When I read Hall et al's summary of Marion Flett's classification for the three different types of parent support programs, I was so excited that I closed the book and cried out. I finally had the language to the various approaches working within the education system, and why I find some of them repugnant.
The 'deficit' model implies that parents' parenting skills and/or knowledge are deficient and that they need to be shown how to become better parents.
The 'involvement' model recognizes parents as the primary educators and suggests that their children will benefit from their greater knowledge of child development and activities if they participate in programs.
The 'empowerment' model acknowledges the strengths and knowledge that parents already have an enables them to build on it and to share it with the professionals.
Hall et al, Loris Malaguzzi and the Reggio Emilia Experience, pg. 85, quoting Marion Flett in Early Childhood Matters, 109, pg. 45
There are a lot of people, companies, and policy makers in the education industry operating under the deficit model. They believe there are a significant number of teachers, parents, and administrators who simply do not know what they're doing, and we must make sure they are trained, controlled, regulated, analyzed, observed, and punished when they step out of line.
I work under the empowerment model. While there are a handful of bad apples out there, the vast majority of teachers are good at what they do and can be very effective at navigating a teachable moment with an engaged student. Instead most of our teachers are overworked, underpaid, and given impossible circumstances in which to succeed at inspiring their children to have fun learning. And when I consider the value of an educational tool within the classroom, I ask first whether it empowers existing teachers to more reliably create and nurture teachable moments within their classroom.
Operating from the empowerment model is powerful whether we work with teachers, parents, or even the students themselves (e.g. when encouraging meaningful project work). This helps us seek their unique set of strengths, which can function as a foundation for building something amazing together. Silver linings or not, I'll take this over believing that teachers, parents or students are deficient of inspiration, motivation, knowledge, intelligence and talent.
The empowerment model is a recognized approach within social work. Maybe it's time we brought this more consciously within the education realm as well.