Educational Needs of
the Modern Family
The Changing Family Structure
To say that the family's structure in the United States is changing might appear trite to some and sacrilegious to others. A heavy use of family values themes in the 1992 presidential election was a stark reminder of the emotions that can be raised when talking about changing family structures. Change can be both threatening and lifesaving; yet, a society undergoing rapid and constant social change cannot expect its institutions to remain fixed. This chapter is based on an assumption that the family is changing and that its educational needs reflect this change. Thus, such changes require attention by those working in the educative community.
Some authorities have noted that radical changes are taking place in the American family; some even suggest that the family as it is now known will disappear. Communal family arrangements, increasing divorce rates, single parent families, changing family roles, and an increasing use of child care facilities are cited as evidence in support of these predictions. However, more than 80 percent of U.S. citizens continue to live in family settings.
Even given such high numbers, a typical family is becoming more and more difficult to define. The family as a unit also tends to be less stable than in previous decades and there is an increasing number of dual career families. Thus, it is the contention here that the family as a basic institution will survive, but that it will continue to change.
The transition of the United States and of most industrialized nations from a rural to an urban society has initiated many changes in family functions. The farm family of yesterday was a tightly knit living unit, often comprised of parents and children as well as other relatives. All members of such extended families contributed to the family's survival requirements. Roles were fairly well fixed, tasks were carried out according to age and status, and learning was based on traditional practices.
The roles of parents in what only a few years ago was called a traditional family have been described by the sociologist Talcott Parsons. He identified the father as an instrumental leader of the family. The instrumental role involved making major family decisions and assuming primary responsibility for child discipline and training. Parsons also described the mother as specializing in the expressive function. The expressive role involved responsibility for maintaining family solidarity and for the care or emotional support of children. Later scholars have utilized the instrumental-expressive paradigm to describe educational needs of individuals (see references by Hiemstra and Londoner in the selected bibliography and Appendix 4-A).
The urban family, however, does not necessarily fit these same traditional functions. Where mothers are employed outside the home, for example, children often see their parent or parents in different roles. Working women frequently take on subordinate instrumental roles, as they share in the responsibility for major family decision-making and money management. Fathers, too, can be seen in what may be referred to as non-traditional roles, although the growing acceptance of such roles may mean they are becoming more traditional in nature. In families where fathers are concerned with, and spend time caring for, children, where they assist with tasks in the home, participate in children's activities, including chauffeuring young people to and from events, and share responsibility for child discipline and development, they may begin to take on expressive roles. Single parent families, group parents, never married individuals who adopt a child, and homosexuals as parents all add to the complexity of evolving family structure. Various sources noted at the chapter's end discuss in greater detail these evolving roles and their impact on family life.
The pressures of urbanization and change have put many strains on family living. More than half of all marriages, for example, end in divorce. This has led to a situation of short-term marriages and children growing up under several parents; likewise many of today's marriages involve previously married persons. The phenomena of divorce, remarriage, and the child with several parent figures in one lifetime have considerable impact on family life.
Another change affecting the family structure in much of the industrialized world is a somewhat stable and in some areas even a declining national birth rate. It remains to be seen whether this trend will continue, but the current ramifications are profound. Mothers, and fathers, too, are finishing the responsibilities of parenthood at earlier ages, freeing them for an increased pursuit of leisure and work activities (although some women are now choosing to have their children later in life).
The diminished number of years in childbearing also has prompted many women to pursue careers, to obtain increased education, and to seek new roles within the home and community, both before children are born and after they are reared. Smaller families, too, have tended to become quite mobile, with fewer ties to any permanent conditions. This death of permanence, as futurist Alvin Toffler has called it, has created various kinds of problems that work to decrease family unity and stability. The plight of families in Third World and underdeveloped countries, often within settings of increasing population and inadequate food supply, obviously presents a myriad of educational and social problems.
An additional problem related to such changing times is the situation for many single-parent families. In addition to divorce and death resulting in one-parent families, the present economic system in the United States often has worked to cause one-parent settings by driving many husbands of families with lower incomes from the home in search of work and/or so that the family unit can more easily qualify for public support. The current growing gap between the "haves" and the "havenots" throughout the world is only adding fuel to the fire. Various researchers have shown that single-parent home environments can result in serious problems for the children, especially in fatherless ones or in ones where the dominant male figure is not the real father. Although there is conflicting evidence related to some of this research, several consequences of such environments include delinquency, drug abuse, child abuse, and people with socio-psychological problems.
Rapid change itself is creating problems that affect individuals in various ways; one effect is emotionally maladjusted people who create tension and unhappiness in family settings because of their inability to cope with change. Maladjusted parents and unhappy marriages tend to create maladjusted and unhappy children, repeating a vicious cycle that is often unbreakable. For example, research has demonstrated that most child abusers were themselves abused as youngsters. Dealing with emotionally disturbed persons is a task for experts, but until these people are helped the families involved will frequently suffer.
The adjustment to societal change probably is requiring some modifications in the family. Margaret Mead, a noted sociologist and anthropologist, recommended a "two-step marriage" that has interesting potential as one solution to some of the adjustment problems. The first step would include licensing a marriage, but the couple would not have the right to bear children. Then if the couple later decided that they wanted children, the second step would involve another licensed marriage with the privilege to have children included. Step two would be allowed only after a period of initial adjustment had expired for the couple, and, perhaps, after some form of mandatory parenthood education.
