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Getting My Education: Teen Mothers' Experiences in School Before and After Motherhood


by Elizabeth Zachry — 2005

In this study, I have examined how teenagers who become pregnant experience school and how their beliefs about school are affected by their pregnancy and motherhood. Using a grounded theory approach, the perspectives of 9 young mothers in a teen parents' program were analyzed to determine how these women reflected on their educational experience both before and after their pregnancy and on how having a child may have affected their self-understanding, particularly in relation to their schooling. The overarching theme that arose from participants' responses was that having a child substantially influenced their perspectives of both their schooling and their future. Although each stated that her pregnancy initially led her to drop out of school, the participants argued that having a child increased their interest in their education and pushed them to see how education would help them provide a better future for their children, increase their employment opportunities, and help them get off public assistance. In contrast to previous research, which has argued that teen motherhood puts women at a greater risk for school difficulties, this study reveals that motherhood may also be a factor in helping women reevaluate their perspective of school and school's importance for their lives.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 107 Number 12, 2005, p. 2566-2598
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12252, Date Accessed: 10/18/2017 1:53:37 AM

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About the Author
  • Elizabeth Zachry
    Harvard University
    E-mail Author
    ELIZABETH ZACHRY is an advanced doctoral student at Harvard University Graduate School of Education in the Human Development and Psychology Program. She has been a Doctoral Fellow at the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy for the past three years and concentrates her research in adult literacy and the issues surrounding students’ dropout and re-engagement in school.
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