Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Children's perceptions of changes in families
    Ryan, Maureen ( 1991)
    The three studies reported in this thesis take as their subjects over one thousand "ordinary primary school children" from state primary schols in the western region of Melbourne. The sample has not been drawn using methods such as newspaper requests (Burns, 1980), from Parents without Partners groups (Kurdek and Siesky, 1978), from university towns (Franz and Mell, 1981) or through court records (Hess and Camara, 1979; Dunlop and Burns, 1988). The western region of Melbourne is socioeconomically and ethnically diverse and predicted to grow faster than most other areas of Melbourne in the next decades. In essence, these children are that future. Certainly, their perceptions of families and of changes in families will help to shape their own futures. Children have much to say about families as has been noted in studies by Ochiltree and Amato (1985) and Goodnow and Burns (1985). Children in Studies 1 and 2 in this thesis wrote eloquently and often with passion about families generally and about family changes specifically. Previous studies (Csikszentmihalyi and Rochberg-Halton, 1981; Silcock and Sadler, 1980; Wallerstein and Kelly, 1980; Riach, 1983; Ochiltree and Amato (1985) and Cooper (1986) have looked at children's perceptions of families. Some, like Csikszentmihalyi and Rochberg-Halton, (1981) and Cooper (1986) have drawn attention to gender differences; others, like Silcock and Sadler, (1980), to techniques employed in the collection of data. In addition, Selman and his colleagues (1979, 1980, 1986) have focussed on children's developing understanding of social relations. Selman's stages of development of social understanding, like those of Hoffman (1983) for empathy development are based on Piagetian stages of cognitive development. The present studies are an attempt to draw together around a single theme, children's perceptions of families, the impact of a range of techniques for data collection (as Silcock and Sadler, (1980) have suggested is appropriate) and consideration of age/stage differences as defined by Selman et al. Additionally, gender differences are investigated as suggested by Csikszentmihalyi and Rochberg -Halton, (1981). In Study 1, a group of forty Grade 5/6 children completed a questionnaire, Children's Perceptions of Changes in Families. Subsequently, this group of forty was divided into a target and a control group. The target group of children took part in an eight week videotape/discussion program with family matters as content while the control group continued with general classroom activities. At the completion of this, children were presented with the responses they had prepared previously to the questionnaire and invited to change these in any way they considered appropriate. Analysis revealed that elaboration occurred in the responses of children in both target and control groups. Statistical analysis revealed very little in the way of differences between the responses made by those children who had taken part in the videotape/discussion program and those who had not. Coming out of this study, however, were gender differences and tendencies for children to describe parents in stereotypic roles which are reminescent of other larger studies (Goodnow and Burns, 1985; Cooper, 1986; Ochiltree and Amato, 1985). Girls, for example, expressed far more interest than boys in the experience of caring for a new baby; boys referred more than did girls to the fights likely to ensue should a new child come into the family. Father's movement from the children's home to live elsewhere was considered unhappy because of his loss as a playmate; in mother's case, it was her inability to continue caring for the children which was noted. Such patterns were revealed in the content analysis of the children's responses to the questionnaire. The children in this first study served as a window into the other studies reported in this thesis in that the researcher spent considerable time speaking with both groups through their two completions of the questionnaire and with the target group during the videotape/discussion program. In addition, statements made by these forty children were used as the basis of Study 3. In Studies 2 and 3, children prepared written responses to the tasks set them. In Study 3, 1118 Grade 3/4 and Grade 5/6 children drawn from twelve state primary schools in the western region of Melbourne were read statements by their teacher and invited, on one occasion, to indicate their thoughts about each statement and, on another, to indicate their feelings. The phrases from which children were invited to select in indicating their responses were based on the definition of problem and expression of feelings components of the Interpersonal Negotiation Strategies Model (Selman et al., 1986b) and were representative of levels of complexity of thought and feeling described in the model. Girls' marked superiority over boys in their choice of feeling responses representing higher levels of complexity was the most significant finding in this study. This finding coupled with findings from Study 2 that girls made significantly more references than boys in their descriptions of families to emotional aspects of families makes gender differences a powerful finding in the studies presented in the thesis. The emotional aspects of families to which girls referred significantly more often than boys in responses to the question, "What is a Family?" were love, care, sharing/belonging, understanding problems/talking. In contrast, boys and younger children (Grade 3/4) referred significantly more often than girls and older children (Grade 5/6) to family structure. The finding that older children made significantly more references than did the younger children to many aspects of families is not surprising and likely to be due to their general experience and superior verbal ability (Jacklin and Maccoby, 1983). The gender differences in the content analysis was reinforced in coding undertaken of children's responses according to levels based on Bruss-Saunders' levels (1978) of social understanding of parent-child relationships. Here, the descriptions written by Grade 5/6 girls were coded as representing highest levels of complexity and the descriptions written by Grade 3/4 boys as representing lowest levels of complexity. In the studies, levels of complexity of children's responses are considered according to theories of cognitive development. In addition, the influence of contextual factors on the thoughts and feelings children express about families are discussed. Questions about the relationship between these two are raised with regard to the capacity children acquire for coping in their present and future families.