Such a process has obvious Orwellian overtones, but the educational and possible social implications are fascinating. Individual rights and freedoms are issues requiring resolution before the two-step marriage or some comparable variation becomes a possibility, but it might provide a way of dealing with some types of family problems resulting from rapid change.
In the book, Future Shock, Toffler (see the Chapter One bibliography) predicted that some radically different schemes of family life will be attempted over the next few decades. For example, he suggested that the acceptance and training of parental professionals will be a future reality. These couples, who will be specially trained, licensed, and professional parents, would be actual family units assigned and paid for the task of rearing children. In essence this would mean professionalizing the foster parent system in place today in the United States and elsewhere. Biological parents would accept a role resembling that of today's godparent. The heavy reliance on day care centers and other means for substitute parenting by many people today actually have moved us close to his 1970 forecast.
Another futurist, John Naisbitt (Chapter One bibliography), suggests that some of the current trends, such as a need for high touch, the use of networking, and a growing reliance on self, are transforming life in some new ways that no doubt will have profound impacts on family life and child care. His recent effort to identify trends for the 1990's and beyond basically have substantiated his earlier forecasting.
Whether predictions of futurists regarding the family and society will come true or not is something about which we can only speculate. However, it is clear that family structure is in a current state of flux, a state initiated by the rural to urban transition and perpetuated by constant social change.
This situation has already given society the modern, streamlined family, a "nuclear" unit consisting of two parents and their small set of children. This kind of family structure actually was necessary to accommodate the requirements of industrialization and a technological society. It is suggested that this style of family, much more mobile that the traditional extended family of rural America, has become the major unit for child-rearing. How this form of family is affecting life and the educational process is not completely understood. The educative community will need to be concerned with the needs of all people regardless of their stage of life, but the school's primary commitment currently is to school-age children.
The remainder of this chapter deals with describing the family in relation to education and educational institutions. The discussion centers on family needs, family concerns, and how schools and other educational institutions can realign education around such concerns and needs. The nuclear family described above serves as a primary model of family life. Not all needs of the nuclear family, nor of the one-parent family, experimental family, low-income family, or other types of families are presented, but it is expected that the following information provides some understanding of why families, especially in child-rearing years, must be considered in designing a program of community education.
The Family's Role in Child-Rearing
For some time the family has been, and still is, the cornerstone of society. A family setting provides the child with a first look at life, whether this be a single-parent family, a dual career family, a foster parent-child relationship, a more traditional nuclear unit, or even some non-traditional family arrangement. The family teaches what is expected of people and what they can expect in life. The family also imparts the values that shape a person's beliefs, abilities, and actions. Even though there are changes taking place as noted above, it is anticipated that the family will continue to be a major institution in American life and in much of the world for many generations to come. Thus, every effort to strengthen the family unit, especially in terms of educative community notions, is important.
Although the modern family may have only one, two, or three children, each child has vital needs that must be met, especially if the child is to be able to cope adequately with increasing complexities of change. The family must help its members meet these needs as effectively as possible. For example, the family fulfills several obvious functions in caring for the child. Under normal conditions, food, shelter, and safety are the most basic functions provided by the home. Additional basic needs to be met include providing warmth, sleep, and physical cuddling, or as it is sometimes referred to, "contact comfort."
Another function of the family is intellectual development of children. The very early years of life are particularly crucial in the total span of human growth. This is when the child begins to acquire the ability to mentally process and use information. For example, researchers have discovered the following learning capabilities in infants and even unborn babies:
* If pregnant women talk to their unborn babies, the infants can later remember what they have heard.
* Soothing music transmitted to the embryo in the womb can lead to a more relaxed and happy infant.
* Three-week-old infants can learn to turn a lighted picture on and off by sucking on a special pacifier at a certain speed.
* Eight-week-old babies have learned to turn a mobile by pressing on a pillow.
* Very young babies will respond to speech sounds and recognize human speech long before they utter their first word.
Unfortunately, on the distaff side there is considerable research that shows how parents can also affect their newly born children in very negative ways through careless or uninformed actions. For example, smoking, substance abuse, and alcohol usage in prenatal or soon after a child's birth can affect both physical and intellectual growth. Research also has demonstrated that bigotry, hatred, and poor reading habits are formed by incorrect parental actions in the first few years of a child's life.
Thus, it is apparent that the first years, first weeks, first few hours after birth, and even the time before birth are extremely important parts of each person's life in an educational sense. The parents' responsibilities must include providing sensory and intellectual stimulation that will help each child reach its human potential. Parents will also be a very important factor in developing a child's attitudes toward school, education, and lifelong learning. Education can be a very powerful instrument for influencing the quality of a person's total life, but there must be continuity between what transpires in the home and what takes place in the school.
Another family function in child-rearing is the child's emotional development. By the time a person begins school, a basic human personality is formed. Thus, parents need to help children develop healthy feelings about themselves, a basic trust in life, and an understanding of the emotional impact one can have on the social environment.
In addition to the basic functions fulfilled by parents, it is important that each home offers the child a setting of security. A feeling of security is necessary for intellectual development, development of a healthy self-image, creation of a personality that permits successful relationships with other people, and confidence to cope with the conditions of rapid change. It is difficult to establish a sense of security in a society of perpetual change and mobile families, but it is crucial that parents and other role models for children take the time and have the knowledge to establish a secure family setting.
