The debate about dividing teaching between the classroom and the home is nothing new. Teachers argue that education should not be limited to the confines nor the timetable of the classroom, but that it should continue beyond this through the help of parents - but what subjects should be shared in this way?
Pedro Ortega, a senior professor at the University of Murcia who led this research, tells SINC that "the conflict aroused by the new subject Education for Citizenship has awoken many families from their lengthy lethargy and led to them exercising their rights to play an active role in the educational work carried out by schools".
The study, published in the latest issue of the Revista Española de Pedagogía includes warnings from teachers about the fact that families "are starting to see themselves as clients, as consumers of education services, demanding greater product quality. They do nothing more than demand services and choose those schools that best reflect their preferences". The socialisation and educative functions of the student's immediate emotional environment have thus been delegated to schools.
The researchers say that the heart of the problem lies in "the lack of collective consciousness about the need for families to be effectively involved in the entire range of pupils' educational and socialising processes", and "the lack of political will to enact the changes that the old organisational structure of our school system has been demanding for so long".
The problem, from the teaching point of view, is two-pronged. The first problem is parents' lack of trust in the professional work carried out by teachers and, as Ortega points out, "their resistance to becoming involved in a task they do not believe they share responsibility for". The other side of the coin, according to the study, is the lack of will among teaching staff to implement mechanisms that would make it possible for families to become effectively involved in managing schools.
How to involve families
The study proposes promoting the "effective autonomy" of schools in order to help "each school find its own identity, according to its socio cultural context, so that its educational programmes can be designed to meet the needs of its pupils, and to ensure that these programmes really act to guide the entire range of educational activities", say Ortega and his team.
There are, however, obstacles to putting these measures into action, because the current legal framework governing families' participation in school management is, according to the experts, ineffective. "The experience of the AMPAS (parents' associations) is clear evidence of this", say the researchers at the University of Murcia.
The research team adds that "it would be worth taking a risk in some places and testing out a new model of school self-management that would ensure provision of the minimum nationally-required curriculum contents and also comply with our constitutional principles". This solution, they say, would make it possible for the centre to be governed by regulations stemming from the school community itself and for it to follow an educational programme "that would fulfil the needs and interests of both the students and the actual context of the school itself".
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