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Motherhood and Teaching in Jamaica: A Modified Life History Approach



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This study uses a modified life history approach to gain deeper insights into the lived experiences of three teachers who became mothers while serving in Jamaica. This study was conceptualized as a result of my experiences as a teacher who became a mother. I was desirous of investigating if other teachers who became mothers in Jamaica experienced similar personal and professional transformation as a result of motherhood. The use of a life history approach necessitates an exploration of the wider historical, familial, socio-political, cultural, and economic factors influencing the lived experiences of participants and the meanings they give to their experiences. Dominant themes highlighted in the data include: the ideology that the overarching goal of education in Jamaica is for social mobility and an escape mechanism from poverty. Becoming a mother has resulted in participants taking greater levels of interest in the holistic development of students, rather than only emphasizing their academic development as they did prior to becoming mothers. Participants also developed more empathy for parents and closer collegial relationships when they became mothers. Participants’ relationships with administration were two-fold; on one hand they lobbied for improvements to their working conditions which may have a positive impact on their family life; while on the other hand, they also cared more about self-preservation in order to adequately meet the needs of their families. Motherhood also provided opportunities for participants to become more involved in various social groups in their communities. Various socio-political and economic challenges in Jamaica resulted in participants migrating to a Prairie city with their families. However, living in a multi-cultural society where they are racial minorities has presented its own challenges. Participants are negotiating the notion of home and being outsiders.



Motherhood, teaching, feminism, life history research



Master of Education (M.Ed.)


Educational Foundations


Educational Foundations



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