Mature women entrants to teaching : a case study
This is an ethnographic study of student teacher socialization located in a college of higher education. Drawing upon Lacey's research on teacher socialization, the study examines the processes of change and adaptation which a group of twenty-five mature women students underwent during their first year of a four year, B. Ed course. The research approach sits firmly within the qualitative paradigm and employs participant observation, interviews, life history methods and an interactionist perspective to further understanding about how mothers and wives learn to become students. A central feature of the study is the use of the concept of social strategy to explain change, particularly in relation to the way in which the women manage the demands of academic and family responsibilities. The construction of adaptive and coping strategies arise from a tightly interwoven relationship of life history, situational, institutional and structural features. Analyses of the progressive development of strategies revealed that becoming a student teacher was differentially experienced according to material resources, biographical and historical factors. The study offers a holistic analysis of student socialization in which the complexity of adaptation is revealed through the interrelationship of gender, identity, life course, strategies and the negotiation of change. An important part of this change is the emergence of a student teacher and academic identity, both of which are perceived as highly valued, new aspects of self, as well as being a significant part of student teacher socialization. In this hitherto under researched educational and sociological area of inquiry, the way in which biography and structure intersect with gender, reveals the uneasy blend of struggle, contestation, guilt and success which became a daily feature of the women's lives as they strove to reconcile the competing claims on their lives as mothers, wives and full-time students.