Essential conversations for parents and teachers

Evanston Township High School will host “The Essential Conversation: What Parents and Teachers can Learn from Each Other” with Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Ed.D. on Tuesday, Sept. 30, at 7 p.m. in the school auditorium.

Presented in partnership with the Family Action Network, the event is free and open to the public. CPDUs are available for educators.

In her 2003 book, The Essential Conversation: What Parents and Teachers Can Learn From Each Other, Lawrence-Lightfoot describes the relationship between parents and teachers as one of “natural enemies.”

She explains that parents and teachers are inevitably adversarial because a parent’s view of their child is highly subjective, intimate, protective, and very loving, whereas a teacher’s view of the same child is more distant and dispassionate, balancing the needs of individual students with the development of the classroom community.

While both are striving for “the best interest of the child,” what that means for each can produce conflict and distrust. Together with what Lawrence-Lightfoot labels the “ghosts in the classroom,” the “generational echoes” of autobiography, culture, class, identity and values, these dynamics, and others, create powerful forces that shape the quality and tone of parent-teacher encounters.

Lawrence-Lightfoot, a MacArthur prize-winning sociologist, is the Emily Hargroves Fisher Professor of Education at Harvard University, where she has been on the faculty since 1972.

She is the first African-American woman in Harvard’s history to have an endowed professorship named in her honor.

An educator, researcher, author, and public intellectual, she has written nine books and is a member of numerous professional and scholarly committees and boards of directors.

The auditorium is wheelchair accessible. Guests should plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before the event to find parking and seats.

Parking is recommended in the lot across from the main entrance, off of Dodge Avenue, or in the lots behind the high school.

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