‘Working-class’ student teachers: Not being encouraged at school and impact on motivation to become a teacher
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Keane, Elaine, Heinz, Manuela, & Lynch, Andrea. (2018). ‘Working-class’ student teachers: Not being encouraged at school and impact on motivation to become a teacher. Education Research and Perspectives, 45, 71-97.
Diversifying Ireland’s relatively homogeneous teaching population has been a policy concern for over a decade in the context of the rapid transformation of Irish society and schooling. This paper draws on the Access to Post-primary Teaching (APT) project, funded by the Higher Education Authority, which supports the participation of those from lower socio-economic groups in initial teacher education at one of the seven universities in the Republic of Ireland. The research component of the project involves an in-depth qualitative (interview-based) study examining APT participants’ perspectives and experiences relating to their education to date and their engagement in the Professional Master of Education programme. Data are analysed using grounded theory techniques including open and focused coding and categorising. The focus in this paper arises from an initial analysis of round one interviews with the first group of APT participants. An important category generated connects participants’ frequently negative school experiences (not feeling encouraged at school, generally and regarding future careers - including teaching) to their perspectives about reasons for a lack of diversity in the teaching profession, and to how their own (frequently social justice-based) motivation to become a teacher fits therein. This focus will guide a discussion about attracting, supporting and preparing a diverse student teacher population.