The issue of cooperation between parents and schools has received increased attention in recent years. There are different ideas about what this should look like, but the fact that these two actors have become more distant is indisputable. Therefore, various projects and initiatives that build on this cooperation or at least bring the two actors closer are becoming increasingly important.
The work we are presenting is entitled: Parent-School Partnership, one of the most prominent works on the subject of German literature. The book paints a relevant picture of the various forms and possibilities of parent-school partnerships while also promoting the need for cooperation with parents as such. It is, however, well known that there are many forms of partnership that the work takes into account. It also places this highly complex concept in the context of both the lay reader and the professional, as it operationalises it.
The work was published in 2020, and its authors are university lecturers Dagmar Killus and Angelika Paseka. They are among the most experienced researchers in parenting and educational research in the German language area today. They are currently members of the teacher training faculty at the University of Hamburg, and their area of interest includes, among other things, research on parents.
The book's cover depicts a parent and a teacher, an image that is essentially faithful to the book's title. The characters are in consultation with each other, taking place in a seemingly ideal environment: with the positive consent of both parties. The overall effect is aesthetic, but I also like the fact that the author embeds the parent-teacher relationship in an everyday situation without over-mystifying it on the cover. In fact, both sexes are represented in the picture, which adds to the pleasant feeling of the overall effect.
The work is extremely complex, containing both theoretical and practical knowledge. It is 184 pages long and consists of about seven chapters. The theory covers the basic principles of parent-school cooperation, the possible forms of cooperation and the legal framework. In this context, the differentiation between the concepts of parenting and cooperation is also emphasised. The authors consistently use thorough and precise terminology and attempt to present the concepts precisely. This is followed by an introduction to the approaches of the various disciplines (sociology, psychology, education) to the subject, which also helps the reader to understand the concepts and to orientate himself. It then points to the current situation from the practical side, taking into account various research studies and providing a basic guide to examining parent-school relations. It is important to see how complex and difficult this undertaking is since there are different initiatives and projects which would be difficult to research along the same indicators or criteria. The authors, therefore, present initiatives that could serve as practical examples and models for individual institutions. They also highlight areas for improvement.
The work draws attention to the fact that parents need help with school or their child's learning, and teachers are a source of this help. However, it is important that groups of school actors agree on their expectations and different objectives (short, medium and long term), and communication between them is also a key condition for successful cooperation. The latter is the subject of a whole chapter (see Chapter 5). The role of attitudes towards each other is also important. According to some teachers' interpretations, parents' move between disinterest, lack of understanding and over-involvement Kharübdis, which quickly becomes interference' (Ulich 1996: 131, own translation). The authors point out important parameters in the issue of parental involvement, such as frequency, intensity, etc. These give us a comprehensive picture of the subject, from which we can gain a lot of useful knowledge as readers.
The authors are always careful to make the work easily comprehensible, so they use conceptual highlights in the margins. This is a well-structured, comprehensive work, which is a tribute to the authors' professionalism. Particular mention should be made of the care taken to convey theoretical information and illustrate its application in practice through examples. The reader will therefore have in his hands a work that can be put into practical use when he turns the pages of this book. Furthermore, the authors illustrate the nature of the teacher-parent-child relationship with clearly understandable diagrams. The quality of the school-parent partnership is important, as it can significantly impact the student's success at school. If the two actors (parents and school) work together to support the student, the student will be supported from more sides and will likely not drop out or become an early truant. It is important to recognise the need for the actors to work together for the child's best interests and to consider each other as a resource.
The actuality of the topic in the 21st century is extraordinary. The topic of the relationship between the two parties is extremely relevant, and there seems to be a great need for clarity or various debates on this topic. It is necessary to talk about it and to bring this issue into the academic public consciousness. The authors also discuss the various discourses. In particular, they stress the importance of recognising the importance of parental involvement in school affairs, which is currently scant and, in some cases, absent. This is why this work fills a gap. Furthermore, to determine how cooperation between parents and schools can be achieved, it is necessary to ask what conditions can support and hinder cooperation between parents and schools. The authors present selected projects and programmes while also examining their quality. In fact, the book is therefore also a 'recipe' for creating sustainable cooperation between home and school in a way that brings about positive improvements. It can therefore be an instructive reference work for school development. For this reason, we recommend the book to managers and staff of educational institutions (teachers, etc.), as well as to educational researchers, parents who speak German or professionals who are thinking about some kind of initiative for students or parents (e.g. foundations, after school support programs, etc.). A certain intellectual literacy is also important for understanding the book, but a high knowledge of a foreign language (German) is also required.
The review on which this paper is based has been implemented by the MTA-DE-Parent-Teacher Cooperation Research Group and with the support provided by the Research Programme for Public Education Development of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.