Childhood, schooling, family, and community: reflections of mothers

Margarida Aguiar
Adult Education, Community Development and CounseIling Psychology, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/Toronto University - CANADA, 2001
April, 2001
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Doctorate thesis


In this thesis the reader will meet nine mothers working everyday to provide for their school-age children's physical, emotional, social and recreational needs. These are stories of mothers who work with schools expecting their children to receive the education they will need to develop into active participating adults. As young students in Toronto, they themselves left school without completing high school. These are mothers who find fulfillment caring for their children. They are also engaged in a continuous search for meaning in their lives as adult learners and workers. The women are Canadians of diverse ethnic, racial and linguistic home backgrounds. The study includes women of White English speaking homes, of White Portuguese speaking homes, of Black and East Indian English speaking homes. The women are Torontonians. It is also the story of the search for participants who met the above criteria. These women's life histories in the past and in the present are, as was expected, a rich source of knowledge which is in part shared through this text. Much was left untold and much was left out of the writing. Despite these limitations, in choosing to actively engage with this thesis the reader will learn much from our interpretations of these life experiences through the different processes: the research, the dialogues, the analysis, the writing and now the reading. One critical objective of this work was to help those involved in delivering educational and social services learn from the experiences of these women, how we can work together to provide educational programs for a local urban population that is very diverse. The focus is on learning from within and outside the K-12 system, from childhood and continuing into and through adulthood. This thesis also tells of a search for a theory that would enable me to interpret and write the collective and individual stories that emerged from the women's words in transcript. The journey culminated in the language theories (speaking, reading, and writing) of Mikhail Bakhtin and Paulo Freire, two internationally renowned writers for whom dialogue holds a central place in human communication. The research had as its point of departure dialogues with mothers from a place. To further inform/broaden that view, dialogues with writers and colleagues from this place and time, from other places and times (Freire, Bakhtin, Dewey, Gramsci, Foucault) were brought in.