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    Learning to Mother over Coffee and Cake: Naming our Informal Learning

    Coss, Sarah (2016) Learning to Mother over Coffee and Cake: Naming our Informal Learning. Masters thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    This thesis is a feminist inquiry into the learning experiences of mothers in an informal Parent Support Group (PSG) that meets through regular coffee mornings. The research explores informal learning, motherhood and social support within a framework of Freirean and Feminist thinking. It situates this women’s support group within the wider sphere of Community Education in Ireland. This thesis is a piece of insider research as I am a member of this group. As such, it includes biographical inputs on my experiences as a mother using the services of this PSG. The findings were drawn from three focus groups and three e-interviews with 17 women in total, all of whom were members of the group. The methods used for collection of information from these focus groups were feminist and participatory, that is, the women took part in various activities designed to stimulate conversation. The findings show that the women in this group find motherhood challenging and isolating. To help combat this they joined a support group. This support group allows possibilities for the sharing of knowledge and experiences. This sharing of experiences leads the women to describe feelings of normalising and validation. The women in the research gave examples of ways in which their perspectives had changed since becoming a mother. They also described how the process of learning to mother was different to ways they had learned previously. Rather than relying on authorised knowledge, such as books, they were relying on experiential knowledge more, the knowledge of other mothers. As a group of women many of their parenting practices were divergent from the dominant practices in Ireland. As such, despite them occupying positions of power in some areas of their life, such as economic and working life, these women gave many examples of silencing and othering. Their membership of the support group provided them with a space where they could discuss these issues in a safe and trusted space. This group adopts many of the characteristics of feminist community education and as such provides an environment where rich learning experiences are taking place. This research has implications for the wider adult education sphere as sites of informal learning are often overlooked. Informal learning has an important role to play in adult education practice in all its forms.

    Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
    Keywords: Learning to Mother; Coffee and Cake; Naming; Informal Learning; M.Ed. in Adult and Community Education; M.Ed.; feminist; informal learning; support; women; gender;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Adult and Community Education
    Item ID: 7615
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2016 11:58
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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