earch. However, the finding that the quality of information in networks consisting solely of immigrant parents is limited is similar to Crozier & Davis (2008) findings with a sample of Bangladeshi and Pakistani parents in England. The researchers found that parents gained little knowledge about the British education system from their social networks because these networks consisted largely of other South Asian immigrants with low leve ls of knowledge about the British system. The finding in the present study about the limita tions of the mothersÂ’ networks and how some mothers attempted to compensate for their lack of knowledge by seeking knowledgeable outsiders supports LinÂ’s (2001) view that closed networks can be problematic and that network ties weak enough to allow members to seek outside sources of information can be beneficial. Receiving Context Portes (2000) argues that it is importa nt that those who do research on the education of immigrants avoid simplistic theories about the cultural superiority and inferiority of various immigrant groups and that they pay atten tion to the receiving context that immigrants encounter. Portes notes that some groups face discrimination, and poor schools versus others; in particul ar, Asian Americans, face low levels of discrimination and a relatively positive reception. The mothers in the study reported that th ey believed generally the perception of
173 the Asian Indian community, particularly with regard to education, was very positive. The mothers in the interview sample, like most Asian Indian immigrants to the U.S., were highly educated, spoke English, earned good incomes and thus had access to crime-free neighborhoods with good schools in comparis on to other immigrant groups (Waters, 1999). However, a few of the mothers interviewe d still reported that they, their spouses or children had encountered racism during the co urse of their lives in America. However, most mothers did not discuss the topic of raci sm with their children as they felt it would place negative ideas in their minds. Mothers also believed that regardless of discrimination, their children would be able to achieve at high levels in their academic and professional lives. It is also possible that mothers in the present study compared the discrimination their families experienced in U.S. society and found it much easier to overcome than obstacles to success in India. This is c onsonant with research (e.g., Ogbu, 2003) that has argued that immigrants to the U.S. find discri mination in the U.S. easier to deal with because they find that America has more opportun ities for career and social mobility than their home countries Portes (2000) has argued that a negative reception context can reduce immigrant parentsÂ’ expectations and aspira tions for their children. Howe ver, this study showed that the receiving context an immigrant encounters is not static, that im migrant parents bring to the destination country wa ys of being and thinking a bout the world, a habitus in BourdieuÂ’s words, and that this habitus can shape the way parents perceive and interact with their receiving context. In the case of this study, the mothers believed strongly in
174 the power of education to build a secure fu ture for their children, a belief shaped by historical and local conditions in India and their experience of being able to immigrate to the U.S. because they possessed high levels of education. In addition they viewed the discrimination they experienced in the U.S. th rough the lens of their experiences in India and believed that, with educa tion, their childre n would be able to achieve success in U.S. society. This habitus, along with their so cioeconomic status, which provided access to good schools, likely helped them cope with th e negative aspects of the receiving context Limitations of the Current Study This study examined the concepts of em bodied cultural capital, social norms, and social networks using interviews with 12 Asia n Indian mothers residing in a West Central Florida city. Participants responded to quest ions regarding their be liefs about education, their social networks, how they engaged in their childrenÂ’s educa tion, and norms in the Asian Indian community regarding educati on. Several strategies were employed to increase the validity of the findings and interpretations that resulted (e.g, member checking, use of a peer debriefer). However, not all threats to the vali dity of the research could be controlled. Thus, several limitations to the present study must be considered when interpreting the results and maki ng suggestions for future research. First, due to the focus of this study (gaining an in-depth understanding of a particular phenomenon) there is limited gene ralizability of the results due to the small sample size and the geographic limitations of the sample. In addition, because participation in the study was voluntary, the sample may not represent the full diversity of the Asian Indian community in the U.S., or even in the State of Florida. In addition,
