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Women with dependent children - their journeys through a primary teacher training programme and the impact on their families. Stephanie White. Why this topic?.

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Women with dependent children -

their journeys through a primary teacher training programme and the impact on their families.

Stephanie White

why this topic
Why this topic?
  • Student population at CCE has changed in recent years. An increasing number of mature-aged students, many with dependent children, have chosen primary teacher training as their pathway to engage in lifelong learning .
  • As a mother myself engaged in lifelong learning while working part-time and caring for my family, I wondered….

how do mothers who are also students manage it all?

context for the study
Context for the study
  • CCE – Primary Teacher ( teaching years 0-8) 3 year degree including 2 professional teaching practices per year.
  • Exploring the reasons for choosing this pathway for lifelong learning.
  • Identifying the key partnerships with those who support them in a variety of ways
  • Identifying the issues that impact on them and their families as they manage this journey.
  • What can we as a College do better?
the mothers
The mothers
  • 6 female students studying at all 3 levels of the degree.
  • Ages range from 22yrs -49yrs.
  • Dependent children range from 1-4, and ages between 3-23yrs.
  • 2 single parents, 2 married, 1 de facto relationship
  • Offer unique life experiences, circumstances, motivations, commitments, support, feelings, backgrounds, values and attitudes.
  • Draws on feminist theory and qualitative research
  • Semi-structured interviews and short personal narratives used to share the women's voices and the dynamics of their gender
  • Provides an opportunity to understand social reality and value the complexity of other peoples lives
  • Principles of feminist research influenced all aspects of the study
ethical issues
Ethical issues
  • As a woman researcher known to the students as a mother, lecturer and part-time student, my position was open and transparent
  • However, in my role as their lecturer and Dean for second year students , I was privy to other information about these students that was not divulged through the research, but came to my attention later on in the year.
  • Extremely important to me and the mothers not to exploit or manipulate such knowledge to influence my research.
their journeys
Their journeys
  • The stories and experiences appear to be gendered – guilt for leaving their children, not being at home enough, not having enough time, having to organise childcare, lack of money, keeping up with the domestic stuff…all strong female concerns
  • Motivation to become primary teachers a strong influence on their decisions to engage in lifelong learning
  • Practicalities of juggling both roles has a huge impact on them and their families
  • Women have feelings of guilt about leaving their children and not being home as much, need to organise childcare, struggle to put their own needs first – all culturally and socially appropriate experiences for women (Baxter & Blight, 1997)
  • Time problems are particularly acute for female students with children – balancing caring and domestic commitments with their studies (Lynch, 1997)
  • Juggling higher education with domestic responsibilities and ensuring their new role as a student doesn’t infringe too much on their established roles in the family (Baxter & Blight, 1997)
  • Loss of a social life, no time for friends, feeling that any spare time should be spent with their children, not being involved in wider aspects of student life( Blaxter & Tight, 1994)
  • chose the female dominated and socially acceptable field of primary teaching as a career, but also succumbed to the social tradition of being a mother first and foremost
  • Most thought of being a teacher early on in life..but LIFE got in the way
  • Decisions to finally enrol fitted around their roles as mothers and their positive experiences with their own children and their schooling
  • Solo mothers desire to provide for their children, get off the benefit, have a career that allowed time with their children (school holidays)
  • Older mothers desire to be more than “just the Mum” – doing something for themselves - personal development, self improvement (Kantanis, 2002 )
  • Children’s feelings – positive and negative
  • Childcare (Griffiths, 2002)
  • Support networks (Duncan, 1995)
  • Money woes (Lidgard, 2004)
  • Time poverty (Cantwell & Mulhearn, 1997)
  • Key partnerships begin with the people who care for their children – family, friends, childcare staff
  • Support from their partners, children and/or family members in their decision to become teachers makes their journey more successful
  • College as an institution and the staff associated with it- extensions to assignments, absences from classes to care for sick children, professional practices close to home, etc
  • Fellow students who understand the extra demands on mothers in terms of lack of time for socialising and extra studying, childcare constraints and financial problems
college support
College support
  • more formalised support system for students with children, such as a child friendly space, a designated quiet space, and opportunities for family members to come on campus (Bay, 1999)
  • Experienced and beginning teachers with children offering advice and support for students with children on how to cope when they become full time teachers!!
  • Priority for childcare at the College centre and the creation of an after school care programme
  • Better lecturer understanding around issues to do with their children
  • setting up of more formal learning communities for students with children
  • establish a properly resourced space and support person for students to bring their children.. especially after school and in the weekends
  • extended childcare for school- aged children
  • more money, more time, more flexibly available childcare, and more sympathetic timetabling to reflect school hours- some ideas to provide equitable access to tertiary education for students with dependent children
  • Bay (1999 )
  • Baxter & Blight (1997 )
  • Blaxter & Tight (1994 )
  • Cantwell & Mulhearn (1997 )
  • Duncan (1995 )
  • Griffiths ( 2002)
  • Kantanis ( 2002 )
  • Lidgard ( 2004)
  • Lynch (1997 )