Beyond anxiety and nostalgia: building a social movement for educational change

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Beyond anxiety and nostalgia: Building a social movement for educational change
Andy Hargreaves. Phi Delta Kappan. Bloomington: Jan 2001.Vol.82, Iss. 5; pg. 373, 5 pgs

ubjects: Parents & parenting, Educators, Education
Author(s): Andy Hargreaves
Document types: Feature
Publication title: Phi Delta Kappan. Bloomington: Jan 2001. Vol. 82, Iss. 5; pg. 373, 5 pgs
Source type: PeriodicalISSN: 00317217
ProQuest document ID: 66365285
Text Word Count 4430
Document URL:

Abstract (Document Summary)
Closing the door on parents and trying to control the interaction with them might alleviate teachers' anxiety, but it does so only by sacrificing their own future and that of their students.Full Text (4430 words)
Copyright Phi Delta Kappa Jan 2001 [Headnote]
Closing the door on parents and trying to control the interaction with them might alleviate teachers' anxiety, Mr Hargreaves points out, but it does so only by mortgaging their own future and that of their students.

PARENTS today are often exalted as teachers' best partners and one of their most underused resources.Good teacher/parent relations, it has been shown, help children learn better at home and in school and can provide teachers with the practical, fund-raising, and emotional support they sorely need. Yet to many teachers today, parents sometimes seem less like partners and more like a pain! Consider the remarks of these two teachers. Sometimes, when parents call and they're sort of being verypointed in their criticism over the phone, you get very defensive, and you feel like, "Hey, wait a minute, you know, I've done this, this, this, and this." And, you know, "Don't tell me how to do my job." And you know there's those kinds of feelings that come out. You feel annoyed that there is this person who keeps phoning and saying you're not doing your job, and you just sort of wish he'd go away.But you also feel this sort of sense of responsibility because you can step back from him and say, "Well, maybe he's not handling this the best way he could." (Male secondary teacher) * * * You can't help but get angry and upset by it. You have to remain calm and not get defensive and just do the best you can to defuse the situation and meet and hopefully make the parent more aware. (Maleelementary school teacher) The comments of these two teachers, drawn from interviews with 53 teachers that my graduate students and I conducted in our study of the emotions of teaching, show that teachers can experience great anxiety in their interactions with parents.' While the rhetoric that teachers should treat parents as partners in their children's education is widespread, and more than a fewpositive partnerships exist, the reality is often very different.2 In this article, I explore the reasons that teachers are anxious about their interaction with parents. I encourage teachers to overcome these anxieties in order to combat the parental nostalgia for "real schools" that often undermines school improvement efforts. Last, I advise teachers to see parents not as adversaries but as allieswho can work with them to build a powerful social movement for the reform of public education. In his masterly work on the sociology of teaching, Willard Waller was characteristically blunt about the problem of teacher/parent relations. From the ideal point of view, parents and teachers have much in common in that both, supposedly, wish things to occur for the best interests of the child; but infact, parents and teachers usually live in conditions of mutual distrust and enmity. Both wish the child well, but it is such a different kind of well that conflict must inevitably arise over it. The fact seems to be that parents and teachers are natural enemies, predestined each for the discomfiture of the other.3 Waller's words may be too melodramatic for today, but the obstacles to effective...
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