The Challenges of Communication: A Study of Immigrant Parents and School Staff in Halifax, Nova Scotia’s English School System
This thesis employs an anthropological approach to analyzing the communication between immigrant parents and school staff at elementary schools in the west end of Halifax. I focus on the communication process in relation to children's education. Working at the intersection between migration studies, the anthropology of education, intercultural communication and anthropological political economy, I use William Roseberry's concept of "common discursive framework" (1994, 1996) to ask how the communication process for immigrant parents and the Halifax education system occurs. I pay particular attention to power relations among the institution of the school board, school staff and immigrant parents. I address how immigrant parents understand and navigate Nova Scotia’s public education system and how they communicate about their children's education. The qualitative interviews with parents and school staff reveal problems with this communication. I consider the difficulties that parents and school staff face in attempting to communicate with each other and how they try to resolve those situations. I found that there are established official channels and tools for communication, but these are designed to send messages in one direction from the school to parents. Immigrant parents and teachers find solutions despite and around the system, but that depends heavily on teachers’ personal sensitivity and experience.