In this communication we examine how an ‘educational innovation experiment’ contributes to the construction of parents as educational agents and how parental involvement in children’s formal education is regulated in specific ways by schools. Data comes from an on-going action-research project organized for the pre-school years of a state school in Madrid (Spain). The site is a school with close links to a Spanish research University that serves primarily well-educated Spanish origin middle-class families and is known for its innovative curriculum. The center of the project was the creation of a classroom blog (and other spin-off web-based platforms) where parents, teachers and their pre-school children (between 4-6 years of age) could share materials and ideas. The first author of this paper acted as a co-designer of the project, was a parent of the class and a participant observer of the process since its inception in October 2010.
Drawing on blog interactions, observations of teacher-parent meetings and numerous informal conversations with parents our analysis focuses on two aspects that illustrate the ‘schooled construction’ of parenthood:
- How ‘proper’ parental involvement in children’s education is displayed and constructed in this context.
- How the spaces created through the action-research project serve as a platform for the exploration of contemporary ‘intensive parenting’ practices, especially those tied to early literacy development.
Our findings illustrate the role played by schools in the co-construction of ‘modern personhood’ defined through a particular set of values, cognitions and practices and show how these processes unfold not only in students as the recipients of schooling but also in parents who, in the process, are also defined as educational actors.