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Reframing the Novice ersus Expert Roles of Children, Parents, and Teachers from a Cultural ... - page 6 / 22





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Doucet and Tudge

From this perspective, teaching children also involves learning from them, to under- stand not only the more specific skills and concepts they need to advance their current level of thinking (something that interactions that create a zone of proximal development share with scaffolding) but also the way in which the children think about learning, their learn- ing styles, their views about school, their lives at home, and their differing cultural back- grounds. This is not simply a matter of teachers gaining more information about their children as a way to teach them more effectively, although this may be one consequence. Just as many teachers realize that they learn new material best while teaching it. The chil- dren, while teaching their teachers about themselves and their ways of thinking, are likely to become more drawn into the process of learning.

There are two main ways in which these theories are relevant to the transition to school. The first and more obvious way is that the more teachers try to create zones of proxi- mal development in those who are just entering school by encouraging the process of teach- ing and learning, the more likely children are going to feel comfortable and accepted in school. Children’s high levels of comfort and acceptance may not be the ultimate goal, but they certainly make for a convenient start. The second way is more relevant to the aims of this chapter because precisely the same argument that has been made with regard to teacher–child relationships can be made regarding teacher–parent relationships.


Taylor, Clayton, and Rowley (2004) reviewed the literature on parents’ influences on their young children’s academic development and concluded that much of what is known comes from one of two perspectives. The first is focused on “what parents do,” that is, the behavior habits in which parents engage that help or hinder their children’s school-related success. The second examines “who parents are,” or the attitudinal, cultural, socioeconomic, and other personal characteristics that are believed to influence parents’ academic socialization prac- tices. Our own examination of the transition to school literature suggests that underlying re- ports of “what parents do” with respect to preparation for school are some important assumptions about “who parents are.” Although not explicitly described as such, reports of transition practices among parents suggest one of two approaches: 1) parents [read White and/or middle-class parents], having taught their children their ABCs and 123s and having read to their children from infanc , talk to their children about the upcoming change, visit the school both to orient the children to the new classroom and to meet the teacher, and send their children on their wa , confident that the children will adapt to the new environment with relative ease; or 2) parents [read Black/dark-skinned and/or poor parents] who do not own and/or do not read books to their children realize that the time has come for their chil- dren to begin kindergarten and, assuming they have learned enough in preschool, send them on their way with little thought to developing a relationship with the teacher and with no plans or time to be actively involved in the children’s schooling. Although the summary above is overly simplistic, it does capture some of the underlying assumptions regarding who is pre- pared for school (and who is not) and why this is the case. Along these lines, some research on the lack of preparedness of working-class and poor, (mostly) minority children (Connell & Prinz, 2002; Stipek & Ryan, 1997; Wright, Diener, & Ka , 2000; Zill & Collins, 1995) fails to acknowledge the mainstream values dictating the behavior habits that are deemed

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