I am so pleased to read Judith Bernhard’s new book Stand Together or Fall Apart. The time is definitely ripe for those professionals in my country, the USA, to broaden their view of why it is so important to work effectively with immigrant families. It starts with looking at our own attitudes as professionals. As I write this, the government of the USA is working on immigration reform. I wish every one of them would read Bernhard’s book!
I would definitely recommend this book for professionals who work with immigrant families, as well as for undergraduate students in professional schools such as psychology, social work, early childhood education, and public health nursing who have aspirations to work with newcomer communities. The strategies and examples on how to work with immigrant families are based on practice knowledge and research. Hence, they serve as solid foundations from which practitioners can contribute to the health and well being of immigrant children and their families…
The importance of professionals identifying existing and potential strengths of newcomer children and their families is stressed by Bernhard in Chapter 7. The most important contribution is the presentation and discussion of the Benson Assessment Framework which contains a list of factors or what the author calls “assets” required for healthy child development.
At this year’s 10th Annual Summer Institute on Early Childhood Development, Putting Families First in Early Childhood Education, we recognized the exceptional contributions of Dr. Judith K. Bernhard for her lifelong research achievements in the area of parent engagement and diversity. Dr. Bernhard’s ground-breaking work has had a significant impact on pan-Canadian early learning policy and practice. Please view the video of Dr. Bernhard’s acceptance remarks here. (8 mins)
For those of us who are Faculty in Early Childhood Programs or facilitate community gatherings, a brilliant bonus is the free of charge “Teaching Resources” supplement. Developed by Vicki Mulligan, a collaborator and colleague of Judith, this chapter-by-chapter document offers a multitude of activities for participants to assist with the teaching/learning process as they explore the book.
It has been said that reading remains an unsurpassed vehicle for the transmission of new ideas and perspectives, and in this regard, “Stand Together or Fall Apart ” truly shines. I urge you to bring this book into your world, devour it, reflect on it, return to it, share it, and most importantly act upon the multitude of learnings it offers.
The book does not provide a recipe for change but rather provides a new way to think about the issues and provide guidance on working with families to collaboratively find ways forward. Programs focused on improving children’s literacy skills have received a great deal of positive attention, especially those including parent involvement. However, Bernhard helps readers understand that these successes are limited by relying on a dominant culture’s perspective of “parent engagement”. … Stand together or fall apart: Professionals working with immigrant families is a powerful vehicle for getting teachers and future teachers to confront persisting patterns of interactions with families. It moves past the discourse of blame and the deficit models that confront pre-service and in-service professionals in the field. This monograph length book should be required reading for anyone working with or wanting to better understand immigrant children and families.
One of this book’s strengths is the content of Part Two which articulates explicitly and clearly a number of theoretical foundations that should inform inclusion and collaboration with immigrant families and children. By positioning her own work within the philosophical traditions of theory of power and empowerment as represented in the works of Paulo Freire, Pierre Bourdieu, Michel Foucault, and Luis Moll, Bernhard provides the professionals working with immigrant and refugee populations with a theoretical perspective that arms them against the complacency that may come with the discourse of “celebration of difference” and “national cohesion” as goals of multiculturalism. From this theoretical position, Bernhard is critical of current practices that label, stigmatize, and marginalize children in educational settings from a very early age, and advocates for embracing the view that there are multiple paths to “normal development.”… What makes Stand Together or Fall Apart an important read for helping professionals is not only that it provides a sobering account of the struggles immigrant families and children encounter as they navigate and negotiate their new realities, but also that it gives powerful examples of how professionals can contribute to a better, brighter future for ALL.
Bernhard carefully examines the realities of immigrant adaptation in various Western societies so the reader can fully appreciate the totality of immigrant realities. The author suggests that in all professions there is an ethos which says to an immigrant that “the professional knows best”. These approaches, while well intended, address immigrants and their families as subjects to be worked on until the desired result is achieved. Bernhard favors approaches which include immigrants and their families as partners with professionals. A number of these interventions in various nations are cited.
As Judith Bernhard points out in this timely volume, the “celebration” of diversity in [many] countries is often superficial with little appreciation of the cultural capital that immigrant adults and children represent. Bernhard documents lucidly not only the social justice concerns associated with the marginalization of immigrant families and communities in Canada, Australia, the United States and Europe but also the economic and social costs that accrue when supports for integration are undermined or removed…The data and critical analysis of immigration realities in countries around the world articulated by Judith Bernhard open the door for much-needed dialogue on these issues. Nothing less than the social and economic future of our societies is at stake, which makes the lack of dialogue on these issues up to this point so astounding.
As the “dicho” says- If you don’t look forward- you will stay behind. Mil Gracias to Dr. Bernhard for her profound work on the “New Us” and for clearly illustrating that the well being of immigrant families benefits us all. Stand Together or Fall Apart is a timely and important contribution that challenges us to explore uncomfortable truths about how immigrants are perceived and treated and inspires us to do what works so that we all can enjoy a strong, healthy and shared future.
Stand Together or Fall Apart enables teachers to understand the nuances of immigrant silence. It offers policymakers concrete and effective patways to promote social integration and it shows how to empower parents craving a better world for their children. Bernhard provides a clear foundation for a pedagogy of the undocumented.