Date of this Version
Edwards, C.P. & Kutaka, T.S. (2015). Diverse perspectives of parents, diverse concepts of parent involvement and participation: Contrasts between Italy and the United States. Chapter prepared for S. M. Sheridan & E. M. Kim (Eds.), Foundational Aspects of Family-School Partnerships (p. 35-54).
Diversity of experiences and perspectives, it is widely agreed, should be a source of strength in home-school partnerships, as in other aspects of educational endeavor. Yet often, in the literature, diversity is presented as a complication to be overcome. A limiting mindset often prevails, both in theory and practice, where diversity is regarded as an issue or barrier, even amidst the best of intentions to be inclusive. In this chapter, we argue that this limiting mindset on diversity may in fact derive in part from the conceptual frameworks with which we in the United States contemplate and conduct research on diversity issues in home-school relationships. We make this point by taking the discussion outside the framework of the American literature. First, we offer our summary and interpretation of several general principles that describe the purpose, nature, and value attached to parental involvement in the United States. Next, we turn to the field of Italian education, in particular, to conceptualizations about partecipazione, or participation, a term for the idealized way in which parents, teachers, and community members should take an active part in the life, culture, and decisions concerning children and the educational services created for them. We draw mainly from the writings of a network of early educational leaders from cities of northern and central Italy (e.g., Bologna, Milan, Modena, Pistoia, Reggio Emilia, and others)—places which have carried out the strongest experiments in creating and sustaining systems of home-school-community.