175 the sample came largely from urban areas in In dia and, as a result, not all regions of India were represented. Data used for analysis in this study were transcriptions of interviews conducted with study participants; thus it depended on the accuracy of this transcription. To address this issue, member checking was used; pa rticipants were give n the opportunity to comment on the accuracy of the transcriptions of the oral interview. Qualitative research also depends on the researcher as instrument, that is, the researcher must not only colle ct data, but must analyze and interpret it, as well. Huberman & Miles (1998) point out that data analysis in qualitative research is based on the subjective interpre tation of the data. In this study, having participants review preliminary analyses was used to address this issue. None of the participants reported that they disagreed with the preliminary an alyses. However, giving participants the opportunity to comment on the finalized analyses would likely have increased the validity of the findings. Another method used to lessen the impact of researcher bias and increase the validity of the findings was the use of a pr ofessional peer of the researcher, a peer debriefer. This peer debriefer was used to assist with the development of codes, with establishing interrater reliability, a nd with preliminary analysis. Another limitation of the current study is social desirability, that is, in responding to interview questions, participants may have altered beliefs, opinions, and experiences in an attempt to portray themselves in a favorab le light. Consistency checks, reviewing the transcripts for inconsistencies, were used to assist in assessing the veracity of subjectsÂ’
176 responses. This process revealed no inconsis tencies in participants Â’ responses. However, this process did not address the i ssue of social desirability. Implications for Educators The mothers interviewed in this stud y brought a habitus for education that included an incredibly strong emphasis on th e value of education and how important it was to their childrenÂ’s future. They also brought with them certain beliefs about childrenÂ’s cognitive development and experiences with a rigorous curriculum in India that led them to supplement what their ch ildren did in school, particularly on the elementary level. Although parents lacked a high level of knowledge about the American school system, they compensated for this by relying on social networks. Parents were fortunate in that they had access to good school s and the ability to expose their children to both family and community norms that em phasized educational achievement at the highest levels. As a result, these parents are raising child ren who currently experience high levels of educational success and will very likely continue to do so given current data on the educational achievement of Indian American students (College Board, 2008). The families in this study are a success story in the American educational landscape, a story of which the American education system can be proud. However, it is critical that American education be proud of these succes s stories but also consider the more troubling educational stories of other immigrant groups in the U.S., for instance the startlingly high dropout rate for certai n subgroups of Latino youth (e.g., Mexican American youth). Just as Asian Indian pare nts bring a habitus for education to American schools, so do other groups of immigrant pare nts. However, in contact with American schools, the habitus of some of these groups, by and large, consistently fails to be
177 translated into embodied cultura l capital. While some have chosen to focus on heaping blame on these groups, with an increasin gly diverse school-aged population and workforce, it is clear America will suffer if these children cannot participate in the workforce, particularly in key areas, as highly skilled members (CEOSE Report, 2000). Thus, it is time for educator s to carefully consider the populations they serve and how they can leverage the beliefs, values, and at titudes they bring to support the education of their children. Important areas for educat ors to understand include : what parts of the world their population hails from, what thei r experience with schools and teachers are, what their beliefs and values about edu cation are, their le vel of knowledge and understanding of the role educat ion plays in their childrenÂ’s future, their understanding of what expectations schools have of them, and what actions they can take to support their childrenÂ’s educational success. This resear ch and prior research (e.g., Auerbach, 2004) suggests that in working with families from immigrant backgrounds, a two-pronged approach may be necessary. As previous research has shown (e .g., Chrispeels & Rivero, 2001), it is possible for educators to change as pects of school culture so that the habitus parents bring to bear on educati on is respected and valued. Fi nally, it is also possible, if educators are willing to invest the time, to work with parents in ways (e.g., Auerbach, 2004) that respect their life experiences and be liefs and help to change their habitus for education in ways that ultimately contribute to the educational success of their children. Implications of Results for Researchers This study expanded both BourdieuÂ’s and ColemanÂ’s theoretical ideas by examining how embodied cultural capital, soci al norms, and social networks functions among immigrant groups. With regard to B ourdieuÂ’s theory, he focused on habitus as
178 being shaped by class. This study points out that, like class b ackground, other factors like ethnicity and immigration shape history and lived experience. Thus contemporary research should examine how these factors c ontribute to the formation of habitus. The findings of this study have implica tions for our current conversations about achievement differentials. The results imply th at instead of making simplistic statements about superior cultures and model minorities we need to carefully examine the varying educational experiences of members of im migrant groups. Many Asian Americans, for instance, achieve at high leve ls, but there are specific subgr oups that experience school failure and dropout (College Board, 2008). Th e findings of this study suggest that the beliefs that gave an advantage to parents in their engagement in their childrenÂ’s education were not static but formed by the history and local conditions in thei r country of origin, coming to America, and their lives in Amer ica post-immigration, a nd the perceptions of the institutions with which they interact. This study provides support for the notion that ethnic-specific capital exists in certain immigrant communities. However, th e findings imply that this ethnic-specific capital may not necessarily play a positive role in the lives of children and, in fact, can produce social pressures like competitiv eness that negatively impact children. Theoretically, it would be fruitful for scholars to consider integrating Coleman and BourdieuÂ’s theoretical concepts. Thus far, research on these theories has been pursued separately. But in the case of e ducation, it would be helpful to consider integrating these concepts as this study and others show that concepts from both theoretical perspectives are us eful constructs for understanding the engagement of parents in their childrenÂ’s education. If parentsÂ’ habitus shapes their engagement in their
