• Premature labour? A reflexive appraisal of one young teacher’s journey into first time motherhood and her return to teaching.

      Adams, Jeff; Devarakonda, Chandrika; McCarthy, Elaine P. (University of Chester, 2016-02-28)
      This Ethnographic/Autoethnographic study reflects in rich detail a young teacher’s life as she navigates the changing landscape of her first pregnancy, the birth of her child and her subsequent return to work as a full-time teacher. Using data which has been collected from a personal journal which she kept throughout the eighteen month period of the study, it examines the practical and emotional challenges which she faced, and the commitment, self-sacrifice and dedication required of her for the continuation and advancement of her career. By combining her data with observed field notes, semi-constructed interviews and reflexive narrative, I have been able to offer a holistic and balanced account of her experience and expose the complexities of motherhood today and the impact they have on a woman’s life choices and professional decision making. My study revealed how this new mother faced a myriad of decisions and dilemmas, decisions, which ultimately impacted on her emotional well-being, and her power and identity as a woman, a wife, a daughter and a professional teacher. Its findings suggest that notwithstanding the historical political and legislative policies which have been implemented, in reality, little has changed since my own experience of being a working mother some thirty years ago. It recommends that if the increase in working mothers is to continue to rise, more must be done, both culturally and institutionally to alleviate the physical and emotional pressures which currently only serve to exacerbate the guilt and stress which appear to be an innate characteristic of the maternal condition. It concludes by recommending that working mothers need to harness “their strengths, their ability to learn, their confidence and joy in their work –[because this is] all part of being a woman now, [it is] part of [their] female identity” (Friedan, 1963, p.331), and rather than accepting motherhood as being a moderating factor, they should allow it to become an influence for further personal and professional growth and liberation, so that they can reassert their power and fight back to assume their equal place in society (Kristeva, 2015).
    • An exploration of ‘child voice’ and its use in care planning: an ethnographic study with a looked after child

      Bacon, Johanna (University of Chester, 2015-05)
      This thesis uses an ethnographic study to interrogate the policy discourse of capturing ‘child voice’ specifically in relation to a ‘looked after’ child. In recent years, attempts have been made to involve children who are ‘looked after’ in discussions and decisions about their care arrangements to ensure that their voice is heard. To ensure this happens, children ‘in care’ are asked about their care placement regularly as part of the care planning review process and their views are incorporated into decisions about their care plan. This study focuses on the lived experiences of a seven-year old female child, who I have referred to as ‘Keeva’, who is ‘in care’ under a Kinship Care arrangement. Over a period of a year, I was based in Keeva’s home one afternoon a week to gain insights about her lived experience as a ‘looked after’ child and how she represented herself. I also observed three care planning review meetings to see how her voice was captured by those charged with her care and how she was represented. I relate Keeva’s experience through seven narrative episodes to capture the rich complexity of the social world she inhabits. I explore aspects of her home and family, her interactions with others and her experience of exploring physical spaces both inside and outside the home. I suggest that these experiences underpin her sense of self and how she relates to others. Drawing on the ideas of Bourdieu, I suggest these experiences and her sense of place in the social order write themselves ‘onto her’ through her habitus and dispositions. Using a Foucauldian lens, I problematise the notion of voice as I contest that the child I observed engaged fully in the statutory processes that surround her. I suggest Keeva, a child who is ‘looked after’, will neither have nor feel she has the agentive properties to influence the care planning process. Instead, as her voice is irrevocably bound up in a bureaucratic process that is uncritically accepted as representative of her, she is obscured as a consequence. I also examine the multivocity in representations of Keeva highlighting the competing discourses of safeguarding, child protection and the ’rights-based’ agenda. I conclude that Keeva was not well represented in care planning reviews and had very little influence in decision-making about her care plan. Despite believing the opposite, those charged with her care failed to hear her or take note of what she said. Furthermore, there was an absence of criticality in representations of Keeva allowing Keeva to be constructed by those professionals involved with her care, in an unchallenged way. As a consequence she was silenced and less visible than the process itself.
    • Learning to teach mathematics: navigating the landscape of teacher education

      Bamber, Sally (University of Chester, 2015-07)
      Metaphor provides a potentially powerful rhetorical device to help me to tell informed and persuasive stories about mathematics education. In this ethnographic study I consider key episodes that serve to exemplify the complex experience of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) students of secondary mathematics education. I use a narrative analysis to shine a spotlight on the experiences of six beginning teachers so that the metaphors in their stories expose the impact that separately situated sites of teacher education have upon their beliefs and behaviour as teachers. Tensions between school and university contributors to teacher education have been well documented over many decades, but recent policy changes in the nature of post-graduate ITE in England bring these issues to the fore. In this study, I consider the influences of school-based and university-based teacher educators upon the beliefs of student secondary mathematics teachers and interpret the students’ perceptions of these influences on their actions as novice teachers. My analysis is framed by a model of experience and education articulated by Dewey as well as a framework of representations of knowledge in a culture of education articulated by theorists concerned with the relevance of constructivism and situated cognition as theories of learning. In this study, disturbances and discontinuities relating to the location and culture of ITE, together with the development of ITE students’ professional knowledge are uncovered, warranting further research.
    • Understanding Creativity and Alienation in Language Teacher Education: a critical ethnographic study

      Hulse, Bethan (University of Chester, 2015-02)
      This research explores the processes of learning to teach Modern Languages (MLs) in the rapidly changing landscape of teacher education. It employs a postmodern critical ethnographic methodology (Lather, 1991) to examine the experiences of a group of student teachers and me, as their tutor, over the course of a one year PGCE programme. The focus is on how experiences in University and in School shape their emerging professional identities, in particular how these experiences encourage or discourage the development of a creative approach to the practice of language teaching. There is evidence which suggests that ML teaching is often mundane and does not inspire young people to study Languages (The Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), 2011). However, the pressures of ‘performative’ requirements which privilege that which is measurable (Ball, 2003) act as a discouragement to creativity. This thesis finds that whilst student teachers express a desire to be more creative, they find it difficult to implement their ideas in School. I draw on postmodern interpretations of Marx and Freud to problematize the notion of ‘professional autonomy’ and to argue that the early formation of professional identity is a process of acquiescence to oppressive external structures over which individuals have no control, resulting in the alienation of the individual from the work they do. I also explore questions concerning the nature of subjectivity and the relationship between the individual and the external world through Romantic philosophy and poetry. As both subject and object of this ethnographic study, I employ a reflexive methodology to explore the evolution of my own professional identity. The critical narrative emerges from the data, which reveals how professional identities are simultaneously constructed and alienated.
    • The international movement of ideas and practices in education and social policy

      Ford, Neville J.; Hulme, Robert I. (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2011-08)
      This thesis comprises eight publications produced between 2000 and 2009 in addition to a critical review of that work. The review considers the contribution made by the author to the perspectives on policy making offered by the framework of policy transfer and its subsequent applications within global social policy and related sub disciplines. It develops to explore the author's use of critical policy sociology and methodological work in social policy, education and political science in order to enhance existing perspectives on policy transfer. In contrast to rational linear models of decision making, alternative recursive deliberate approaches are suggested throughout this work. The review also considers aspects of the author's work on integrated working or trans-professionalism in the public services. Those aspects of his work on policy theory which illuminate professional learning are critically assessed.