Individual perseverance: a theory of home tutors' management of schooling in isolated settings

Tynan, Belinda and O'Neill, Marnie (2007). Individual perseverance: a theory of home tutors' management of schooling in isolated settings. Distance Education, 28(1) pp. 95–110.




This article reports a study of parents' management of the education of primary school-aged children in their care in remote and rural locations of Western Australia. It presents a theory of the ways in which these parents, in the role of home tutors, 'manage' the schooling of their children in a distance education regime in isolated settings. The home tutors in this study were mothers in families isolated by physical distance from centres in Western Australia, which usually provide educational, medical, financial, and retail services. In this environment, at the time of data collection, schooling was supported by print, that is, 'sets' of learning materials, and by a regular schedule of interactive lessons through Schools of the Air when atmospheric conditions permitted. The conditions of outback Western Australia 'present some of the worst conditions for use of electronic equipment' (Tomlinson, Schooling in rural Western Australia: The ministerial review of schooling in rural Western Australia. Perth, Australia: Education Department of Western Australia, 1994, p. 91). Moreover, the nature of station life on isolated sheep or cattle properties (stations) is such that mothers frequently have multiple and sometimes conflicting roles (that is, cook, housekeeper, station hand, business partner, accountant, first aid officer, wife, mother, and teacher). This qualitative study was concerned with how parents 'manage' their schoolroom work as 'home tutors,' using grounded theory techniques for gathering and analysing data. The term 'manage' comes from the theoretical framework of symbolic interaction (Blumer, Symbolic interactionism: Perspective and method. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1969), and in this article refers specifically to the ways in which the home tutors juggle their multiple roles

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