179 childrenÂ’s education, it can also be said to influence norms a bout education that exist in communities, as norms arise from groups of i ndividuals holding similar beliefs. ParentsÂ’ habitus also influences whether and how they access social networks to engage in their childrenÂ’s education. This study and other theoretical work (e.g., Portes, 2003) shows that when studying the educational experiences of immigr ant families in destination countries we must broaden our lens. This study and prio r research points the way to the beginning outlines of a theory that may help to e xplain the education of immigrant students. Considering the results of this study a nd prior research (e.g., Bankston & Zhou, 1998; Bhattacharya & Schopely, 2004 Lew, 2007) it ap pears that immigrant families come from their countries of origin with a habitus for e ducation and an approach to schooling that is shaped by the histories and local conditions in their countrie s of origin. This habitus shapes family-level norms about educati on and ultimately community-level norms and parentsÂ’ approaches to using, or not using, social networks to engage in their childrenÂ’s education. How they come to their destination countries and their reception in those countries further influences immigrantsÂ’ hab itus for schooling. Since norms arise from the beliefs and the relationships between of a group of individuals in the destination country, the role social norms will play in childrenÂ’s education is influenced by the ability of the immigrant community to congreg ate as a cohesive community. The ability to be a cohesive community also influences parentsÂ’ ability to us e social networks to engage in their childre nÂ’s education. Finally, the values of the educational institutions with which immigrant parents interact need to be considered because whether the habitus
180 that immigrant families bring with them is translated into embodied cultural capital depends on the values and perceptions of these institutions. Suggestions for Future Research As Bourdieu pointed out, parentsÂ’ hab itus becomes embodied cultural capital only when institutions value this habitus. Thus far, research, includ ing this study, has not examined the perspective of schools. It is time to critically exam ine what schools value about parent beliefs, values, and actions. A number of research ers (e.g., Lareau, 2003; Lopez, Scribner, & Mahitivanichcha, 2001) have pointed out that sc hools privilege some modes of interaction relative to others. But very little research has examined how schools interact with immigrant families. Future rese arch needs to examine how the habitus of some parents functions as embodied cultural capital in inte raction with schools while the habitus of other parents is devalued by schools. This res earch should take an ethnographic approach, focusing on particul ar immigrant communities, examining the experiences of particular families relativ e to schooling, but also examining the perspectives of the schools that serve them, and the community institutions and networks that relate to schooling. ColemanÂ’s ideas about social norms and social networks are a valuable way of understanding parentsÂ’ engagement in their ch ildren education. Futu re research should focus on understanding these concepts better Large quantitative studies have been advantageous in that they have found support for the effect of social norms on achievement. However, educational researchers have failed to truly illuminate the nature of the concepts of social norms and networks and how they work in practice. Our current understandings of these concepts do not lend themselves well to operationalization using
181 data from large-scale quantitative studies like the National Educational Longitudinal Studies. Future studies should include multi-me thod designs to allow researchers to gain an in-depth understanding of these concepts. Future research should include more qua litative research on immigrant groups and education. We are faced with school popula tions that are increasingly diverse and a globalized world that portends more large sc ale movements of populations; thus we need to broaden the groups we study to examine the experiences of the multitude of groups that comprise contemporary America. Moreover, we need to test theories that can help us better understand the achievement differentia ls between the various groups in our schools.
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189 Appendix A: Study Description for Asso ciation Members/Community Members A graduate student at the Un iversity of South Florida is conducting a study of Asian Indian parentsÂ’ involvement in their childrenÂ’ s education. SheÂ’s looking for Asian Indian families who have lived in the U.S. for at l east 2 years, are permanent residents or U.S. citizens, and are willing to meet with her on two separate occasions. The first meeting would last for approximately 90 minutes. The second meeting would last for approximately 45 minutes. SheÂ’s interested in talking with you about your beliefs about education, and things you do to s upport your childÂ’ s education.