Related to this situation of security is the phenomenon of the busy family, where individual family members often are so involved in their own activities that they don't really know one another. The very busy lives many adults lead and the ever growing numbers of dual career families only serve to accent such a dilemma. When children need parents for some reason, they usually want the help now, not only when it is convenient for the parent. Thus, there is a need for some form of unity within each family, where each member will be aware of, and respond to, the needs and feelings of others. Ulene (1984) presents some useful ideas on how to bring a family closer together, including a family "wellness" tool.
For a unified family to exist where children are helped adequately in their physical, emotional, and intellectual development, at least two basic ingredients beyond the food, shelter, and good health noted above must be present: love and affection. This means at least one parent who shows love and affection toward any children. An adequate role model of the opposite gender, if it is a single-parent family, also is recommended. It means the parent or parents (or other responsible adults) show an interest in, and response to, children's needs. It also means that children show love for each other and for their parents or parent-figures.
Obviously, there are many other ingredients essential to family and personal growth: Religious or spiritual leadership, a demonstration of consistent values, a respect for the rights of others, and a certain standard of living are only a few of them. In addition, we are still learning about single-parent families and other non-traditional family settings with respect to what basic ingredients are needed. Several sources at the conclusion of the chapter discuss family needs.
The purpose of this section has been to show how very complex and important the family's role is in preparing children for school, for a place in the community, and for life itself. Clearly, however, the educational responsibility toward a child is critical, continuous, and demanding. As Howe (1991--see the Chapter Two bibliography) notes, a sad paradox hangs over a major aspect of the America 2000 plan described in Chapter Two. There was a correct recognition that the family and community are significant sources of learning and support for schooling that must be used correctly in a child's development. However, the plan's authors failed to recognize that a growing number of U.S. families and communities need considerable assistance to perform their roles.
In essence, the school and community can and must play an important part in this responsibility for each child, but life in a family setting begins long before a school and most community experiences are introduced. Thus, educators, regardless of their particular institutional setting, should work to strengthen the family by serving all family members' needs before, during, and after formal schooling. In other words, linking the family, community, and educational institutions within the educative community requires an understanding that individuals must be treated as part of a larger grouping--the family.
The Family and the School
One assumption in the educative community is that a main purpose of schools is to serve all people in a variety of ways, and, by so doing, schools will also serve the larger society. However, the many current problems in our society are at least partial evidence schools may not be serving all people. Many schools have only been partially successful at involving parents with planning for education, in relating curriculum to family problems, and in developing problem-solving ability that can be used throughout a lifetime.
For example, when teachers present only subject-centered information and assume that the health and welfare of a child should be taken care of elsewhere, their very effectiveness as subject matter specialists may be lessened. A child's education is influenced by the total environment, including the home, neighborhood, and school. Thus, what is taught and how it is taught needs to be made relevant to everyday life.
Who, then is involved in the educational process? In any community there are four main contributors: (a) parents, (b) the community, (c) a child's peers, and (d) school teachers. The school's purpose in the educative community is to promote positive contributions by each.
As discussed earlier, parents or parental role models initiate the educational process and support it throughout the child's first 16 or more years. In many ways a home is the most fundamental educational resource in the community, and parents are the most influential teachers. Parents teach values and attitudes; they teach their youngsters whether or whether not to like school; and they provide much of the out-of-school reinforcement of learning. Consequently, all relevant resources in the community should be geared to helping parents understand and undertake positive teaching roles.
The community has already been discussed in Chapter Two as potentially a large contributor to child, parent, and citizen education. All possible community resources should be brought to bear on the learning process, both in and out of school. School personnel need to know how to utilize the educative community and parents need to know what educational opportunities are available if they are to guide their children's educational use of the community.
A third contributor to the educational process is the child's peers. Learning to play is initiated in the home, but is certainly reinforced by peer-group relationships. Social relationships, conversational styles, and personal grooming and clothing habits are also learned and determined through peer-group contacts. Whether or not a youngster will join some local gang or develop a personal independence often can be traced to a peer group's influence. Thus, parents and teachers both need to recognize the peer group's importance and use the potential of such relationships to benefit any educational process.
School teachers, of course, have a fundamental role in the educational process. However, the teaching of subject matter must be balanced with an understanding of how to relate class content to realities of the family, community, and world environments. This requires caring about families and reinforcing values taught in the home rather than imposing some value system that is thought to be better. This is perhaps most crucial at the elementary school level, when the initial transition from home to school takes place.
The school's responsibility as well as any other educational institution in the community to families is varied and complex; it goes far beyond fundamental teaching roles. Parents, for example, need to be aware of and involved in curriculum planning, as the curriculum used in schools can cycle back to affect the family. This is illustrated where a minority-group child fails to connect "self" with representations in the textbooks being utilized and becomes confused or feels insecure. Correcting this includes not only utilization of text material that is family oriented, but also the use of examples, learning exercises, and out-of-class activities related to various family, ethnic, racial, and community living situations. Such activities as developing parent clubs, involving parents in curriculum-planning committees, and introducing parents to community and family educational opportunities are additional ways schools can contribute to the family.
Another responsibility of the school should be to learn as much as possible about each child at the start of schooling, so that any corresponding education can be designed to meet particular needs. Children coming to school hungry or emotionally upset, for example, can't be expected to participate very actively or successfully in the educational process and may need special nutritional support. A child who has experienced or witnessed physical abuse typically cannot concentrate on educational activities.
