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Title: Primary school teachers and traveller children : a foucauldian-informed analysis into the conditions of possibility for traveller education in Ireland
Author: Gordon, Mary
ISNI:       0000 0004 2718 3855
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2011
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Traveller children fare poorly in school in Ireland, as elsewhere, according to all the usual markers of participation and achievement. The application of a Foucauldian lens to the issue of Traveller education in this research study produced an innovative take on a matter of critical relevance to social justice and to educational practice. The thesis describes the response of teachers in 15 primary schools across Ireland to a research intervention which asked them to assess 43 Traveller pupils as always-already acceptable and resourceful. Their description of the pupils in the form of pen portraits and their feedback on the intervention gathered through group interviews provided access to the discursive practices they were using in their work and produced a rich vein for investigation using a Foucauldian discourse analytic. The foci of interest were on how the teachers were construing their role, the implications of this for the subjectivities of their Traveller pupils, the relationship between the teachers' work and the wider operation of government and the effects on the teachers themselves of structuring their professional practice in this way. The outcomes of the analysis provided evidence to support an interpretation of primary education as normalising and regulatory and of teachers as committed to the task of educating all their pupils, both Traveller and "settled" alike. Travellers are an interesting case because of how they actively resist incorporation into mainstream society and construct themselves, as they are constructed by others, as different. This withholding from the settled population, together with their primary identification as members of an extended family rather than as autonomous individuals, is a direct challenge to modem forms of government that seek to regulate people's conduct in both totalising and individualising ways. Current commitments to an inclusive and intercultural educational agenda represent a more pastoral and less punitive, but no less powerful, attempt to assimilate Travellers. However, education is also productive and, furthermore, is central to forms of resistance that refuse subjectification. The implications of the research outcomes for educational psychology theory and practice are considered.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available