190 Appendix B: Study Cover Letter You are receiving this letter be cause you expressed interest in participating in a study of Asian Indian familiesÂ’ engagement in their childrenÂ’s schooling. The purpose of this letter is to ask for your participation in th e study, Â“Asian Indian Parents Involvement in their ChildrenÂ’s Schooling: An Analysis of So cial and Cultural Capital. Susan Forde, a school psychology doctoral student at the Un iversity of South Florida and primary investigator of this study is conducting this study to examin e the beliefs and experiences of Asian Indian parents with regard to their childrenÂ’s education. You are being asked to participate in a 90minute in person audio recorded interview about your engagement in your childrenÂ’s sc hooling and your beliefs about education. In addition, a follow-up interview (which can be conducted by telephone) that is approximately 45 minutes will be conducted to give you a chance to verify the transcript of your interview and the conclusions that the researcher draws based on your interview. The enclosed consent form gives more details about the study. For your convenience, I have provided you w ith a postage-paid envelope to use in returning the consent form and demographic questionnaire to me If you are interested in participating, please: 1. Fill out the attached Brief Demographic Questionnaire 2. Complete and sign the en closed consent form 3. Return these materials to me by __________________ Your participation in this study is crucial to the success of this study. By participating in the study, you will assist the investigator unde rstanding the experiences of Asian Indian families in the U.S. with regard to educati on. This information will improve educatorsÂ’ understanding of the experience of Asian Indian families with regard to engaging in their childrenÂ’s education. Please mail these materials in the pre-addresse d, postage paid envelope to the following address: Mailing Address Susan Forde, M.S. 4302 Gunn Highway, Apt. 907 Tampa, FL 33618 Your privacy and research records will be kept confidential to the extent of the law. Authorized research personnel, employees of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the USF Institutional Review Board, staff and other individuals acting on behalf of USF may inspect the records from this research pr oject. The results of the study may be published. However, the data obtained from you will be combined with data from
191 Appendix B (Continued) others. The published results wi ll not include your name or any other information that would personally identify you in any way. Your input is very important and I tha nk you in advance for your willingness to participate in this pilot study. If you have que stions about your rights as a person who is taking part in a pilot study, call USF Division of Research Compliance and Integrity at (813) 974-9343. If you have any questions about this research study, contact Susan Forde, M.S. at 646734-8229 or at email@example.com. Thank you for your time. Susan Forde
192 Appendix C: Demographic Questionnaire First Name: ____________________ Last Name: ____________________ 1. How many years have you lived in the U.S.? _______ 3. What is your status in the U.S. (Circle one) U.S. Citizen Permanent Resident Other 4. Number of children (ages 1 Â– 17) re siding in your household who attend public school: (Circle one) 1 2 3 4 5 More than 5 (specify number) _____ 5. Age and Grade of each child Child 1 Age: __________ Grade in school: __________ Child 2 Age: __________ Grade in school: __________ Child 3 Age: __________ Grade in school: __________ Child 4 Age: __________ Grade in school: __________ Child 5 Age: __________ Grade in school: __________ NOTE: PLEASE USE BACK OF PA GE IF MORE THAN 5 CHILDREN
193 Appendix D: Informed Consent Informed Consent to Part icipate in Research Information to Consider Before Taking Part in this Research Study IRB Study # Researchers at the University of South Flor ida (USF) study many topi cs. To do this, we need the help of people who agree to take pa rt in a research study. This form tells you about this research study. We are asking you to take part in a research study that is called: Asian Indian Parents Involvement in their Ch ildrenÂ’s Schooling: An Analysis of Social and Cultural Capital The person who is in charge of this research study is Susan Forde. This person is called the Principal Investigator. The research will be done through interviews with you in your home or at a public place that is convenient for you (e.g., coffee shop). Purpose of the study The purpose of this study is to Ms. Susan Forde, a graduate student in the College of Education at the University of South Florida is doing a study to examine the role Asian Indian parents residing in the U.S. play in their childrenÂ’s education. The re searcher is interested in Indian parentsÂ’ beliefs about education and how they engage in their childrenÂ’s school ing process. This study is being conducted for a dissertation. Y ou are being asked to participate because you are from India and have children enroll ed in a grade between Kindergarten and 12th grade in U.S. schools. Study Procedures If you take part in this study, you will be asked to If you take part in this study, you will be asked to: (1) Fill out the attached demographic questionnaire. The estimated time for comple tion is 5 minutes. (2) Answer questions in an interview with the researcher about your role in your child Â’s schooling and your beliefs about
