How can the ‘emotional lives’ of women teachers be understood within a particular academy school in England?

Frampton, Rebecca (2021) How can the ‘emotional lives’ of women teachers be understood within a particular academy school in England? Doctoral thesis (EdD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This study explores teachers’ ‘emotional lives’ and the significance of emotions in their everyday lived experiences of teaching. This is an especially important issue in the current crisis of teacher retention in English schooling where many claim they leave the profession for reasons of stress, burn-out and crippling workload levels (Lynch et al., 2016; Näring et al., 2012; Struyven and Vanthournout, 2014; Tuxford and Bradley, 2015).

Taking up the ways in which paternalistic norms construct women teachers as overly emotional (Acker, 1995; Hebson et al., 2007; Schutz, 2014), the study attends to a wider politics of gender discourse in everyday lives, focused on those relating to teachers (Ahmed, 2004a, 2004b; Boler, 1999; Jaggar, 1989). The study is situated in a review of literature which illuminates the way that gendered norms pervade schooling (Bartky, 1990; Campbell, 1994; James, 2008; Katila and Merilainen, 2002; Lyonette, 2015; Shakeshaft, 1992). I foreground post-structural framings of gender using the work of Butler (2004, 1999, 1990) in order to problematise assumptions that conflate emotions and women teachers as ‘one’. I utilise an approach that also pays attention to the ‘space’ of the school as highly gendered, constantly negotiated, and always discursively produced. In this environ, multiple voices and discourses are at play, shaping relationships between women teachers, space and power (Acker, 1990; Laurie et al., 2014; Massey, 1994, 2005; McGregor, 2006; Puwar, 2004).

Conducted in one secondary school academy institution in the east of England, where I am a practising teacher, the study takes place between April 2017 and July 2019. It is based on a series of semi-structured interviews that were conducted with three women teachers over a period of several months during the course of the school year. These explore the participant’s ‘emotional lives’ as professionals within the institutional space of the school. I position myself as deeply embedded and implicated within the study. I therefore draw on the reflexive notes about my own ‘emotional teaching life’ within the same institution that I kept throughout the same period.

In analysing the data I draw on Foucault’s (1978, 1980) understanding of the subject as always discursively constructed within particular ‘regimes of truth’ that have been normalised through modern institutions like the school and its processes of schooling. Foucauldian analysis and rationalities assisted me in making sense of the discursive practices with which women teachers must comply in order for them to be recognised as viable subjects within the institution.

In conclusion, despite assumptions that gender equality is now taken as ‘a given’ in the school institution (European Commission, 2015) my findings instead suggest that the day-to-day lives of many women teachers are performed against a backdrop, and within an entangled milieu, of sexism and misogyny (Ahmed, 2015; Pomerantz, Raby and Stefanik, 2013; Shakeshaft, 1992). Future and further research might therefore extend this line of enquiry to a wider study of women teachers’ ‘emotional lives’ in a range of school institutions across England, providing an opportunity for them to contribute to knowledge that further understand their possible marginalisation, silencing and stereotyping. In turn, this might contribute to addressing a crisis (DfE, 2016a) within the teaching profession of recently qualified women teachers who currently leave the profession after only a few years of service.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The Family. Marriage. Women > HQ1075 Sex role
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2801 School administration and organisation > LB2832 Teaching personnel
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2801 School administration and organisation > LB2832 Teaching personnel > LB2837 Women teachers
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2021 11:56
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2021 11:56
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/96435

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