2018 Volume 85 Issue 4 Pages 471-482
The aim of this paper is to outline teachers' perceptions of the roles and expectations which schools and families play in education, by investigating cases where it is difficult to gain cooperation from the family.
Cooperation between schools and families is clearly required both legally and practically. Previous research has focused on the promotion of cooperation between schools and families. However, the content of the cooperation itself has rarely been questioned. It is important to consider that such cooperation exposes socioeconomic gaps among families. Nevertheless, teachers in Japan tend to make the gap invisible and formalize outward cooperation between schools and families. Although most families in Japan used to obey the requirements of schools, this has changed.
The relationship or cooperation between schools and families is connected to the problems of power and inequality. Therefore, measures are necessary in order to ensure that children from socio-economically difficult backgrounds are not disadvantaged. It is the school districts with many families who suffer socioeconomical difficulties that face problems of cooperation with the family.
Therefore, this article investigates the case of such schools, and through school documents and interviews with teachers, clarifies what is perceived concerning the scope of the schools and families involved. Specifically, this research explores what kind of perspective the teachers have and how they respond to the families who cannot fully adhere to the roles the school seeks.
As a result, the following has been discovered.
1. Although schools indicate the elements of cooperation required for families, there is a gap between documents and teachers' practice.
2. Schools are making efforts to compensate for some of the roles which some families cannot always fulfill. These elements are more directly linked to the guarantee of academic achievement. At the same time, teachers worry that for the school to undertake a more dominant role may deprive students of the ability to study alone in the long run.
3. When teachers themselves reluctantly take on the role of the family in a school, they impose restrictions on their actions so as not to over-assist or overwork. On the other hand, they believe that it is their job to create an environment for children to learn at school.
In conclusion, it was discovered that teachers vary the role played by the families facing socioeconomic difficulties and the role that teachers themselves play depending on the school's situation. Teachers negotiate family-school relationships from the viewpoint of promoting students' academic achievement. However, no questions were raised as to the roles actually required for families, and there was no suggestion to change the ideology that families should cooperate with schools. This demonstrates that the ideology has been widely accepted. Critical examination from the political and structural aspects is needed for the relationship between families and schools in areas with different social conditions.