194 Appendix D (Continued) education. This interview will last approxi mately 90 minutes. At the end of this interview, you will be asked to fill out a background information form. The estimated time for completion is 15 minutes. The interv iew will take place in your home or in a convenient public place (e.g., coffee shop). (3) You will be asked to undergo a follow-up interview to review transcripts of your earlie r interview and the c onclusions drawn by the researcher. This follow-up interview is voluntary and will last for approximately 45 minutes. It can be conducted by telephone, in your home, or in a convenient public place; it is your choice. It is estimated that the to tal time required for you to participate in this study is 2.5 hours. The first interview will be audio recorded. Only the researcher will have access to the recording of your inte rview. Tapes will be labeled using the pseudonym (false names). Your name will not be included on them anyplace. Tapes of the interviews notes will be kept for 5 y ears and then destroyed by erasing them. Alternatives You have the alternative to choose not to participate in this research study. Benefits The potential benefit to you is the chance to increase knowledge re searchers have about Indian parentsÂ’ role in their childrenÂ’ s education. Risks or Discomfort This research is considered to be minimal ris k. That means that the risks associated with this study are the same as what you face every day. There are no known additional risks to those who take part in this study. Compensation We will not pay you for the time you vol unteer while being in this study. Confidentiality We must keep your study records confidential. Your interviews will be tape recorded and then transcribed. The researcher will also take notes during the interviews and those notes will be typed up. To ensure your confidentiality, you will be assigned a pseudonym (false name). Only the researcher will have access to the list of family names and pseudonyms. She will keep this list in a lock ed file drawer in her home. The tape recordings of the interviews and informed c onsent documents will also be stored in this file drawer. Tapes will be labeled using the pseudonyms. Your name will not be included on them anyplace. The pseudonyms also will be used on the transcriptions of the interviews. Your name will not be used in re porting the results of the study. Transcripts of interviews with participants will be stored in password protected files on the researcherÂ’s computer. Tapes of the intervie ws, transcriptions, and notes will be kept for 5 years and then destroyed.
195 Appendix D (Continued) Interview transcripts and notes shared with others will not contain your real names. However, certain people may need to see your study records. By law, anyone who looks at your records must keep them completely confidential. The only people who will be allowed to see these records are: The research team, including the Principal Investigator, the researcherÂ’s advisor, and a researcher who will review transcripts of interviews Certain government and university peopl e who need to know more about the study. For example, individuals who provi de oversight on this study may need to look at your records. This is done to make sure that we are doing the study in the right way. They also need to make sure that we are protec ting your rights and your safety.) These include: o The University of South Florida Ins titutional Review Board (IRB) and the staff that work for the IRB. Other individuals who work for USF that provide other kinds of oversight may al so need to look at your records. o The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). We may publish what we learn from this study. If we do, we w ill not let anyone know your name. We will not publish anything else that would let people know who you are. Voluntary Participation / Withdrawal You should only take part in this study if you want to volunteer. Y ou should not feel that there is any pressure to take part in the st udy, to please the investig ator or the research staff. You are free to participate in this res earch or withdraw at a ny time. There will be no penalty or loss of benefits you are entitled to receive if you stop ta king part in this study. Questions, concerns, or complaints If you have any questions, concerns or comp laints about this study, call Susan Forde at 646-734-8229. If you have questions about your rights as a pa rticipant in this study, general questions, or have complaints, concerns or issues you want to discuss with someone outside the research, call the Division of Research In tegrity and Compliance of the University of South Florida at (813) 974-9343. If you experience an unanticipated problem re lated to the research call Susan Forde at 646-734-8229.
