"Today has been about success": Young mothers' understandings of the ways a school for teenage parents supports success
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Education
Teen pregnancy in New Zealand has been constructed as a multifaceted problem, which has prompted scrutiny into the lives of pregnant and parenting teens and their children. Research largely presents teen mothers as ‘at risk’ parents and high school drop outs, with high rates of welfare dependence. Teen parents are considered unlikely to achieve the educational and economic success of their non-parenting peers. This research considers the impact of the experience at a Teen Parent Unit (TPU) on the ways pregnant and parenting teens understand and achieve success. Using a qualitative case study of a Teen Parent Unit in an urban setting in New Zealand, this thesis documents the experiences and perspectives of four young women. Its aim is to detail, explain and interpret the ways these pregnant and parenting teens understand their developing identities as successful students and parents. Drawing on social constructionist perspectives, the views of the young women participants, and of the researcher have been analysed through a conceptual lens of culturally responsive pedagogical theory. Comparisons are made between the culture of success that has been developed in the Teen Parent Unit setting and that of schools which have engaged in Māori culturally responsive pedagogical practice. This thesis offers a strengths-based analysis of an environment which, by reframing expectations of success, presents a challenge to negative academic and societal expectations of pregnant and parenting teens. Its goal is to provide educators, social support agencies, education and social policy makers with an analysis of approaches that have made important differences in the lives of the young women and their children.