Classed: A Study of Traveller Mothers and their children's schooling.


Hegarty, Martina (2013) Classed: A Study of Traveller Mothers and their children's schooling. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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Abstract

Irish Travellers have long been marginalised in Irish society, with educational attainment rates well below the national average. The purpose of this research is to elucidate and understand the experience of Irish Traveller mothers as they engage with their children’s schooling. This study draws on in-depth, qualitative, one-to-one interviews with ten Traveller mothers. The research finds that Traveller mothers are interested in their children’s education. Moreover, they are interested in their children’s well-being. The mothers here will forego educational attainment in favour of their child’s well-being, as they understand it. Traveller mothers do not trust the school to provide for the educational or emotional well-being of their children. They feel that, as in their own time, they are dependent on the good nature of key individuals to provide their children with an education and for their well-being in the school situation. This well-being can be defined as academic regard, but also, and more importantly for Traveller mothers, it is defined by social acceptance and inclusion. This definition of well-being resonates with mothers’ experience of their own schooling. This situation of distrust leads to a state of ‘hyper-vigilance’, where Traveller mothers are sensitive to perceived mistreatment of their children, and sometimes of themselves, within the education system. When mothers feel their children are mistreated, they largely ascribe this mistreatment to their Traveller identity. In some cases this perpetuates their sense of isolation and distrust of the system. In other cases their dissatisfaction is directed towards their Traveller identity. In all cases, mothers’ instinct to perceived mistreatment is to remove their children from the teacher or the school, in an effort to find a place or individuals to whom they can safely entrust their children. This thesis locates the current situation and the research in the context of the evolution of national educational policies and national policies in relation to the Traveller Community. This research has implications at local and national level for understanding, communication and engagement between schools and Traveller parents as partners in education. Other implications at national level are in areas such as initial and continuing teacher education, curriculum planning and school development planning, as well as the wider equality agenda.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Traveller Mothers; Traveller children's schooling;
Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Adult and Community Education
Item ID: 5397
Depositing User: IR eTheses
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2014 10:43
URI:

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