196 Appendix D (Continued) Consent to Take Part in this Research Study It is up to you to decide whether you want to take part in this study. If you want to take part, please sign the form, if the following statements are true. I freely give my consent to take part in this study. I understand that by signing this form I am agreeing to take part in research. I have received a copy of this form to take with me. _____________________________________________ ____________ Signature of Person Taking Part in Study Date _____________________________________________ Printed Name of Person Taking Part in Study Statement of Person Obtaining Informed Consent I have carefully explained to the person taki ng part in the study what he or she can expect. I hereby certify that when this person signs th is form, to the best of my knowledge, he or she understands: What the study is about. What procedures/interventi ons/investigational drugs or devices will be used. What the potential benefits might be. What the known risks might be. Signature of Person Obtaining Informed Consent Date ________________________________________________ Printed Name of Person Obtaining Informed Consent
197 Appendix E: Semi-structured Interview Protocol Topic Domain 1: Embodied Cultural Capital IÂ’m interested in your beliefs about educat ion and the role you as a parent play in your childÂ’s schooling. If you r experiences differ significantly for any one of your children, please let me know Share with me your beliefs about the importance of education for your children. 1. How would you rank the importance of education in comparison to other aspects of your childrenÂ’s lives? (e.g., sports, art, music, play, other afterschool activities). Why is this is so? a. How similar do you believe is your view of the importance of education in your childrenÂ’s lives as compared to the view that is commonly held in American society? b. In what ways, if any, are you influe nced by what you perceive to be the dominant view in the U.S. a bout education and schooling for your child/children? 2. Where or from what sources do you deri ve your beliefs about education (e.g., religion, your parents, etc.)? 3. How do you communicate to your child expe ctations about his/her education? a. What role does education play in your childÂ’s/childrenÂ’s future? 4. Are there certain norms or expectations in the Asian Indian community about education and the role pa rents should play in th eir childÂ’s education? a. What might some of these be? b. To what extent does this play a role in what you communicate to your child/children about your expecta tions for his/her education and his/her performance in school? 5. From what other sources (e.g., religious teachings, family members) do you believe your child/children receive messa ges about the role of education in their lives? 6. To what extent does the fact that you ar e an immigrant to the United States of America play a role in what you te ll your kids about education? a. To what extent does your own e xperience growing up in another country influence what you believe and tell your child/children about education? b. Does your ethnicity influence what you tell them about education? 7. How important do you think it is that your child/children share your beliefs about education? 8. What do you do to ensure that your ch ild/children acquire these beliefs? 9. Overall, what do you think th e role of parents should be in their childrenÂ’s education?
198 Appendix E (Continued) 10. To what extent are your beliefs a bout your childÂ’s edu cation and schooling consistent with what is valued by his or her school? (as reflected in schoolÂ’s policies and practices ) 11. To what extent are you involved with a ny particular type of school activities (e.g., PTA, fundraising, volunteering in classroom, and any other school activities )? a. Frequency b. Duration 12. In general, how important do you think it is for parents to be involved in these activities? a. Why? 13. What kinds of resources outside of school do you utilize to help your child with school ( tutors, enriching activities, pr ovision of study materials). 14. What types of issues do you typically talk about with your childÂ’s teachers or other school officials? a. Academic issues? Behavior issues? 15. How easy or difficult has it been for y ou to communicate or interact with school officials/teachers? Are there partic ular factors that help or hinder you from communicating with teac hers or school officials? 16. What challenges, if any, have you experien ced in your attempts to be involved in your childÂ’s schooling (e.g., work schedule family commitments scheduling of school meeti ngs, activities, and events ?) 17. From your perspective, what are some important things you believe it is your responsibility to teach your child? (e.g., how to speak home language fluently?) 18. What do you see as the schoolÂ’s responsib ility to teach your child/children? Topic Domain 2: Social Norms IÂ’d like to learn a bit more about your child Â’s/childrenÂ’s in-school and out-of school activities as well as their friendship groups If your experiences differ significantly for any one of your children, please let me know. 1. In a typical week, what kinds of things do you do to assist your child/children with school or their school work? 2. How often do you engage in conversation with your child/ch ildren about school, school work or their performance in school? a. What kinds of topics do you talk about in these conversations?
