Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Essential Conversation – Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

If you have not read a book by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, you must make it a part of your summer reading. She is a wonderful storyteller. Particularly in The Essential Conversation, her sensitivity and balanced view of the parent-teacher relationship are exquisite. Here are two excerpts that speak to this:

• “As one teacher observes, ‘During the conference, the parents are experiencing themselves as adults, but they are also reliving the time when they were in school as children. There are two channels working, past and present . . . and the generational reverberations are powerful.’ Parents bring these autobiographical scripts into the sessions, often making it hard for them to untangle the converging life stories and focus on their child’s experience in school.”

• “How the lines get drawn is related not only to parents’ and teachers’ temperaments and perspectives and to school policies and practices. It is also defined by the age and developmental stage of the child. In general, parents of young children are more engaged in their schooling and have more frequent and intense contact with teachers than the families of older students.”

Here is a video where Dr. Howard Gardner introduces Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, talking about The Essential Conversation. The video is an hour and 20 minutes long, so you may want to see just a beginning portion of the video.