Views of women, on one side, as inwardly directed toward home and family and notions of men, on the other, as outwardly striving t oward fame and fortune have resounded throughout literature and in the texts of history, biology, and psychology until they seem uncontestable. Such dichotomous views defy the complexities of individuals and stifle the potential for people to reveal different dimensions of themselves in various settings.

Sara Lawrence Lightfoot social problems: sexism families community

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There must be a profound recognition that parents are the first teachers and that education begins before formal schooling and is deeply rooted in the values, traditions, and norms of family and culture.

Sara Lawrence Lightfoot parents as role models families community

Mothers seem to be in subtle competition with teachers. There is always an underlying fear that teachers will do a better job than they have done with their child.... But mostly mothers feel that their areas of competence are very much similar to those of the teacher. In fact they feel they know their child better than anyone else and that the teacher doesn't possess any special field of authority or expertise.

Sara Lawrence Lightfoot school and parent interaction mothers teachers

Even though fathers, grandparents, siblings, memories of ancestors are important agents of socialization, our society focuses on t he attributes and characteristics of mothers and teachers and gives them the ultimate responsibility for the child's life chances.

Sara Lawrence Lightfoot mothers/mothers' roles parents education

Dissonance between family and school, therefore, is not only inevitable in a changing society; it also helps to make children more malleable and responsive to a changing world. By the same token, one could say that absolute homogeneity between family and school would reflect a static, authoritarian society and discourage creative, adaptive development in children.

Sara Lawrence Lightfoot school and parent interaction families schools

Productive collaborations between family and school, therefore, will demand that parents and teachers recognize the critical impor tance of each other's participation in the life of the child. This mutuality of knowledge, understanding, and empathy comes not only with a recognition of the child as the central purpose for the collaboration but also with a recognition of the need to maintain roles and relationships with children that are comprehensive, dynamic, and differentiated.

Sara Lawrence Lightfoot school and parent interaction parents children