Introduction-the frame

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					            Female paths: exceeding the limits in education and work.
        Biographies of women of the Night Junior High School of Ioannina

Manthou Chrysa
Professor in the Secondary Education/Dr of Pedagogies

Introduction-the frame

        The schools of evening attendance (night schools) constitute a social form on
the basis of their establishment (Dimaras 1973: 134, Tsegos, 1983: 21-28), giving an
alternative solution not only to working male and female students above the age of 14,
but also to adult men and women to obtain the certificate of compulsory education.
The educational process and teaching activity are the same of the typical school.
        The present announcement is trying to present the results of an empirical
research which took place at the Night Junior High School of Ioannina and refers to
the adult female students above the age of 25, who attended the classes during the
period of the years 1991-1999.At a first level lists the special reasons, which motivate
them to attend the above mentioned school, it studies the way they experience school
life and give sense to their expectations from their effort. At a second level it
investigates the occupational setting of these women starting from the certificate of
the Night Junior High School.
        It is a research, which was realized in two phases. The first phase refers to two
different moments, the enrolment and the graduation of the female students during the
period of the years 1991-99, and the second phase is placed in the year 2004 and it
evaluates the next pace, their occupational rehabilitation.
        This research is a deposit of experiences for the period of the years 1990-2000
during which I was a teacher at the above-mentioned school.
        The basic theme of the present research is that the attendance of the adult
women at the Night Junior High School and the obtaining of the certificate contributes
to a real improvement of these women not only personal but also occupational,
especially in the change of attitude as far as they themselves, change in values,
dispositions, conceptions, interpersonal relationships and sociability are concerned.
        The sample was made of 20 women aged 25-45 who were students of the
Night Junior High School of Ioannina during the period of the years 1991-99. 12 of
these students were 25-30 years old and the rest 8 students were 30-45 years old. 17 of
them had never enrolled at the Junior High School and the rest 3 had sometime
enrolled and broke up their attendance in the first year. As far as their marital status is
concerned at the time of their enrolment, 16 of these women were married, 2 were
divorced, 2 widows and all of them had 1to 4 children. As far as their occupation is
concerned 7 of them were employed (3 in permanent posts and four at part-time)
posts) and the rest 13 of them were housewives.

                          The procedure of collecting the material

        Methodological instruments
        At the first phase of the research structured interviews were taken at the
moment of the enrolment and biographical interviews taken at the moment of
graduation (in the framework of giving an account of life). At the second phase of the
research semi-structured interviews, focused on the occupational investigation. The
interviews at the moment of the enrolment gave data and characteristics that referred
to the above sample (age, marital, educational and occupational status), that are
necessary for the research. The choice to use the method of biography at the moment
of graduation is related to the fact that there were a lot of levels of the subjects to be
investigated simultaneously. The semi-constructed interviews, at the second phase of
the research, gave elements, which refer to the occupational setting of the women with
the Certificate of the Night Junior High School as a starting point.

                                    Results of the first phase
          After the elaboration and analysis of the content of the material, with the
 instruments of the first phase and especially the biographical interviews,
 interpretative possibilities and categories are the products in which it is made clear
 that the women express common representations, which for practical reasons I rank
 as it follows:
   Reasons for which they didn’t attend the Junior High School (such as: socio-
economic, origin background, traditional stereotypes, gender, marriage).
   Reasons that pushed them to enroll and attend, at that exact time, the Night
Junior High School (such as: the fulfillment of the wish for obtaining the certificate
which they didn’t obtain when they were teenagers, the feeling of a necessity to be
better equipped in their role, as the requirements in the family appear more and more
growing, the planning for an occupation setting and social recognition).
   Common representations for their experiences during the three years of school
attendance (the decision and the announcement of it, the experience from the
attendance, the confronting by their surrounding, their plans and dreams).
         Their socio-economic background, the fact that they come from large
families, that they are women and sometimes the first children of the family, but also
the fact that they had to get married early, all these factors were the difficulties, which
didn’t permit their attending to the Junior High School.
         The social values wanted them almost absolutely responsible for the home and
the family.
         “My father used to cut wood…(to sell to earn his living) and my mother had
150 sheep, 200 goats and seven children…Four girls born first and then three boys. It
was I the fourth girl who had to get married”.
          “I was a girl and parents didn’t use to send girls to school that time. It was
customary… None of the girls of my age went to school. The third child in my family
was a boy. It was him that my father sent to continue his studies. Boys were more able
you see...”.
         The preparation for the entrance to the Junior High School, a field that is
literally forbidden for women-since only the boys have this privilege- will become
more obvious at the time when they get the certificate of graduation from the primary

