Title page for ETD etd-06042008-074812

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Knowles, Magaretha Hubrecht
URN etd-06042008-074812
Document Title A narrative analysis of educators’ lived experiences of motherhood and teaching
Degree MEd (Educational Management, Law and Policy)
Department Education Management and Policy Studies
Advisor Name Title
Prof B Smit Co-Supervisor
Dr J Nieuwenhuis Supervisor
  • equality
  • femininity
  • gender
  • identity
  • socialisation
  • leadership style
  • unfair discrimination
  • stereotyping
  • ccculturation
  • multiple role expectations
Date 2008-04-15
Availability unrestricted
Promoting gender equality and equity remain an important goal for schools in South Africa, and strides have been made in many areas to reduce inequalities. Local and international legislative and policy frameworks create a context within which unfair discrimination can be curtailed, but these, albeit important, are not entirely sufficient, and inequities persist based on perceptions regarding motherhood and teaching. There is a need to address practices at grassroots level, where historical stereotyping and procedures have become entrenched in the system. For female teachers to experience meaningful equality, these underlying issues need to be addressed and this cannot be achieved through legislative processes. What is required is that the whole process of socialisation into sex roles needs to be addressed. This study sets out to analyse and describe the world of mother teachers, and to explore how entrenched assumptions, cultural values and beliefs impact on the meaningful construction and harmonisation of the dual role of mother and teacher.

The professional woman who becomes a mother finds herself faced with the dual role of mother and professional and the result is that conflicting and complementary dimensions emerge that makes the pressure to meet all expectations overwhelming. These mother teachers consistently try to be what they think ‘others’ want them to be and, therefore, they often have not come to terms with who they are. Their life become a life to please ‘others’ and because they cannot please everybody, they experience feelings of failure. This study came to understand that the mother teachers’ will experience ambivalence and discomforts concerning their attempts to balance their personally constructed multiple roles successfully when they do not accept themselves fully as women with special talents, competencies and attributes. Supportive behaviour from the state, school principals and fathers is needed. However, mother teachers themselves are the main source for self-actualisation. Unfortunately, when mother teachers cannot accept themselves for who and what they are, no support system will be able to help them to feel successful about being both homemakers and professionals.

I was interested in what each participant’s experiences of motherhood and teaching were; how she expressed herself in conveying these experiences; and consequently, the meaning she attached to her experiences. The research problem, and the nature of the information sought, suggested the use of three distinct methods, namely (1) the narrative interview; (2) reflexive journal entries; and (3) observational field notes. After these three data collection methods had been conducted, coding of the information gathered took place to facilitate analysis and interpretation. From the findings, I believe that these mother teachers will only find themselves and fulfil their place in society once they are able to redefine their own perceived role expectations of society when fulfilling personally constructed multiple role expectations.

© University of Pretoria 2007

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