This means that teachers, counselors, community school directors, and principals should visit homes to understand the needs and potential of pre-school and older youngsters and to help families understand how they may contribute to family and community life. Home visitation by educational representatives is not a normal activity and some re-education regarding educational roles and responsibilities may need to take place for it to happen.
In addition to the usual curriculum that helps prepare students for living, schools need to help children and youth better understand the dynamics of living in a family setting. This has usually involved introduction into school systems of courses centered on education for family living. Unfortunately, the curriculum has often been tagged or developed as sex education in nature, usually with resulting negative connotations, rather than as family living knowledge; the resulting programs are often short-lived or inadequate.
In those schools where family life curriculum has become a regular part of the total curriculum, most teachers, parents, and students have been enthusiastic in their support. Hopefully, the future will find more schools adding successful family life courses from early elementary through high school, or at least taking leadership roles in promoting family life education in homes and in other institutions, such as churches.
The relationship between family and school is complex. Many forces contribute to the teaching-learning process, including those both inside and outside of schools. Thus, in relation to the educative community concept developed in earlier chapters, the school and various other education institutions in a community must be maintained and strengthened for a role as developer of human resources
The School in Family and Community Problem-Solving
Chapter Three discussed the community school's potential as a center for education directed toward improving the entire community. Where communities have implemented the community school concept, it is assumed that developing and enhancing problem-solving skills of community residents will be one important objective. However, communities that do not have community schools still require that community residents and school personnel have problem-solving abilities. This section will present some ideas and information regarding the school's role in solving various family and community problems.
The family and community need the school's problem-solving expertise as does the child. In many communities throughout the world, the idea of education for responsible living is drawing together parents, school personnel, and various other representatives from community life. The thought is that training for successful roles in families and in society can be made more systematic and widespread.
Educational programs designed as parent education, for example, have had considerable success in some parts of the United States. Usually offered as adult education through the schools or a community college, courses on child-rearing, sexuality, interpersonal relationships, communications, self-understanding, and human potentiality often attract a large number of adult students. However, much more can be accomplished in most communities.
Helping parents understand more fully their educational roles in the lives of children is one of the educational tasks that all schools could undertake. For instance, many parents require some training to understand how they can and should reinforce the educational process. Thus, through some form of adult education parents can learn how to stimulate the physical and social development of their children by providing an enriched environment from birth through the first several years. Several references at the chapter's end give additional guidance on this subject.
There are also many parents requiring help because they have children with special problems. Parents of both disabled children and disabled young adults usually require assistance to understand how they can provide such individuals with special attention and training. Most schools have individuals employed with preparation in special education who could carry out such parent education efforts.
Additional problem categories requiring special assistance that the schools can address include families with delinquent or drug abusing children, the single-parent family, and the unmarried mother. As one example of growing interest in meeting such special needs, the Fayetteville-Manlius (New York) School District has seen develop through the combined efforts of school officials, parents, and community officials a drug education effort called the "Chemical People." This action or similar activities have been duplicated in many other communities. Such efforts at promoting positive living are a hopeful sign that communities can solve many of their own problems.
Federal and state monies also are being invested in schools for purposes of promoting positive family and community life. Various programs and acts provide a variety of training, education, and support programs in various areas. Special education assistance, programs for the gifted, Head Start programs, supplemental food programs, health-related examinations, and parent-child centers are some of the opportunities. A reduction in state and federal support in the U.S. during the past few years has limited some of these efforts, but there are expectations that the Clinton administration may restore some of the necessary support.
A continuously growing need throughout the United States and many other countries is for quality day care centers. As more and more traditional families have both parents employed, some form of daily child care is required if preschool children are present. It is suggested here that many of the country's school systems could provide assistance for this particular situation. Perhaps an earlier contact with the child would even allow schools to have a greater impact on learning abilities and achievements as a result of educational continuity and positive attitudes toward learning being developed. In reality, though, in these currently tight economic times such speculative wishes for communities will be granted only by concerned citizens stepping forth and working for their implementation.
The philosophy that must accompany total contact with a child and the involvement of parents and other citizens is that education is lifelong, continuous, and encompassing of both in and out of school activities. Thus, the impact of education upon a solution of social problems depends on developing appropriate leadership skills and attitudes that promote problem-solving and decision-making abilities.
For example, these attitudes and leadership skills could be utilized in the reduction of poverty. Opportunities for educational improvement should be the basic attack on poverty. Schools can offer programs and leadership in assisting people to engage in their own improvement. Many families can be reached only through one-to-one contacts, but the school, especially a community school or community college, has much to offer. Classes sponsored by the schools or at least held in "neighborhood" school settings on such topics as budgeting, home repair and maintenance, food buymanship and preparation, preventative health care, and clothing maintenance could provide additional survival skills. Home visits by school officials can also be a partial solution to such individual problems.
Children must know how to learn, and must be able to learn continually throughout their lives, if they are to cope successfully with the many changing demands of living in a complex world. Thus, learning opportunities provided by schools to youth and adults should be developed around stages of the human life cycle, around contemporary social issues, and around the promotion of future relevant behavioral skills. The ability to adapt to change is a much needed skill in our society; schools must help people acquire this skill through a variety of educational endeavors.
The restoration of education to community life is a theme supported throughout this book. A community-centered educational program can help people adapt to change and learn to solve their own problems. It also may even contribute to family cohesiveness, an important action during a time when increasing vertical relationships are tending to pull apart communities, families, and their associations with the schools.