school. “No discussion for attending the Junior High School takes place...”. Girls
receive different messages always in relation to the expected attitude proper for
women and they are encouraged to be entangled with concrete traditional occupations
for women not only by the parents but also sometimes by the teacher.
         “When I finished the Primary School I went to the National Organization for
the welfare of the citizens where I learned how to make carpets. I practiced this craft,
for three months there, and then my father bought me a loom and I stayed to work at
home at the village since I was the last child in the family”.
          “My father brought a knitting machine and a sewing machine when he came
back from Germany. My sisters and I had to use them to work in order to earn our
living and make the clothes for our marriage.
          And then the time for marriage arrives. Here, there are no negotiations,
women who had in hand a great number of qualifications to be good brides, also knew
a craft, that is to weave, to make embroideries, to sew.... and so on
         All the women of the research got married between the age of 16 and 20.
          “ I was a seamstress at the village. My husband’s parents saw me at a
wedding and asked me in marriage to their son. I was sixteen then”.
         “I got married in Athens…I was 19 then”.
         “I got married at the age of 17. The man who asked me in marriage worked in
Germany. He came to the village that summer and saw me at a local feast. He fell in
love with me and I followed him to Germany”
         Marriage brings changes to their social status. They move to cities, towns, and
even foreign countries: to Athens, to Ioannina, to Germany. The craft they know is not
sufficient to earn a living. They seek work out of the house in order to increase the
family income (they work as cleaners, industry workers, housemaids).
          “ Soon after my wedding I worked as a cleaner. I thought to myself: I haven’t
any qualification, where else can I work? I’ll work as a cleaner...”.
         “I can do any kind of work to educate my children”.
         Some other women who didn’t get a job said: “I respected my husband’s
labor. I wasn’t lavish”
         As a consequence of all these changes, and personal routes, the decision for
attendance to school takes shape. It is a decision of life for the woman. “It is a choice
between the old and the new the established and the revolutionary the easy and the
difficult, the safe and the hazardous, often between the isolation and the association,
the search of personal satisfaction and contribution to the improvement not only of the
personal and family life but also the career” (Samargi, 1992:240).
         The decision and its announcement cause trouble and need for
reorganization in the family with a change in the roles, entanglement of other persons
and personal reorganization.
         “I searched to find the certification of the primary school. My father had it…I
told him that I needed it to enroll at the Night High School. My father thought it was a
shame for me so I lied to him telling that I needed it to my job. It was then that he sent
it to me”.
         “I asked my mother for help: Her answer was: what are you going to do? You
have such a large family to look after...”.
         Husbands are sometimes positive and sometimes negative, as far as this
decision is concerned.
         “ I asked George to support my decision. He started laughing and said to me:
Where are you going with such a large family you have?”.

