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Con Respeto: Bridging the Distances Between Culturally Diver

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Chiedza Mutsaka

on 17 May 2015

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Transcript of Con Respeto: Bridging the Distances Between Culturally Diver

Valdés designed her research:

"To follow 10 children as they started school in a community close to the Mexican border...over a period of 3 years." (p.6)


To understand
"the ways in which children were prepared by their parents to function within the family, in the outside community and in the school setting" (p.7)

and at the end it became
"A book about unfair perceptions and well-intentioned efforts to reform families so that their children succeed in schools" (p.5)
Con Respeto
Why ethnographic case study?
For EDUCATORS: Importance of crafting an educational practice that is more responsive to students’ cultural heritage.

Con Respeto, as an Ethnographic portrait gives a rich picture of:
the forces that shape students’ lives and attitudes
how cultural heritages influence students' educational and lifelong opportunities.
the everyday cultural norms that guide schools, as well as those that guide students in their everyday lives.
the cultural divide that educational institutions inevitably create.
the need for schools and students’ families to work together to enhance learning (formal and informal)

LCMS/D 602
Spring 2015

Con Respeto:
Bridging the Distances Between Culturally Diverse Families & Schools
by Guadalupe Valdés

A Book Review by Chiedza Mutsaka Skyum
A. Door-to-door of 50 households in Las Fuentes to figure out language and literacy skills of the area

B. 3-year ethnographic study with 10 families

-Participant observation over 3 years
-Conversation and use of informants to study cultural and social characteristics

How does it fit into the category 'Ethnography'?
Guadalupe Valdés:

documented day-to-day lives of immigrants
entrenched herself into the community for 1year+
creates social relationship with the participants
described local relationships (formal and informal)
described local understandings and meanings (tacit and explicit)
tried to make sense of Las Fuentes
tried to understand the cases in relation to the entire social setting and all social relationships.
also contextualized these in wider contexts (e.g., the wider society, policies, etc.)
relayed the subjective views of the 'informants'
relayed her own relfections
How does it fit into the category 'Case Study'?
Guadalupe Valdés:

draws from the work of previous researchers
draws conclusions after discovering patterns in ethnographic data
looked for patterns amongst the different cases
is interested in WHY?
is interested in implications

Ethnographic Framework:

Valdés used Literature on minority student's failure

Bond (1981) - explanations of school failure
Ogbu (1983,1985,1986, 1987) - caste minority vs. immigrant minority
Steinberg (1981) - "New Darwinism"
Persell (1977) - 4 levels of analysis
Ethnography + Case Study

(Multiple) Case Study was Valdés' research strategy for data assembly and interpretation.

Valdés looked for patterns, reasons, implications.


Ethnography was Valdés' method of data collection.
There was no a priori hypothesis to avoid predetermining data

Valdés modified the research questions, design & technique during the study. (interactive-reactive approach).

INWARD-looking (isolated)
Reflections on Chapter 1: School Failure
4 Levels of analysis
for understanding the difficulties faced by minority children in the educational system (1977)

1) the societal
2) the institutional
3) the interpersonal
4) the interpsychic
Ethnography: Valdés' style
Very personalised and unassuming

Uses the phrases:
"I became conscious of..."
"I became aware of..."
"I realized..."
"I believe..."
"it became evident to me that..."
"I understood..."
"I hoped..."
Reflections on Chapter 2: The Setting & The Families
Valdés describes the different locations/settings;

Detailed social, cultural, environmental location description
Leaving Mexico to go to the USA is an emotional decision
Many factors considered in the move
Teenagers most likely to work on arrival in the USA to assist the family income
Educational system should accommodate these needs
Valdés style in describing the setting:
poetic, vivid, real

"The summer is long and hot",
"In the winter, the fields are barren and the days are cold", "Winter is short, and spring begins early",
"It is a southwestern spring in which there are sandstorms and days of whistling winds and dust"... (p. 42)
Reflections of Chapter 3: Coming Across
It is "difficult to imagine what it is like for early immigrants to leave their countries and to arrive in the United States" (p. 58)

mostly from interviews

Coded as

Fear of moving
Fear of being caught for illegal status
Fear of 'corruption' of children's family belief system
Fear of lack of success
Fear of separation from family
Fear of sending children to school

Coded as
'Lack of understanding'

Not understanding education system, therefore wouldn't send children to school
Not understanding the process of becoming legal
Not understanding the US culture
Not understanding the challenges they might face in the USA
Not understanding how to manage confused identity of children born in Mexico

Reflections on Chapter 4: The TEN Women
Valdés' descriptions of the women:
Valdés wanted to raise questions about family education programs to teach immigrant parents how to parent:

She hoped to show that these women
know how to parent, and their parenting styles were a product of their class, culture and experiences -
"they were very unlike those of the 'standard American family"