Thus, it seems imperative that schools and families work together on various needs. This means that teachers strive to know and understand their community. It also means that parents become involved with planning and implementing school programs. Schools and various other educational agencies also need to become rallying points where families and communities find answers to questions and acquire the strength to solve various problems. Perhaps the community school described in Chapter Three can even come to be known as the family-community school, where both family and community problems will be the focal point for curriculum planning, coordination of various community and family oriented programs will begin to take place, and parents and school officials will cooperate in building a better community.
The Next Step -- Intergenerational Programming
Most of this chapter's focus thus far has been on the young person, a person perhaps most often thought of when examining families. However, changing demographics in the United States and many other countries, namely that of an aging population, is initiating new thinking about what constitutes families and what are the changing responsibilities of educational institutions. The family cycle contains such stages as middle years, retirement, and widowhood for most people. Individuals within each of these stages will have educational needs and also can offer resources back to the educational system such as considerable life experience, expertise, and skill in certain areas.
As Table 4-1 below depicts, the lifelong learning needs within most communities can be categorized into at least three programming areas. Obviously, there also could be other life-stage depictions. For example, it is quite possible that some people in their middle years will not fit easily into either the young or older adult categories. Actually, there is considerable literature available that describes various ways of depicting life stages. (Levinson, et al. and Sheehy cited in the bibliography provide discussion of and references on life stages). The point in providing Table 4-1 is to highlight the varying lifelong learning services required in the educative community.
Table 4-1. Areas of Potential Educational Programs According to Life Stage Requirements
Youth---Young Adult---Older Adult
Pre-schooling ---Parent Education ---Special Interest
Early Childhood Education---Employment ---Training/Retraining Hobbies
Family Life Education---Special Interests/Avocations---Pre-retirement/ Retirement
Basic Skills---Human Relation Skills---Voluntarism Leadership
Career Education---Voluntarism---Physical fitness/Health
Values Education---Family Life/Parenting---Understanding Aging
Pre-College/Vocational Training---Physical Fitness---Loneliness/Widowhood
Howard Y. McClusky, a man who was prominent in several fields, most notably community education, adult education, and educational gerontology, developed a concept relative to lifelong learning needs that he called, "community of generations" (McClusky, 1978). He believed a new way of looking at how education served people of all ages was needed because of increasing longevity, changing family structures, and what some would refer to as the alienation of youth. This concept is based on the assumption that each generation may have important differences that are unique to that generation. He believed these differences accent the common and compelling needs various generations have to learn from each other. Finally, he felt that a creative potential existed from such differences that could serve to generate various intergenerational programs. In other words, people in their latter years can and do learn from people in their younger years and the converse is also true.
Thus, keeping with the underlying theme of this book, linkages across the ages between education, family, and community are necessary if an effective use of scarce educational resources is to be achieved. In reality, many such linkage efforts are in place or have been tried. Appendix 4-B highlights some intergenerational efforts and specialized programs for the elderly. They are presented as examples of what is possible.
Expressive Parental Role -- This role involves responsibility for maintaining family solidarity, controlling family tension, and providing the care and emotional support of children. Mothers have traditionally occupied this role but many fathers are assuming aspects of it in today's changing family.
Expressive-Subordinate Role -- In the modern family an increasing number of fathers are beginning to participate in and provide secondary support to the expressive role. This is usually in the form of assisting with various household responsibilities, assuming a larger role in child-rearing, and more openly showing expression of affection toward the wife and children.
Family -- A group of persons related by blood, marriage, or affection who occupy a common residence. The main functions of the family are childbirth, child rearing, social discipline, and support of its members. Educational support or modeling of lifelong learning skills/interests typically are seen as important secondary roles.
Instrumental Parental Role -- This role involves a responsibility for interpreting the outside world to the family, solution of family problems, management of daily family needs, and discipline and training of children. The father historically has occupied this role, although the increasing number of single-parent families in many countries is blurring this gender distinction.
Instrumental-Subordinate Role -- In the modern family where mothers are increasingly occupying paid jobs outside the home, they are beginning to occupy this role. This usually entails a sharing of responsibility for money management and decision-making.
Nuclear Family -- A family unit usually made up of father, mother, and children and having weaker ties with the extended network of relatives than previously existed. However, ties are maintained somewhat through letters, phone calls, and periodic visits. In addition, a variety of support networks exist whereby nuclear families can obtain extended family relationships with non-relatives.
Peer Group -- A group of agemates, or "life-stage-mates." Many researchers also suggest that considerable peer influence comes through the entertainment media.
Single Parent Family -- Increasing in number, such families can be by choice where an unmarried person adopts or gives birth to one or more children, or by circumstance through widowhood, divorce, or separation. Lower incomes, less parental influence, and subsequent problems of various types often result, especially from the latter circumstance, but many such families are quite functional.
1. Compile a list of the various family structures existing among your friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.
2. How do you believe the "family" will evolve over the next 25 years? Authors like Toffler and Naisbitt make several forecasts that relate to changing family structures. How do their forecasts differ from your own? What are the resulting implications for education from these various forecasts (including your own)?
3. Examine your own or some other family with which you are quite familiar. Assess the "instrumental" and "expressive" roles played by any adults in the family.
4. In this chapter families were assumed to exist in both traditional (nuclear) and non-traditional (single-parent, homosexual, etc.) settings. How do such assumptions match with your own values and expectations of family life? Do you believe the linking of family and education can be accomplished in non-traditional family settings?
5. The increase in dual-career families with both spouses working outside the home has created both challenges and opportunities for educators. List some of these.
