Crossing boundaries: the experiences of mature student mothers in initial teacher education

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Griffiths, V. (2002)

This paper presents a comparative study of two groups of student mothers from a teacher training course in the UK at the start and end of the 1990s, with a focus on gender issues. The study investigated the extent to which the women students could draw on their experiences as mothers to positive effect in their training, combining public and private spheres, and how far their domestic responsibilities created problems for them on the course. All the women possessed considerable skills, particularly in working with children, which were an attribute in their training. Although both groups faced similar difficulties, such as the double burden of domestic and course work, and changes in family life arising from their status transition, it was found that the more recent students could cross the boundaries between public and private roles more quickly and easily than those at the start of the 1990s. This was partly because the recent group had greater prior work experience and had already negotiated boundaries between private and public identities, and partly because some structural constraints had diminished by the end of the decade, at least at a local level. It is also argued that, although pressures on trainee teachers in general intensified during the 1990s, some effects of the changes were beneficial to student mothers. The findings are analysed within the dual frameworks of gender in higher education and initial teacher education.
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    Acker, S. (1994) Gendered Education (Buckingham, UK: Open University Press).

    Biklen, S. (1995) School Work: Gender and the Social Construction of Teaching (New York: Teachers College Press).

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