19 Urban Questions: Teaching in the City

By Shirley R. Steinberg; Joe L. Kincheloe | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Who Is Included
in the Urban Family?

Katia Goldfarb

The ideal family conjures up an image of a mom, a dad, and two children— preferably, one boy and one girl, in that order. As we continue conjuring, we envision a stylish home surrounded by trees and, of course, enclosed in a white picket fence. The mother has a career, but she has chosen to stay home until the children grow up. Her position will be waiting when and if she decides to go back to work. The father happily leaves for the commute to his job every morning, as part of his conscious decision; the city is not the best environment in which to raise a family.

Families who have the economic resources to entertain this decision are the only ones who can fulfill the above mythical image of family living. Urban families are either wealthy enough to offer their members the necessary experiences to compensate for the suburban context, such as private schools, periodic vacations, and modern and spacious apartments, or they are stuck with life in the city as their only viable option. In this chapter, I will describe some of the most crucial contextual issues affecting urban families with children of low socioeconomic status and limited formal education.


The Pathologization of Families from Minority Groups

One of the most important of these contextual issues involves the right-wing pathologization of urban families of minority groups. Deploying the concept of “family values, ” right-wing operatives have argued that there is little we can do for urban students because they come from pathological families. The urban student

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