6. From your experience, what are the various ways parents and schools must work together to best serve needs of the child? The family?
7. Can you identify any intergenerational educational programs in your community?
Buscaglia, L. (1982). Living, loving, and learning. New York: Fawcett Columbine. 264 pages. This book is a collection of the various lectures delivered by this popular author and speaker from 1979-1981. Dr. Buscaglia believes that loving, hugging, and touch are important variables in successful personal growth and development.
Dill, J. R. (1978). Child psychology in contemporary society. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, Inc. 463 pages. Subject Index. Author index. Glossary. Bibliography. Suggested readings at the end of each chapter. Fifteen chapters devoted to describing and synthesizing current knowledge about the psychological development of children are presented. Specific chapters are included on pre-school language and cognitive skills, pre-school social and personality development, and cognitive and intellectual development.
Dodson, F. (1977). How to discipline, with love: From crib to college. New York: Rawson Associates Publishers. 351 pages. Index. A continuation of Dodson's useful information on parenting and discipline first published in 1970. A variety of topics are covered. See also his 1975 book, How to father. New York: New American library. 283 pages. Appendices. A variety of useful information for parents is presented, especially for fathers.
Dreikurs, R. F. (1958). The challenge of parenthood. New York: Meredith Press. 334 pages. Index. The author provides advice on specific situations and promotes a basic attitude of mind and heart toward children and child training. The reasons behind children's behavior are explored. Methods of training, common mistakes in child-rearing, and understanding the child are some of the topics included. See also his Discipline Without Tears, revised edition, New York: Hawthorne Books, 1972.
Duvall, E. M. (1971). Family development (4th Edition). Philadelphia: Lippincott Company. 520 pages. Index. Glossary of terms. The author discusses the regularities of family change over the life cycle. Eight stages of the family life cycle are presented and supported; various data charts and graphs illustrate the information.
Family Circle. Published 17 times a year (every three weeks) Family Circle, Inc., New York. The magazine features a variety of articles and informational pieces on families, individual growth, and numerous other topics. There are frequent special tear-out sections.
The Family Coordinator. Published quarterly by the National Council on Family Relations, Minneapolis, MN. The journal presents various articles on education, counseling, and services as they relate to the family.
Family Relations. Published quarterly by the National Council on Family Relations, Minneapolis, MN. The journal publishes material on all aspects of family life, human development, and child-parent relationships.
Fantini, M. D. (Ed.). (1976). Alternative education. Garden City, NY: Anchor books. 500 pages. Index. Bibliography. Noted as a source book for parents, teachers, students, and administrators, the book consists of 40 chapters, articles, or pieces from a variety of sources. Authors include such people as Fantini, Ivan Illich, and Jonathan Kozol.
Fantini, M. D., & Cardenas, R. (Eds.). (1980). Parenting in a multicultural society. New York: Longman. 292 pages. Index. Appendices. The book contains six sections and 19 chapters. They include such major topics as cultural issues in parenting, improving parenting in the home and school, and support systems for parenting. A chapter on the parent as educator by Fantini is especially useful.
Ginott, H. G. (1965). Between parent and child. New York: The Macmillan Company. 223 pages. Index. Bibliography. Appendix. This book offers suggestions for dealing with the daily situations and problems faced by parents of children from infancy through pre-teen years. There is advice on discipline, sex education, children's fears, and situations calling for professional help. The book's theme deals with a premise that mutual respect and dignity between parent and child are needed and possible.
Ginott, H. G. (1969). Between parent and teenager. New York: The Macmillan Company. 225 pages. Index. Bibliography. This is a follow-up to the author's first book listed above. Such topics as rebellion, anger, praise, relationships, and drugs are covered.
Glasser, P. H., & Glasser, L. N. (Eds.). (1970). Families in crisis. New York: Harper & Row. 405 pages. Index. This is a book of readings on three major areas of family crisis: Poverty, disorganization, and physical and mental illness. The essays by various authors present intellectual and emotional insights into the three crisis areas. Various problem aspects and suggested solutions are included.
Gordon, S., & Gordon, J. (1983). Raising a child conservatively in a sexually permissive world. New York: Simon and Schuster. 224 pages. Index. Appendices. Recommended readings and sources of further information. At the heart of this book is a belief that informed and loved children will grow into responsible, self-possessed adults. Discussion is included on what children should know about sex at various ages.
Hiemstra, R. (1982). Elderly interests in the expressive domain, Educational Gerontology, 8, 143-154. (1980). The older adult as learning participant, Contemporary Educational Psychology, 5, 346-362. (1977/78). Instrumental and expressive learning: Some comparisons, International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 8, 161-168. (1976). Older adult learning: Instrumental and expressive categories, Educational Gerontology, 1, 227-236. (1973). Educational planning for older adults: A survey of expressive vs. instrumental preferences, International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 4, 147-156. (1972). Continuing education for the aged: A survey of needs and interests of older people, Adult Education, 22, 100-109. Several articles reporting research by the author on instrumental and expressive categorization of older learners' educational needs. In addition, a report of the Eldercollege activity can be found in the ERIC System, ED 198 303. Finally, a report of the perceived versus demonstrated approaches to determining educational needs can be found as Hiemstra, R., & Long, R. (1974). Survey of 'felt' versus 'real' needs of physical therapists, Adult education, 24, 270-279.
Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. Published quarterly by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, Washington, DC. The journal publishes articles on research, theory, clinical practice, and training in marriage and family therapy.
