Keynote 1 Professor Gill Crozier

From middle-class social reproduction to collective critical consciousness (conscientization): Parents as agents of their children’s education through democratic, collective participation. Is this a fantasy or a potential reality?

In parts of Europe and the Anglophone world parental involvement in schools and education has taken on an unhealthy intensity. Driven by individualisation and the global competition of seeking ‘world leading’ education performance, governments/policy makers have raised their expectations of parents as providers of school-ready children, primed to perform in the heightened exam stakes that face them on a regular basis. Private tutoring after school and the various indicators of ‘concerted cultivation’, together with an increase in ‘parenting classes’ and an emphasis on ‘responsibilisation’ are now the norm in many societies. In this lecture I will discuss these developments and their implications or potential implications for mothers and fathers (female and male carers) generally and also the effect of such expectations on those already marginalised in their relationships with schools.

However, in addition to this scenario other developments indicating potential for parental agency and the possibilities of arresting the stifling and oppressive hold of the (post structural) ‘reflexive project of the self’ as Giddens termed it or in the structural sense, the middle-class endeavour of social reproduction. The recent financial crisis and revelations of the corruption of the financial world have exposed something of the way the capitalist world works and in turn have given expression to people’s frustration with this dominant order. Whilst not suggesting revolution is afoot, there are glimmers of opportunities for change in terms of the role of schools and communities. In relation to parents, families and education these include the emergence of communities of practice and democratic involvement, such as in Chicago and Finland for example.

In this lecture I will discuss these two contrasting ‘scenarios’ and the tensions between as well as within them and whether through emerging fissures there are potential possibilities for parental agency and the development of collective educational opportunities.

About Gill Crozier

Gill Crozier is Professor of Education, and former Director of the Centre for Educational Research in Equalities, Policy and Pedagogy (2012-2015) in the School of Education, University of Roehampton, London, UK. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

As a sociologist of education she has researched and written extensively about parents/families and school relationships, issues relating to young people, access to and participation in higher education, education policy, and the socio-cultural influences upon identity formation and learner experiences. Her work is underpinned by a deep concern for in/equalities and social justice and is informed by the analysis of race, class and gender and the ways these social locations and identities intersect and impact on life chances.

Her books include: Parents and Schools: Partners or Protagonists? (2000); Activating Participation: parents and teachers working towards partnership (2005) co-edited with Diane Reay ; Widening Participation Through Improving Learning (2009) co-authored with M. David (ed.) and contributors; White Middle Class Identities and Urban Schooling (2011 and 2013 second revised edition) co-authored with D. Reay and D. James.

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