         “But…Kasandros said to me: if you want to go, you can go...”.
        “Nick was pleased with my decision”.
        The enrolment at the school and the first experience in a forgotten and
unknown place causes a feeling of shame originated from the difficulty to present
themselves because of the low self-esteem and strict evaluation of their abilities.
        “I came to ask about my enrolment fully ashamed”.
        “I looked around like somebody was looking at me .I thought that everybody
was watching me. I wasn’t feeling my self”.
        These women who return to school after so many years have to adapt
themselves to the requirements of the school reality.
         “The bell rang, I came into line, my mind was alert that moment and my
arteries were pounding with a fast rhythm. The first moments of my acquaintance with
my classmates, the teachers, the classroom, the classmate next to me at the desk”.
        “I found myself in a difficult position... At the beginning I thought I would be
unsuccessful I felt the pressure.”
        “ I felt uneasy. I was afraid about it”.
        Apart from their fears and their personal embarrassment, they also had to face
their surroundings, the superstitions of their acquaintances relatives, workmates, and
this was not so easy.
        “The women in my neighborhood blamed me of leaving my husband and
children back home to go to school: what is she going to achieve? They said. They
thought I went to school to amuse myself”.
        “My workmates advised me to stay at home and prepare the dowry for my
        But during this school experience a lot of changes can be noticed for these
women. Not only in their family environment but also at their workplace.
         “My relatives admired me. They admired my courage”.
        “My acquaintances congratulated me on my efforts”.
        “Everybody congratulated me on my efforts”.
        “Even my children were proud of my progress, and my reports”
        For these women this school experience was not a simple attendance. They
assumed the role of a student. They are not different from the other students as far as
characteristics and obligations are concerned.
They are responsible, with interests, open to the new experience and with a part to all
school activities. That is how they describe these special moments for them...
    “I gained the first mark!”
   “I was shown on T.V.”
   “I had a role in the school play.”
   “I recited poems on the National days.”
   “I paraded holding the flag.”
 And they are evaluating themselves as far as this experience is concerned
    “Three creative years for me –it was a personal investment”.
    “I wanted to show to myself that I could manage it”
   “My studies at school helped me a lot to bring up my children”
   “ My workmates respect me and consider me their equal”.
     “As far as my self is concerned a lot of things have changed. I’m not occupied
with embroideries during my holidays. I take books with me to read. I buy books for
myself and my children bring me books for presents”.

      “At school, you get a lot of knowledge- All your senses are alert. You hear, you
see, you compare… It isn’t life at home where everything is done mechanically, when
you lay the beds, you iron, you wash the dishes”.
And they start making plans.
Their contact with the school is characterized with the searching for a new identity,
whose important dimension is their career realization. The school offers them the
basis for new thoughts and action not only to continue their studies but also to be
promoted at their job.
     “I’ll continue my studies at the college of technology. I do wish it.”
    “If I am able, I will finish vocational school”.
    “I am dreaming of being a teacher at the kindergarten, but I don’t know if the age
limit is a barrier.”
    “I wish to improve my career. I am a cleaner now and I wish to be a member of
the administrative personnel”
But on the other hand
    “ Everything I did, I did it for myself. I am a cleaner but I have a certificate from
a secondary school”.

                              Results of the second phase
       The elaboration and the analysis of the content of the semi-constructed
interviews of the second phase of the research in relation to the occupational setting of
the women showed the following results.
   They mainly continued their education (at the Senior High School, at Technical
and Vocational Schools, at Nursing School, at Technical Colleges, at the University)
   They changed their professional plans significantly (they got a job, they were
promoted to another post, they created small businesses).
   Along with the obvious change in their career, a change in the image of
themselves and their self-esteem happens.
        As a result of it there are changes in their role in the family as parents and in
the society. They evaluate their role in the family, they state that they are self-
confident, their social environment recognizes them and they feel a satisfaction
derived from their sense of creativity.
     “I was a dress-maker when I came to the Night Junior High-School. When I
finished it I used the certificate to enroll Nursing school in Ioannina. With the
certificate I obtained from this school I was appointed to the hospital. In my
profession I feel a moral satisfaction, pride, dignity, I feel capable of doing things,
useful and I offer my services to such an essential field helping at the same time my
    “I have been studying at a Technical School for three years and I’ll continue my
studies as higher as I can.”
    “When I was a little girl I dreamt of being a kindergarten teacher or a teacher of
the Greek language at a high school. I couldn’t believe that at the age of 35, after
having graduated from the Night Junior High school and Night Senior High school, I
would take the National Entrance Examinations and I would enter the University to
be a kindergarten teacher”
    “I have finished the senior High School and I have been engaged by the
Municipality to work as a street-cleaner”
    “I was interested in setting up my own business. I finished school… I thought it
was good to have my own business. You feel something special when you earn money