Kaluger, G., & Kaluger, M. F. (1974). Human development: The span of life. St. Louis: The C. V. Mosby Company. 330 pages. Index. Glossary. References at the end of each chapter. A discussion of human growth and development, childhood, puberty, and adulthood. Intelligence and cognitive development are discussed within the various chapters.
Lemasters, E. E. (1977). Parents in modern America (3rd Edition). Homewood, IL: The Dorsey Press. 210 pages. Index. Written in realistic and lively terms, this book offers a critical review of the literature on parent-child relationships and suggests that this literature has not usually approached parenthood from the parent's point of view; such books have tended to be child-centered. Chapters are included on the societal setting of parenthood, folklore about parenthood, changes in parent roles, and a special analysis of parents by various categories. The final chapter presents and discusses some interesting parental models.
Levinson, D. J., Darrow, C. N., Klein, E. B., Levinson, M. H., & McKee, B. (1978). The seasons of a man's life. New York: Ballantine Books. 363 pages. Index. This book contains 20 chapters ranging over such topics as adult development, various stages of adulthood, and mid-life transition. A study of 40 men served as the informational foundation for the book. Various case examples are provided.
Londoner, C. A. (1978). Instrumental and expressive education: A basis for needs assessment and planning. In R. H. Sherron & D. B. Lumsden (Eds.), Introduction to educational gerontology. Washington, DC: Hemisphere Publishing Corporation. This chapter summarized Londoner's work in conceptualizing the use of instrumental and expressive orientations for educational needs of older adults. For earlier work of his and some useful initial sources for his thinking see Havighurst, R. J. (1964). Changing status and roles during the adult life cycle: Significance for adult education. In H. Burns (Ed.), Sociological backgrounds of adult education. Chicago: Center for the Study of Liberal Education for Adults. Londoner, C. A. (1971). Survival needs of the aged: Implications for program planning, International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 1, 1-11. Parsons, T. (1964). The social system. New York: Free Press.
McClusky, H. Y. (1978). The community of generations: A goal and a context for the education of persons in the later years. In R. H. Sherron & D. B. Lumsden (Eds.), Introduction to educational gerontology. Washington, DC: Hemisphere Publishing Corporation. This chapter describes the author's concept of "Community of Generations," that each generation has a common stake with other generations, and that each generation has much to learn from other generations.
Medinnus, G. R., & Johnson, R. C. (Eds.) (1970). Child and adolescent psychology. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 662 pages. Author Index. This book contains a variety of articles contributed by many authors. Topics included are methods in child psychology, basic factors in development, the family and its influence on development, societal influences on socialization, and adolescence.
Michael, D. N. (1965). The next generation: The prospects ahead for the youth of today and tomorrow. New York: Random House, Inc. 207 pages. Index. Appendices. This book examines various trends in the American society in an attempt to analyze where they are heading. Such topics as the economy, technology, marriage and the family, education, and leisure are examined. The author urges that we explore more honestly and intently what values and goals we want inculcated into our youth.
Mocker, D. W., & Spear, G. (1979). Needs assessment. In P. D. Langerman & D. H. Smith, (Eds.), Managing adult and continuing education programs and staff. Washington, DC: National Association for Public Continuing and Adult Education (now American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, available from Syracuse University Publications in Continuing Education, 335 Huntington Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244). This chapter describes the functions of a needs assessment, presents a useful needs assessment matrix, and provides descriptions of how the matrix and various data collection devices can be used. The person interested in community and adult education will find lots of helpful information.
Parents Magazine. Published monthly by the Parents' Institute, Bergenfield, NJ. The magazine includes articles on various aspects of child and parent relationships, family health, and family fun.
Peterson, D. A. (1983). Facilitating education for older learners. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 342 pages. Index. References. This book is designed to help instructors, programs planners, and agency administrators understand the educational needs, wants, and characteristics of older learners. Longevity, educational participation, changing abilities and attitudes, and the development of various instructional programs for older learners are some of the topics explored by the author.
Psychology Today. Published monthly by Ziff-Davis Publication Company, New York. The magazine centers its articles on psychology, society, and human behavior. Articles on the child are frequently included.
Rodman, H. (Ed.). (1965). Marriage, family, and society. New York: Random House. 302 pages. Index. Appendix. Presented as a reader on marriage and the family, this book is written from a sociological view. Various authors discuss such topics as dating, mate selection, husband-wife relations, parent-child relations, and the changing American Family.
Romaniuk, J. G. (1984). Tuition-waiver policies for older adults: what are the assumptions?, Educational Gerontology, 10, 119-134. This article is one of several articles on the topic that have been published in the journal. The author includes a fairly comprehensive bibliography.
Sarason, S. B. (1977). The psychological sense of community. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 290 pages. Index. Bibliography. The author believes that the lack of a psychological sense of community often results in loneliness, alienation, rootlessness, and community disintegration. He suggests that the building of a true community psychology involves creating and maintaining a sense of belonging, responsibility, and purpose in the day-to-day lives of community residents.
Sheehy, G. (1981). Pathfinders. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc. 494 pages. Index. Bibliography. Appendices. This book describes how people successfully cope with various crises of life. See also her earlier work (1976) on adult stages and crises: Passages: Predictable crises of adult life. New York: Dutton Company.
Spock, B., & Rothenberg, L. (1992). Baby and child care (6th Edition). New York: Dutton Books (also available from Pocket Books). 832 pages. Index. All aspects of raising a child are discussed, including such topics as illness, breast feeding, how to discipline, and the impact of divorce on children.
