Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education



Loukia K. Sarroub

Date of this Version



Published (as Chapter 5) in Home-School Connections in a Multicultural Society: Learning from and with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Families, edited by Maria Luiza Dantas and Patrick C. Manyak (New York & London: Routledge, 2010), pp. 76–93. Copyright © 2010 Routledge/Taylor & Francis. Used by permission.


Cohen and Neufeld (1981) have remarked that schools are a great theater in which conflicts of culture get played out. The same can be said about homes and families in relation to schools. In fact, scholars and educators have attempted to understand, define, and refine the parameters and connections that bind schools and homes together. In this chapter, I explore the ways in which students’ success at home and school has been conceptualized in scholarly literature, and then connect this literature to the lives of Arab-American youth and their families. The underlying premise undergirding the ideas in this chapter is that identity development as it is enacted in home and school discourses is related to socialization, learning, and achievement. I discuss cultural capital theory (Bourdieu, 1987; Lareau, 2000; Bowles & Gintis, 1976) and a cultural-ecological perspective (Ogbu, 1982a) to examine models of congruence and difference and to explain students’ achievement in two worlds. Then, I proceed to describe and analyze the two theories in relation to data collected in Arab-American neighborhoods by situating each within the context of research conducted in education. Next, I offer an ethnographic case of Yemeni youth and their literacies and a socio-historical case of Palestinian women’s lives and situate these within the afore-mentioned theoretical models. Before concluding the chapter, I offer some suggestions for teachers and schools in relation to Muslim Arab populations.