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The conflicted pedagogical and curricular perspectives of middle-class mothers

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Advocates of progressive education have been frustrated by the lack of success in implementing and sustaining progressive school reform. The ideals of progressive education are associated with educated professionals and middle-class parentsespecially mothers- are influential in determining the nature of education for their children and, inadvertently, for all children. This study examines the attitudes towards schooling of middle-class, college-educated mothers in order to discern their curricular and pedagogical preferences. The findings indicate that an impediment to progressive reform is the lack of support for progressive forms of schooling among its supposed proponents, the college-educated members of the middle class. On one level middle-class parents espouse the liberal notions of open, integrated, multicultural, student-centred education that are typically associated with parents of this class. Their narratives, however, reveal an actual preference for conservative practice- for factual, tightly-sequenced, subject-area-bound, Western-civilization-oriented curricula- in which children of their class have traditionally established measurable competencies and uncontested superiority.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 1998

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