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Icelandic craft teachers’ curriculum identity as reflected in life histories

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Title: Icelandic craft teachers’ curriculum identity as reflected in life histories
Author: Helgadóttir, Guðrún
Degree Doctor of Philosophy - PhD
Program Curriculum Studies
Copyright Date: 1997
Subject Keywords Handicraft - Study and teaching - Iceland; Teachers - Iceland - Case studies; Teachers’ backgrounds - Iceland
Abstract: This is a study of the curriculum identity of Icelandic craft teachers. The study is based on life history interviews with 42 teachers born between 1913 and 1960. The interviews traced a life long relationship with the subject they chose to teach. Particular attention was paid to how the teachers define their subject and how they identify with it. The information gathered was analyzed with reference to the development of crafts as school subjects in Iceland. The study describes in context the relationship that teachers have with their subjects and attempts to explain it in terms of gender and class. The curriculum identity of the teacher of these subjects is crucial as the subjects are not defined by external means such as a prescriptive formal curriculum or centralized assessment. Each teacher is therefore able to construct a personal curriculum. The curriculum identity of craft teachers is defined by gender and class. The Icelandic school system includes two craft subjects; textiles formerly know as girls' craft, and wood and metalwork, formerly known as boys' craft. In the late seventies the gender segregation was abolished by a policy of equal access to education. Still the subjects retain a gendered definition. This study details the strength of gendered traditions and the complex effects of gender equity policies. Class refers here to the hierarchy of academic and vocational, or intellectual/manual pursuits. Western school systems operate on a dichotomy between mind and matter, where association with matter and the manual is less prestigious. The life histories of craft teachers manifest the effects, as the teachers perceive themselves as a low status group within the school system. The composite life histories of this group of craft teachers outline the history of the school subjects in Iceland, a history that has not been documented. The main contribution of the study is to the definition of curriculum identity, the way in which teachers define themselves and are defined by the subjects they teach. The evidence given by these teachers suggests that teachers tend to see their curriculum identity as deeply rooted in their personal history, even in their family history.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/6694
Series/Report no. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]

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