199 Appendix E (Continued) 3. What kinds of rules or expectati ons does your family have for your childÂ’s/childre n schoolwork? a. Homework b. Grades c. Time spent on academics 4. In what type of out-of-school activities do your child/children t ypically engage? With whom do they t ypically engage for thes e after-school activities? a. Friends at school? In the neighborhood? b. How important are these activities and the friends with whom they engage in such activities to you a nd your child/children? 5. To what extent have you tried to en sure that the activities in which your child/children participate outside of sc hool are with children whose parents you know? a. Do these children usually tend to co me from the Asian Indian community? b. How important is it that your child/ children socialize with other Asian Indian children? 6. Do you encourage your child/children to par ticipate in cultural activities in the Asian Indian community? What type of activities (could you provide me a few examples)? a. How important are these activities to you? How do you see them helping your child/children? 7. Are there any other activities in which your children regularly engage? Cultural, academic, or otherwise? a. When they participate in these activitie s, who are the children that they are most often with? (e.g., children w hose parents you know well, other children in the Asian Indian comm unity, children from their schools) b. How does their participation in these ac tivities relate to their education? 8. Do you tend to socialize with the pare nts of your childÂ’s/c hildrenÂ’s friends? a. Can you give me a few examples of the kinds of things that you do? 9. How important do you believe it is to know the families of your childÂ’s/childrenÂ’s friends well? 10. How important do you believe it is to have a say in your chil dÂ’s/childrenÂ’s choice of friends? 11. How important is it to you that your child/chi ldren have friends from the Asian Indian community? a. Anything else that you feel that is important for your ch ildÂ’s/childrenÂ’s friends? b. What has influenced your beliefs on this issue? 12. Earlier, you described the priority you placed on education. To what extent would you say that the parents of your chil dÂ’s/childrenÂ’s closest friends share this value orientation?
200 Appendix E (Continued) 13. Overall, when you think about life in America and American schools, is there anything that you, as a parent, do differently, than you would in India, in regard to engaging with your child/c hildrenÂ’s education? Topic Domain 3: Social Networks IÂ’m interested in learning about your friendship groups. How would you describe the individuals who are among your cl osest friends? Or with whom you most often socialize? Are they your: a. Neighbors? b. Parents of your childrenÂ’s classmates? c. People from cultural associat ions to which you belong? d. Primarily made up of other Asian Indian families? 2. How well do you know the parents of the children who attend your childÂ’s school? c. How many of them do you know (e.g., one other parent, a few parents, etc.) d. How often do you interact with them? e. What kinds of conversati ons do you have with them? 3. Share with me some of the most comm on issues or questions related to your childÂ’s/childrenÂ’s education and/or schooling about which you would seek information? 4. When you want to find out information a bout any issue or topic related to your childÂ’s/childrenÂ’s ed ucation or schooling, what would you say are the primary sources of information that you use? a. Internet b. Other parents c. Teachers 5. When you speak to other parents for information, who do you tend to talk to: a. Parents from social or cultura l groups to which you belong b. Family members c. Parents at your childÂ’s school d. Parents in clubs/organizations in which your child/children participate 6. How would you describe the importance of the information that you receive from other parents in helping you make educationa l decisions for your child/children or understand the schooling process? 7. How would you describe the importance of the information that you receive from other parents in making educational decisions? f. In understanding the schooling process?
201 Appendix F: Background Information Form Participant Number : ___________(Provided by Researcher) Last Name : ____________________ First Name : ____________________ Primary Occupation : ________________ Secondary Occupation : ______________ Annual Household Income before taxes : (Check one) Below $15, 000 $15, 000-$24, 999 $25, 000-$34, 999 $35, 000-$44, 999 $45, 000-$54, 999 $55, 000-$64, 999 $65, 000 -$74, 999 $75, 000-$84, 999 $85, 000-$94, 999 $95, 000$104, 999 Above 105, 000 Highest Education Level Completed : (Circle one) Country Where Completed 1 No formal schooling ______________ 2 Elementary ______________ 3 Junior Secondary ______________ 4 High School ______________ 5 Post-secondary-non degree ______________ (e.g., technical college) 6 Some college ______________ 7 Associate degree ______________ 8 BachelorÂ’s degree ______________ 9 MasterÂ’s degree ______________ 10 Professional degree (e.g., M. D.,L.L.B) ______________ 11 Doctoral degree (e.g., Ph.D., Ed.D.) ______________ How long did you live in your country of or igin before immigrating to reside permanently in the U.S.? _______ Marital status : (Circle one) 1 Never married 2 Married 3 Separated 4 Divorced 5 Widow/Widower
