Mothering for Schooling

Mothering for Schooling

Mothering for Schooling

Mothering for Schooling

Synopsis

Griffith and Smith explore the innumerable, hidden, seemingly mundane tasks like getting kids ready for school, helping with homework, or serving on the PTA can all have profound effects on what occurs within school. Based on longitudinal interviews with mothers of school-age children, this book exposes the effects mothers' work has on educational systems as a whole and the ways in which inequalities of educational opportunities are reproduced.

Excerpt

This chapter situates our experiences of being single parents, our research, and our data analysis in a historical trajectory of mothering for schooling. Over time, middle-class women have come to play a distinctive part in reproducing their own middle-class status for their children through the public school systems of North America. Middle-class women's work as mothers has contributed largely invisible resources of thought, energy, and involvement to the elementary schools their children attend. Although women in lower-income groups are supportive and active in their children's upbringing and schooling, their work as mothers is done with fewer economic resources and smaller amounts of school-oriented time than those of most middle-class women. As we will see in later chapters, and as the literature on families and schools has shown, a middle-class family work organization is presumed by schools. Where mothers' work does not, or cannot, participate fully in this social relation, the family-school's reproduction of a middle class is jeopardized. We take up the problem of inequality in schooling as being produced partly in that relation, not external to it.

In this chapter, we argue that a characteristic form of middle-class family organization has emerged in which the male partner occupies a professional or managerial type of occupational position. in this social location, he is able to earn enough to enable his wife to stay home and to commit herself in various ways to her children's health, socialization, and to supplementary educational work supporting their schools. Unlike the research and thinking on schooling and inequality (discussed

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