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    The struggle to achieve : the Vietnamese experience of secondary schools in working class neighbourhoods of Melbourne, 1986
    Mundy, Kieran Graham ( 1990)
    Within the vast scope and complexity of the refugee experience this study deals with a simply defined, yet central issue to the settlement of young immigrants from Viet Nam in Australia. That is, the differing impact of personal factors preconditioning attitudes and values towards education, and school ecology on their educational trajectories and social destinations. To answer this question, the location occupied by this immigrant group within the school system was initially determined, and subsequently the influence of school organizational structure and classroom practice on educational performance in these settings was described and explained. Vietnamese pupils, their teachers and peers in 16 randomly selected government high schools in Victoria, and those persons responsible for the child's welfare in Australia provided rich and varied information for analysis. Detailed interpretation of this comprehensive data-base focused on one school representative of the wider sample. The study found that while educational trajectories and social destinations are largely controlled by the working class location Vietnamese youth occupy in the secondary school system, the impact of this setting is mediated by an exceptional determination, on their part, to escape the influence of multiple social factors which influence the outlooks and achievements of children, whoever they may be, who occupy these sites. Despite an heroic commitment by teachers in these schools and the determination of the Vietnamese to exploit, to the maximum, the limited opportunities available to them, the dependence of these young immigrants and their families on education for social advancement renders them vulnerable to failure. The study demonstrates, that despite the illusion of democratized educational theory and practice that these educational settings suggest, the reality is that educational conservative structures mitigate against social advancement. These institutional barriers, it is shown, operate on two levels. Firstly, the comprehensive curriculum plays a central role by disproportionately directing these young immigrants into the theoretical mathematics and physical sciences, a process consecrating them as an academic elite, while at the same time confirming the lowly position they occupy in the social hierarchy of their school and neighbourhood peers. Secondly, the study demonstrates how academic streaming is an aggravating circumstance coming on top of the other inequalities suffered by all children in these settings. Not only do the out-of-school activities of these young immigrants not support their curriculum placement, but teachers tend to misjudge Vietnamese classroom conformity as scholasticism, not passivity. Thus, rather than viewing this exceptional behaviour in working class settings as an indication of the struggle with which these young people have to cope, teacher definition of their school experience sees it as proof of an effective classroom process and of learning taking place. The study concludes that while the actual relationship that exists between the teachers and Vietnamese youth, and the schools they attend and the neighbourhoods these schools serve, remains unchanged, the price the Vietnamese have to pay for perceived scholasticism is loss of control of their immediate school experience and authorship of their own lives.
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    Teacher training in Carlton: the predecessors of the Institute of Education
    Garden, Donald S. (1947-) ( 1992)
    On 1 January 1989 the Melbourne College of Advanced Education and the Faculty of Education at the University of Melbourne were amalgamated to form the Institute of Education within the University of Melbourne. Although the two institutions had in various forms resided on adjacent campuses in Carlton/Parkville for several decades, both devoted to teacher education, they brought together different educational cultures. Melbourne CAE was descended from a long line of government-controlled teacher training institutions which had operated at first in Melbourne and from 1889 at Carlton in the corner of the University campus. Melbourne Teachers College was for most of this history the main institution for the training of teachers for Victorian government primary schools, but also played a significant role in the training of most types of teachers until the Second World War. It had little independence and was used largely as an instrument of policy by the Education Department and its political masters, subject to the vagaries of changing policies and economic conditions. These also affected the conditions and status of the teaching profession, which in turn impacted on the appeal of the profession and therefore on the socio-economic and gender mixture of recruits to the College. After 1945 teacher education became fractured into several geographically spread and more specialized colleges, and MTC was joined on its campus by a new Secondary Teachers College. During the 1950s and 1960s MTC and STC essentially ran pragmatic courses which churned out large numbers of teachers to fill places in the burgeoning number of schools. The two colleges merged in 1972 and gained independence from the Department in 1973. After much tossing and turning in the tertiary sector, in 1983 the Carlton college was amalgamated with the Institute of Early Childhood Development as Melbourne CAE. The University of Melbourne commenced its formal involvement in teacher education in 1903 when a liaison was established with MTC. For three decades MTC and the Faculty (as it became in 1923) shared their senior officer, administrative links, courses and students. The closeness was a two-edged sword for the University, for while greatly assisting the Faculty's work it also brought a substantial and frustrating degree of Education Department influence. The links were broken in the late 1930s, against the University's will, but thereafter the Faculty enjoyed greater intellectual and administrative freedom, and pursued its own course development. It came increasingly to be involved in theoretical and research studies, and to look down (with some justice) on its Department-dominated, less intellectually-oriented college neighbours. During the 1950s-1970s the Faculty was also under great pressure to meet the demand for teachers, and as a result somewhat lost its way as an intellectual and educational force. Throughout their history the institutions were influenced by diverse professional and community attitudes, philosophies and needs - how children should be raised, how schools are best organized, the most appropriate moral and instructional content of education, the attributes required in a teacher, and how teachers are best trained and/or educated. Rising standards of living and new technology, and the demands of the labour force, produced different occupational needs. All of this contributed to changing community expectations of schooling and teacher education.
