Culture Counts

By Winter, Metta | Human Ecology, Winter 2000 | Go to article overview

Culture Counts


Winter, Metta, Human Ecology


IT IS THE CONTEXT IN WHICH CHILDREN ARE RAISED AND TAUGHT

Early childhood expert Katrina Greene is looking at how the beliefs and practices of African American families affect the social and cognitive development of their children. Her three-year study will establish data for families from a range of income and education levels.

It's parent-teacher night at an elementary school in a multiracial community. The new, young white teacher is greeting the parents gathered in their child's first grade classroom. As she scans the room she notices immediately the absence of African American parents. She thinks to herself, those parents must not care.

Not so, says early childhood expert Katrina Greene, who offers another perspective. Her research has shown that traditional African American parents often view teachers as authority figures, as the knowledgeable experts into whose care they turn over their children's education. So when parent-teacher night rolls around, parents do not feel that their presence is imperative.

"Teachers often see these parents as people who place little value on education, who don't have a strong desire for their children to succeed," says Greene, an assistant professor of human development, who specializes in studying African American children's social and cognitive development. "This inference not only casts the parents in a bad light but also affects how the teachers treat their children. Sometimes the teachers don't give these children a chance right from the start."

Greene's point is that when it comes to promoting social competence and academic achievement in African American children, culture and attitudes count. Culture determines parents' attitudes about their children's education and their relationships with their children's teachers; it determines their attitude about disciplining their children; and it determines the expectations they have for their children's behavior and development.

The gap in knowledge about the development of African American children stems from a longstanding practice of designing studies that contrast African American families with white families rather than studies that look at each group in and of itself. What's more, in those studies income has often been confounded with ethnicity, so that middle class white families have been compared with low-income African American families. As a result, African American families have appeared to be "culturally deficient" in their socialization beliefs and practices.

"In a sense, the literature tells us what African American families aren't, not what they are," Greene explains.

She adds that the theoretical literature contains many references to the strong influence of the "discontinuities" between the views of parents and teachers on socializing children--such as the expected amount of participation in their child's school activities. Yet there are few empirical studies that clearly pinpoint what those cultural differences are in terms that are useful to parents or to teachers.

In a three-year longitudinal study she began last year, Greene expects to establish what is called "normative baseline data" for African American families from a range of socioeconomic and educational backgrounds. This means she's looking for both the strengths and weaknesses in how African American parents raise their children-what's culturally rich as well as what's culturally deficient. She wants to examine this for poor families and wealthy families as well as middle class families. In addition, she's including families with variant levels of education. By doing so, Green will be able to make within-group comparisons, hence measuring what is known as intragroup variability, which refutes the notion that everyone in a given group acts in the same way--one of the underpinnings of stereotyping.

Using a measuring instrument of Greene's own design, the study is the very first of its kind, It's based on the elegantly simple approach of describing a typical day in an African American home. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Culture Counts
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.