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ERIC Number: EJ768601
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 26
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2680
Women Teachers in Western Australian "Bush" Schools, 1900-1939: Passive Victims of Oppressive Structures?
Trotman, Janina
History of Education Quarterly, v46 n2 p248-273 Sum 2006
Demography, distance, and the expansion of settlements created problems for the State Department of Education in Western Australia and other Australian states in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Educational administration in Canada and parts of the United States faced similar issues with regard to the provision of schools. A common response was the establishment of one-teacher rural schools, frequently run by young, and sometimes unclassified, female teachers. In the United States locally elected school boards were the primary source of regulation, but in late nineteenth-century Western Australia such local boards had been stripped of their powers and were answerable to the newly established, highly centralized Education Department, formal regulated teachers, the masculinized system of the Department, and its inspectorate. All the same, however, the local community still exerted informal controls over the lives of teachers working and living in small settlements. Historians Marjorie Theobald and Alison Prentice have argued that one of the key theoretical concerns in the historiography of women teachers is how to "evoke the oppressive structures" of the bureaucratic and patriarchal systems "while at the same time affirming that women were not the passive victims of that oppression." It is this concern, to balance agency and structure, which the guided the author's exploration of the experiences of a group of female teachers who taught in bush schools in the State of Western Australia during the first four decades of the last century. In particular, the author sought answers to three questions regarding the group: (1) Why and how did they become teachers?; (2) What was it like being a young woman teaching in a bush school?; and (3) How did those teachers interpret the bureaucratic practices and gendered discourses framing their work? The author used oral histories, as well as documents and secondary sources, to create a series of chronologically ordered textual "snap shots" of the women. This article is based on the resulting montage. The article starts with an exposition on the general context and a consideration of related historiographical issues. It then turns to the women's choice of teaching as an occupation before moving on to monitorships and Claremont Teachers' College where most took the Short Course for rural schools. The author then follows their journeys to first appointments, their lodgings, daily school life, and the infrequent, but nevertheless stressful, visits from inspectors. (Contains 97 footnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A