Literacy and Mothering: How Women's Schooling Changes the Lives of the World's Children

ISBN : 9780195309829

Robert A. LeVine; Sarah LeVine; Beatrice Schnell-Anzola; Meredith L. Rowe; Emily Dexter
224 Pages
162 x 237 mm
Pub date
Mar 2012
Send mail

Women's schooling is strongly related to child survival and other outcomes beneficial to children throughout the developing world, but the reasons behind these statistical connections have been unclear. In Literacy and Mothering, the authors show, for the first time, how communicative change plays a key role: Girls acquire academic literacy skills, even in low-quality schools, which enable them, as mothers, to understand public health messages in the mass media and to navigate bureaucratic health services effectively, reducing risks to their children's health. With the acquisition of academic literacy, their health literacy and health navigation skills are enhanced, thereby reducing risks to children and altering interactions between mother and child. Assessments of these maternal skills in four diverse countries - Mexico, Nepal, Venezuela, and Zambia - support this model and are presented in the book. Chapter 1 provides a brief history of mass schooling, including the development of a bureaucratic Western form of schooling. Along with the bureaucratic organization of healthcare services and other institutions, this form of mass schooling spread across the globe, setting new standards for effective communication - standards that are, in effect, taught in school. Chapter 2 reviews the demographic and epidemiological evidence concerning the effects of mothers' education on survival, health, and fertility. In this chapter, the authors propose a model that shows how women's schooling, together with urbanization and changes in income and social status, reduce child mortality and improve health. In Chapter 3, the authors examine the concept of literacy and discuss how its meanings and measurements have been changed by educational research of the last few decades. Chapter 4 introduces the four-country study of maternal literacy. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 present the findings, focusing on academic literacy and its retention (Chapter 5), its impact on maternal health literacy and navigation skills (Chapter 6), and changes in mother-child interaction and child literacy skills (Chapter 7). Chapter 8 presents a new analysis of school experience, explores policy implications, and recommends further research.


By Michael Cole
Part I. Theoretical Background: Historical and Sociological Perspectives
Chapter 1
The Rise and Spread of Western Schooling
Chapter 2
Women's Schooling and Social Change in the Developing World after 1950
Chapter 3
Re-Defining Literacy: A Theory of Bureaucratic Schooling
Part II. Maternal Literacy in Less Developed Countries
Chapter 4
Contexts of Mothers' Lives: The Four-Country Study
Chapter 5
Retention of Academic Literacy Skills
Chapter 6
Mothers as Pupils in Health Care Settings
Chapter 7
Mothers as Teachers at Home
Part III. Conclusions: The Processes of Global Change
Chapter 8
Communicative Processes: Schooling, Literacy and Maternal Behavior
Appendix A: Literacy Assessment Methods
Appendix B: Statistical Data

About the author: 

Robert A. LeVine is the Roy E. Larsen Professor of Education and Human Development, Emeritus, at Harvard University, where he directed the Project on Maternal Schooling that informs this book. His previous books include Anthropology and Child Development: A Cross-Cultural Reader (2008, with Rebecca S. New) and Child Care and Culture: Lessons from Africa (1994, with Sarah LeVine and others). In 2001 he received the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Educational Research from the American Educational Research Association. ; Sarah LeVine is an anthropologist who has conducted research on four continents and coordinated the fieldwork of the Project on Maternal Schooling. Her books include Dolor y Alegria: Women and Social Change in Urban Mexico (1993) and The Saint of Kathmandu (2008). ; Beatrice Schnell-Anzola is a specialist in bilingual language and literacy assessment who received her Ed.D. at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She joined the Project on Maternal Schooling in 1992, developed its literacy assessment program, and led its Venezuela study. Her articles have appeared in the International Journal of Educational Development, the Harvard Educational; Meredith L. Rowe is Assistant Professor of Human Development at the University of Maryland, College Park. She received her doctorate from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education in 2003 and participated in the Project on Maternal Schooling since 1999. Her research focuses on the role of parents and family factors in children's language development, and she has published articles in Science, Child Development, Developmental Psychology, and Developmental Science. ; Emily Dexter is a developmental psychologist whose research focuses on literacy development, academic achievement gaps, and the role of parents, teachers, and society in children's development. She was a member of the Project on Maternal Schooling while a doctoral student and postdoctoral researcher at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and designed many of the project's quantitative analyses. Her work has been published in the Comparative Education Review, Elementary School Journal, and School Effectiveness and School Improvement.

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.