Sullivan, S. A. (1992). The fathers' almanac (2nd Edition). Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc. 391 pages. Index. Further reading. This book contains 12 chapters. The topics cover all aspects of fathering from preparation for the birth through when the child is in school. A chapter on learning with kids is especially useful.
Sussman, M. B. (1968). Sourcebook in marriage and the family (3rd Edition). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 594 pages. Index. Name index. Biographical notes. This sourcebook contains 75 articles on such topics as birth, marriage, social class, family structure, and family problems. The book also includes a section on the trends in family research and theory and concludes with a discussion of prospects for the American family.
Ulene, A. (1984, October). How to bring your family closer together. Family Circle. Special section insert. In this special section insert, the author describes a wellness profile, including such areas as a couple communication scale, family stress scale, and satisfaction scale. There also is discussion on how to interpret the profile information and how to solve some family problems.
A Needs Assessment Model
The following represents an initial effort by the author to delineate some characteristics related to the assessment of educational needs. The references (see bibliography) by Hiemstra, Londoner, and Mocker and Spear also provide some additional insight into the complexities of needs assessment. The outline describes three elements to be considered prior to analyzing and translating any obtained needs data into program plans or activities.
Types of Educational Need
There are two main classification types for educational needs.
Instrumental Needs -- Basic competencies needed for the mastery of life's challenges - also can be referred to as delayed gratification needs.
Expressive Needs -- Experiences designed to increase a person's enjoyment of life - also can be referred to as immediate gratification mode.
Approaches to Determining Needs
There are two basic levels of human learning needs, each requiring different assessment approaches.
Perceived (felt) Need -- The identification of an individual concern or problem believed to be a troublesome condition - usually ascertained through such techniques as questionnaires, interest surveys, and advisory group feedback.
Demonstrated (real) Need -- An actual behavioral lack or debilitating condition of life requiring some correction to improve the human condition - usually ascertained through such techniques as paper and pencil tests, observational data, and performance rating.
Subject Matter Areas
There are at least four subject matter or content areas within which most human learning needs can be grouped. Each area frequently will require different types of programming, especially when considered in relation to other elements of this model described above.
Vocational/Fundamental -- This includes learning related to preparing to enter the labor market, on-the-job training, retraining for a shift in occupation, and also basic and literacy education - graduate courses taken by an individual to meet professional certification requirements, for example, would be included within this category.
Self-fulfillment -- This includes such efforts as learning for leisure, arts and crafts, hobbies, and recreation - included, too, would be learning related to music, art, dance, theater, religion, ethics and moral development.
Social/Civic -- This area covers the individual's role as a responsible citizen - included would be learning related to political behavior, civic literacy, community government, environmental concerns, and voluntarism.
Personal/Family -- This includes learning for the individual's role as parent, spouse, and homemaker - it also includes learning related to mental and physical health, family communications, and personal growth.
Selected Intergenerational and Elderly Programming Examples
The following examples were gleaned from various sources over the past several years and reflecting ways of serving and linking people of all ages in a community.
Elderhostel - (Both national & international opportunities) - Uses teachers of all ages.
Alumni College/Eldercollege - Promotes older people coming to campus (see Hiemstra in the bibliography).
Tuition Waivers - Permits older adults to attend college credit courses (see Romaniuk in the bibliography).
Use of empty college dormitories or shared college dormitories to house older adults.
Alumni housing built on a college campus (Iowa State University).
State aid (in New York) to city recreation programs for sponsoring activities for people over 60.
Special programs in retirement centers/nursing homes - Some examples: Bringing pets into centers, residents publishing a center newspaper, the center sponsoring and coordinating a volunteer bureau, and the implementation of college courses in the centers.
Special programs in senior centers - Some examples: Computer clubs, family meals, nutrition education programs, sponsoring a touring seniors music group, employment training, and seniors volunteering in the schools for a variety of activities.
Special courses or activities for the elderly to build awareness of intergenerational needs - Some examples: Pre-retirement/retirement training with younger people, learning to relate to grandchildren, serving as surrogate grandparents, and participating in oral history projects.
Various volunteer programs for older people - Some examples: RSVP, Small Business Management, and Green Thumb. One city uses seniors to help children plant flower gardens on the school grounds.
Unitarian/Universalist churches have special intergenerational activities (an Extended Family Project where people of varied ages regularly gather together for food and companionship and the Sharing in Growth Project, where people of all ages work together on church revitalization activities).
The Donovan Scholar Program (Kentucky) each summer offers a very popular writing workshop for people over 57. The annual publication of a monograph entitled "Second Spring" presents fiction, non-fiction, children's stories, and poetry for people of all ages.
A program in North Carolina develops and implements lifelong education programs for older adults to channel their skills and creative energies back into eight North Carolina communities. For example, retired professionals serve as tutors for college undergraduates, a Leadership for Seniors program helps participants learn about community needs, and a training program helps senior citizens work in the public schools in various ways.
PACE-TV in California trains older adults in all aspects of television production. They, in turn, produce educational programming for audiences of all age ranges. Programs are aired over three local cable stations for public access.
-- Return to Roger Hiemstra's opening page
-- Return to The Educative Community Contents page
-- Go to Information about the author, -- Go to the Preface, Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, Chapter Five, Chapter Six, Chapter Seven, Chapter Eight, or the Index