Provided alternative discourse to the usual perception of Mexican women. Described them as
"spirited, brave, optimistic, determined, loyal and perseverant" (p.93)

Very vivid descriptions again...
"Reino Castro de Leyba was a slightly plump, cheerful woman in her late twenties who loved to talk and was generally full of fun and mischief"
They have 2 goals:
1. Help husbands make a living
2. Help children become responsible adults

Valdés' reflects upon their shock and surprise at her questions that she says"baffled" them:

Did they feel exploited? Did they resent waiting on husband, brothers and sons? Did they feel powerless

Valdés came to understand that
"They were directed at living out their roles in life as they understood them"
Reflections of Chapter 5: Surviving in a New World
Making a living in a new world
Family collective wisdom
Unfamiliar USA rules and regulations (eg. building permits)
Resilience of Mexican families
Distrust of American doctors
Bilingual children doing interpretation for their family

Valdés writes with admiration of their resilience.
'Action research'
tone when retelling the tales on their difficulties obtaining adequate medical care.
"Errors were often made and lives were put in danger" (p.111)

Valdés was
very involved
, accompanying Rosario Castro to the welfare office and experiencing the arduous process of applying fpr medical assistance.
Reflections on Chapter 6: Raising Children
Chapter focused on
cultural understanding

"Respeto" - to have a recognition and acceptance of the needs of others with whom you interact with.

Valdés used other scholars to compare child raising techniques in American families (eg. Heath, 1983) p.128

Role of children in the family
Role of mother (nurturer), father (provider)
Family structure (incl. extended family)
'Consejos' - informal moral education in the home
Children's personalities and Schooling attitudes

Reflections on Chapter 7: The School Context

Not comfortable with teachers/school system
"They do not trust teachers yet"
(p. 146)
Family duties like caring for younger siblings not understood by teachers
Students afraid of speaking up in class
Bilingual children can leave parents in the dark (manipulation, omission, lies)

Involvement limited to 'ceremonial events'
Schooling and Education mean different things in the Mexican context (MEANING)
Language barrier makes them unwilling to talk to teachers
Misunderstanding school processes/administration methods (e.g. report cards/open day)
More interested in the
of children in school rather than
academic progress.

Misunderstanding, language barrier, confusion, expectations, assumptions, lack of information
Reflections on Chapter 8: Education & Life Chances
Values, beliefs, assumptions, expectations, notions about success, clash of culture
"[They] came from a world in which relationships and human ties were far more important than options or choices" (p.171)

Individual success & accomplishment has less value than the ability to maintain ties across generations and to make an honest living close to home
Document examination
of Mexican education system/statistics as a comparison to set the stage.
Assumption that children would keep traditional values
Mother's hopes and dreams for children not based on success or achievement, rather on just being a good human being, not over-working too much and making a good living.
Reflections on Chapter 9: Changing Families
Teachers believe that
“the problem is the parents”
and that
“they don’t care about education”
• Mexican parents in the study did not have the ability to support their children’s academic learning

Therefore - Parent Education Programs
• Educating, empowering and involving non-mainstream parents
• Parent education programs focus on general child-rearing practices
Some believe that parent education programs directly intrude into the organization of families and attack their values and language.

Overall Reflections
Valdés asks and concludes:

IF they are happy now, is it our business to try to 'improve' them with American cultural standards?

Immigrants cultural patterns may provide the best potential for success as they adapt to the USA

Attempting to Americanize the family structure removes the only stable thing ion their new world of poverty, urban gangs & culture shock.

Values are important for them to survive & eventually thrive
Valdés acknowledges problems in existing literature with "cultural mismatch" theories that interpret "difference" as "deficit",
But unfortunately as the 'middle-man' interpreting minority values to the majority culture - she explains practices
in relation/in comparison to
the mainstream values rather than challenging these common 'norms'
Why say "the families were not producing successful children, and not "the schools were not..." ?
I wanted more of the teachers' perspetives, the teachers' voices.
Chapter 1-8 seems to blame the school system.
Chapter 9 opens it up and leaves questions unanswered.
Ethnography: Valdés style
Very respectful to the families, traditions, practices and worldviews

Evoking ACTION - advocating for the oppressed culture, the misunderstood, the misperceived

Very involved, concerned,
helpful, even emotional (Expressing anger, worry, relief, frustration...)
What I learned about Ethnography
Manage your Bias, Subjectivity and Reflexivity
Triangulation in order to understand all sides
It takes time and commitment
You will have to participate in their lives
TRUST is everything
Similarities and differences between Case studies help align the story (washing line)
Vivid descriptions colour the characters and setting
Make detailed field NOTES. Valdés' definitely had amazing field notes thus making her book more relatable
Paradigms can mix - Valdés had an element of critical/action ethnography and also case study
Full transcript