Maintaining the cultural capital: A study of 22 Hispanic families




Scantlebury-McDonald, Placida

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The purpose of the study was to identify and describe values and characteristics of the families of Hispanic children who had been labeled "at risk." Research questions considered demographics, values and norms of behavior, and education. The most significant questions were what kinds of cultural, educational, professional, and social activities do parents perform? What are the values that parents would like to preserve and how is this preservation encouraged? What are the parents' expectations of education and what strategies are in place to help the children learn?

The subjects were parents, family members, and the children who were in the researcher's classroom in kindergarten during the school years 1991-1992 through 1993-1994. Researcher and participants shared similar cultural background.

The study used qualitative and quantitative design and triangulation of the results, based on the literature review, observations, and interviews. The findings showed only one family headed by a single parent, only one unemployed parent, and high expectations about children's education; and the preservation of values and norms of behavior through established home activities. The implications were that there is a great cultural capital and diverse funds of knowledge awaiting teacher's discovery, that teachers could uncover this knowledge and gather it into the classrooms and use it to complement traditional instruction. The writer feels that these children would not be "at risk" if teachers learn about and include in their instructional practices the use of the cultural capital and the families' funds of knowledge.



Social sciences, Education, Child development, At-risk children