“What does it mean to exist within (home)places?” - migration and everydayness family life bound with curriculum and schooling

Elisabete Carvalho, Elisabete Ferreira, José Alberto Correia

Abstract


The study will focus on three northern migrant families in the United States with school-age children who returned to Portugal. The choice to inquire families connected by the continuum historic Portuguese landmark of migration (Casa-Nova, 2005; Matias 2014; Solar & Villaba, 2007) was to (re)collect the shared story of those who come to be simultaneously local and global. They talk about overcoming obstacles, integration and mobility in the “hybrid” society that they dwell and call “home.” Telling stories is a natural part of life and all humans have stories about their experiences to communicate to others. The research puzzle focuses on the phenomenon of migration and everydayness family life bound with school. This text intertwines curriculum place with migrant families and school (Amthor, 2013; Gjoaj, Zinn & Nawyn, 2013; Sallaf, 2013; Whitlock, 2007). Metaphorically writing, each individual is an island belonging or urging to (be)long to a place. Skin, a versatile barrier that keeps the brain in touch with the outside world allowing an endless conversation between the inner self and the places we inhabit. According to Whitlock (2007) “place is a curriculum landscape that brings the particularity into focus by allowing us to examine ourselves […]: we can see ourselves as subjects within a particular setting” (p. 46). In this narrative inquiry (Amado, 2013; Clandinin & Connelly, 1991/2000, Clandinin 2013; Creswell, 2008; He & Phillion, 2008; Merriam, 2009), stories assumed different forms that were told, written, drawn, or painted. The stories (Clandinin & Rosiek, 2007) were the milieu that provided the way of thinking about an experience and a (con)text to the production of knowledge. It is therefore important the triangulation of the different field texts sources taken into consideration for the writing of the narrative to reflect the authenticity of the multiplicity of voices heard and words written, as well as the multiple ways of viewing the world. Knowing that the essence of a narrative study is an intrusion in the family’s life, the questioning about power related tensions (Ludhra & Chappel, 2011) allowed the researchers to keep co-composed decisions. In this project, the researchers encountered participants that were willing to share their daily school life in the United States and Portugal and keen to find solutions for the challenges that emerged in their family daily life due to migration. We discovered in the individual family stories that the dual role of being a child and, also, a student bound the school ambiance to their family shared story. The major concern of these three families were not the policies on education but the way school everydayness blurred and changed their daily family lives. The key lies in a curriculum that allows each “place” to express itself from a past legacy, inherited through self-cultivation, self-reflective, self-regeneration, creates an “island” of knowledge where the “trees” are information, the “fruit and flowers” are meaning and the “seeds” are wisdom. School is a sum of multiple “places”. We should not be afraid to look into a story and ask: “What does it mean to exist within (home)places?”


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