202 Appendix F (Continued) Number of adults (18 years or older) residing in your household : ___________________ Number of children (ages 1 Â– 17) residing in your household : (Circle one) 1 2 3 4 5 More than 5 (specify number) _____ Child 1 Biological Adopted Other Age: __________ Birth date: __________ Grade in school: __________ Grades on last report card: Subject Grade Child 2 Biological Adopted Other Age: __________ Birth date: __________ Grade in school: __________ Subject Grade
203 Appendix F (Continued) Child 3 Biological Adopted Other Age: __________ Birth date: __________ Grade in school: __________ Subject Grade Child 4 Biological Adopted Other Age: __________ Birth date: __________ Grade in school: __________ Subject Grade
204 Appendix G: Codebook 1. 0 Connections/contact to home country & U.S. 3.0 Indian Community Norms re: Education/Achievement 1.1 family 3.1 Parents' relationships with parents of children's friends 1.2. Visits, telephone contact to home country 3.2 Information ab. Children's social networks (adults & children) & values of this network 1.3 Relationship to U.S. (length of time in US, etc.) 3.3 AI community expectations about grades, achievement, ` competitiveness in community 1.3.1 Reference to U.S. as home not home 3.4 Parents' be liefs/choices re: composition of children's social circles 1.4 Future plans (residence, retirement) 3.5 Childre n's participation in cultural activities in community 1.5 Views of U.S./life in U.S., comparisons to India, etc. 3.6. Norms of AI community about parents' role in education parent's duties, community norms ab. parent role, mother's role 2.0 Connections with Community (in U.S.) with region/country community 4.0 Perceptions of American public schools 2.1 Associations 4.1 Perceptions-Teachers, administration (includes comparisons to India) 2.2 special events (festival, gala, re ligious events, dance performance, Vidyalaya, temple) 4.2 Perceptions-Curriculum (includes comparisons to India) 2.3 Social gatherings with other Indian families
205 Appendix G (continued) 5.0 Parent Beliefs Connected to Education 6.0 Parent Involvement 5.1 Beliefs about the value/importance of education 6.1 PI-Communication with schools (other than open houses--phone calls, email, etc.), home school relationship, progress monitoring 5.2 Origins of beliefs about education (where did they get them) 6.2 PI-Formal channels (PTA, volunteering, open houses etc.) 5.2.1 Their parents 6.3 PI-Home (help w/ homework, projects, monitoring homework completion) 5.2.3 Their friends 6.4 PI-Applying to special programs (e.g., middle & HS magnets, gifted programs) 5.2.2 Indian culture, system, society (e .g., colonialism, overpopulation explanations) 6.5 PI-Outside resources other than parent help (e.g., Kumon, classes at temple) 5.3 Beliefs about their role in their child ren's education, 6.6 PI-Worki ng on basic academic skills before child begins school 5.4 Race/ethnicity, emig ration, and education 6.7 PI-Supplementing with parent-assigned work, academic work in summers, 5.5 Beliefs about extra work (e.g., in summer, flexibility of brain when children are young, supplementing acad. work) 6.8 Parents (or other family members) discussing with children school and education related topics 5.6 Belief's about maintaining connections to culture, knowledge of culture, specific cultural values, home language, etc. 6.9 Finding other learning opportunities (e.g., volunteering at a lab) Extracurricular opportunities 5.7 Differences between Indian and Am. Community beliefs about education (e.g. how important extracurricular actities are) 5.8 Role of extracurricular activities in education 5.9 Family (parents, grandparents, etc.) ru les/expectations, beliefs about grades, achievement 5.10 Beliefs about schools resp onsibility to teach children 5.11 Values that are important to them in raising their children
206 Appendix G (continued) 7.0 Perceptions of Community 9.0 Challeng es Encountered with Parent Involvement 7.1 Perceptions of Indian community 9.1 Difficulties with school personnel 7.2 Teacher expectations of Indian children 9.2 Navigating the school system (policies, processes, lack of familiarity) 9.3 Cultural differences, bias, language issues 8.0 Social Networks 9.4 Time, logistics (e.g., transportation) 8.1 Communication with parents from kids' schools (generally & regarding education) 8.2 Communication with parents of children's friends (generally & re: educ.) 8.3 Parents' friendship network characteristics 8.4 Other sources of info rmation about education (e .g., Internet, teachers) 8.5 Children's activities 8.6 communication with friends/social network re: education
About the Author Susan Chanderbhan-Forde received her Bach elor of Arts Degree in Psychology from York University in Toronto, Canada in 2000 and her Masters in Educational Psychology from Indiana UniversityÂ–Bloomington in 2002. After completing he r MasterÂ’s degree, she worked in non profit and higher education settings in New York City. She entered the Ph.D. program in School Psychology in 2005 While enrolled in the University of South Florida School Psychology Program, sh e specialized in mental health and education with an international focus. During her time at the University of South Florida, Susan also developed an interest in program evaluation, (in particular in the use of qualitative methods in program evaluation), response to interventi on, and the education of immigrant students. Susan completed an APA-approved internship in the Dallas Independent School District.