KOREAN IMMIGRANT MOTHERS’ EDUCATIONAL BELIEFS AND PRACTICES: A TRANSNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
Kim, Ji Hyun
Wiseman, Donna L
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This study analyzed the parental involvement experiences of four first-generation Korean immigrant mothers living in a Mid-Atlantic state to expand the research base and knowledge of traditional parental involvement paradigms. The study was guided by two overarching research questions: 1) How do four Korean immigrant mothers understand and perform their roles in the educational experiences of their children?; and 2) How do contexts (i.e. micro, meso, macro, and transnational) influence the mothers’ understandings and performance of their roles in the educational experiences of their children? Multiple concepts and frameworks related to parent involvement and immigrant experiences informed the conceptual framework of this study. They include the parent role construction of Hoover-Dempsey et al. (2005); the minority parent role construction of Auerbach (2007); Cultural Ecological Theory (Ogbu & Simons, 1998); and transnationalism (Itzigsohn & Giorguli-Saucedo, 2005; Portes, 2003). Despite a certain level of variability among the participants’ educational beliefs and practices, they commonly regarded private supplementary education (e.g. hagwon, or Korean style afterschool programs, and private tutoring) as an effective means to give a competitive edge to their children academically, which is largely practiced in Korea. Also, not all mothers placed priority on school-based involvement including school visits and Parent Teacher Association membership. The findings suggest that the mothers’ current perceptions, expectations, and behaviors related to their children’s education are influenced by their upbringing and educational experiences in Korea, continuing transnational interactions with people and culture in Korea, and their racial and ethnic minority status in the U.S. The findings also suggest that a traditional school-centered conceptualization of parent involvement may be limited in capturing immigrant parents’ strong commitment of their children’s education, which may not be congruent with conventional norms of school involvement. As U.S. federal government and local school districts continue to emphasize parents as partners in education, teachers and administrators will benefit from this analysis of one growing population which demonstrates high achievement in the school system. Furthermore, this research challenges and expands a stereotypical and monolithic understanding of Korean immigrants as “model minority” through a detailed case study of one group of mothers.