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The Harvard Family Research Project separated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to become the Global Family Research Project as of January 1, 2017. It is no longer affiliated with Harvard University.

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Joanne Kersh
Boston College

Course Description

This is the second part of a two-course sequence designed to introduce students to the multiple dimensions of child development, including the role of education in promoting healthy development for all children. A central theme of these courses is that contemporary children have diverse and complex developmental needs that must be addressed through a constellation of services in which education can play a coordinating role.

In this course we will consider the social and cultural contexts which shape developmental and educational processes. We will also examine the responsibilities that families, communities, and schools must accept if children are to grow into healthy, productive citizens. The primary focus will be on understanding the nature of contemporary social problems including racism, sexism, ethnic prejudice, social class oppression, and ability discrimination as they affect children, families, and schooling. Emphasis will be given to the special role of education in linking community resources for an integrated approach to addressing problems in children's lives.


Required Readings

All of the following books are available at the BC bookstore:

Coursepack of selected readings
Fadiman, A. The spirit catches you and you fall down
Kaufman, S. Retarded isn't stupid, Mom
MacDonald, M. All souls: A family story from Southie
Tatum, B. Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?

All readings marked with an asterisk (*) are available online. Please print out all readings from online sources after the first class meeting. If you have any difficulty accessing or printing these readings, please let the instructor know ASAP.

Course Requirements

Class attendance and participation – 20%
This class will be run largely as a seminar. This structure demands regular, consistent attendance and active participation. There will be frequent in-class activities, small group work, and individual writing assignments during class, as well as whole-group discussions. Critical reflection and discussion on course readings, films, and activities is central. Unexcused absences will be reflected in your final grade.

Each student must submit two discussion questions each class based on the required readings. These questions will be used in group and whole-class discussions. These questions must be brought to class. Emailed questions will not be accepted.

Analytical/reflection papers – 40%
Four reflexive analytical papers (10% each) of 3–5 pages will be written throughout the semester (due dates are indicated on the syllabus). Each will address a different topic covered in class. Students will be required to incorporate both critical analysis of readings and personal reflection. Specific questions and guidelines for each paper will be distributed one week prior to the due date.

Survey research project – 20%
Students will form groups of 5–6 participants focused on a social issue that affects children, families, and/or education. Working together, each group will develop and administer a survey to examine public opinion about their topic and present their results to the class in a multimedia presentation. This project also involves an individual written component.

Final exam – 20%
The take-home final exam will require you to apply concepts covered throughout the semester and integrate class readings and discussion notes. Make sure that you date your class discussion notes so that you can cite them by date.

1/14 – Course Overview and Introductions

1/16 – The Social Context of Development
Ecological Theory
Bronfenbrenner, coursepack #1, p.1
Conceptualizing Vulnerability and Resilience
Werner (distributed in class)

1/21 – The Changing American Family
* Family diversity in urban schools. ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education Digest No. 148.
Lipkin, coursepack #12, 153–164

1/23 – The Changing American Family Continued: Divorce
*Amato, P. R. (1994). Life-span adjustment of children to their parents' divorce. Future of Children, 4, 143–164.

1/28 – Maladaptive Parenting: Abuse & Neglect
Cates, Markell, & Bettenhausen, coursepack #10, pp. 135–138
*Osofsky, J. D. (1999). The impact of violence on children. Future of Children, 9, 33–49.
*Berrick, J. D. (1998) When children cannot remain home: Foster family care and kinship care. Future of Children, 8, 72–87.

1/30 – Survey Design
Begin reading Fadiman
Each group must submit list of members and one paragraph summary of topic. Include a brief description of why this topic is important/relevant.

2/4 – Cultural Perspectives on Parenting
Fadiman. The spirit catches you…, chapters 1–10
*Cooper, Denner, & Lopez. (1999). Cultural brokers: Latino children on pathways toward success. Future of Children, 9, 51–57.

2/6 – Cultural Perspectives on Parenting
Fadiman. The spirit catches you…, chapters 11–19
Analytical paper #1 due.

2/11 – Gender Differences: Socialization Theories
Kindlon & Thompson. The culture of cruelty, coursepack #2, pp. 13–34.
What Boys Need (distributed in class)

2/13 – Gender Differences: Sexism, the Gender Gap, & Implications for Schools
Dezolt & Henning-Stout, coursepack #3, pp. 35–58
La France, coursepack #4, pp. 59–69

2/18 – Sexual Identity and the School Context
Lipkin. The Massachusetts model (distributed in class)

2/20 – Disability and the Family
Blacher, coursepack #5, pp. 73–86
Kaufman. Retarded isn't stupid, Mom!

2/25 – Disability: Special Education History and Policy
*Terman, Larner, Stevenson, & Behrman. (1996). Special education for students with disabilities. Future of Children, 6(1), 4–24.
*Martin, Martin, & Terman (1996). The legislative and litigation history of special education. Future of Children, 6(1), 25–39.
Analytical paper #2 due.

2/27 – Disability: Special Education and the Debate Over Inclusion
Sapon-Shevin, coursepack #6, pp. 87–94
Zigmond & Baker, coursepack #7, pp. 95–103

3/4–3/6 – Spring Break

3/11 – Race and Racism
Yamato, coursepack #19, pp. 251–259
Tatum. Why are all the black kids sitting together…, chapters 1–5
* Stereotypes of Asian American students. ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education Digest No. 172.

3/13 – Race: The Development of Racial Identity
Tatum, chapters 6–10

3/18 – Race: Power and Privilege
Ogbu, coursepack #17, pp. 221–230
McIntosh, coursepack #20, pp. 257–259
Analytical paper #3 due.

3/20 – Race and School Achievement
Steele, coursepack #16, pp. 213–220
Delpit, coursepack #18, pp. 231–250

3/25 – Poverty/Social Class: Statistics and Attitudes
Corcoran & Chaudry, coursepack #13, pp. 167–182

3/27 – Poverty/Social Class: Welfare Reform
Guest Lecture: Daphne Hernandez
Polakow, coursepack #14, pp. 183–190
Huston, coursepack #15, pp. 191–209

4/1 – Poverty/Social Class: Community
MacDonald. All souls.

4/3 – Poverty/Social Class: Schools
MacDonald. All souls.
*School programs and practices for homeless students. ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education Digest No. 105.
Analytical paper #4 due.

4/8 – Schools: Bilingual Education/Multicultural Education
Brisk, coursepack #21, pp. 263–267
Hooks. Transformative pedagogy…(distributed in class)
*The technical, cultural, and political factors… ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education Digest No.
Arab American students in public schools. ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education Digest No. 142.
The schooling of multiracial students. ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education Digest No. 138.
Improving the school experience for gay, lesbian, and bisexual students. ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education Digest No.101.

4/10 – Schools: Policies and Practices That Meet the Needs of Children and Families
Epstein, coursepack #11, pp. 141–152
Dryfoos, coursepack #22, pp. 271–288

4/15 – Group Presentations
Survey research project papers due.

4/17 – No Class – Easter Break

4/22 – Group Presentations

4/24 – Group Presentations

4/29 – Group Presentations (if necessary)
Final exam distributed

Free. Available online only.

© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project