Parents Choosing Independent Education: Personal Advantage or a Moral Alternative

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Susanne Plum Jordan (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Kathleen Casey

Abstract: This study, Parents Choosing Independent Education: Personal Advantage or a Moral Alternative, is a narrative research project that presents the stories of 19 parents who have chosen independent (private) Quaker (Friends) education for their children. Within this research project is the very real tension between public education (that provides ostensibly equal opportunities) and independent education (that can provide opportunities for personal advantage). I situate the problem in the historical relationship of education and democracy and tie them to the priority of relationships and schools as a place where children learn moral lessons. I discuss the interconnectedness of education, democracy, relationships and ultimately learning to be a moral person in the context of the stories as told by parents who have chosen to send their children to an independent, Friends school. The work of educational theorists and researchers John Dewey, Nel Noddings, Jane Roland Martin, Ellen Brantlinger, and Alan Peshkin provide the contemporary framework from which these parents' stories are analyzed. Parents' stories are complex and at times present conflicting values and priorities. Some parents talk about quantifiable measures of academic success. Most parents talk about the importance of relationships at school and a curriculum where their children learn moral values. When children are described as happy at school their parents talk very little about academic achievements or standards. However, when children are described as not happy at school then academics and curriculum standards become a major emphasis of their child's story. Parents' stories reveal three major themes. Parents talk about needs of children and families, certain conditions when children are happy at school, and relationships and social justice issues consistent with the priorities of Friends education, i.e., peace, community, integrity, simplicity, and equality. Most of these parents express a preference for progressive education and practices that support the development of moral behavior reflecting democratic values. Some parents use the language of Friends testimonies, talking about peace, community, simplicity, integrity, and equality. Other parents use secular language to describe their priorities as they talk about an intentional social curriculum, as described by Ruth Sidney Charney, where cooperation, positive relationships, and conflict resolution are taught by modeling, discussing, practice, and confirmation.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2007
Independent, Quaker, Progressive, Education, Relationships, Moral education
Society of Friends $x Education.
Parents $x Attitudes $x Education.
Private schools $x Evaluation.
Christian education.

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