Aboriginal Parental Involvement/Engagement for Student Success
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An increasing body of knowledge links parental involvement with student success but few studies address Aboriginal parental involvement in urban settings. While some critics argue traditional Aboriginal knowledge is best delivered at home, Aboriginal children who share parents’ stories in the classroom benefit other children who draw connections to these stories. Moreover, Aboriginal learners need to function in mainstream Western society and in public school settings in which educators often have a difficult time engaging Aboriginal parents. Consequently, this research sought to explore the perceptions and sense of engagement of parents/caregivers in the Aboriginal Student Program (ASP) in a publicly funded secondary school in Ontario. The study was an extension of the researcher’s existing work and focused specifically on a sample of parents/caregivers taking part in an Aboriginal feast at an Ontario secondary school. Nine individuals accepted an invitation to participate in a Talking Circle and shared perceptions of their children’s educational experiences. Data were collected and coded, and findings indicated that parental involvement in children’s educational journeys contributed significantly to a sense of parental engagement in the school and in Aboriginal programs. Results also suggest that Eurocentric pedagogy can be modified in mainstream secondary schools to directly involve Aboriginal parents/caregivers. Although many participants’ stories revealed they experienced racism during their own schooling, study findings demonstrate that the parents/caregivers want to be involved in their children’s education nonetheless. This thesis discusses the data that were grounded in the participants’ voices that in turn led to several key recommendations.