ERG SES D 03, Interactive Poster Session
Interactive Poster Session
The doctoral study aims find out how women teachers describe their experiences of being mothers and practitioners and ultimately, what teacher mother’s stories tell us about influencing factors in their lives. Currently, 25% of female teachers in the UK leave the profession during their 30s, which has been linked to caring responsibilities including maternity leave and childcare (Simons, 2016, Morgan, 2015). Research from around the world suggests that this issue is not limited to the UK (Abele & Spurk, 2011; Berggren & Lauster, 2014; Gannerud, 2001; Gash, 2009; Hauver-James, 2010; Knowles, Nieuwenhuis & Smit, 2009).
The unfair distribution of unpaid work in families is well documented (Fatherhood Institute, 2016; Park, Bryson, Clery, Curtice & Phillips, 2013) and it is suggested that on average, women complete 49 hours of childcare and housework per week in the family home, compared to 24 hours for men (Park et al, 2013). Quantitative research is showing a trend for teachers to work very long hours (Richardson, 2016, Sellen, 2016, Hardy, 2016) and that teachers are risking ‘burn out’ (Sellen, 2016)
- What do the life history stories of teacher mothers suggest about this special circumstance?
The theoretical framework for the study, is based on the work of Foucault and Bronfenbrenner. Foucault is relevant because of his work on institutions and discipline. Foucault began with an analysis of the power structures in a closed institutional system – a prison, but went on to generalise these constructs to other, open institutions. In my study, these institutions are the place of work (school), family and community. The institutions span the systems described using Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems model (1979). Discipline within these institutions is a type of power, linking institutions and making them function in specific ways (Deleuze, 1986; Foucault, 1977).
Although Bronfenbrenner’s theory has been criticised for being oversimplified; he criticised it himself, in later years (Kell, 2016) it gives a framework for thinking about different influences on teacher parents. It is included in my theoretical framework to support a Foucauldian analysis of power within the systems, rather than assuming that subjects of domination are indeed dominated from one place, or by one person or group (Davis, 2009). This also sits with intersectionality and a perspective of power as a dynamic process (Bilge, 2010). Bilge discusses how intersectionality works at a microsocial and macrosocial level (2010 p.58), reminiscent of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems.
The study takes a postmodern feminist approach and uses narrative methods. For the main study, life-history interviews were used. In terms of how narrative fits within my research design, the value placed on the story of the individual addresses this aspect of the research question, as they are inextricably bound to the narrative of the participants. ‘Narrative researchers are open to a view that there are alternative epistemologies or ways of knowing’ (Lewis & Adeney, 2014, p.163). Goodson (2013) suggests that the life history is a form of triangulation, between the original life story, documentary data, and historical context. Life stories become language games shaped by discourses, power, knowledge, truth… about which the participants may not be conscious. (Foucault, 1978, 1979; Merrill & West, 2009). This added dimension takes into account the complexity of an individual account (Stone-Mediatore, 2000). As a researcher, ‘she or he will be listening through the person's story to hear the operation of broader social discourses shaping that person's story of their experience.’ (Clandinin & Rosiek, 2007, p. 55). The concept of insider/outsider researchers has been questioned and critiqued from several standpoints. As researchers, we are already insiders, and outsiders (Wilkinson & Kitzinger, 2013). Insider research is eyed with suspicion, with questions raised about the possibility of an objective view from the inside (Blythe et al, 2013). Rooney (2005) suggests that insider research has the potential to increase validity through the richness and authenticity of the responses, and Cooper and Rogers (2015), go further and forward the idea that the suspicion aimed at insider research has led to researchers being more reflexive and careful about their assumptions, thus increasing validity.I was a teacher mother myself until recently; many researchers 'chose to research their own cultural, sexualised and racialised communities.’ (Pillow, 2003, p.182). Insider research is ‘conducted by people who are already members of the community they are seeking to investigate.’ (Humphrey, 2012, p.572, also see Coghlan and Brannick, 2005, 2007). Insider research is eyed with suspicion, with questions raised about the possibility of an objective view from the inside (Blythe et al, 2013). Rooney (2005) suggests that insider research has the potential to increase validity through the richness and authenticity of the responses, and Cooper and Rogers (2015), go further and forward the idea that the suspicion aimed at insider research has led to researchers being more reflexive and careful about their assumptions, thus increasing validity.
The main study data collection has just finished (January 2019), so analysis of this data is underway and will be reported as part of the presentation. In the pilot study data analysis, there is a sense of a ‘twofold functioning’ (Tamboukou, 2013, p.93) in that there are technologies of power that objectify her as belonging to the ‘body’ of teacher-motherhood; the assumption that no employer would consider hiring a pregnant woman, for example. The position the participant speaks from would appear to be about responsibility for every aspect of life; in terms of technologies of the self (Foucault, 1988, p.18) she is the pillar of the school and family and ultimately to blame for any perceived failure that occurs.
Berggren, C.; Lauster, N. (2014). The motherhood penalty and the professional credential: Inequality in career development for those with a professional degree International Studies in Sociology of Education. Vol. 24, Issue 1 Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Fatherhood Institute (2016). Fairness in Families Index 2016. Accessed on December 1st 2016 via www.fatherhoodinstitute.org Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and punish: The birth of a prison (A. Sheridan, trans.). New York: Vintage. Foucault, M. (1979). The history of sexuality. London: Allen Lane. Foucault, M. (1980). Questions of Method. In J.D. Faubion (Ed.), Michel Foucault: Power (Vol. 3, pp. 223 - 238). New York: The New Press. Gannerud, E. (2001). A gender perspective on the work and lives of women primary school teachers. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 45(1), 55–70. Gash, V. (2009). Sacrificing their careers for their families? An analysis of the penalty to motherhood in Europe. Social Indicators Research, 93(3), 569–586. doi:10.1007/s11205-008-9429-y Goodson, I. (2013). Developing Narrative Theory (1st ed.). Abingdon: Routledge. Hauver-James, J. (2010). Teachers as mothers in the elementary classroom: negotiating the needs of the self and the other. Gender and Education, 22:5, 521 – 534. Kell, E. (2016). Shifting Identities: A mixed methods study of the experiences of teachers who are also parents (EdD thesis). Middlesex University . Knowles, M., Nieuwenhuis, J. & Smit, B. (2009). A narrative analysis of educators’ lived experiences of motherhood and teaching. South African Journal of Education, 29, 333-343
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