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    Cultural mission of the sisters of St Joseph
    Farquer, Aileen M. ( 2004)
    This research study examines the history of Sacred Heart Catholic School, Newport, Victoria, established within the tradition and application of the educational philosophy of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, founded by Mary MacKillop in 1866. The work includes three distinct areas of research which are: 1. The MacKillop System of Education in its early stages. 2. The growth of multicultural theory and practice in Australia and in Catholicism. 3. The story of one school, Sacred Heart Catholic School, Newport, situated in the western suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria. These areas connect up and illuminate one another throughout the thesis, evoking a sense of school life as it was experienced by members of the school community at different stages of the school's development and within a variety of social and educational contexts. The research appreciates the integral vitality of the founding spirit manifest in Mary MacKillop, especially as it was reflected in the Sisters appointed to the school at Newport as administrators and as teachers. The study examines the long-term adaptation of the mission of the Church, namely the evangelisation of cultures in the local community of Newport throughout its hundred years history. Focus is brought to bear on the interpretation of Mary MacKillop's philosophy of education in its first fifty years and the changes perceived during the later period of massive and fundamental transformation in the ethnic composition of the local community as well as the broader Church and State. By reconstructing the past this study provides a reference point for those involved in education by shedding light on the present and raising questions for the future.
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    Sex work and study: students, identities and work in the 21st century
    Lantz, Sarah ( 2003)
    In order to secure a well-paid position in the Australian labour force there has been increasing pressure on young people to extend their educational qualifications. As a result, the last decade has witnessed a 66% increase in the number of students attending Higher Education institutions (ABS, 2000:3). This rise in participation has however not been matched by an increase to public funding. Instead, the government has bound the education sector more closely to the economy, and to principles of economic rationalism and free market liberalism. Students (and their families) now bear the brunt of increased fees; a lowering of the income threshold for the repayment of HECS; and a significant decrease in government income support. In order to ease this burden, a number of studies have found that students are supplementing their low incomes through the informal economy and illegal sources of income (White, 1995; White, Amuir, Harris & McDonnell, 1997; Wilson & Lincoln, 1992, Williamson, 1996; MacDonald, 1998; Finnegan, 1998). This includes donating blood in return for lunch and bone marrow for cash (Steene, 1998:25); working in medical experiments (Cummins, 1998); cash-in-hand work; and illegal sources such as drug dealing, shoplifting, and organised stealing rings (White, Anuir, Harris & McDonnell, 1997:57). A number of studies have also found that students are working in the sex industry, ‘... to support themselves, their children and their own post-secondary studies' (Pyett, Haste, & Snow, 1995:3; Weiner, 1996; Perkins, 1991; Snow, 1999). This thesis explores the findings of a participatory action research project conducted into the lives of forty young women, all post-secondary education students, working in the Melbourne sex industry. Twenty of these students, are from Melbourne University, and have participated in a three-year longitudinal study spanning from 1999 to 2002. The other twenty participants all attend a range of higher education institutions in Melbourne. The research examines the factors influencing participants to enter the sex industry; how they are mediated by social, educational, economic, and environmental factors; and how they are responding, as agentic subjects, to this rapidly changing environment. By focusing on the ‘lived experiences’ of these young women, the research seeks to actively disrupt conventional thinking that shape our understanding of contemporary youth. It suggests that traditional frameworks that mark and measure youth 'success' are not particularly useful in discussing young people’s lives today. The notion of the ‘mainstream’ is, in particular, called into question. The paradox that emerges in this research is that participants engage in practices which seem to deviate from the 'mainstream' in order to, in effect, fit into the 'mainstream', It is also clear that a false distinction between the ‘mainstream’ and those ‘outside the mainstream’ creates an arbitrary division which glosses over the social and personal problems that all young people face in common. Similarly, the research calls into question traditional linear models of youth, where youth is viewed as a structured transition from dependence to independence, school to work and from adolescence to adulthood (defined in terms of marriage, family and lifetime career) similar to that of their parents generation (Wyn & Dwyer, 2001:87). Instead the research suggests that participants lives are characterised by mixed life patterns (Wyn and Dwyer, 2001), divergent biographies, contingent and pragmatic plans. These are young women who live their lives in terms of an ongoing production of self (Davies & Harre, 1990), marked by fragmented and multiple identities. This multidimensionality is constructed as participants’ inhabit numerous sites, take on different responsibilities and are involved in a range of different relationships. The taking up of multiple identities however, often results in tensions which surface in participants’ everyday lives. These tensions are explored in detail in this research. In practice, this has meant examining the discursive tension between human agency and social structure. Participants are understood to be constrained by the resources (material, symbolic and cultural) they have at their disposal, and determinants of social processes within their own lives (Short, 1992:181).