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Fields-Smith receives AESA Critic’s Choice Book Award

Lauren Leathers

September 30, 2020

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Cheryl Fields-Smith, an associate professor in the Mary Frances Early College of Education’s department of educational theory and practice, was awarded the American Educational Studies Association’s (AESA) Critic’s Choice Book Award for “Exploring Single Black Mothers' Resistance Through Homeschooling” on Monday, Sept. 21.

Each year, AESA committee members select several books that they consider to be outstanding and that may be of interest to those in educational studies. Fields-Smith’s book expands the concept of homeplace with contemporary Black homeschooling positioned as a form of resistance among single Black mothers. Each chapter explores an individual mother’s experience and perspective in the decision to homeschool and the process of developing their practice.

Headshot of Cheryl Fields-Smith

“This book reveals the considerable diversity that exists within and among single Black home educators,” said Fields-Smith, who has researched Black homeschooling families for more than 15 years. “Single mothers expressed varying beliefs regarding motherhood, spirituality and faith that gave them the strength to choose to homeschool their children and to forgo a career and income.”

While writing the book, Fields-Smith participated in several writing-related professional development programs including the Full Circle Writing Retreat in Ghana, West Africa and the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity Faculty Success Program. These opportunities, she says, helped to re-connect her writing to the reason for her research.

“I chose to focus on single Black mothers first because the research literature completely ignores single-parent families that homeschool,” she said. “One of the primary purposes of my work is to document the tremendous diversity that exists among Black homeschool families and to provide counternarratives to myths of Black parents not caring about their children's education, and, in this case, counternarratives to continuing destructive stereotypes surrounding Black single mothers.”