"Everyone learns and everyone teaches everyone else" : family learning and teaching : a thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education (Adult Education), Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
This thesis explores family learning and teaching by constructing a picture of families as learning communities. Making visible family learning and teaching is necessary as the everyday practices of families are seldom recognized, acknowledged and valued for their role in developing people's ability as learners and teachers. Families and parents are named the 'first educators' of children without significant attention being paid to the nature of family learning and teaching. How family learning and teaching contributes to the growth and development of the adults in the family also receives little attention, possibly because of a focus for adult learning on the gaining of qualifications and credentials for employment. Within Aotearoa/New Zealand the growth and development of citizens is divided into the public domain of institutions, and the private domain of families. Learning and teaching development is assigned to educational institutions and the role of families is considered to be mainly about care and socialization. Study and research of family learning and teaching can compliment the body of work on learning and teaching within Aotearoa/New Zealand which is dominated by interest in formal institutional education. There is a growing emphasis on the need for collaboration between school, family and community to ensure educational achievement. A greater understanding of family learning and teaching capability and potential can enhance the quality of the relationship with families as they come to be seen as more than assistants to schools. Recognizing the uniqueness of families as a place of learning can enable a shift towards a strengths based view of families and valuing their contribution to building our societies ability to progress in a world focused on knowledge and information. Initial information gifted and gathered for the first phase of the research project, Learning and teaching within families with children: conversations with some Playcentre families, is used to make visible family learning and teaching. This information provides evidence of how families describe their engagement in learning and teaching. Identification of families as learning communities is made using Etienne Wenger's work on communities of practice. I show how these families are groups of people who share a passion for learning and teaching. Relationships, interactions and experiences within their families intentionally support their growth as learners and teachers.