yourself. So I decided to start my own small business two years ago, at the age of 34,
after having realized that it was too late to be a civil servant”
    “Today I work as I used to work. I also did other things. I attended a class run by
the Red Cross… I also read a lot of books”.

         The education of adults is a dynamic process with multiple results and it gives
the possibility for improvement at personal family, social and career levels. Schooling
liberates the adults from the thought of personal inferiority, from the correlation of
dependence and subjection and it gives the possibility of participation in the society
they live in.
         This is also valid for the particular women- subjects of the research who had a
hard time as children and come from families with low income and without possibility
for support.
         This is also concluded from this research, which presents notable results with
reference to the formation of their identity, personal and social, as well as aspects of
their activity, which arise out of processes of education and vocational rehabilitation.
Out of this research a question rises which concerns the subject woman who due to
her gender measures herself against the traditional stereotypes with reference to the
education and the work and who in the course through the essential intervention of the
school widens the borders with educational and vocational activities and experiences
the change of the social role.
         They themselves deny anonymity twice. The first time with their enrolment at
school by saying their surname and the second time when they enter the job market by
using their surname.
         The women change social position through this route with social recognition
and vocational rehabilitation. “In our society work constitutes a strong framework for
the formation of identity”, notes Michele Barouse (Navridis- Christakis,1997:50).
“It improves the life conditions of the women, it reflects to the ideas an image for
themselves, they feel their value as women and their creative abilities, “they register at
the network of social relations” (Navridis- Christakis,1997:47) while at the same time
they bring the sense that the restriction imposed on them aren’t unalterable”.
        At the same time a change and improvement of the self-image of these
women through schooling becomes obvious. As far as they are concerned, school is a
value and measure of self-esteem. They gain more confidence and self-respect. This
feeling that they are worth, that they can manage something, is the basis to be able, to
have self-confidence and to direct their life.
         The improvement of their self-image brings positive chain results: for
personal, family, financial and social changes. Above all stands and dominates the
confidence that they are individuals with their own foundation.
          The school acted as an intervening space in which those women exceed their
limits and form a new individual with redetermination of personal values and
concepts that helps them to reform their conceptions for the world and their dynamic
role in it.

        We confront the challenge to link with new methods of teaching (context) the
specific findings that concern the lives, the activities and the aims of the women who
come to study at the Night Junior High School.
        Perhaps it is necessary to renegotiate the teaching process and practice and the
organization of the knowledge so that the biographies of the male and female students
can be evaluated through new learning strategies, because their biographies constitute
a rich and dynamic way of learning.
        Today an effort takes place in a new field of educational action in our country
at the Schools of Second Chance the curriculum of which is organized on the basis of
the needs of the students, so that the teaching method permits access to knowledge by


Dimaras, Α.,1974, The reformation that never took place Vol. Β Edition Ermis E.P.Ε,
Inglesi, Χ., 1990, Women’s faces and disguise of consciousness, Odysseus, Athens
Masourou, L.Μ., 1993, Woman and occupation, Gutenberg, Athens.
Navridis- Christakis, 1997, Identities, Kastaniotis, Athens.
Samargi M,.1992, Name: woman, Exantas, Athens.
Tsegos, 1983, Newspaper. «STUDENT’S» (Edition of SEMME) 28.1.1975.


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